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Product Reviews: SyntaxofColor

Cobra Water Mixable Oil Colors - Royal Talens

Water mixable oil colors have gained in popularity over the last few years as artists unfortunately discover that they have sensitivities to solvents that hamper their ability to paint with traditional oil paints.  One solution is for the artist to use water mixable oils and eliminate the use of solvents entirely.  Other solvent free method of painting exist using oil colors that will be discussed in a Grammar of Color essay.

Water mixable oils have been misunderstood by the average oil color painter.  Artist appear to not know how to categorize these materials from a traditional definition of paints that are mixed with a drying oil.  The concept is fairly simple when describing water mixable oils.  They are composed of the same pigment that oil colors contain, but the difference is that the oil used as a binder had one or more additives that gives

the oil the ability to mix with water.  The material involved that makes this possible is called a surfactant.  However, that term is not commonly used so artist should think of the substance that makes the oil binder mix with water as a type of "soap."  It's not really soap, but the working properties mimic soap to the extent that it makes the concept easier to understand.  The concept is not new.  Oils have been mixed with surfactants for a variety of purposes.  If a farmer wants a treatment for crops to not wash off quickly from plants in the field, an oil with a surfactant may be used to deliver the treatment to the crop that has been planted.  It remains on the plant for several days or weeks and

slowly washes off with the rain or irrigation that is given to the plants in the field.  The main thing for artists to understand is that water mixable oils have the ability to be cleaned up using plain water.  

Cobra is a full line of artists quality paints that provide the same handling properties as oil colors.  Roya Talens, makes the Rembrandt and van Gogh lines of traditional oil colors and the same technical understanding that goes into their traditional oil color appears to be employed in the Cobra line as well. Royal Talens previously sold a line of water mixable paints under the van Gogh label and called them H2Oil, an interesting word play on H2O, the chemical composiiton for water and the addition of letters to spell "oil."  It was a clever name.  The name "Cobra" while distinct, is totally baffling with regards to having a relationship to water mixable paints.  The only art related "Cobra" reference is linked to the post-WWII art movement that found its roots in primitive, intense color, akin to American action painting.  The art movement named Cobra was derived from the combination of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, the three centers where artists in this movement practiced.

The paint has a nice butter feeling.  The colors are intense and richly pigmented.  The line has a limited number of colors provides but that is expected from a paint that is basically in a niche market.  Companies are practical and the subset of users at the moment appears not to warrant expanding the line to the same extent as the Rembrant line.  The basics are available and some nice convenience colors like Naples Yellow, Olive Green and Titanium Buff are offered.  It would be nice to see a few more earth color in the line.  

Reviews by other artist are very positive.  Cobra seems to be one of the closest to behaving like oil paint out of all the water mixables available.  Artist are very sensitive to the feel and handling of paint so the rating of "closest to behaving like oil paint" denotes a high score from traditional oil paint artists. For artists sensitive to solvents, Cobra is a path to remaining with the oil paint medium.   

Golden Open Acrylics

In 20xx, Golden Acrylics in New Berlin, NY introduced a new line of acrylic paints that addressed a concern that acrylic painters have had since the dawn of providing acrylic media for fine artists to use.  How can I have an acrylic paint that allows for longer working time.  Long working time is also refereed to as "open" time, thus, Golden's Open Acrylics are aptly named.


The advantages should be apparent.  When an acrylic painter wants more working time or conditions are such that traditional acrylics dry in seconds and no amount of spritzing with water or the limits of a stay-wet palette become exhausted, Open can become a rescue paint that allows an artist to get the job done.  Situations that tax the limits of acrylics are easily found on dry sunny days when painting outside, en plein air.  Only the most skilled tacticians in acrylic media bring out standard acrylic paints to use outside on ectraordinary hot, dry days.  Traditional acrylic paint is nearly unworkable or so much gets wasted when large piles of paint are laid out but skin over in minutes, leaving a stringy, crumbly mess on the palette.  Open Acrylics can reverse the situation and give extended drying time so that the artist does not "fight" the paint.  It works without fear of drying extremely quickly.

As of July 2016, Open Acrylics come in 73 colors with a selection of a broad range of traditional types of pigments and a host of synthetic organics that Golden caries in its other lines of paints.  What is very attractive is the balance of high tinting strength organic pigments, a full range of inorganic metalic pigments and standard earth colors, it would be difficult to be dissapointed that a color is not represented that an artist needs.  Golden did not "dumb down" the color line in Open.  This indicates good user acceptance of the paints so that they don't have to be marketed in a student range or abbreviated subset of the leading lines the company sells to offset very small sales.


A nice feature about Open is that it mixes with other traditonal acrylic paints.  An artist using Open is provided with a virtual accelerator and brake system.  Use Open straight and the drying time is long.  Mix Open with traditional acrylics and the drying time is shortened. Vary the percentage of Open and traditional acrylics and once an artist learns the approximate drying times based on the mixed percentage of Open and traditional acrylics, a new world of painting without restrictions is provided.


Artist being what they are, also figured out other ways to use Open.  Printmakers have used Open in their work.  Monotypes, wood block, linoleum printing are just a few of the ways that Open can be explored outside of applying it with a brush to canvas or paper.  As allways, visit to learn more about Open and other products that Golden Artist Colors manuactures.  

Classic Title

Helvetica Light is an easy to read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.

Helvetica Light is an easy to read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.

Classic Title

Helvetica Light is an easy to read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.

Helvetica Light is an easy to read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.

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