Friday, April 8, 2011

Notes from the Liquitex demo at Eastfield

The Liquitex demo-man (Peter Andrew) came by Thursday morning at Eastfield. I'm only mentioning it now as I had to work Thursday evening and after having to get up early Thursday morning, after working at Kohl's in the evening, I had to take a nap.

But it was really great. I learned a lot. Found out why sometimes my attempts to use acrylic like watercolor break down. You can use a little water to dilute acrylic but when you use too much water, the polymer molecules can't bond together when they dry. So I need to use one of the mediums, instead of too much water.

The additives are NOT like mediums. You can use too much of an additive. (Andrew equated additives to Tabasco sauce.) If you like glazing, they have a glazing medium that you only need to put a drop of the color in to get your glaze. He suggested buying those droplet bottles from Sally's or another beauty store and using those to store your glazes. (They look like miniature versions of ketchup bottles. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?)

I also found out one reason why I have trouble with hues. (Hue colors are colors that imitate 'real' colors. Like Cadmium Yellow to Cadmium Yellow Hue, or Alizarin Crimson to Alizarin Crimson Hue.) I've always hated hue colors because I have trouble mixing them, they always end up looking like mud.

Mr. Andrew mentioned that you have to look at the back of the tube to see what pigments they used in making a particular hue color. The cad yellow hue was a mix of one yellow plus a touch of some red. Ah-ha! No wonder when I tried to mix it with blue I didn't get a pretty green.

The hue colors are non-toxic and non-fugitive. That might make me go back to cadmium hues and alizarin hues. Alizarin crimson is one of my favorite reds, but it's very fugitive, meaning it fades if exposed to too much sunlight. (I guess you could call it a vampire color then.) Cadmium colors are very lovely, but hey, heavy metal in your bloodstream is not good. (As opposed to heavy metal music in your bloodstream, which is much better than heavy metals.)

Have you ever looked at the back of a tube of Liquitex? It tells you the pigment, gives you the Munsell rating, tells you if the paint is opaque or transparent or translucent. But it also shows a phone number on the back. That phone number is their help line. I never knew that Liquitex had a help line that you can call.

You can also build up layers of opaque acrylic paint, and then carve into it, exposing the different layers. I just realized one could use that method to make a huge stamp. He had a sample where he had painted the layers onto a piece of linoleum. So the size of the stamp would be limited only by the size of the linoleum.

He had a 'piece of pizza' that had been sculpted with different layers of acrylic.

Andrews mentioned that acrylic needs at least a week to 'cure'. It may be dry to the touch, it it needs to cure to become plasticine. Now I know what happened to some hairsticks. (The acrylic paint came off, but I started attempting to wear them in a day. Note to self: wait a full week next time.)

He showed us a cheap way to keep your acrylic from drying out. Put a wet paper towel on part of your palette, and squeeze your paint out on that. You still use the regular uncovered palette as usual. It dried on the palette, but after the demo the paint on the wet paper towel was still fresh. You can also use a humidifier to keep your acrylic from drying out.

Titanium white bleaches out color, while zinc white is a transparent white that doesn't bleach out color. So zinc white is good for glazes. (Or if you don't want to loose the saturation of the color.)

Alcohol will 'melt' acrylic paint. (Before the week dry point.) It does break it down, that might be a cool effect to play with. (I now have a reason to buy lite beer.)

Slow-Dri Gel Retarder shrinks as it dries. (Must remember that.)

Use fluid medium for glaze and gel mediums for thick paint. With paint 75% gel medium to 25% acrylic paint.

A drop of ammonia will get rid of mold in acrylic paint without bothering the paint.

Soft Body acrylic is in both jars and tubes, however it is messier in the tube form. Liquitex only put it in tube form because people see the jar of acrylic as a craft product. So it's just a perception issue. (I'll admit that I've never looked at the jar acrylic, I always reach straight for the tube stuff.)

He showed us how you can use acrylics to do a photocopy transfer to a shirt or other fabric.

He also gave us names of people who do 'different' things with acrylic. (Rather than treat it as a substitute for oil paint.) Franklin White, Jamie Bollenbach, Kirstin Lamb. The group Terracycle does some interesting things with acrylic paint. I have to look these folks up. One of them was doing Giacometti style figures by building up layers of paint on fishing line. Once dry and 'cured' these figures can stand on their own. You can find them on the Liquitex website.

We (those of us in attendance at the demo) got a book "The Acrylic Book" which is chock full of information on acrylic. I've only started looking at it. Plus we got some meduim and a tube of Acra red.

Peter Andrew also mentioned that if you know anyone who does unusual things with acrylic paint, tell Liquitex. Acrylic paint is such a 'new' medium as compared to oil, watercolor or stone or clay.

If you have at least 30 folks in your group or school who would like to have a Liquitex demo-person come by, contact Liquitex. I had gotten a card from Peter Andrew but now I can't find it. He has a website at but contacting Liquitex is probably the best way to get a demo to come to your area.Link

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