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I am Alan Friend, an artist from the United Kingdom and friend of Chroma. Jim Cobb asked me to take a look at the new Atelier mediums which Chroma has released, Traditional Gloss Medium, Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss), and Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss). The following article is a comprehensive explanation how mediums function and the purpose of these newest additions to Chroma’s stable.
‘Mediums’ is the term generally, if somewhat confusingly, used to describe both mediums and gels. The word ‘mediums’ has various meanings in art. Marion Boddy-Evans in her Painting Guide at www.about.com notes one meaning as, “… something used to change the consistency of the paint.” www.Artlex.com states, “Medium can also refer to what carries a paint's pigments, and is also called a vehicle or a base.” Such definitions encompass both mediums and gels, and the word ’mediums’ is thus the accepted term to describe both products.
There are two basic types of Atelier Mediums; Interactive Mediums and Traditional Mediums. Interactive Mediums are formulated so as to maintain or enhance the re-wetting properties of Interactive. These are specialist mediums formulated by Chroma with the unique qualities of Interactive in mind. The new mediums are all Traditional Mediums and are formulated to be used not only with Interactive but also with conventional acrylic paint. This means Traditional Gloss Medium, Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss), and Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) will possess all the qualities that traditional acrylic mediums have, including the ability to dry fast and waterproof.
Using the new mediums with Interactive will, therefore, revert Interactive to conventional acrylic paint and allow the artist to employ any technique normally done with conventional acrylic paint. Interactive users thus have the best of both worlds, being able to combine the unique properties of Interactive with the standard characteristics of acrylic paint.
Before examining what the new mediums can do it is worth reviewing some of the properties and qualities of acrylic mediums in general. By so doing the specific qualities of Traditional Gloss Medium, Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss) and Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) can be better understood as can the potential uses of each product. Mediums and gels are made of exactly the same thing, namely, acrylic polymers, which is also the substance that acrylic paint is made of. Both mediums and gels are, in actuality, acrylic paint without the pigment added, or, stated more concisely, colourless acrylic paint. It is the specific individual formulation of mediums and of gels that produces the fundamental differences between them.
The first such difference is viscosity - how thick or thin a product is. Mediums are much thinner than gels, or, put another way, the viscosity of mediums is far lower than the viscosity of gels. The basic difference between mediums and gels can be encapsulated thus; mediums are pourable while gels are not. Within each medium and gel product range, however, there are also differing degrees of viscosity.
Traditional Gloss Medium is thicker, that is, has a higher viscosity, than Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss). The former is labelled mid-viscosity while the latter is labelled low-viscosity. Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) is thinner, that is, has a lower viscosity, than Traditional Heavy Gel (Gloss). The viscosity of gel is indicated by the words Regular and Heavy. Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) has the same viscosity as Interactive and, indeed, any acrylic paint, while the viscosity of Traditional Heavy Gel (Gloss) is greater than that of acrylic paint.
A second difference is levelling, or, more technically, rheology. Rheology is the study of how substances flow. Thus, in art, levelling is concerned with how mediums and gels flow; their feel or resistance on the brush or painting knife, and how they level out on a surface when applied. A medium has a stringy, resinous quality, a bit like honey.
Both Traditional Gloss Medium and Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss) can be applied in long strokes and will flow easily from the brush. They level out to produce a smooth and even surface. Technically, this is known as Long Rheology. A gel, by contrast, has more resistance when brushed out and will retain brushstrokes. This is known as Short Rheology. The consistency of a regular gel is generally described as being akin to butter. Indeed, this is exactly how Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) is described on the label, “An acrylic gel with a smooth buttery consistency.”
Before going on to examine what exactly can be done with Traditional Gloss Medium, Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss), and Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss), some common traits should be noted. Both mediums and the gel impart a gloss finish to the paint that does, as advertised, resemble the sheen of oil paint. The products will all dry to a waterproof finish. Both mediums and the gel have a milky look but dry clear.
All products have an adhesive quality and so can be used to fix small objects and materials such as paper or fabric to the painting surface for collage, though, of course, the gel is better suited for larger or heavier objects or materials. As the mediums and the gel are, as stated above, really colourless paint composed of acrylic polymers they can be added to Interactive and to conventional acrylic paint in any amount.
Uses of Traditional Gloss Medium and T raditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss).
Adding just a little Traditional Gloss Medium will improve the flow of the paint without affecting viscosity or opacity to any noticeable extent. Adding a little more medium will extend the paint while retaining much of the colour strength but will, as the viscosity of the medium is lower than that of Interactive, decrease the overall viscosity. It will also promote flow and levelling. Adding yet more medium will further decrease the viscosity of the paint and progressively make it more translucent and, of course, further promote flow and levelling. Glazing techniques can easily be achieved.
The artist can choose to lay down a perfectly flat, even glaze without visible brushmarks. The use of a quality synthetic brush or sable and possibly also a blender brush should produce such a glaze without undue difficulty. Alternately, the artist can elect to allow some variation in the glaze for a more dynamic effect. The medium will accommodate either type of glaze technique. It is also possible to build up layers of glazes due to the medium drying waterproof.
Traditional Gloss Medium can also be used on its own to seal a paint layer prior to overpainting. These are just some of the many techniques or uses that are possible with the medium. Overall, Traditional Gloss Medium is an excellent all round medium eminently suitable for any style of painting.
As Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss) has the same formulation as Traditional Gloss Medium save for being low viscosity as opposed to mid viscosity, the uses noted above are equally applicable when employing this medium. However, as Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss) is lower in viscosity - thinner - than Traditional Gloss Medium, it has a slightly longer working time. While, of course, it too may be used for any type of art, Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss) is eminently suitable for realist fine art.
In portrait painting for example, this medium can be used in very thin glazes to build up flesh tones. Equally, it is excellent for delicate blending where light meets shadow on the face of the sitter. Further, many aspects of a still life or a landscape benefit from the subtle nuances of colour achievable with Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss). Incidentally, neither medium runs so it is perfectly safe to glaze while the painting surface is vertical.
Uses of Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss). As implied by the term Regular, Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) is formulated to have the same viscosity as Interactive and, indeed, any conventional acrylic paint. As such, it can be used to extend or bulk out Interactive. By mixing the right amount of gel into the paint much of the colour strength will be retained in spite of the increase in volume of the mixture.
Using up to two thirds gel to one third paint is a rough and ready formula. Interactive, as it is an artist’s quality paint, does not contain extenders or fillers. Thus, the inherent colour strength of Interactive makes it eminently suitable for extension. Gel is normally less expensive than an artist’s quality paint so this can be a useful economy measure. To use an Americanism, by employing gel as an extender you get, ‘More Bang for your Buck.‘
A further use of extension is to control or regulate translucency while retaining viscosity. By adding further amounts of gel and going beyond the point of extension for economy measures, the paint will become increasingly translucent. As there is no limit to the amount of gel that can be added to Interactive, the translucency of any colour can be changed from its original characteristic to near total translucency and to any degree in between.
Though there is some shrinkage during drying, Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) will hold moderate peaks. If more pronounced peaks and texture are desired, Traditional Heavy Gel (Gloss) or Traditional Moulding Paste can be used. Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) retains brushstrokes well and is suitable for any technique requiring expressive brushstrokes. As well as producing definite brushstrokes, Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) can also be used with a brush or painting knife to produce interesting paint texture effects. Also, using the gel on its own, a smooth or textured transparent layer can be created and then painted upon.
Possible further uses of Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) are numerous. It may be employed for glazing. A gel classified as Regular is the lowest viscosity gel and, as such, even with its Short Rheology, it is relatively easy to produce a level glaze free of brushstrokes. Much as with the Traditional Mediums, by using a quality synthetic brush, and possibly also a blender brush, the glaze can be laid perfectly flat and with an even spread of colour. Alternately, a painting knife can be employed.
Of course, if wished for, it is equally possible to create a glaze that does show brushstrokes. As stated above, the gel can act as a glue to help create a collage. Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) can be mixed with any other Traditional Medium. It can also be used mixed with moderate, though not excessive, amounts of water.
To sum up, there are really no limits to what Traditional Gloss Medium, Traditional Glazing Liquid (Gloss), and Traditional Regular Gel (Gloss) can do. Chroma’s new mediums are top quality products capable of reproducing any standard acrylic technique and more. The only real restriction as to what can be accomplished is the limit of the artist’s imagination.
I am represented by the Hawks View Gallery, Surrey, England, viewings by appointment only, Tel: 01372 372 561, Mob: 07801 267 679 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of my work will be temporarily on the web through a friend's site at www.pbase.com . I am getting my own new site built in the interim.