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Grounds & Varnishes

Surface Prep

Surface Preps are products used to prepare a surface for painting. Effective grounds should have good adhesion to the painting surface. They should be flexible, have suitable “tooth” for overpainting and create a good sealing barrier between the painting surface and subsequent layers of paint.

Binder Medium

A water-based acrylic emulsion, which can be used straight from the bottle or thinned with water 1:1 to seal most surfaces. Atelier Binder Medium can be used as a sizing on canvas or cotton duck to seal the surface and prevent absorption of paint into the fabric. Mix with paint to dilute colour without losing intensity. Use neat between dry paint layers to seal or mix with Atelier Interactive for fast drying acrylic techniques.


A flexible acrylic ground with a high grit content designed to provide a stable white surface on which to paint. Atelier Gesso may be used directly from the container for all over thick textural effects.

Liquid Gesso

Has a thinner consistency which spreads more easily for a smoother painting surface.

Free Flow Gesso

It is always a good idea to prepare any “pre-prepared” canvas with a good Gesso before you start a painting. This new range of Free Flow Gessos has a particularly easy to spread fluid consistency. The surface is gritty when the Gesso dries and for a smoother finish it can be sandpapered but users might like to consider the gritty tooth unmodified. It is good for mixed media and easier to apply than less fluid Gessos.

The colours now available in the Free Flow Gesso are: Unbleached Titanium, Raw Sienna, Light Red Ochre, Indian Red Oxide, Carbon Black.


Final Varnishes are used to protect the completed painting and to adjust the surface quality of the paint. If your painting is too shiny or matte, you can correct the surface by choosing the appropriate varnish.

Chroma Solvent Finishing Varnishes

Solvent based, non-yellowing strippable varnishes which means paintings can be cleaned more easily at a later date by swabbing with mineral turps. Chroma Solvent Varnishes are available in Satin, Gloss and Invisible. Invisible Varnish provides a protective coating and does not alter the surface quality of a painting.

Universal Medium/Varnish

The Universal Medium is a medium and varnish rolled into one.

As a water-based varnish, it is comparable to solvent varnish. It is very easy to apply. It gives the color saturation and enhancement of a good solvent based varnish. By adding water to the concentrate, different levels of sheen can be created between low sheen and high gloss. Artists should experiment with color swatches to decide on the finishes that they prefer, as it is non-removable.

Directions: Apply a seal coat of one part varnish:one part water. This allows the varnish to penetrate and seal the paint layer so that a more concentrated varnish can be spread easily when the seal coat is dry. Use full strength for a gloss finish or thin with water for a satin finish.

As a medium, use as a fast medium for layering. Small additions to the paint reduce viscosity sharply and layers dry faster.

Matte, Satin & Gloss Varnishes

Low viscosity products made from hard acrylic emulsion. Can be used as an over-varnish for Atelier Interactive and other traditional acrylic paints. To use as a varnish over an Interactive painting, seal with 2 coats of Fast Medium/Fixer before varnishing. They are non-removable, however they can be over painted. The acrylic varnish may be mixed with acrylics as a low viscosity medium to change the sheen levels or to dilute for glazing. Atelier Interactive will dry fast and waterproof if used in this way.