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One of the very first decisions you need to make when beginning the art making process is what medium you will use to express your vision. Will it be paint, charcoal, pastel, pencil? And if it is paint, will it be watercolor, oils, acrylic, gouache, etc.? So many decisions to make before you even start making a mark. For times like this, Atelier Free Flow may very well be the answer to “What should I use?”

Atelier Free Flow Rainbow

For this painting, I wanted to HAVE FUN. I just wrapped up a show dealing with “heavy” themes, and I wanted to make this painting of koi quickly, in a loose way that I still could control. Atelier Free Flow was the perfect choice for a variety of reasons: as a fluid paint, I can put down a lot of paint quickly to cover my surface, I could vary the marks from a watercolor wash to more impasto details using the Atelier Holding Medium, and because of its lush, matte surface finish, I could incorporate other media such as pencil, charcoal and ink very easily.

I began as I typically do, by toning my surface. I was painting on canvas, so I used Atelier Free Flow Gesso in Light Red Ochre. I knew that this earthy red ground would make the blues and greens pop. I made very rough outlines of my composition using vine charcoal and began to paint. Using mixtures of Cadmium Orange, Permanent Green Light, Arylamide Yellow Light, Viridian, Cobalt Blue Hue, Pthalo Blue (Red Shade), and Titanium White, I filled in wide areas of initial color.

At this stage, I used water to dilute the paint. Working vertically on my easel, I really didn’t mind any drips or runs. If drips would be a concern to you, try working horizontally on a table.

I applied more color, layer upon layer. I was working in a hot studio, so I misted my palette with distilled water to keep my mixed colors from drying so quickly. When I got to the middle stage, I wanted to have a bit more body in the paint, so I used Atelier Holding Medium to bulk up the paint. I used this medium to create impasto glazes which I then scratched into, adding some texture and dimension.

As much as I liked this painting, I wanted to push it. I used Atelier Thin Medium with Free Flow to create ultra-fluid mixtures that I splashed and splattered onto the painting. (I also could have used Atelier Artists’ Pigmented Inks for these effects as well.) I used chalk pastel to create soft lines and add other areas of impact. The chalk pastel took to the matte surface very nicely, as did the soft pastels and pencils.

My approach was just one way to make a Free Flow painting. Whether you use the paint for its fluid viscosity or for its brilliant, velvety surface finish, Free Flow is a paint that opens up many possibilities for expression.

Jennifer VonStein working

About the author:

I am Jennifer VonStein, and I have been Chroma Inc.’s US-based Resident Artist for over 15 years. I work primarily with acrylics, oils, watercolors, inks and mixed media/collage, and I do my best to help artists with their practical considerations or concerns about materials for their art. If you have any questions, please email me at When I am not working for Chroma, you can find me in my studio, telling the stories of my subjects with paint. My work is held in private and corporate collections internationally.

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