Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Blending Atelier Interactive

In this how-to painting video, artists can learn blending and glazing tips and the differences between mediums such as Atelier Clear Painting Medium, Acrylic Glazing Liquid, Slow Medium and Thick Slow Mediums. Learn how to blend and work wet-in-wet using Atelier Interactive Acrylics, a water sprayer and the Unlocking Formula.

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At the 2013 Australian Art Expo in Sydney, leading artist Barry McCann shows off the power of Atelier Fast Medium/Fixer as the risk-free way to paint with acrylic paints by keeping the finished parts of the painting sealed from harm.

Published in Artist Blog
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Image Transfers

Image transfers made easy using photocopies and Atelier Binder Medium. Learn how to do this fun and easy painting technique that can be used for any mixed media, collage or Atelier Interactive or acrylic painting.

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Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Glazing Techniques with Atelier Interactive

Glazing is a painting technique in which you apply a thin, transparent layer of paint on top of a dry layer resulting in a new or enhanced color. Instead of physically mixing colors together, such as blue and yellow to make green, you apply a transparent blue layer on top of the yellow paint layer to get green. What results is a stained glass, luminous effect - glazing provides a method of toning and enriching colors like no other.

Atelier Interactive presents some unique opportunities and challenges for artists when glazing or layering. Just about any Atelier medium that dries clear or translucent can be used for glazing, but the different viscosities and dry times produce different results. There are two ways to glaze and layer with Atelier Interactive - fast or slow -- and this is a personal choice that artists make.

Published in Artist Blog
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Painting Grounds

Painting Grounds covers the basics of effective grounds highlighting three of Chroma's grounds including Binder Medium, Gesso Primer and Liquid Gesso Primer. Learn how to successfully prep, prepare and seal paper, canvas and more prior to painting with acrylics or oils.

Published in Artist Blog
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

The Joy of Painting (Children's Edition)

Happy, tiny cherubs. Lovely, precious, little darlings. Squirming, crying, drooling, non-stop bouncing, running, laughing bundles of energy. All of these descriptions are applicable to children, especially to those between the ages of 10 months and 4 years, and it seems, especially to my children. But it doesn’t mean I can’t paint them, it just means I need to be ready for those rare quiet moments. Personally, I’ve found that after feeding time or when they are engaged in activity are the best times to take photos or do sketches. My goal is not to get the perfect pose, but rather to get the personality, to capture a specific physical feature, or even to document the light and color of a time of day.

Such was the case with Sunflower (For E) , a companion piece to Sonshine (For R) . After lots of photos and sketches, I felt ready to begin. Rather than doing a 7-Layer  Flemish technique using Atelier Interactive, Professional Artists' Acrylics as I did in Sonshine , I made some modifications to this portrait. I still painted with Atelier Interactive, but I changed my color palette, surface and approach.

I began by creating a cartoon to scale, and transferred it to my surface (Ampersand Pastel Panel). This surface is fairly absorbent, which aided my goal of a looser piece. I painted value washes using Mars Violet and Titanium White. I paid particular attention to the edges and transitions, in order to achieve the roundness of her face. Because children lack the bone structure of adults, it was important to use my water sprayer when I felt my paint start to tack up to keep blending. In this composition, the child’s hair is a striking feature, and I knew it would require many layers and colors, so I merely blocked in the darkest value. (Fig. 1)

Once I was happy with this stage, I decided to forgo a traditional dead layer but used a modified impressionist palette of  Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium Cadmium Yellow Deep, Jaune Brillant, Transparent Perinone Orange, Napthol Red Light, Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Alizarine, French Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue (Red Shade) and Dioxizine Purple to block in and develop the shapes more fully.  Note that I used the word “shape.”  I find it is very important not think in terms of “painting a person” but “painting the shapes/lights/darks.” I personally can get too caught up in details, wrapped up in capturing the likeness Instead, when I think in terms of shapes, shadows and masses (like I do with landscapes or other subject matter) it all comes together for me. A classic example of this approach can be seen in Sargent’s Carnation, Lily. Lily Rose – one of my all time favorite paintings.

I used the warmer colors for the light masses, and cooler ones for my dark masses, for my first color pass. Because this painting had lots of sunny yellow tones, using Mars Violet as my underpainting color created complementary color reactions. I used Clear Painting Medium to thin my paint to have just enough transparency in order to let the value layer influence the colors on top and to keep track of the likeness. If I needed to gray a color, I added a bit of its opposite – I rarely use black or dark earth tones. I kept my water sprayer handy and sprayed whenever I was blending and my paint felt tacky. If I didn't want to blend, I withheld moisture, let that section dry, and then painted on top. That's how easy - and versatile -  painting with Atelier Interactive is! (Fig 2.)

I made a few more color passes in order to build up the abstract, tactile side of the painting. I chose paint as my medium because I like the physicality of paint, after all! I let these layers dry overnight and applied glazes next.  These were made  made with Clear Painting Medium and various mixtures of Transparent Perinone Orange, Permanent Alizarine, Pthalo Blue (Red Shade) and Dioxazine Purple, in order to capture lost shadows. I also incorporated some Tinting White (Pearl Titanium) to tone down some sections. These glazes were applied with my favorite sable glazing brush! I also adjusted some edges to keep a modeled, rounded form on her face. I used Unlocking Formula on her hair, and scratched in some individual strands and texture. (Fig. 3)

This study shows the power of combining oil-like wet-in-wet blending with traditional acrylic glazing and overpainting techniques when painting with Atelier Interactive. By using a combination of techniques, I created a portrait that captured the freshness, the energy and the joy of the subject.There are many approaches to painting figures and portraits; by not limiting yourself to only a few techniques, staying within the rigid confines of a style or even a given medium, you can explore a wide range of possibilities for artistic expression.

Published in Artist Blog
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

New Atelier Mediums - Electric Sheep

For a long time, I have painted sheep and other farm animals. I don’t know why, but I find them very haunting - I think it’s something about their eyes and their presence. Recently I was asked to paint a portrait of a sheep, so I decided to use some of the new traditional Atelier Mediums to create the attached painting. I decided to use the traditional mediums because I was painting with Atelier Interactive Professional Artists’ Acrylics, and I wanted to work quickly , in order to build up my layers fast. I wanted this portrait to be more textural and have a physicality, and I knew that I wouldn’t really be exploring soft, subtle, extended wet-in-wet blending in this painting. The new mediums worked brilliantly and helped me achieve exactly what I wanted.

I painted some preliminary color studies using more naturalistic tones (Example 1), but I decided to pump up the colors and create a more expressive piece. I began by applying a layer of Cadmium Red Light (Scarlet) as an underpainting. I mixed in some Modelling Compound, and I used a palette knife to build up my surface so I would already have some texture at the beginning (Example 2). Nothing like painting on a red ground to give your painting some punch!!

I used the following colors: Cadmium Red Light (Scarlet), Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Yellow Light, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Pthalo Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Pthalo Green, Permanent Green Light, Dioxazine Purple and Titanium White. This palette is more extensive than my usual palette, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time mixing colors. Using more colors enabled me to make simple adjustments to the tube colors and also gave me a wider range of variations.

Once the red ground was dry, I built up my forms, using warm colors for light masses and cool colors for shadow masses. I used Matte Medium to help extend Atelier Interactive, to increase the translucency of the opaque colors and to aid the flow off the brush. The Matte Medium naturally produced a matte sheen, which was helpful because this painting was turning out to be rather bright. I covered my canvas quickly, letting some of the red underpainting peep through. (Example 3).

I further developed the painting adding more Matte Medium as needed to lubricate Atelier Interactive. Because I was painting in relatively thin layers, they dried quickly and I was able to overpaint without fear of layers blending. The thin layers also allowed the initial surface texture to still influence the painting (Example 4). When I was satisfied, I stopped and let my painting dry for about 1 hour. (Example 5).

Although I liked the painting so far, I wanted more luminous color depth, and glazing was the technique to use. But I also wanted more texture, and now I didn’t like the matte finish. I applied Regular Gel Gloss liberally with a palette knife (Example 6). This gel has the soft, buttery consistency of Atelier Interactive and could be used with a brush, but I wanted to push and pull the gel around, and build up areas with more texture. I wasn’t afraid when I had opaque sections , because the gels (Regular and Heavy) dry clear. I chose to apply Regular Gel Gloss instead of Regular Gel Matte because I wanted the rich color of glossy paint.

When the gel was completely dry, I used Acrylic Glazing Liquid and colors like Red Gold, Permanent Alizarine, Pthalo Blue, Quinacridone Magenta and Dioxazine Purple for glazes. These glazes would gather more in the valleys, instead of the "mountains," that I made using the Regular Gel (Gloss). The juxtaposition of luminous color and surface texture creates a dynamic tension in the piece and further adds to the buzz generated by the bright colors. Because of this, I decided to call this painting "Electric Sheep" (Example 7).

So there you have it - just one way of using the new Traditional Acrylic Mediums successfully. Other artists, like Alan Friend use these mediums in other ways. Take some time to explore these mediums the next time you use Atelier Interactive!

Published in Artist Blog

Join PA Marilyn Allis as she uses Interactive Acrylics to interpret a wet day in a Dominican market

The Caribbean Island of Dominica was full of colour, even in the warm rain that poured down on us for half an hour. This market scene was so appealing to paint; I loved the colours and the body language of the two ladies at their stall. I decided to use acrylics to paint this scene which captured the vibrancy and colour of the morning

“Caribbean Cocktail” by Marylin Allis …


Paints out of Interactive Acrylic colours:
• Cobalt Blue
• Arylamide Yellow Light
• Titanium White
• Naples Yellow Reddish
• PermanentAlizarin
• Brilliant Violet
• Cobalt Turquoise
• Prussian Blue
• Atelier water spray,
• Atelier Unlocking Formula
• Atelier Satin Medium & Varnish
• Atelier Impasto Gel
Brushes: • SAA silver 1”flat, • Size 6 long flat
Surface: Canvas , variable size


1. I Covered the canvas with very watered down Arylamide Yellow Light, Brilliant Violet, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Blue and Naples Yellow Reddish. Using the SAA 1” flat brush. I allowed the colours to mix and merge on the canvas

2. Once the washes had dried, I started to place the two main figures. In my photograph I
had cut off their feet (oops), but I felt that this wouldn’t really look good on the finished painting, so I have placed my ladies higher on the canvas and added legs and feet, using dabs of Alizarin Crimson and Prussian Blue.

3. Using thicker paint now I started to place the parasol using Naples Yellow Reddish, blending in some Titanium White on the canvas. I then used the Brilliant Violet, again blending in the white. This is where the Interactive Acrylic comes into its own; if you need to blend and your first layer of paint is starting to dry, you can just spray with water from the Fine Mist Water Sprayer and bring it back to a state you can work with.

If it has dried completely just use the Atelier Unlocking Formula and it will be workable once again. The left side of the photo was more in shadow and needed to be darkened so I added Alizarin Crimson and blended it in to darken the paint.

4. I added some Alizarin Crimson and Arylamide Yellow Light together for the first lady’s jumper and Prussian Blue with Alizarin Crimson for the other. Next using a flat brush I started to add objects that tell the story of my market scene, but not in any detail - just marks of colours. I will add the darker and lighter tones a bit later, when everything is in the correct place and I am happy with my composition.

5. I thought that the two women needed to be highlighted slightly so I blended in some yellow behind their heads. I loved the different textures of the canvas showing through in places, to the thicker, almost neat acrylic paint. Finally I added some thick Impasto Gel -not too much but enough to create interest. I added this to the Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson mix of the lady on the right hand side, some to the yellow of the sunshade and a little to the red jumper.

This hot scene was very invigorating to paint and I felt that by using the acrylic paint I had captured the vibrancy of this Caribbean market. I find I can enjoy much more freedom painting in this way, as there is no drawing beforehand, and because I can correct any mistakes I am far less inhibited!

There is a Chroma event Atelier Interactive Workshop with Marilyn coming up on 21st April, 2012. It is listed on the Chroma Events page. In addition, of this and other workshops with Marilyn and more of her paintings can be viewed at

Published in Artist Blog
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Magic of Mediums: Clear Painting Medium

The magic of mediums is that there is a painting medium for just about every type of application, especially with acrylics. Want to paint very texturally? Impasto Gel or Modelling Compound. Want matte paint? Matte Medium & Varnish. Need more working time? Slow or Thick Slow Medium. But sometimes you’ll find that there is one medium that you use, time and time again. For me, the workhorse in my studio is the Clear Painting Medium.

I love this medium. Why? I just love how it makes Interactive feel – it’s a creamy mid-viscosity medium and when added to the paint, Interactive becomes very easy to apply. The paint goes on smoothly and sensuously, and it adds just enough working time for my style – not too much, not too little. After all, one of the reasons I paint with acrylics is because they dry quickly, so I can layer and progress in a relatively fast manner. The Clear Painting Medium works great for glazing, as well as for wet-over-dry applications, which is a traditional acrylic technique. An added bonus – it works great with other professional acrylics too.

Early Evening, Summer , is a recent painting of mine, and I used the Clear Painting Medium extensively in this piece. This is 24 x 36 on canvas, and was painted in my very hot studio, which means Interactive was drying very fast because of the warm air and fan! In the first stage, I added a liberal amount of medium to the paint on my palette so I could block in the major light and dark masses. Next, I added it to the color mixtures so I could establish my values and local color. Then, as I was adjusting each mass for warm and cool temperatures and to adjust values, I would often apply some paint, and then dip my brush into the medium to help extend it and merge the edges. I also applied medium to my painting first, and then painted into the couch to get very soft transitions of color. Because the Clear Painting Medium is a mid-viscosity medium, it does not drip. I used it in the last stages for glazing, using about 80-90% medium to 10% paint. If my glaze was too strong, a little spritz of water and I was able to wipe the glaze back and soften it, too.

This wet-over-dry painting technique, using medium to help blend and fuse the edges, worked great in the water reflections and in the background trees, where I wanted a soft look. By using the Clear Painting Medium, I avoided having the sharp edges that are often a characteristic of a fast-dry acrylic painting. Of course, if I decided that I could best adjust the color by working wet-in-wet, I used the water sprayer and was able to blend the colors together.

If you are looking for a new go-to medium, the one you can always count on, try the Clear Painting Medium. I bet it will quickly become a favorite of yours, too!

Published in Artist Blog
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Basics of Blending

When it comes to smooth transitions in paintings, the most natural and intuitive way to suggest this is by blending. It’s easy to do with oil paint, but because of the fast-drying nature of acrylics, blending has been incredibly challenging with acrylics. Happily, blending is easy with Atelier Interactive, because it is the only acrylic that can be controlled to delay drying so you can blend, simply by using a water sprayer or by using the Unlocking Formula.

When it comes to blending with Interactive, there are a generally 3 circumstances you will encounter: during a session, you are busy painting and want to delay drying of tacky paint so you can blend in wet paint; during a session, you want to blend, but a section of your painting is now touch-dry, so wet paint is overpainting instead of blending; or it’s a few hours (or days) later, and the entire painting is touch-dry. What do you do?

You start by using Chroma’s Fine Mist Sprayer. This atomizer delivers a mist that you spray onto your Interactive painting. Interactive will absorb this moisture and become workable again. It’s good to use Chroma’s Fine Mist Sprayer because it delivers a very fine spray, instead of huge water droplets, and is easier to control.

So in the 1st circumstance, you are painting and blending, but you feel the paint becoming tacky and your brush beginning to drag. That’s Interactive interacting with you (and how the paint got it’s name). The paint is telling you that if you want to keep blending and working wet-in-wet, then you need to replace evaporated moisture and spray using water in your Fine Mist Sprayer. You need to spray just enough until Interactive absorbs the moisture and your fingers glide on the surface. Just touch your painting – you’ll see the wet paint on your finger!

In the 2nd circumstance, you’ve been painting, and you want to blend into another section, but that section is now touch-dry. No worries – you can still use your water sprayer! I find I can typically rehydrate touch-dry paint with water so I can blend, for up to 3 hours or so, depending on my surface, the humidity in the environment, how thickly I painted, and if I incorporated any Slow Mediums. Naturally, using Interactive on a well-sealed surface in a painterly, impasto manner gives you more working time with water alone, than if you were painting very thin layers on an absorbent surface.

The 3rd circumstance is when it’s a few hours or days later and you want to blend. You Interactive painting is still touch-dry, but has begun to cure. At this point, you’ll want to fill your Fine Mist Sprayer with Unlocking Formula. Spray that section of your painting with Unlocking Formula as before – just enough until you fingers glide on the surface and the paint is workable again. Now you can feather edges, adjust values or incorporate fresh paint into dry layers. It’s pretty amazing! Interactive generally cures in about 10-12 days in the American Northeast (where I live), but curing time adds or decreases by a few days depending on the surface, the humidity in the environment, how thickly you painted, and if you incorporated any Fast or Slow Mediums

Remember, blending is an option you choose to explore - you don’t have to if you don’t want to! If you just want to overpaint using traditional acrylic techniques, simply withhold the water spray and let your Interactive paintings set up. You can also choose to incorporate some of the fast-drying mediums, like Binder, Fast Medium/Fixer, Impasto Gel or Modelling Compound. On the flip side, you can add to the time Interactive stays workable with water by incorporating slow-drying mediums, like Slow, Thick Slow or Clear Painting Medium.

Sometimes it’s easier to watch these techniques in action, and you can view a video below that shows these techniques. But probably the best way to learn is to try it for yourself! If you have any comments or tips to share, please post them below!

Published in Artist Blog