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Plein Air Painting With Interactive

I first invented Interactive in 2003 and in 2005 Atelier Interactive was in public use, in fact it replaced our conventional fast drying Atelier Acrylic and most people in Australia and New Zealand have been using it for 3 years, while I have 5 years experience. Over this time I have done a lot of plein air painting with Interactive and it works really well - the ability to slow the drying time and rehydrate the paint makes it so much easier to use than a regular acrylic, especially in dry or windy conditions.

Here is an information sheet that covers my experience when painting with Interactive Plein Air and in other difficult conditions.

Drying Time & The Effect of Hostile Climate

There is another new very slow drying acrylic out now but since Interactive is the innovator with the track record I suggest you try it first. It is also a universal paint, for both fast and slow use, so you won’t need 2 varieties. I hope you will find Atelier Interactive not just creamy, but crème de la crème!

My job as a paint maker keeps me chained to my easel probably more than I am to my laboratory bench, and June, July, August and September are the favourite months for plein air painting in Australia. The weather is dry and not too hot in the tropical and desert areas where artists like to go to paint outdoors.
This report is from Yepoon on the Tropic of Capricorn coast. My wife and I have scheduled trips to Chillagoe, Mt Isa and Alice Springs so I have marked them all out on the weather map which also gives average humidity expectations that are crucial to plein air planning for any water based paints.
Note also where we live in the wet tropical belt. End of June is supposed to be the dry season, but humidity here this morning was 87%. We live in the hills and do not use either heating or air conditioning so our studio conditions are always “plein air” and I have to plan paint use for extreme wet to extreme dry conditions.

Notes on the Yepoon Paintings on view:

Most were painted on watercolour paper. For the oil painting gesso was used to seal the paper.

All the water based paintings used the slow moist bed laying in method.

And they took on average 2 – 2 ½ hours to paint.

Water spray was used for laying in. The spray mix one part retarder to 2 parts water. I don’t recall spraying after laying in, but it is possible I did once more – it’s hard to remember when one is busy painting.

The temperature was low 20 C or low 70’s F, with a brisk sea breeze.

Humidity would have been mid range. (We will take a hygrometer on our next trips).

On the screen images you can’t distinguish the oil from the Atelier Interactive’s or Absolute Matte’s but of course in real life you can because of the surface qualities, however varnished - oil and Atelier Interactive would be hard to pick.

The oil, done with Archival Oils, Laying-in Medium and Flow Gel was tacky but “dry” the next day. The Atelier Interactive and Absolute Matte paintings were dried out in sunlight enough to be put on the car seats to go back to base.

Josephine has provided some images (Low Tide) to give an idea of laying in with Atelier Interactive which is similar to oil laying in (using spray and Thick Slow Medium) and since the paint is wet, alterations to the drawing are done by wiping out instead of overpainting dry paint. You need to remember to bring rags.

We have got used to, and now prefer, the wet method with laying in but we think many artists will “move across” slowly, using fast technique (no water spray allowed!) to block in to a stage where blending becomes useful.

NOTE: When out sketching I tend to be fast and untidy, and I like to be able to fuss around later when I get the painting home. If it is too late to respond to water spray, the Unlocking Formula is very useful for reblending and saves a lot of time where previously one would have had to mix fresh paint and try to match.

I know Cezanne would have made a better job of it, but I think our efforts show that the paint works perfectly for plein air.

For more information see the Paint Talk article from Jennifer called Tips for plein air painting

PS: Interactive would work well for figure painting too but I need some examples because we don’t do it ourselves.

There are (4) Comments, Comments are now closed for this discussion?
  1. comment_1_5974

    Lorraine Wingfield commented on August 6, 2008, at 4:07 pm.


    I often find myself getting confused with all the different mediums but will experiment more with the Thick Slow Med. as you can really tell the difference on the left rock face. Also using the retarder in the spray bottle with the water is a great tip. I love the Interactive range. The consistancy and colours are fabulous to work with.

  2. comment_2_5974

    Jennifer commented on August 15, 2008, at 3:09 am.

    Hi there! I love Low Tide - what a great example of how you can use the Thick Slow Medium.

    I paint plein air whenever I can, and I recently went out on a day that was perfect. It was was cloudy (a nice day to paint – the light stayed nice and even), temperature in the 80s and the humidity was high, about 80% . After about 2 hours it began to rain slightly, but as I was under a tree it didn’t affect the painting or my palette.

    My Interactive colors included a range of opacities: Indian Yellow (transparent), Cadmium Yellow Medium (opaque), French Ultramarine Blue (semi-transparent), Cobalt Blue (semi-transparent), Pyrrole Red (opaque), Quinacridone Magenta (transparent) Pthalo Green (transparent), Permanent Sap Green (transparent) and Titanium White (opaque). I used Interactive straight out of the tube, no mediums, just water and a water sprayer only.

    In this case, on an unprimed board, the paint started to tack up fairly quickly, so I just sprayed the surface when I needed to and kept blending in my trees, the water, the foliage. Simply using this technique allowed me to re-open those touch dry areas so I could blend, soften edges and mix paint. I had to spray the paint often, but it wasn’t a big deal because I know that Interactive is designed to set up.

    I was able to apply a heavier layer of paint easily, and the paint retained the mark, which I liked.

    If I wanted a more fluid paint I simply used a bit of water to thin Interactive. At one point, I got overzealous with my water sprayer and when I mixed wet paint with a stiffer brush, it started to lift. I simply backed off and let the underlayer get to that nice blendable stage, and then I was able to blend the way I wanted to, simply using wet paint without the water sprayer and a softer brush. Interactive dried to an even, satin finish, and it was a very satisfactory painting experience. By the end of the session, the painting was touch-dry and I could put it into my backpack to transport safely.

    No paint on the car, no bug bites, no sun in my eyes and a decent painting to boot, in about 3 hours - what a good day!

  3. comment_3_5974

    walk49 commented on August 31, 2008, at 11:52 am.

    Hi, I have been working with Atelier Interactive acrylics recently. When I first used the acrylics, I only tried Slow Medium because I didn’t like the fast drying procedure. To be honest, I have been rather frustrated about the fast drying acrylic colours. The colours were getting dull and flat looking as they were dried. However, I have found that interactive colours were vibrant and quite workable when I tried them in plein air painting weeks ago. At that time I only used Fast Medium for my painting then it almost dried by the time when I finished my painting. I am still playing with mediums as I believe that using right medium in right place makes rich colours for paintings .In the studio I have used Slow Medium, but still dried faster than oils. So I sprayed water on the painting before layering next day. The water spray techniques worked well. I used it frequently for big canvas. With The Fast dry medium, I worked on it when it was pretty windy and sunny day near the river. I think I should have used slow medium for the weather because I couldn’t clean my palette which was too dried to wipe in the end. I am satisfied with Interactive acrylics in outdoor painting more than oils as I tend to paint quickly for the plein air painting.

    What do I have use when I over- paint with oils on acrylic paintings which were weeks old?

    Posted Painting 1 is done with acrylics in the studio, and Painting 2 is with acrylics from plein air painting.



  4. comment_4_5974

    Nilesh commented on September 7, 2008, at 4:39 am.

    "All the water based paintings used the slow moist bed laying in method."

    Can you give the details of what is involved in this method?, or refer me to a source of more information about it?

    Also, any additional tips on attaining long open times (without spraying or with minimal spraying), especially while painting in fast-drying climates and conditions, would be much appreciated.