New Acrylic Paint | An Acrylic Test by Abstract Artist Mark Mehaffey

Acrylic, Inside and Out
There’s more than meets the eye in the new Holbein Heavy Body Artist Acrylic paint.
By Mark Mehaffey

The following originally appeared in The Artist’s Magazine (May 2013).
Click here to download the digital issue and read the entire review and see more images of this new acrylic paint.
Click here for a free download on acrylic painting techniques.

I call myself a watermedia artist. My work includes paintings done in transparent watercolor, gouache (opaque watercolor) and acrylic, and so when asked if I would evaluate the new Heavy Body acrylics from Holbein, I jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect—I happened to be right in the middle of a number of acrylic paintings.

Heavy Body acrylic from Holbein

Preferring the tubes, I currently use Golden Artist Colors, M. Graham & Co and Liquitex acrylics. These three brands have different viscosities (thicknesses of paint), similar pigment loads (coverage and intensity), and all dry at about the same rate: fast. I pick and choose based on the individual characteristics of each hue. For example, I love Golden titanium white and cadmium red light for their very heavy body and high pigment load. I also love M. Graham ultramarine blue for its slightly softer consistency. Liquitex medium magenta also has a permanent place on my palette. Painting with a variety of brands, I use what I think will work for me but, like a lot of artists, I have preferences. I’ve used Holbein’s high-quality colored gesso for years, and I’ll now be adding its Heavy Body acrylics to my studio supplies.

abstract acrylic painting by Mark Mehaffey

Wander in Red (acrylic, 7×7) by Mark Mehaffey

As I squeezed the acrylics from the tubes to begin working with them, I could see that they were highly saturated, which allowed me to use less paint when creating tints and shades—the Heavy Body paint is specifically designed to add more luster and brilliance to one’s paintings. The working consistency was about halfway between the very stiff Golden Artist Colors’ acrylics and the very buttery M. Grahams. The Heavy Body acrylics held up in a thin application (thinned with water or medium), or scumbled as a thin dry brush layer. The body was brushable but also held any peaks or ridges created when I applied it thickly. Considering workability, pigment load/quality and cost, I rate Holbein acrylics equal to any brand out there and, depending on your individual preferences, they may be the best.

Mark Mehaffey is the author of several instructional books and DVDs from North Light Shop. Visit his website at

Bonus Article! “Why Abstract Art? 5 Solid Designs that Work” by Mark Mehaffey



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