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Gloss Is Good

Chroma recently made a decision to separate the acrylic Matte, Satin and Gloss Medium/Varnishes into two separate products - now there are Matte, Satin and Gloss Mediums, and Matte, Satin and Gloss Varnishes. If you wonder why we made this decision - you are not alone!

At the most fundamental level, painting mediums exist to alter viscosity and sheen, while varnishes exist to provide protective coating that may or may not adjust the sheen of a painting. While it is acceptable to have combination products, feedback from artists helped guide us in the decision to split this line into distinct tracks.

For example, feedback on the original Gloss Medium/Varnish was that it was wonderful as a varnish, but not as nice as a painting medium. In the new version of Gloss Medium, the medium itself is a creamy, mid-viscosity product that helps to lubricate Atelier Interactive so it glides off the brush. It provides a beautiful richness and depth to colors right from the very start of a painting. Additionally, as a Gloss Medium, it helps Interactive dry hard and fast, allowing for quick layering. paring it to the new formulation. There’s nothing wrong withe the original combo product - no need to throw it out! - but after comparing the original formula to the latest version, we decided that the original Gloss Medium/Varnish was a bit too “loose.”

Having a separate varnish, like Matte, Satin or Gloss Varnish, certainly makes life easier for artists too, as now they can paint as desired, and make a decision on the overall sheen for aesthetic purpose when the painting is completed. As with all varnishes, wait until you painting has cured (about 2 weeks or more, depending on how thickly you painted and environmental factors), apply an isolation coat of 1-2 layers of Binder or Fast Medium, let dry, and then varnish.

In this commissioned portrait, I worked from life studies and photos, and used Atelier Interactive as my paint. Using Gloss Medium from the beginning helped set the tone for a light, bright, happy painting that matched the mood of the innocent children. First, I created a charcoal sketch to get my values straight. Because this was a portrait, I used a smooth surface (Ampersand Gessoboard) that was toned with Yellow Ochre . I thinned the Yellow Ochre with Gloss Medium and applied it loosely with a large brush. Once this was dry, I transferred the drawing to my surface.

Now I had some choices - did I want to build this painting up using more traditional layering techniques, or I want to paint more expressively? I decided to use a combination of both, keeping the children’s faces a bit tighter, while being a bit more free with paint in the background. I used Gloss Medium mixed with my paint to get the basic composition down

I used my standard, modern Impressionist palette and added a few classic portrait colors: Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Transparent Yellow, Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Alizarine, Crimson, Transparent Perinone Orange, Brilliant Magenta, Dioxazine Purple, Cobalt Blue, Pthalo Blue, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Dioxazine Purple, and Pthalo Green Some of these colors were only used a wee bit at the end to add some punch, but the bright opaque color, like Cadmium Yellow Light were perfect for impasto highlights. Example 1 shows my initial block in of the faces.

I used just enough medium to help the paint flow off my brush. For measuring minded folks, it would be about 1 part medium to 9 parts paint. For those who wing it (like me!) I just have some medium in a cup and dip the tip of my brush into it, before I mix and apply a color. My goal for the second stage was to nail down my tonal relationships and local color. (Example 2)

Now came the fun part - skin! Since I became a mom about 18 months ago, I have found that I study children’s skin a lot. Children not only have a roundness to their face, but they have a certain glow. Generally, there are certain color changes to look for in a face. The forehead is creamy and more yellow, the middle section is pink or red, and the lower part goes toward cool green-blue, except for the tip of the chin which tends to be on the pink side. Again, general rules....

I made many, many glazes of colors like Quin. Magenta, Pthalo Blue, Cerulean Blue, Pthalo Green, Permanent Alizarine and Transparent Perinone Orange,using a ratio of about 9 parts glaze to 1 part paint.. I applied this for shadow areas, and also scumbled (dry brushed) it on the skin to create a luminosity. (Ex. 3).

Gloss Medium not only helped the paint respond well under the brush and helped layers dry quickly, but my children looked fresh and alive because they glowed. If I used Matte Medium, although my paint still would have responded well and dried quickly, the aesthetics would not have been the same during the painting process.

One thing to be aware of when using Gloss Medium (or using a Gloss Varnish ) is that photographing your work can be a challenge. Make sure to set up lights accordingly to minimize glare - as you can see in Example 4, that;s something I needed to do!

So next time you want to use traditional acrylic painting techniques with Interactive, give Gloss medium a try. You may come to the same conclusion that I did - Gloss is good!