I have been teaching, writing and lecturing on acrylic methods and materials for over 20 years. So, when asked to write about an A-Z Acrylics set that didn’t contain at least 1,000 different colors, mediums and additives, I thought, “well, this can’t really be Acrylics A-Z, but maybe A-B!” In fact, without having to spend 6 months living up at the factory at Golden Artist Colors, I do think that these new sets will offer a valuable introduction to a wide range of possibilities for artists – those coming to acrylics from different mediums as well as those artists that have simply been stuck in just one of the ranges of acrylic paints. Certainly, none of the “ingredients” in the A-Z Acrylics sets are foreign to me. I have used all of them for years and developed many teaching tools with every product in that box!
I am always suggesting to artists that in order to learn about different products, keep your beginning explorations simple. Create with a limited choice of products and keep it small and modest. Just experiment, explore and above all else, don’t obsess! I want to make clear that although the Step-by-Step Application Booklet in the set was directed towards a painter new to acrylics, this box of goodies is a great starting point to explore different products even if you’ve been painting for years. If you haven’t experimented with other viscosities or textures of paint during your painting career, this box will provide all the “testers” you need to begin to discover the endless possibilities. Remember, sometimes, just the physicality of material will spark your creative juices and imaginative ability.
My goal with this project was to create informal and relaxed ideas that any artist could “play” with. I didn’t want the exercise to require hours out of your studio day, but instead, give you understandable, clear experiences of what each product can do. The best way to truly experience the properties, benefits, and unique qualities of these acrylics is to keep it simple. One way I did this was by using universal recognizable images, iconic landscapes and the ubiquitous pear! Luckily, for us, there is no perfect pear in nature, so however wonky your pear is, it’s sure to find its doppelganger in nature!
Please remember that all acrylics from GOLDEN are part of the Acrylic System, which means they can be used in any number of combinations for endless applications. Acrylic colors, mediums and grounds are the most versatile of all painting media.
You may choose to work exclusively within acrylics or use them in combination with other media and materials. Exciting and unexpected effects often result during exploration, which is exactly what this set is intended for – discovery!
Things to Keep in the Studio
I hope that once you’ve had a chance to experiment with the box contents you’ll agree that there are a handful of products that will forevermore be standard items in your studio. These products have so many uses that you’ll be turning to them time and time again to define your artwork. Products I use continuously include Matte Medium and Polymer Medium (Gloss), which control transparency, viscosity and surface sheen when mixed with colors. I also have Heavy Gel (Matte) and Soft Gel (Gloss) at the ready in order to add texture, create glazes, extend paints, and change finishes. Gels are essentially colorless paint, as they utilize the same 100% acrylic polymers as acrylic paint. Gels are also excellent adhesives for collage and mixed media and dry with excellent flexibility with chemical, water and UV resistance. Acrylic Glazing Liquid is used for creating glazes. The slow-drying formula provides sufficient working time for a wide variety of finishes normally accomplished with oils. It is also an excellent blending medium for painting.
Viscosity Differences in Acrylic Colors
Included in the A-Z Sets are colors from four different product lines: High Flow, Fluid, OPEN and Heavy Body. High Flow is one of our most recent product introductions – the thinnest or lowest in viscosity – similar to an ink and perfect for washes, stains, filling empty paint markers and tinting other products. Next are Fluid Acrylics, which are the consistency of heavy cream and are pourable. Getting a bit thicker is OPEN, which is the slowest drying product line in the GOLDEN Acrylic System. And finally, the thickest of our acrylic color product lines is Heavy Body paints.
A range of colors from opaque to translucent included in the set are Ultramarine Blue, Hansa Yellow Medium, Hansa Yellow Light, Titanium White, Teal, Phthalo Blue / G.S., Quinacridone Magenta, Quinacridone / Nickel Azo Gold, Green Gold, Indigo, Alizarin Crimson Hue, and Indian Yellow Hue. Also included are Iridescent Gold, Silver and a bright Fluorescent Pink. I purposely didn’t specify which viscosity these pigments are offered in. This is the only way to encourage you to experience the ease of the perfect mixability of all viscosities.
Gels offer many ways to build texture. We offer four consistencies in this set from one of our most viscous, which is Heavy Gel, to our pourable Soft Gel. More unique gels included range from Clear Tar Gel to Glass Bead Gel. Clear Tar Gel has a pully, tar-like feel and is extremely resinous and stringy, making it feel very different from other acrylic gels. Useful for generating fine detailed lines by “dripping” it over surfaces is one way to capture the rareness of the product. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Glass Bead Gel, which is made with genuine glass beads roughly the size of poppy seeds. The visual effect is like condensation on cold glass as the beads create a textured but glossy surface. Having access to this selection gives you an opportunity to explore different varieties of surfaces and viscosities.
Pastes can be used to achieve a variety of effects and expressions. When used in conjunction with acrylic colors they broaden working properties and expand creative possibilities. Unlike gels, pastes are opaque because they contain marble dust or other fillers that create a white or clay-tone finish with a variety of textures and properties. Molding Paste can also be used to create foundations for painting either to create texture over a smoother surface, or to smooth out a textured surface. The absorbent qualities of Molding Paste make it suitable as a ground for nearly every painting and drawing media.
Grounds are used as surface preparations for a number of substrates in order to perform a variety of applications like creating tooth similar to papers for use with pastels or chalk. Other grounds dry to a porous, paper-like surface so that when applied over gessoed canvas, they facilitate raw canvas-like staining and watercolor effects.
An Additive in the kit not yet explained is OPEN Thinner, which contains no binders and is used to thin paint mixes without altering the open time of OPEN Acrylics, or to maintain and adjust workability on palettes without water mists and moisturizing palettes.
As you can see, the A-Z set provides a wide enough range of materials to truly explore acrylic paint as not a single medium with a limited range of options, but clearly the opportunity to explore a wide range of painting applications, finishes, surfaces, textures, opacities and transparencies. You’ll experience the range from the subtle transparencies of a watercolor to the juicy applications of oil-like movements and gestures.
Below I’ve shared some of the examples of the exercises working with the A-Z set. Artists will experience the effects of using various grounds with changes in absorbency and movement of colors above, they will underpaint with faster drying materials, try wet-in-wet blending, learn subtractive or reductive processes, work with impasto mediums with a range of textures, create acrylic skins and so much more.
The A-Z set will take the fear out of working within different subsets of the acrylic colors, mediums and grounds; all of which are interchangeable, intermixable with one another delivering constant exploration and experimentation. Working with the acrylic as an ink or a paste, with a pen, marker or palette knife, this material will continue to excite and engage artists working in so many different styles!
Go to www.mixmoremedia.com to see videos showing applications using these materials and techniques.