I recently decided to thin my stash of P3 Paints and replace them with artist tube acrylics. My main concern was financial. Everything is more expensive in Australia and it hurts buying a pot of paint for $6 or more dollars when artist acrylic is the same price or a little more expensive for vastly more quantity and potentially better quality.
I had heard a lot of people in Europe discussing the use of Jo Sonja paints and Schminke Acrylics so I asked people for their thoughts. The general review of the Jo Sonja paint was that they were noticeably cheaper than the Schminke, they dried very matte and have a velvety finish. Meanwhile, the Schminke had a nice body, strong pigmentation but dried very glossy. Both paints had pros and cons to them. Before I jumped into buying anything I wanted a chance to use them. Roman from Massive Voodoo knew of my curiosity so when I had my private lesson with him we used only 13 Schminke Color. I really enjoyed using them and the colors I was able to mix.
So, here's the thing . . .
By limiting yourself to a max of 13 colors out of the tube, you have to mix everything else. That is the beauty of using tube acrylics. You don't get stuck in a rut using only your favorite premix pot of paint, you have to custom mix everything and you have to do it repeatedly and constantly through a project.
This means you've got to have a handle on color theory and observational color deconstructions. What's that, you ask? Deconstructing Color is having the ability to look at a local color of an object and replicate it in order to create the color in your painting. Not all yellows are created equal. Some have more blue in them and some have more orange in them. Some have black in them to desaturate them. This rings true for all colors. If you are not already comfortable with color theory, you may find yourself struggling to use only 13 colors.
For instance, how would you create a skin tone color if you don't have one already pre-mixed? Is creating brown a simple or complicated process? How do I make a dark blue on the reddish side without it going purple? These are the sorts of things you need to know how to do, or have a basic understanding of how to get there in order to use such a limited premix selection.
Roman helped me get set up in Germany by taking me to the most amazing art store I've ever set foot in, Boesner. Here's the list:
Natural Burnt Umber
I really enjoy these paints. Their pigmentation and strength make them very easy to mix and they stay wet in your palette for days (if you have a wet palette). The cons are that they do dry very shiny. So shiny that every couple of layers you have to apply some matte varnish to get more paint to stick. For me, this is something to adjust to. I like to paint in thin layers but that means using lots of matte varnish. If you apply the paint a bit thicker then you can get more done before having to matte varnish. I have been mixing the matte varnish directly into the paint on my palette to try to thin the pigments as well as kill the shine on them.
Now on the flipside . . .
The reason for my interest in Jo Sonja is that they are SUPER easy to find in Australia and that is saying a lot. Seriously, the things the art community doesn't have access to here is staggering. I think the European, American and even Asian communities would be floored to find how difficult things are to track down here. Jo Sonja is everywhere though. Easily available and not expensive, either. Again, another bonus for the Aussie community.
I went out and bought a smattering of Jo Sonja as well. Same list as above as well as the Fluoro green for glow effects. I've been mixing them with the Schminke which has neutralized the extreme finishes of both to give me something a bit more satiny, which is what I prefer because of the P3 range I've worked with for so long.
I did also find that the Jo Sonjas can be used completely on their own but you have to get the Jo Sonja Glaze Medium to make them easier to use. It dilutes the paint and allows for more glazing. It doesn't take much to dilute them as they are already a fluid acrylic in a tube. Unlike the Schminke which are heavy body paint, which is the fansy pants art way of say they are thick like paste as opposed to fluid paint.
I sat down and painted an entire project with nothing but my new tube acrylics. It was a little bit of a challenge trying to reliably mix new batches of colors in between painting sessions but it gets easier the more you do it.
Here are my results.
I really enjoyed using both and I am glad to have a much less cluttered desk with only the colors I absolutely need to mix anything and everything. It also means it's cheaper for me as 1 tube of Jo Sonja (75 ml) is the same price of the game paints such as P3 (17 ml). I did keep my metallics from the P3 range and some from Vallejo as well. That is one area where tube acrylic lines fail is producing a good metallic paint. Otherwise, I'm pretty pleased to have made the switch.