Color Spree

Color Spree
My favorite color is "all of them." What's yours?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SoHo Urban Artist Acrylics

SoHo Urban Artist Acrylics are a great choice for a beginner. All of the SoHo Urban Artist products so far advertise artist grade quality at student grade prices. I received the 24 color Value Set of 21ml tubes for review. Normal price is $19.99 at Jerry's Artarama, currently the set is on sale for $12.99 - so they really mean it. These are definitely student grade prices.

I'm happy to report that the quality of the paint is pretty good - incredible at those prices. It's not as runny as some other bargain brand acrylics that I've tried in the past. The colors are consistent, the named hues like Cadmium Yellow Medium are a good match for the toxic mineral pigments they replace and they handle the same as several other brands of acrylics I've tried. Some of the pricier artist grade acrylics do beat the SoHo pigment concentration, but not by so much that they're unworkable.

Mixing quality is excellent, very comparable to Liquitex. All colors are also available separately in 75ml and 250ml tubes plus 500ml jars. The 21ml small tubes in the Value Set are best for miniature painters, artists who want to try a wide variety of pigments at a very low price and plein air painters. They're handy if you want to just choose a primary triad or a half dozen colors, tuck them in your pocket and head outdoors to paint.

Like all acrylics, they dry quickly. They will mix with any brand of acrylic gloss or matte medium for glazing, while it's very easy to create washes with additional water. I haven't tried the specialty mediums like slow-dry or impasto paste mixed with these but I trust they'll behave like other acrylics if I do.

If you buy this set as an introductory set for a new painter, definitely also purchase a 75ml tube of Titanium White. There isn't an extra white tube in the 24 color Value Set - but then, there isn't in the Liquitex intro sets either. If you're thinking of gifts, Jerry's also has a Really Complete Painting Set including this 24 color set of tubes plus painting boards, brushes, table easel, gloss and gel mediums, painting knives, painting palette and plastic double dip mediums, paper palette and instructional DVD for $79.99 - the bundle set is a bargain for all the supplies included so if you want to gift a relative with a new hobby, that might be the way to go. I'd still slip in a 75ml tube of Titanium White with it so that they don't scowl at the white running out before they finish the second or third painting.

The other type of painter who might really enjoy the SoHo Urban Artist acrylics is a muralist. 500ml jars are good big supplies and the 49 color range is extensive. You can stick to a small palette of favorites or splurge and try new colors without spending a bundle - even the big jars are only $7.99 on average.

Plastic painting knives and an acrylic spray bottle are accessories available under the same brand, modestly priced and useful. Any brand of gloss or matte gel mediums should work with these for hobby projects or serious artworks. If you work on a big scale, these can be a good choice.

The lids went back on the plastic tubes easily. None of the tubes were damaged and it was very easy to remove paint clots from the threads if I left a tube a little too long before closing.

If you're interested in doing hobby projects with liquid acrylics, just add a little water to the paint when you've spread it into your palette or picnic plate. This is a good brand to experiment with one-stroke methods and other hobby projects. They're bright, they're sturdy, they'll introduce you to handling both opaque and transparent paints and of course, soap and water cleanup is standard for any acrylics.

Be sure to keep brushes moist when working with any brand of acrylic paints. If acrylic dries in your brush, it's very difficult or even impossible to remove without damaging the hairs. Rather than putting your brush hair down in your water jar, squeeze the paint out on a rag or paper towel, rinse thoroughly and lay the brush flat on a paper towel or change colors.

Acrylic paints are tougher on brush hairs than watercolors, so don't use expensive sable watercolor rounds with these. You'll find synthetic sable or stiff synthetic bristle brushes work best with heavy body acrylics depending on the effect you want. Pick up a bag of synthetic brushes in a variety of sizes and shapes if you're just starting out, experiment to find which ones suit your style best. Miniature brushes work very well with SoHo Urban Artist Acrylics.

If you're an ACEO painter, these may be a brilliant choice to start getting into acrylics. Either get some ATC blanks in acrylic paper, or cut them to size from a canvas or canva-paper pad. Acrylics work well on watercolor paper or on gessoed canvas.

My example painting is on a Stillman & Birn Beta journal page, 180lb extra heavy watercolor paper, bright white. These are great acrylics for art journaling. The small tubes, strong pigments, variety of pigments and hues and their clean ease of use make them a wonderful choice. Drawings and sketches sealed with acrylic washes are waterproof, glazes and washes can also make a barrier layer for adding other media over them such as oil pastels.

I didn't gesso the journal page. Some artists do, but the sizing in the S&B Beta journal was strong enough that I didn't need to. The painting on the other side of the page was completely undisturbed - another sign that these medium-heavy body paints are a better grade than others in their price category. I have seen some pretty nasty student grade acrylics that separated, turned into goo, smelled funny when you open the tube or were so runny and thin that they might as well be washes right from the tube.

While they're not up with Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton, these compare favorably with Liquitex and are way, way beyond anything else as cheap as they go. Good intro to a rewarding medium. Pick them up for a lark, you'll get a great range for a pocket money price. Definitely fantastic for hobbyists, students, big scale painters, sign painting, illustrators, art journals, ACEO painters and anyone else who wants to find out what acrylics can do!