A Consumer Reports: Anne Bagby on Acrylic Mediums

When The Artist’s Magazine’s editors asked me to write an article on acrylic gels, mediums, and pastes (September 2011), I’d only worked with Golden products, which I loved. Other manufacturers—Chartpak; Chroma; ETAC Color Concepts: Bill Edwards; Grex Airbrush; Grumbacher; Holbein (Acryla); Matisse Derivan; Nova Color; Speedball; Tri-art (from Dick Blick); Winsor&Newton—were gracious enough to send me their products so that I could test them.

All the gels and mediums were great, and I used them all. Nova Color and Holbein, in my opinion, had the best containers. Nova Color’s jars had big mouths, and I really liked their gels and pastes. I also really liked the Holbein 300 ml and 900 ml polybags. These two were my favorites, and I used every bit of the paste and gels they sent. I will be purchasing their brands in the future.

For all the information, clearly spelled out, I loved the Winsor&Newton labels. Every brand has its own way of naming its precuts, so I couldn’t always tell what was white or transparent on the other jars. Winsor&Newton, in contrast, has all the information on the container. Winsor&Newton also sent me sets of its new acrylic paints and mediums that promise that there will be no shirt in color from wet to dry. With Winsor&Newton Artists’ Acrylic Mediums, there’s no color shift. This concept was news to me and I liked this paint. I had enough to give a set to everyone who came to help me experiment. (One of my friends teaches acrylic paint techniques on the workshop circuit, so I thought this worked out for both of us: she liked the paint a lot.)

Matisse Derivan sent me a great book on using mediums that came along with a sketchbook in the back that I used throughout the experiments. Matisse Derivan seemed to have the best assortment of specialty mediums, or they described them the best, so I will know exactly what to use when I do special projects in the future. I think I would look to Matisse Derivan for specialty mediums (as apposed to gels or everyday, all-around mediums.) I also loved Matisse Derivan tube paints. There are several paints made from Australian dirt that are just lovely.

Since the gels, pastes and mediums seemed to be equally great in quality, labels, containers and handouts assumed importance for me. Normally cost would also affect my choice, but I was lucky, due to my assignment and the manufacturers’ generosity.

Bill Edwards of ETAC Color Concepts was extremely helpful. We exchanged emails on what makes the gels “gloss” or “matte” and I appreciated his help. I used his products the least only because they were different from what I’m used to: his colors were interesting but I ran out of time (my deadline loomed) before I could “tame” them and find a place for them in my palette. The main thing I learned from ETAC is that airbrush paint is a fluid acrylic and can be mixed with gels and mediums as pigment. I had just not thought of that!

Speedball makes inks for printing, of course, and I think I could use some of their mediums that are designed specifically for printmaking. In the time I had, however, I concentrated on the acrylic gloss mediums, gels and pastes.

My final, honest word: All the products were really good; I tried every gloss medium, every gel, and every paste. I think an artist could be very happy with any of these fine products.

Anne Bagby’s “Mediums, Gels & Pastes, Oh My” appeared in the September 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. To see more of her work, go to her website at www.annebagby.com.



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