UK-based artist Jarvis Brookfield has been painting with acrylics for a number of years, creating dream-like works which celebrate a reverence for nature and the human experience. Jarvis wrote a review on jacksonsart.com explaining his discovery of Vallejo’s fluid acrylics and how they suit his painting style, so we asked him to expand on his review and share some further comments.
By Jarvis Brookfield
Before discovering Vallejo’s fluid acrylics, I had been learning the ropes of painting with £1 – £3 bottles of acrylic paints bought from a hardware store. However, after some time the results that I saw others achieving online from a technical point, as well as how colourful their paintings were, started to swell a sense of curiosity in my mind.
I then began taking note of the paints that different artists were using in their work and noticed a variety of consistencies in the acrylic paints being used by an artist giving tutorials on YouTube. His videos opened me up to the possibilities of acrylic paint yet equally I felt baffled by terms he mentioned such as, high, medium and low viscosity, a buttery texture, fluid, soft body, heavy body acrylics, mediums and pigments, but nonetheless I was initiated and was eager to learn more!
After looking into several of the brands that artists used and probing those various terms, I felt mostly drawn to how the fluid acrylics performed, but found that the prices were a little outside of my comfort zone. Despite this, my curiosity remained. I had been looking at the variety of acrylic paints offered on Jackson’s when I came across a small set of 8 x 15ml Golden fluid acrylics, which came with a variety of colours I was not familiar with. Nevertheless I eagerly bought it. Upon opening the box, I immediately felt intimidated by them! I remember tentatively squeezing one of those 15ml tubes so as not to waste a single drop! The first thing I noticed was that the paint was vibrant, rich, and had such high tinting strength which made a small drop go a long way.
This was the first significant painting I made in 2018 on canvas using the acrylic paints in the Golden set I mentioned. I initially stained the canvas with some of the remaining cheaper Burnt Sienna paint and then gradually built up the layers with the Golden colours.
Despite enjoying this set of acrylics, I wanted to find an alternative that would still have a professional quality. After a little searching I discovered the only other brand that I felt could in some way compare: Vallejo Fluid Acrylics. What made the decision much smoother was that they were sold by Jackson’s. I’ve been using them ever since for approximately 2–3 years, in combination with Jackson’s Artist Acrylic and a few additional colours from Liquitex and Golden.
Acrylics were the paints I learned how to paint with and over time, even after having experienced oil paints and despite their irresistible lure, I’ve grown to deeply appreciate all the qualities that differentiate acrylic paint, such as their drying time and using them with water which fits my enjoyment for making work relatively fast.
From a technical standpoint they’re incredibly versatile and what especially excites me about using them is the fact that the Old Master’s techniques that I love can be achieved with acrylics, such as glazing, scumbling, semi-glazing, and with a little slow drying medium, using the wipe out method or creating soft edges.
I often start my paintings with an underpainting/ imprimatura. In this instance I started out by drawing directly on to a primed canvas and used a mixture of Vallejo’s Burnt Sienna, one or two colours from Jackson’s Studio Acrylics, which are then mixed with water and Vallejo’s fluid matt medium to create the underpainting. I find that adding a little medium to stains gives the mixture a bit of structure and makes it more controllable.
In this stage of the painting I primarily used fluid matt medium, water again and layered washes of Phthalo Blue, Hansa Yellow Opaque, Burnt Sienna and Naphthol Red from Vallejo. In some areas I intermixed them to create secondary colours and added a little white to increase the opacity. These colours served as the under colours which gave subsequent layers a sense of vibrancy and liveliness.
In the finished painting above, there are many layers but as you can notice there are patches of orange which was essentially a wash mixture of intermixed Vallejo colours, their fluid matt medium and a touch of Titanium White.
As a side note you may notice how these patches pull towards the middle, something which happened purely by chance as the weight of the wash made the centre of the canvas sag. Had this been purely water, those now happy accident marks may have never been.
In my paintings, Vallejo’s Fluid acrylic paints form 80% of the paints I use. My only issue with them from a non-technical standpoint is that they only currently offer 100ml tubes of colours, which ultimately creates an excess of waste both in plastic and paint as some of the paint left on the inside has to be watered down and I tend to buy in bulk. It would be great to see 1ltr options of whites and blacks in the future and perhaps 250 – 500ml of low to mid value pigments, and then 250ml tubes of the more expensive pigments such as the quinacridones and cobalt’s etc.
Nonetheless, I found that they’re great for combining and intermixing with heavy body colours from Jackson’s and many other leading brands. Their colours are perfect for my approach to painting and from the range they currently offer, one can easily create a limitless array of secondary, tertiary colours, and greys. The medium I primarily use is Vallejo’s fluid matt medium of which I buy their 5ltr bottle once every 10 – 12 months. This medium is my staple for glazing, semi-glazing, details and adding washes and/or stains to maintain the acrylic’s structure, and as previously shown to create interesting effects.
In closing, if you’re looking for a great affordable fluid acrylic paint that performs professionally then I highly recommend that on your next Jackson’s shop you give them a try. Vallejo also offer a variety of mediums (one word of caution, they smell delicious but are not for human consumption!)
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this useful in some way and enjoyable.
Never quit creating.
About Jarvis Brookfield
Jarvis Brookfield (b. 1992) is an emerging artist based in the UK. He’s been drawing for many years and began painting in early 2017, creating works which celebrate a reverence for nature and the depths of the human experience. Dreams, the unconscious mind and the bridge between the known an unknown inspires him to paint. His dreamlike works are created with a fluid process, yielding an air of ambiguity.
‘I get the feeling that all ideas in their essence, exist in the fabric of life and emerge through you from somewhere deep within the subconscious. Their origins are unknown, and I enjoy it that way, so that in working without preconceived ideas, I may act as a conduit and observer through which something new may arrive.’
Jarvis currently lives in Leicester, UK, pursuing a life of artmaking with his partner, their dog and the many plants that fill their living room.
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