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Reports from the Road

My name is Jennifer, and I’m a Resident Artist for Chroma USA. I have a fun job – I travel around the country, talk to other artists and work with our paint. The travel can be a bit nutty (sometimes I don’t remember where I live!) but I truly love meeting all of the artists who attend my workshops or demos at the universities, art societies and retail venues.

My focus since November 2006 has been on Atelier Interactive. I thought it would be a good idea to post some feedback I’ve gotten from other artists I met, and begin a thread where you can post your own feedback or ask some questions. I’ll be posting new “Reports from the Road” frequently, so check back to see what the topic will be.

So far, I’ve visited, painted and talked with artists from the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Northwest, Southeast, Northeast - just about everywhere in the USA. During my travels, I've heard lots of positive comments about Interactive.

From an artist in Colorado:


I love this paint…the colors are so vibrant…mixes beautifully.


From Vermont:


Interactive accepts the brush readily.


From North Carolina:


Patrons have been commissioning more acrylic portraits since I started using your product. I feel like the paint allows me to achieve a new glow... a richer range of color.


From Alabama:


Interactive is fascinating like oils and easily manipulated.


From Texas:

The blending is marvelous.


From Georgia:


These are NOT your father's acrylics!


Regardless of where I go, I always get asked the same 2 questions - “How long does Interactive stay workable?” and “How long does it take Interactive to dry?” Since artists paint in all sorts of locations and in all sorts of different ways, here are some points to consider, gathered from other artists and from personal painting experience…

1 Climate!

We all know how important our climate is, but your actual painting climate can have a huge effect on how Interactive behaves and how quickly it gets to that tacky/sticky stage when you need to rehydrate to continue painting wet-in-wet. It may seem obvious, but a warm, dry environment with air circulating around you will make Interactive dry faster than if you were painting in a humid environment. In warm climates, adding Slow Medium to your paint and using the water sprayer and/or Unlocking Formula frequently will be key if you want to work wet-in-wet. For example, I spoke with an artist who was painting plein air in the deserts of the Southwest. He found that just rehydrating his painting with water wasn’t bringing the paint back to the point where he could blend like he wanted. When I asked if he used Slow Medium or tried the Unlocking Formula, he told me he hadn’t.

The next day, when he used these suggestions, he had greater success painting. Another Southeast artist told me that he had difficulty reopening the paint with just water in an indoor environment. He was painting live in a restaurant, with hot spotlights on his work. Sure enough, when he adjusted the spotlights so his painting wasn’t getting so hot, he was able to use the water sprayer. Recently I was painting in my un-air conditioned studio during a 92? F day. I had multiple fans running, but with the lights and the hot air circulating I found I needed Slow Medium and Unlocking Formula to be able to blend on my large painting. Now, if you paint in a humid environment (such as at the seashore or in a semi-tropical locale) you’ll find that Interactive stays “blendable” just by rehydrating with your water sprayer. Of course, how thickly you paint and what mediums you add will also make a difference in the drying time.

2 Surface Prep!

In an earlier post, Jim wrote about the importance of choosing a stable canvas. In addition to choosing a good surface, it is so important to properly prepare it. If you find that Interactive is drying faster on your surface than you expected, consider using the Binder Medium. I’ve found that many adhesion issues artists have had with Interactive has been because a surface hasn’t been primed thoroughly. Even though a canvas or board may say “pre-primed” who knows how well “pre-primed” is? If you plan to show or sell a piece or just make quality artwork, take the time to give your surface one or two coats of Binder Medium or gesso. Not only will this promote better paint adhesion for your Interactive work, but also when applied to canvas or paper, the Binder Medium will slow down the loss of moisture through the substrate. (Unless, of course, you are looking to stain your canvas or paper – but I’ll save that for another report!)

Artists, what are your thoughts on dry time and surface prep? What is your experience with Interactive? Regardless of where you live (US, AU, UK, North Pole, South Pole, etc.), I’d like to know what you’re doing with Interactive.

There are (8) Comments, Comments are now closed for this discussion?
  1. comment_1_2060

    Bob777 commented on July 28, 2007, at 4:57 am.

    Jennifer what you say is right. I've found the Unlocking Formula makes it all possible. I'd add one thing...don't expect anything to make it just like oil paint. I've used AI in Italy, Costa Rica and the U.S. Never had any trouble flying with them. I've also been able to use AI for a technique similar to oil rubout. Can't see a way to post an image.

  2. comment_2_2060

    Ginger Cook commented on July 28, 2007, at 5:02 am.

    I am a professional artist living in the humid climate of Houston Texas. Thanks to air conditioning I would say that humidity in the studio is not a problem. I prefer to use two 9x12 white wax paper tear off pallets, one for cool colors and one for warm. When I stop for lunch or the day, I can put the pallet tablets in two air tight rectangular disposable cake containers ($1.00) from the grocery store. It’s a perfect fit and the paints don’t skin over if misted. I like the extra fine crhomaline water mister as there are no drips when spraying the paint on the canvas.
    I have had good experience with the interactive drying time. I think the paint is easier on my brushes and they clean with soap and water far better than ordinary acrylics with much less effort. A brush is not ruined if left out by mistake. As I buy very expensive brushes (Ruby Satin Silver Brights) and I appreciate this.
    I keep a hair dryer handy for fast drying. I like this method, because if I need to I can still wake them up later on”.
    I would like to add that Interactive acrylics have a different color quality than normal acrylics, and resemble the softer more romantic feel of a muted oil painting but with vibrancy in color that allows a popping of color when desired.
    This is really the leading edge of painting and more inventive than most people realize.

  3. comment_3_2060

    Bob777 commented on July 28, 2007, at 5:03 am.

    Go here to see it, a work in progress

    "I Remember", 36x36" on panel. Forth row down, left hand image.

  4. comment_4_2060

    personalartist commented on July 28, 2007, at 7:00 am.

    Hi Jennifer! I was thrilled to see my "North Carolina" quote here in your report! It's true, I am a huge fan! I have to admit, I was slow to use the Atelier Fine Mist Water Sprayer because I thought "c'mon, it's a water bottle!" But NO! It's the best I've used. And it makes all the difference when I spray the canvas as well as my palette. My brushes are so much happier! As a portraitist, I need those colors to stay workable for awhile! Interactive has no equal! I've used a lot of paint and I've painted a lot of portraits, but it has never been as exciting as it is now that I am using Interactive. I do find that I have to spray more when I am using hot lights in the studio, but it's nothing compared to the faster drying acrylics I've used in the past.
    I am interested in what you have to say about staining the canvas.... This is something I do pretty regularly, so do tell more! example:

  5. comment_5_2060

    NanS commented on July 29, 2007, at 3:34 pm.

    Jennifer, I agree with what you said about surface preparation and how important it is. I was using a canvas board this week and forgot to seal it or put gesso on it and it wasn't as easy to work on as the sealed ones. I purchased Atelier paints to supplement the free samples that our collaborative group, Canvas by Canvas, used in the Queensland Gold (sunflower) that's in the Atelier Gallery. There was a lot of excitement and comments the day we put the paints on our palettes to begin painting on Queensland Gold. First the tubes are so colorful and I like to stand them up in containers and place them in a large plastic tub so I can quickly find the color I need. I placed a small dab of color on the cap and it saves me a lot of "looking" time. I have made a slide show, Calypso Series 1-10, that's on my blog. I had posted these paintings separately but in the July 26, 2007 post, the ten are all together. These are small pieces 5 x 7 painted with Atelier on gessoed watercolor paper. I love working on the gessoed watercolor paper and then attach it to a gallery wrapped.canvas. Here is a good example of some of the very vivid colors and you can tell I really like Brilliant Magenta. On another blog site where I contribute,, I have posted a lemon painting witn a recipe collage (July 23, 2007) and a painting of a bowl of tomato basil soup with a recipe collage. Several have asked how the recipe looks transparent and blends with the background - thanks go to some transparent Atelier Interactives. One of the CBC group emailed me tonight and said "I really like the paint and will probably stick with it." I know I'll need to order more Brilliant Magenta soon!
    Nancy Standlee, Texas

  6. comment_6_2060

    romi commented on August 24, 2007, at 4:08 pm.

    i am a user of the old atelier paints and find the new ones to smell like
    peroxide. has anyone else experienced this.


  7. comment_7_2060

    Jennifer commented on August 31, 2007, at 10:45 am.

    Your comment about the paint having a peroxide smell is interesting. I checked with our paint maker and there is no peroxide content nor anything used in production that would make it smell any different from the ‘old’ Atelier.

    Jars and tubes of paint generally have some air trapped inside and this may give off a ‘chemical’ smell upon opening but it will dissipate quickly if the lid is left off for a few minutes. There is nothing dangerous about this smell - the paint meets all health and safety requirements. I've noticed that smell with other brands of acrylics too!

    I’d be interested to know if you are enjoying access to all the new techniques?

  8. comment_8_2060

    Kathy Hodge commented on July 1, 2008, at 3:11 am.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for the tips on monoprinting with Interactives. Jennifer suggested using a layer of Thick Slow Medium on the plate as the first layer. I then painted on top of this layer, being careful not to disturb the medium too much, which wasn't difficult as it was so thick. I used a glass plate and hand rubbing to transfer on to rice paper. It worked great, picking up almost all the paint. I'm going to explore this technique and will post some finished work when I do.

    I also gave a demo to a class and the teacher tried a technique that we found very interesting. He found an old charcoal drawing on newsprint and sprayed it using the Fine Mist Water Sprayer with a thin layer of Fast Medium/Fixer. After it dried, he over-painted with transparent layers of color. It worked beautifully, no smudging or mixing of the charcoal underneath. The students thought that the Fast Medium/Fixer might make a good non-toxic fixer in its own right for their charcoal drawings. Otherwise they need to go outside to spray the usual fixatives. I would just advise emptying the bottle and rinsing it out when finished so it doesn't clog.

    Sometimes you learn a lot by teaching!

    Kathy Hodge