Posts Tagged ‘Anticipation’

New Materials: Atelier Interactive Acrylics, Part 1

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Having tried working watercolor on canvas gessoed for acrylic use and on unstretched Fredrix pad canvas, I decided to try one of Fredrix prestretched watercolor canvases (sold specifically for use with watercolor paint). …I won’t keep you dangling; I was no happier with that canvas than I had been with the other two options. Although it didn’t shrink as the unstretched canvas sheets had, it is somewhat lighter weight than what is sold for oil or acrylic use. And I still experienced a problem with the paint’s lifting as I applied glazes.

Rather than discard the failed painting, I determined to rework the canvas using a relatively new product that had come to my attention and that I thought was worth investigating—Atelier Interactive Acrylics, by Chroma.

What, you may ask, is a watercolorist doing using acrylics? I will admit that I have used acrylics in the past but was discouraged because they dried so quickly in Southwest Florida’s low humidity. I much preferred working with watercolors, with which I can control the fluidity and rehydrate paint that has dried in my palette. Atelier Interactive Acrylic, however, can be rewetted when it becomes tacky—or even dry—on either the palette or the canvas. I thought that this might be a solution to my problem.

I had ordered an introductory set, which includes a good range of preselected paint colors, three different additives for various purposes, an empty spray bottle for distilled water (to “unlock” the drying paint), and a DVD that offers tips on composition, perspective, values, and color (though no explanation of how to use the additives, which are roughly explained on printed inserts). The set also includes an informative color chart for the line that lists, among other things, the pigments used in each—very helpful for making informed selections.

Washing the watercolors off the canvas under running water left enough stain to act as a guiding sketch. My subject had been a repeat of the one I used in “Anticipation,” composed slightly differently on the larger ground. I set up my palette, chose a few appropriate brushes, and roughly laid in the background and foreground colors. Then I tackled the clustered figures, blocking in the larger areas of color and gradually refining them. I didn’t use any of the additives.

120104 Anticipation 2

In the process of painting, of course, the Interactive paint, which I had applied quite wet and fluid, watercolor style, began to dry. Following directions, I sprayed the drying paint on both the canvas and the palette and continued working. The paint did indeed become workable again, and I was able to blend with previously laid color rather than simply over-painting in layers, as I would normally have had to do with a standard acrylic.

Being thin, the rewetted paint did have a tendency to lift more than I would have preferred, as I moved it around on the canvas, but that was due more to the thin initial washes, which I was going back into to rework, than to a fault of either the paint or canvas itself.

I liked the result, and yes, I will use these acrylics again. Maybe I’ll try a thicker application next time—more like oils—and see how that works. Stay tuned.

New Materials: Workable Fixatif

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

As I have written about in my last few entries, painting with watercolor on canvas has been a crash course at the School of Oops. I’ll continue here with notes about my work on the pad canvas.

Despite my decision to use the pad canvas only after affixing individual sheets to stretcher bars, I decided to try it stretched only with clips. Firmly clamped to a backing board, my second sheet of canvas held its shape well and appeared to lose little area due to shrinkage.


In placing the subject, I mentally included the margin space on all sides to allow for later stretching and shrinkage. (Refer to the Faces and Figures gallery to see the finished proportions of “Anticipation.”)

When I applied glazes on this type of canvas surface, I found that lifting was still almost as much of a problem as it had been on the stretched and gessoed canvas (Joe Miller’s brand) I had used previously (see blog for January 1, 2012). So, when I decided I needed a final glaze to warm the foreground, I set the painting aside for several days to dry thoroughly (front and back) before spraying it with fixatif. Only when that was dry did I lay in my last applications of paint.

I had not used this type of fixatif before (Krylon Workable Fixatif), but it was called “workable” and stated that it “allows easy rework.” However, apparently that holds true only for the stated “pencil, pastel, and chalk,” not for watercolor. The watercolor beaded up on the fixed surface, and though I was able to do a bit of retouching, it was not satisfactory.

Out of desperation, I recoated the painting with the varnish (Krylon Gallery Series UV Archival varnish) I had used on my first canvas, hoping that that would provide a more friendly working surface that would accept top coats of watercolor. The paint continued to bead up, failing to adhere smoothly to the surface.

One of the few advantages of the seal appears to be that I can wipe off failed attempts without fear of leaving stains and smears behind.

Another advantage (admittedly a major consideration) is the UV protection it offers for any paintings that will not be shielded by UV-protective glass.

I would be interested to hear from others who may have found alternative fixatifs or sealers over which additional layers of watercolor can satisfactorily be applied.