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Outdoor Sketching on Watercolour Paper

Whether sketching with Absolute Matte (my favourite) or Atelier Interactive on watercolour paper quick use has to be made of the water spray to balance out the absorbency of the paper itself.

There is another factor to be aware of: washes, especially of certain transparent or semi-transparent colours, using the whiteness factor of the paper itself, are exceptionally vivid, and can be made use of by painters with watercolour skills. Unfortunately, I always bury this stage in more opaque overpainting and end up with an acrylic or gouache painting on paper but painters with more skills could cunningly combine these effects into their work.

If, like me, you can’t take advantage of this stage it may be better to work on a gessoed surface (which could also be watercolour paper if you like the rough surface). Doing so removes the transition stage between transparent and opaque which can be difficult to control tonally as well.

I have learned to get control by obliterating the transparent or watercolour phase of the painting with thicker paint.
My wife tends to use the transparent stage better, but complains about the tonal balance which is difficult to control between the transparent and more opaque areas.

A big advantage of Absolute Matte over traditional gouache is that it is easy to build up subtle washes in layers. It’s a pity so few painters have developed gouache skills which transfer so advantageously to Absolute Matte while watercolourists struggle on, not knowing how useful Absolute Matte could be to them.

There are (4) Comments, Comments are now closed for this discussion?
  1. comment_1_1461

    commented on Avril 30, 2007, at 5:19 pm.

    Hi Jim, Would have entered a comment earlier but been having problems with stupid computers. Keith Norris here wishing to inform you that I have been enjoying many easy, exciting, encouraging results with students using the following method with absolute matte as a water colour.
    With either clear film canisters (becomming scarce at photo shops) or the 8 capped plastic pot containers (joined) available at some art stores. Add a small portion of a m (size of nail on small finger) to container half filled with DISTILLED WATER from the super market for steam irons- cheap and safe. Tap water, with chlorine bleaches colour and strips off paper size, and fluride etc. reacts unfavourably contaminating the paint solution so that it goes off i.e. high on the nose- phew. Mix with small brush and add more distilled water to almost full. Cap and shake with finger on cap. My students carry these in a small cheap fishing box (approx $10 to $20) with all the film containers plus empty spares, sitting in the top tray ready for use. (brushes etc underneath). Shake before use (not neccessary after a drive to location) for thin washes dip brush no more than halfway down, for thicker application dip deep to the bottom of the container where there is more pigmant.
    This method enables an inexperienced painter to produce pleasing transparent water colours even in hot onsite locations, (pre wet paper if required). The weak mix of colour allows multiple washes and if each wash is allowed to dry before the next application, there will be no softening or staining of the under wash. Thus you can have layer upon layer to adjust and increase tone (no mud) but still retain transparency that is the envy of traditional water colourists.

    Students that have tried this method obtain excellent fresh results and their control of application is totally non threatening to the inexperienced, because an added wash can be wiped off if not satisfactory, without lifting off the underpainting.

    At the last Grafton Artfest I was demonsrating atelier intractive and absolute matte. The a m water colour samples I dislayed with traditional watercolours, were prefered as they were "cleaner" "more transparent" "brighter" and chosen as best. The veiwers were not informed which were the acrylics but absolute matte were the favoured water colours.
    However, one experienced artist in the audience was able to detect every absolute matte painting, because of the clean application of each successive wash clearly sitting on top of the previous layer. "The colours had not fused in the way traditional water colours do" she said- but, she thought the acrylics to be superior.
    That week I had a class water colouring with Interactive which gave a closer similarity to traditional water colours because the previous Interactive washes were slightly softening when another wash was added.
    So Chroma now has two advanced water colour ranges in its stable. Congratulations.

    Regards: Keith Norris Artist/Tutor. April 30, 2007

  2. comment_2_1461

    Sally commented on Mai 10, 2007, at 7:24 pm.

    Dear Jim,

    I recently attended a course with Keith Norris at the Autumn Grafton Artsfest. It was actually in Sept/06 when Keith introduced me to your AM acrylics. I was very happy with the results I achieved and then last month when I attended my second course with Keith, I was able to try your Interactives.

    The results were very pleasing - so much so, I am now slowly building up my colours in this great product. I feel at last I have found a range of acrylics that will allow me to achieve my aims; a wonderful "cross-over" from pure watercolours, giving me the best of all styles with one product.

    I found Keith to be an inspiring demonstrator and tutor and enjoyed every minute of his classes.

    Thank you for giving us the chance to try these products - I'm sold on them and am telling my friends and fellow members of the Grafton Art Club just how good they are.

    Yours faithfully,


  3. comment_3_1461

    Carol Anne Swan commented on Mai 22, 2008, at 12:19 pm.

    Hello Jim,
    Although I have not been contributing to paint talk I thought I would let you know that I am reading and enjoying it very much. I have just printed off "Interactive Basic information guide" which I know is going to be a big help to me. I have been quite intimidated to take part as I am sure many others are, I have not met an artist yet that feels they are good enough and I am no exception. I decided to bite the bullet because I felt that there may be many others out there that feel as I do. I decided to take part in paint talk today is because. For Christmas this year, my daughter gave me a blog.(Can you believe it?) I am of the age group where one feels proud that they can manage to email someone. Now I am the owner of a blog. As I am sure all mothers do, I acted at the time as if I thought it was the best thing she could have ever given me. However I couldn't hang it on the fridge this time and forget about it, I have had to learn about it and update it.I might add I now love it.On my blog I have a section that says "please comment". Every day I check to see if anyone has written a comment. I say with tongue in cheek, I have become so popular (hee hee), since Christmas I have had 5 comments. However my daughter tells me that I often get up to 50 hits a day, (see I am even learning how to speak the language) I know this is a long winded explanation, but I decided I am just as bad as I also just look instead of taking part in paint talk.

  4. comment_4_1461

    Carol Anne Swan commented on Mai 24, 2008, at 11:55 am.

    Hello again Jim,
    I have been reading what Keith Norris has had to say about Absolute Matt and Atelier Interactive being used as water colours. I have been to one of the demonstrations that Keith has given and I was certainly impressed. My question is however, is it possible to enter a watercolour exhibition if you have used acrylics?
    Carol Swan