Mark Golden on Paint

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Some Transparency About OPEN

1 August, 2008 (16:26) | Paint Ideas

I’ve always thought that it was critical for our company, our brand, our customers to make sure we provided up to date, accurate information on product or product issues. It is always possible that we might miss the target, but our commitment here, from all our staff, is to never disappoint because we’ve misrepresented our products, services or technical support.

We’ve received great commentary about the new GOLDEN OPEN ACRYLICS and such a great overall positive response. We’ve also been enjoying wonderful new ideas for new products within the OPEN line and then also some valuable criticism. Clearly this is a very new product and it will feel very different especially to acrylic painters. It will force new options and paths for some and even be off-putting to others. There is no way I can in words share with you something you’ll have to experience for yourself and make your own mind up. There are two points though, I thought it would be helpful to address: One; that it has been suggested that GOLDEN OPEN can be made by simply adding Retarder to our other colors lines, whether that be Heavy Body, Fluids or our Mattes. The other criticism is that the OPEN Line is more transparent than our other color lines.

First; you certainly can slow down all our products by adding our Retarder! That’s why we made it. We’ve also made sure that within all of our literature and our label on the product, that we share that the Retarder is an additive and that overuse can dramatically affect the dried paint, leaving it potentially very soft, subject to increased dirt pick up, marring and making the surface quite porous. That said artists might still extend the drying time by over adding our Retarder. When you do this, one could possibly add enough to dramatically keep the resulting paint wet, but at that point you are at less than half of the color strength of the OPEN ACRYLICS with a very suspect sort of paint.

The OPEN line was formulated to allow for an extended range of working time that previously was unavailable to artists in a typical acrylic paint. But it was also formulated with a unique acrylic to assure that on drying it formed a stable film, taking advantage of the durability, lightfastness and flexibility of the acrylic polymer. You just can’t get to this paint from any other off the shelf mixture using our products or any others!

The other criticism leveled at the OPEN ACRYLIC is that it is more transparent or that the pigment load is not the same as in our other color lines. This is true! To create the balance of properties which are absolutely unique to this paint line, we had to back off on pigment load. This product does though, have a higher pigment to binder ratio than any of our other products, so it is truly impossible for someone to make OPEN from any other color line. But for anyone who has begun to work with this paint the handling, feel workability is absolutely unique. It may even require that you use different tools to be successful with the OPEN. Some of the issues with transparency of this product relate to using the wrong tools! We experienced this when making our own hand painted color charts. Using a fairly stiff brush that worked well with our Heavy Bodied colors, we wound up scraping the paint off the paper surface. It wasn’t until we experimented with natural soft hairs and synthetic blends typically used for oil painting or even watercolor, that we found we could successfully lay down a successful saturated color stroke.

As with any product, the choices that each artist makes will be unique to their own personal tastes. It has been our journey here over 28 years to continue to explore and push the boundaries of what can be done for professional artists in the acrylic medium and to create more and more ways to use this incredibly versatile polymer. We have always treated our products as an open system allowing artists to explore the full range of what the acrylic is capable of doing. It is also our personal commitment to advance the science and understanding of the acrylic medium so that acrylics no longer have to sit below in the pantheon of other traditional media in some bizarre pyramid when in fact they have more to offer than any other media in history. The OPEN ACRYLIC is just one more example and proof of that position. The GOLDEN OPEN products have only been in the market place for 30 days and already the range of ideas and uses have us all anticipating so much more still to come…




Comment from Ramesh
Time: August 4, 2008, 5:58 pm

Thanks for the information on the kind of brushes and clarification on pigment load; I have read some internet posts on the latter topic. Next week, I am going to buy Open Acrylic colors and at that time I will choose the brush accordingly.


Comment from John
Time: August 5, 2008, 7:49 pm

Being a chemist and an artist, I do find the Open paint to be mostly water and glycol (retarder), and pigment mixed with some binders/surfactants. So could the same be said that Open could be suspect to archival properties due to the high percentage of water and glycol mix?

Comment from Mark
Time: August 6, 2008, 8:35 am

John, thanks for the question. As a chemist and artist I’m sure you’re aware that acrylic paint in its most simple form is mostly acrylic binder, water and pigment. Those are the largest constituents of the product. As we’ve shared in many articles in both our own website and in conservation journals the acrylic formula is a complex mixture of an acrylic binder, pigment, water, wet edge agents (glycols), surfactants, dispersing agents (usually complex salts), preservatives, and an array of thickeners and stabilizers.
To make a quality acrylic such as our Heavy Body paint or Fluid is not a small feat of balance. That’s what we do, we balance properties such as performance, durability, stability both in can and dry films, lightfastness, safety and many others. To make the OPEN Acrylic it is the same balance we were seeking, but we needed something more than our very efficient acrylic polymer could pull off. We needed a different acrylic polymer which could withstand the level of humectants – glycol being one of them and still create a film that once dry actually retains many of the important properties of lightfastness and flexibility for which we choose the acrylic polymer in the first place. The other unique quality of this unique acrylic polymer was that it allowed us to increase the packing of pigment within the system, so that the resulting dry film actually has a higher pigment load than many of our other products. The other important balancing act was choosing the surfactant package which allowed for stability of this new system amongst a wide range of pigment types and finally the range of humectants that would act synergistically to keep our open times, wide open! And then all these had to be continually reformulated as we started to chart the compatibility of OPEN with our other products to create a one of a kind acrylic system that allowed artists a complete range of freedom in working within an acrylic system of products. This was achieved through many iterations of formulations and years of trials by a talented group of chemists. Time will be the test to the degree in which this new formulation will prove out its resistance to change. From the beginning of this project we began accelerated aging studies and before the commitment to launch this product last year, we were able to review those studies to assure that we had a product that we could be confident in. As more artists use the product and share with us their unique situations and use of OPEN, we will continue to develop new studies understanding the full range of this unique product.

Comment from John
Time: August 7, 2008, 5:40 pm

Thanks for such a quick and informative response.

Comment from Dana
Time: August 21, 2008, 8:15 pm

I just bought the modern color sampler set of Open acrylics and fell in love. Holy moly these paints are sheer genius. I can’t believe how much fun I’m having with them. I am totally sold on Open.

I have a question though. Can the thinner or open medium produce glazes in the same way golden glazing medium does (while maintaining the long open time)?

I’m also wondering what golden mediums to use to give the Open acrylics as much of an ‘oil paint’ look as possible. I would like to adapt the 7 Layer Flemish oil technique to acrylics. I’ve read on other sites the majority of the ‘look’ of oils is due to the light refraction property of the oil binder. If so it seems it might be possible to reproduce this effect with acrylics. I’m just unsure as to what to get.

If there are no current Golden mediums that can make acrylics look ‘dead ringer’ for ‘old master’ oils (and I really think mastery of Opens may well permit such a feat at least as far as blending) I think it would be a very interesting project to see if such a medium could be made.

Comment from Mark
Time: August 22, 2008, 3:48 pm

Dana, thanks for the great review! The OPEN Medium will give you the same sort of glaze options as our glazing medium does, but with more open time. The thinner will give you the most open time, but won’t assist in bringing up the depth of the color. I’d also considering using the OPEN Gel Medium for developing that feel of looking deep into the layers of paint. You also might find that you may want to reduce the open time and then I’d suggest working in the Gels or any Glazing mediums???

I do love the challenge Dana. Let’s first see if this works for you and gives the depth of color. If not get back to us and we’ll get on with the challenge! Best, Mark

Comment from C. L. Curole
Time: August 23, 2008, 5:14 pm

We aren’t early adopters up here in the Maine Wilderness ™ so I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t find any of the Open products at my favorite Golden dealer – I was a little surprised they hadn’t heard about it yet, though. Sent them to the website and suggested the Open sampler might be a good holiday gift item… if only because I want one. :-)

Will let you know when the stuff turns up in this neck of the woods. We finally have fiber paste! And glass bead gel!

Comment from Aaron Ortega
Time: August 24, 2008, 12:33 pm

I had not checked the blog in quite some time (my bad), so I was not aware of the OPEN line. As C.L.’s case, I did not find any new Golden products near home, in Michigan. I never found Fiber Paste or Crackle Paste or Glass Bead Gel… Anyway, I moved to California two weeks ago, and one of the first things I noticed as I walked into the art store was the amazing stock they had. After a brief hyperventilating freak out episode (a good one, happily!), I purchased the products above mentioned, and promised myself I’ll be back for those oh so good OPEN acrylics… I am glad I finally have access to all the products I see online, and I look forward to work with all of them…

Comment from Cindy
Time: September 19, 2008, 11:28 am

I picked up a free sampler pack (I think there are three colors inside) at a local art store. I haven’t tried the paint yet – since I am working pretty hard at the oils but the idea sounds really intriguing Mark.

Comment from Mark
Time: September 20, 2008, 10:36 am

Cindy I don’t think you’re going to find them too far afield from what you’ve been able to work out with oils even though they are very different. You will still find them very familiar in many ways. I look forward to your testing them out!

Comment from Donna
Time: September 27, 2008, 3:11 pm

We recently received the full line of OPEN acrylics in our store (tiny little Huntsville, Ontario). This is going to be an exciting season as we learn and share about this great new product. Too bad we can’t get a workshop up here for many more months, but I’ll keep my eye on this and the Golden site and try to educate our customers as we go.
In the realm of brilliant packaging, we give you two thumbs up for the added information on each tube’s label – showing us transparency/opacity, matte/gloss, and complete pigment information (names too, not just numbers!). This will be more helpful with problem-solving than any other singular change you could have made. We’d sure like to see this info transferred over to the regular Golden lines as well.
Thanks for always aiming toward newer, better and more exciting products for artists!

Comment from Mark
Time: September 28, 2008, 7:28 pm

Dear Donna, thanks so much for the feedback on the tubes and the information. It is a difficult process to add all this information on such a small label and sometimes we wonder if people read them anyway. Your comments go a long way in confirming that we thought this work was important.
Now I’ll have to see how we can speed up the training for our workshop!!! Best, Mark

Comment from CreativedogmaAZ
Time: October 14, 2009, 1:23 am

WOW…..Mark, I just stepped away from my canvas to email you about the OPEN product line. This is exactly what I have been looking for (got a gift certificate to Utrecht for my birthday & bought 9 OPEN colors, acrylic medium & thinner) I have been going crazy trying to mix the right combination of glosses, gels, retarders, glazes etc….to get this unique working property. I do alot of mixed media & collage so I will be using all of my other Golden acrylics too, but I just enjoyed the soft touch on the brush & the lovely feeling of not rushing to lay color down. Normally my paints film over so fast & I have to keep them covered. It is so refreshing to be able to place some paint on the palette and then do as I please. I am especially pleased at how well they flow straight out of the tube. Thank you so much for taking the time & investment to create this line of products !!!! Thank you also for the samples I recieved this summer. They are really what got me thinking about trying this new line of products….so keep em’ coming.

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