Tuesday, 25 June 2013

New Paints - Acrylic!

I had a great opportunity to play with some soon-to-be-released acrylic paints last night at a meeting of the Lane Cove Art Society. The presenter, Jim Cobb, is the founder of Chroma Acrylics, who make a huge range of paints of a very high quality. We were able to compare Liquitex, Golden and others aside his Atelier range of paints and they compare very well.

Atelier Interactive paints have been around for a while. They are a lovely consistency and flow nicely off the brush. They have an interesting property in that they can be 'reactivated' by spraying the painting with water during the painting process, slowing down the drying time if required. Once the painting is finished it will dry quickly, unlike oils.

Atelier Interactive Acrylic
While these were interesting, what excited me was the Atelier Free Flow acrylics.
Atelier Free Flow acrylics
I don't do a lot of acrylic painting. I have used it for abstract paintings, expecially a series of 'splash' paintings on canvas (see here) but I haven't enjoyed using it for subject pantings - I prefer watercolour or oils. Something about the natural binder rather than an acrylic? Certainly I love watercolour for all the beauty of the actual pigments that get hidden in an oil of acrylic medium.

These acrylics were different though. They are rather like a thick pouring cream in consistency - they will 'blob' on the paper of canvas, but a spray of water dilutes them immediately and they react beautifully. They flow on the page in a manner that is very like watercolour.
My 'play' with Atelier Free Flow Acrylics. Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Orchre,  Red Gold, Burnt Sienna Natural, Ultramarine, Pyrrole Red, Quinacridone Magenta and Phthalo Blue.
You can see in my 'play' above that the granulation of the Ultramarine is even visible. You can also see the blob of Quinacridone Magenta on the page where I dropped the paint on, so they can be used thick or very thin.

So why am I interested? I have been using watercolour on canvas in order to be able to paint larger than a sheet of watercolour paper and not have to frame my work. I could stretch the paper over a canvas frame but that restricts the size. While I have had some success with this technique, the big problem is that the first wash goes on well, but subsequent washes remove the previous one so it is difficult to build up the layers of colour. Having a play with these paints was wonderful because I can see them working on canvas like a watercolour but without the problem of lifting off. They also wouldn't need to be sprayed with a UV vanish once the work was completed.

So a fun night. A range of 36 colours will be released (see here - Atelier Colour Range) and they are all made with excellent pigments. There is also a nice mix of opaque, transparent and semitransparent colours. I will be buying mostly the semi-transparent versions - Titanium White, Arylamide Yellow Light, Arylamide Yellow Deep, Pyrrole Red, Quinacridone Magenta, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue RS?, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna Natural and Carbon Black. If I love them I may add a Phthalo Green, Indian Red and Raw Umber but I generally find I need less colours with oils or acrylics than I do with watercolour - partly as I do use black and white in oils and acrylics which makes a huge difference in mixing.

Thanks to Jim Cobb!


  1. Ever tried using Gouache, Acryla Gouache over Watercolours? I find this mixed media delightful, let's the watercolours shine through without smearing via water.

    1. I enjoy mixed media work and watercolours are a fabulous first layer. I tend to then work with gouache rather than acrylic though, unless I am working on watercolour canvas, then I definitely use acrylic or ink over the watercolour. I have a load of mixed media ideas to explore, but haven't had the time to do them all...