Two painters, Fred Ingrams and Mark Jessett tried Jackson’s Artist Acrylic paint to see how it handled when applied to their existing painting practices. Here they share their findings on colour, viscosity, labelling, packaging and price point and some of the work they made using Jackson’s Acrylic Paint.
Above image: Work in Progress by Mark Jessett with Jackson’s Artist Acrylic Paint
I have been painting with acrylic paints since my foundation year at Camberwell School of Art in the early 1980’s. Strange as it may seem today, I was refused entry onto the painting degree course because I wanted to paint with acrylic paint! To put this into context, acrylic paint for artists had only been around since the mid 1950’s when Liquitex and Golden developed ranges for artists. Up until then acrylic paint had been a house paint, which is probably why the old guard at Camberwell viewed this “new” paint with deep suspicion. I threw my lot in with Liquitex and went off to St Martins School of Art and have been using their paints ever since.
I have over the years tried Golden, Daler Rowney, Winsor & Newton etc. Each company seem to produce one or two colours that are unique to their range. For instance the Permanent Light Blue made by Liquitex is a wonderful colour that I use all the time and isn’t made by anyone else. Winsor & Newton’s Cadmium Orange is very rich and a favourite. So it is very interesting to be asked by Jackson’s to try their range of acrylic paint. I ordered 7 tubes of their soft body Jackson’s Artist Acrylic. I painted a sunset in the Fens on a small gesso primed board. Dawn and dusk in the Fens can be truly sublime. This painting was painted in my studio and is based on a sketch and photos from a trip out into the Fens earlier this month.
Firstly I like the look of the tubes and the design of the label which has a swatch of the actual paint on the tube which is very helpful. The tubes are metal which are easier to use than plastic tubes and just more pleasing to handle. I get through hundreds of tubes of paint a year and always feel a bit guilty as I throw them out. Maybe one day tubes will be recyclable.
There are a couple of things I didn’t like about the paints. As I use hogs hair brushes I found that if I added water to thin the paint it bubbled quite easily with certain colours. I expect this will not be a problem with acrylic brushes. Like all acrylic ranges I’ve tried there is quite a difference in viscosity between colours. Of the colours I was using the Cobalt Blue Genuine was too runny and more like a gouache to handle which is a shame as the colour is perfect. These criticisms are specific to the way I paint so maybe other artists won’t feel the same way.
Having always used heavy bodied paint it took some time getting used to working with a much more fluid paint. However these paints are very smooth and the colour is strong and intense. The Rose Madder Quinacridone is delicious, as is the Hookers Green. The price on some colours is very competitive. For instance Jackson’s Cadmium Orange Genuine is £7.90 compared to £12.00 for the Liquitex Cadmium Orange. All in all I these paints have a strength of colour that is very impressive and are exciting to work with. I’m definitely going to try out more colours in the future and add a few to the essential list.
About Fred Ingrams
Fred Ingrams was born in 1964. He studied at Camberwell and later expelled from St. Martins School of Art. For ten years he painted above the Coach & Horses pub in Soho, whilst exhibiting in various central London galleries.
He has worked as a graphic designer and art director on many magazines including: Sunday Times, The Field, Tatler, Vogue and House & Garden. In 1998 he moved to Norfolk. He now divides his time painting in the Fens and The Flow Country in the far north of Scotland.
My painting method is quite specific and it demands carefully selected, high quality materials. I’m fascinated by the effect of laying thin films of acrylic paint onto paper, building on the texture of the sheet and making colour combinations from both wet on wet blending and from glazing (applying transparent colour over a dry layer). I then select the ‘best bits’ of the work using masking fluid and apply a background colour as the final stage.
It was exciting to select some colours that I often use in my work, and a few colours that I wanted to explore. The Jackson’s Artist Acrylic colour range is well put together, focusing on light fastness, quality and strength. While it’s not the widest range it certainly offers what’s needed.
I was keen to try some papers too, so I went for Jackson’s Watercolour Paper in Not and Hot Pressed. I often work on papers with unusual textures, not necessarily built for acrylic painting. The papers I experimented with here are good, sturdy working sheets that hold the colour well.
There is an amount of accident at play in the early stages of my paintings. At this point the consistency of Jackson’s artists acrylics was really well suited to my method. The paint is ‘medium body’, so it flows well but won’t spread beyond the area of application. Instead of using brushes I lay the paint down with an edge (I use plastics cards, squeegees and homemade tools). Heavy body acrylics are workable this way, but they can be tricky and really need to be thinned with medium and a little water. It was great to find Jackson’s paint so easy to use straight from the tube, particularly as this means no dilution of the colour and loss of strength.
Using a hard edge means applying the thinnest layers of paint, so it needs to be highly pigmented, preferably made with a single pigment for clean and strong results. In particular Jackson’s Phthalocyanine Blue and Green really deliver on this front. Also the genuine Cadmiums (I used Orange and Cadmium Yellow Deep) are really powerful, with great opacity.
Mixability is excellent in these paints, thanks to the quality of the pigments and their medium body consistency. I mix colours on and off the painting surface and had no troubles at all getting the results I was hoping for.
My process makes use of masking fluid, so I took the opportunity to try out Jackson’s own. It worked very well for my needs – I’m careful to seal any unpainted areas of paper and I apply it with a very long bristled brush. Jackson’s Masking Fluid is more viscous than my usual brand, but this didn’t give me any problems and actually helped me work more quickly. It released really well and left a sharp, clean edge.
Overall I’m really impressed with the usability and quality of Jackson’s Artists Acrylics, Masking Fluid and Watercolour Papers. The intensity of some colours is outstanding, others good enough (which is the same across all paint ranges in my experience). The Hookers Green will definitely replace all others on my palette (I have at least four, all quite different and all artist quality). The flow properties of the paint are highly beneficial to my technique, so this was a big positive for me. In terms of value for money and reliability I’d stand by these materials without question.
About Mark Jessett
Mark Jessett is a painter working in acrylic on paper, rarely using brushes. Overlaying paint in very fine films, his work explores the relationship between colour, surface texture, translucency and opacity. The feel of Mark’s work is guided by an appreciation for painting and illustration styles that he has have loved from a young age. His work is imbued with the flavour of magical imagery and folkloric artefacts.
Mark is a Fine Art graduate of Goldsmiths’ College. Recent group exhibitions include ‘Your Foot in My Face’ in London and ‘Kite Circus’ in Sheffield, along with numerous solo shows in the south west. Mark was awarded a DAN Emerging Artist Bursary in 2018 and has recently been commissioned by Hospital Rooms to make a site specific work for Torbay Hospital mental health unit. He is a founding member of N-E-W, a contemporary art group that stages exhibitions and art events in Ashburton, Devon, where he lives and works.
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