Tag Archives: Liquitex

Review of Liquitex Cobalt Blue Heavy Body acrylic

I originally posted this review on Jackson’s Art Supplies web site nearly a year ago in March 2014. With Jackson’s currently offering Liquitex acrylics at reduced prices, I think it bears repeating here.

A tale of two Cobalts

I’d never used Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic before, and so was keen to compare their Cobalt Blue Hue with W&N’s pukka Cobalt Blue Artist acrylic.

Cobalt blues
Two blues

The viscosity of both seems very similar as does their open time, and I’ve comfortably worked with both makes for around 30 minutes in a warmish room.

One of the reasons I’d been using W&N is their lack of colour shift from wet to dry. I was pleasantly surprised to find Liquitex give them a good run for their money. To my eyes any colour/tonal shift was minimal.

So how does the Liquitex’s Cobalt Blue ‘hue’ compare up to W&N’s real thing? Extremely well. It was maybe very slightly warmer and a tad darker, but really very little in it. Given that this ‘hue’ version is substantially cheaper, a difference so slight is forgivable.

Finally, the plastic tube makes dispensing the paint very easy – a small point maybe, but very welcome.

Verdict? I’m a convert, and after comparable experiences over the past two months with other colours in their range I’m inclined to switch Liquitex.


Over the past year I’ve been using Liquitex almost exclusively and remain very impressed with most of their range. I have to say though that I still find a place for W&N Artist’s acrylics. It’s an extremely fine range with some gorgeous colours and winning colour stability wet to dry. And, on balance, I believe they also have the edge on quality, ‘feel’ and density of colour, but it’s still difficult to argue with the sheer value Liquitex has to offer.

Acrylic portrait of Ben almost complete

So, #portraitnovember the Twitter challenge has wrapped up for another year.  And my approach, to concentrate on completing a single acrylic portrait through the month, almost worked. Almost.

Inevitably the constraints arising from choosing to paint the portrait in my workplace have played their part. Ben has been a very willing sitter, but with both of us leading very busy work lives finding time when we’ve both been free has proved tricky.

We have managed to grab 30 to 45 minutes during our lunch breaks a couple of times each week which has added up to around four and a half hours painting time. Mind you, some of this has been absorbed by chatting to interested passers-by…

The amount of positive interest has taken me aback a little.  It can’t be often you see someone painting at an easel in a professional, corporate environment, and I did wonder whether I might attract any negative views. But I was wrong; everyone has been very supportive and encouraging.

Ben 04 acrylic portrait
More work around shirt and jacket
Ben 05 acrylic portrait
Refining the eyes and specs

The last couple of sittings have seen small refinements around the eyes and specs with a little work to define the shirt and jacket. I’m keen not to overwork the outlying areas so as to maintain focus on the face. I really don’t want to over finish it, I’m keen that it should remain loose. Another couple of sessions should see it off, and I may make any final tweaks at home when I’m not quite so wired! I may glaze over the background to even out the tonal changes a little.

My palette throughout has been my standard mix of warm and cool: Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Red, Cadmium Yellow, Hansa Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine blue, Titanium White ad Mixing White. Mostly Liquitex heavy body acrylics with a few Winsor and Newton Artist’s acrylics.

I recently bought a luscious looking Liquitex Van Dyke Red which may get a look in, but I’ll proceed with caution. Chucking new colours into an existing mix is not always beneficial.

Be sure to pop back is a week or two when the portrait should be finished.

What the fox? A Sir Gawain painting without Sir Gawain?

Since starting my Sir Gawain series, things have slowed a little.  Other things have either needed attention (real life things) or wanted attention (fun things which have distracted me).  OK, more of the latter if I’m honest…  However, I have continued work on a related, but separate, acrylic painting by way of a ‘dry run’ based on this quick sketch:

Gawains wildwood journey
Gawain’s wildwood journey

I’m becoming more familiar with acrylics now. Following some rubbish acrylic experiences several years ago, (most down to operator error and poor quality pigments), they’ve only recently found a proper place in my tool kit.

And I’m finding their properties better suit my temperament (ever impatient…) that I’m starting to use them as a default where once I’d have picked up alkyds or oils.  I can work quickly, and their fast drying means I can apply repeated glazes in a single sitting.  The bonus too is that they clean up easily without solvents.

There are downsides though.  A lot of paint gets wasted as it inevitably cures on the palette, and I’m finding fine blending is trickier than when using oils. I’ve tried the slow-dry gels, but for me the paint texture seems to become oddly ‘tacky’.

Originally I started using Winsor and Newton Artists acrylics, but after making comparisons with Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics I think I may switch to Liquitex for most colours. They’re generally more economical and in my opinion compare favourably with the W&N offering in terms of viscosity, texture, ‘open’ time and stability of colour/tonal shift from wet to dry.

So here’s another ‘in-progress’ shot.  There’s a long way to go, and the photo really doesn’t reproduce any of the subtle colour shifts going on in the shadows (click a couple of times to enlarge):

Acrylic painting Sir Gawain's wildwood journey progress
Sir Gawain’s wildwood journey progress

The eponymous Sir Gawain is nowhere in sight, but that’s OK, but the inspiration from the poem is in there.

I’ve introduced a warmer sky to increase both the tonal and temperature contrast when compared to the deep, dark, cool shadows. The gold and red also mirrors the colours associated with Gawain.

The wild-wood setting echoes the bleakness of his journey while the fox, so slyly skulking in the seeping shadows, foretells of Gawain’s deception later in the story.

I hope I’ve started to capture an underlying feeling of unease here, but what do you think?