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Early reviews in for OPEN ACRYLIC

30 July, 2008 (14:20) | Paint Ideas

Well the early reviews are in for OPEN ACRYLIC and it couldn’t be more exciting.  Artists are discovering both the ease of using this product as well as how very different this is from any other acrylic paint.   This product has also clearly demonstrated to all of us how important the traditional acrylics truly are.  Acrylic painters have so tapped into the quick drying of the media that having something staying as wet as the OPEN Acrylics is a very, very different experience.

Just as we developed the Fluid Acrylics offering artists an ability to blend with our Heavy Body colors, working thick to thin without the loss of color concentration, we recognized we were developing not just another line of paint but an acrylic system of products.  Again as we introduced the Heavy Body Matte colors or Fluid Matte Colors to control the level of gloss of the acrylics without having to dilute color density by adding a matte medium or matte gel, we were simply enlarging that system, offering complete control over the surface of the acrylic.  All of the dozens of gels, pastes and mediums increased dramatically the level of very specific control that allow artists an ever expanding range of surfaces, viscocities and working properties. 

With the introduction of OPEN ACRYLIC we have now extended that system to include adjusting working time of the acrylic.  This new ability will take some time for artists to get used to, but once you do, I believe the results will be amazing.  I know some artists will choose to work in only Heavy Body colors or only Fluids or Mattes, or OPEN, but for those who see the potential and range of what is possible with all these products, they will find a never ending array of untapped possibilities and incredible control.

I look forward to hearing more of the early results and hope folks working with the product will contact our Tech Support team with any of their questions, either online, or at 800 959 6543 (or add a comment here on the blog).  Regards, Mark




Comment from Matthew Ramada
Time: August 20, 2008, 12:01 am

I have some initial comments and thoughts about the OPEN line which I would like to share, if you have the time:
When I opened the first tube of OPEN I purchased it was with a little trepidation, it didn’t hold it’s body like GOLDEN heavy body, and seemed to have the viscosity and smell of Liquitex’s BASIC line of paints. Fortunately this did not hold true for working properties, and I soon discovered a lot of things to like about the new line of paint.
I typically generate a simple abstract image whenever I’m working with a new 2D medium, to get an idea of how it moves, how marks are made, what the consistency is like, etc. My first test run with OPEN was no different. What I found is that OPEN seems to branch acrylic into territory that is more typically reserved for watercolor and oils, enabling techniques normally prohibited by the drying times in acrylic.
On the watercolor side of things OPEN is able to lay down adjustable washes. Because it doesn’t dry nearly immediately in thin layers (I’ve found it’ll still dry in what seems like inside an hour, but not in just a few short minutes) techniques like lifting and bleeding can be employed, and thin layers seem to be mixable much more readily than with standard Heavy Body or Fluid. Where normal acrylics will dry and leave you glazing over your layer, OPEN allows you to work back into your washes in ways I’ve found less approachable with typical acrylics.
On the heavier application side I feel that open presents a lot more generosity than standard acrylics. In a short order of time, Heavy Body will start to get, “chalky” is as close as I can get, it sort of conglomerates as it dries, leaving strokes full of small bits of material rather than an even spread. OPEN entirely circumvents this. Initially I was wary of the less full body, but I’ve realized that it’s much easier to work with because of that. OPEN is not “runny” at all, and because it’s not too stiff it moves very easily over a surface. At the same time this lets it move easily into other bodies of paint, in a way that’s more of what I’ve come to expect of oils, though somewhat “thinner.” (To me it seems that, especially with Heavy Body acrylics, when two masses of paint meet, there is a sort of resistance, and it’s more cumbersome to introduce a new color to one already on a surface, this might be because of the accelerated drying times in acrylic, so that wetter paint attempting to move into drying paint runs into a varying consistency… I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but I don’t seem to run into this with oil, it feels like with oil a little bit of medium can get any two bodies of paint to commingle, regardless of stiffness, but with Heavy Body acrylic that the mass of the paint seems to get in the way… OPEN doesn’t seem to have this problem, seemingly sacrificing some of the fullness to allow paint to merge more easily, Fluid seems to be able to do this also, but is very runny by comparison, so it feels less like paint merging and more like a liquid mixing. The differences are subtle, but reside very much in the feeling of the paint.)
Obviously the lengthened drying time of OPEN paint is a major boon. I like oils because I tend to paint for a while, then walk away, leaving everything unattended for a day and come back to it. OPEN doesn’t last that long on the canvas put I have a lidded airtight palette that I have had OPEN stay wet for a month now on (typically acrylic lasts up to a week on this palette, which is very convenient, but open is even more store-able.) This lets me take space and time from a work, which I appreciate a lot with my paint and what I often do with oils is to manipulate the paint at various stages of its drying time (something I learned from working with ceramics.) OPEN allows me to explore this a little more fully that what I’m used to with acrylic, which just seems to get frustrating as it dries. This is an important factor to OPEN, is that it is much less frustrating to work with over time. Instead of constantly fighting with it to either keep it wet or build more layers, OPEN readily accepts more and more color. In a drastic relief from oil paint, if you put too much color into an area, it’s still not a big deal to wait for it to dry and then work over it.
Overall I think OPEN is much more forgiving to work with than acrylic, and allows for a much wider range of techniques than the already quite versatile medium. I think from here on out I will probably be working much more exclusively with OPEN. It’s nice to be able to get a range from forgivingly adjustable washes to thicker bodies of cleanly and easily mixing color with one kind of paint and very little in the way of medium.
I do have a few concerns and detractions. My first two issues are the transparency and matte qualities of the OPEN line (by issues I’m more insinuating that these matters were curiosities I’ve run into that I would appreciate some feedback on.) I will give that my initial run of colors looks like this: Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Red Oxide, Chromium Oxide Green, Ultramarine Blue, Cad. Yellow Med, Hansa Yellow Light, Quin. Magenta, Raw Umber, Bone Black, and the Pthalo Blue that came with the demo set (the Aliz. Crimson Hue also came with the demo, but I haven’t opened it yet.) I can understand why I wouldn’t get much of a glossy finish with these range of colors, but even the Quin, and especially the Pthalo Blue seemed to dry much flatter than I expected. So far I don’t see this being a problem, it’s just been a little unexpected. More so is that even the Red Oxide and Chromium Green Oxide are still quite transparent, giving much less than expected in the way of covering power. I like this because in thinner application it seems that every color can give a very consistent wash, and in thicker use it leaves a lot of history of what’s underneath, but raw covering power simply seems diminished.
My main malcontent with the OPEN line is the lack of colors (which is a subtle way of saying I like it a lot, I would like to see more.) Two colors I would strongly recommend including are Cobalt Teal and Pthalo Green YS. Even if the Red-Orange-Yellow side of the spectrum is diminished, there as so many of these pigments that it’s still going to be more varied than the Cyan-Green range. I find that while it’s common to see Pthalo Blue and Pthalo Green BS in many artist’s palettes, it becomes more cumbersome to use these along with a warmer blue and a light yellow, than to use Cobalt Teal and Pthalo Green YS. To begin with I feel that Pthalo Green YS is a much more rewarding green to use, being more brilliant and rich and an actual green, while the Blue Shade always seems like painting with turquoise. Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Teal, and Pthalo Green YS gives a very rich range of colors around that side of the spectrum, and Cobalt Teal very readily fills in the roles of of Pthalo Blue and Pthalo Green BS by bringing it down a little bit with other colors. At any rate, I feel like expanding the green side of the OPEN line with more mono-pigment paints (right now you have 2) would greatly enhance the line.
Finally I overheard something at my local art supplies store which I felt like I should get clarified. Someone suggested that painting thin, quick drying layers (for example, with the Heavy Body paint) over a thicker layer of OPEN would have similar effects to painting lean over fat, in that as the lower layer dried it would crack the above layer. Now from what I understand, oil takes months to dry (and never really stops “drying” from how I understand it) and increases in mass as it binds oxygen. I have to imagine that this scenario will be more devastating over time than thin acrylic painted over OPEN (in fact, since water evaporates to dry acrylic, wouldn’t it do something more like shriveling the top layer, rather than crack it?) The net of this was that the salesperson insisted that OPEN should not be employed with other, slower-drying acrylic, which to me seemed the opposite of what you’ve implied so far. If you could clarify this I would appreciate it.

I know that’s quite a bit, but hopefully I’ve said something useful along the way, and again, I think you’ve made a very successful product and I’m very excited to get more and more use out of it.

Comment from Mark
Time: August 20, 2008, 8:05 am

Matt, your insights are once again right on target and thank you so much for the details of your impressions of working with the OPEN. Lets start with the art stores sensibilities. First, this paint is truly a departure from earlier acrylic formulas, so it is very understandable that the staff had difficulties in fully grasping the concerns of differing layers at different drying times. We are still hearing from artists about the many different possible working styles, abilities and eccentricities of this product. So much ahead of us with this product are yet to be uncovered. It makes it incredibly exciting! So with that caveat let me share what we’ve learned in formulating and working with the product. With all waterborne or for that matter solvent borne acrylics, shrinkage is a significant factor. So the store staff were correct to be aware of laying faster drying acrylic over slower drying acrylics as the upper layers will begin to shrink as water evaporates and the film compresses. If you have built up a significant thick layer of OPEN below the acrylic above, this material will continue to shrink and does have the possibility of wrinkling the layer above. The conditions would have to be just right to create that effect, which might be similar to an artist working in too fat an oil paint and developing those surface ripples. Most likely though, this will not occur. We specifically made the OPEN thinner then our Heavy Body colors as we did not feel that working thick with this product produced any significant benefit, and did create a significant deficit, in that the very thick layers would literally take months to dry. If you want to paint thick, the Heavy Body Colors still take hours to days to dry, so we didn’t particularly see a thick paint as an advantage, other then to create a consistency familiar to oil painters who work directly out of the tube. We weren’t creating an oil replacement, we were creating a material that could extend the system of acrylic paints allowing just another level of control, previously missing from acrylic paint systems. You are correct in noting that the paint will not crack, it is quite flexible, yet you might get crazing marks in thick areas, similar to adding too much water to our gel or the marks that get created in acrylic in thick pours.

The pigment load was a balancing act, and won’t be easily overcome. As I’ve shared before, that actual pigment to binder ratio (the dried paint), is significantly higher in the OPEN Acrylic than in any other paint system we have other than the High Load Acrylics. To get the extreme open times for this paint, we maximized the load the best we could.

Your use of the product to produce washes that remain open is a very different approach. Many artists have struggled with the development of washes with the open, hoping that the paint would dry so that they could begin working ontop of it sooner. For this sort of application, our faster drying products are so much more versatile. I look forward to being able to see how your approach develops.

Finally, your pigment selections are well noted and we are already in the planning stages for more, so thank you! Best, Mark

Comment from rosette
Time: November 3, 2008, 6:02 pm

Greetings Mark and all,

I have been experimenting with the new OPEN and have found, to my delight, that it can be used, with great results, for monotype.

I have rolled the paint out using the same technique that I would have while using the water based inks for monotype. The results were great! The advantage is that there is a broader palette of colors to work with and greater flexibility while working directly on a plate.

When I rolled out just one color on a glass slab, and then rolled it onto my plate and printed either with a brayer or my uber press, I found that the results looked almost identical to lithography!

My hope is that I would be able to add a bit of one of the other Golden mediums, (not sure which one yet) that would make the paint,(disguised as ink), just a little bit tackier so that I could use it for woodcuts and linocuts.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what might work? I tried using a small amount of clear tar gel, but I wound up with dull, flat prints and didn’t achieve the “tack” I was looking for.

As always, I am so grateful to Mark and his team for thinking out of the box and moving us all into more and more inventive realms.

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