View Full Version : Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer?

12-12-2007, 12:45 PM
I have found I really like the Art Spectrum Colourfix texture, but not the paper sizes I can get. I just discovered you can buy the primer and put it on any surface to make a painting panel. Does anyone do this regularly? Is it more economical than buying prepared panels? Can you make a lot of panels out of one pot of primer? (I like to work 18 x 24") What surfaces are most suitable to put it on- wood panels, masonite, matboard, museum backing board? I'm looking for something sturdy, durable and yet not too expensive...

thanks for any input!

Paula Ford
12-12-2007, 01:07 PM
I have used it on Raymar canvas panels 8"x10"ish. A lot of the artists here use it on masonite and matboard.

The only painting I did came out pretty good. That's the only experience I've had with it.


12-12-2007, 01:11 PM
I have not used the colorfix primer per say but I do use my own mix of gesso and 4F pumice.

I tried various papers with somewhat and very little success. All tend to buckle. I now use 1/8" masonite and it works great.

The gesso and 4F pumice I believe will be cheaper in the long run and you can tint any particular batch any colour you wish.

12-12-2007, 02:42 PM
I have used both the Colourfix Primer and the Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels on hot pressed watercolour paper for smaller works and matboard for larger works. They are both pretty much the same with the Golden being a little less expensive. They are both a little less gritty than the Colourfix Paper and a small container can do quite a lot. It all depends of course on how thickly you apply it and whether you use one or two coats. I apply it with a brush so I do get brush strokes showing through which is a personal preference. To get the most for your money, I suggest you first colour the board with thinned down acrylic paint, if you have it, and then use the clear primer which gives a bit of a milky appearance on top. I think that you could probably get about four 18" x 24" boards done with two coats from one jar of the primer if you put it on thinly. You might get more done with the Golden ground since you can thin it down with water.

Michael, where do you get the 4F pumice and how much does it cost?

Hoping this is helpful...


WC Lee
12-12-2007, 02:52 PM
I have used the colourfix primer quite a bit. It provides a decent toothy surface and will stick to practically any surface. And as mrking mentioned, most paper surfaces will buckle, but ok for quick sketches and experiments. I usually use it on illustration and mat board.

And I also agree with mrking about making your own mixture of gesso and pumice will be cheaper in the long run. Marble dust can be used in place of the pumice but won't provide a surface as toothy. So far, the only place I found that sells the pumice is Dakota and if I remember correctly, a 2lb bag for around $5.00.

Donna A
12-12-2007, 03:27 PM
HI, Raechild! I am a huge fan of the Colourfix Primers---along with the papers and boards. I've primed etching papers (which I have en masse) and masonite and rag boards and canvas---and it has never disappointed. Most often, I grab a sheet of Cfix paper or board off the shelf---but there have been a number of times where I had reasons to go with the Primer. I absolutely love the huge versatility the Colourfix materials deliver.

Sometimes I'll use a fine sponge roller for an even texture and other times I'll apply it with a broad white bristle brush. The very first time I used it, back in 1999, I was amazed at how fast it dried, ready to use---and how it did not wet the paper, making it ripple-y. The closest I've come to doing a lot of sheets at the same time to know how much it covers is a few months ago when I was on a cleaning rampage--and washed off (in the shower) a lot of sheets of Colourfix that had been used for quickie demo bits (not demo paintings or demo sketches) or some totally unforgettable paintings that needed to go away---far far away! :-) So--just to get a really nice "clean start" after the paper dried (pressed between layers of newsprint since I had gotten it very wet on the backside--and it's water color paper.) Seems like, with a slightly-used jar of Soft Umber, I was able to roll color on to 10 or 12 sheets of 20"x28"---plus a few partials of other washed-off sheets. (Good thing it dries fast! Was running out of flat spaces!) :-)

I know a lot of artists make their own sanded surface. I've tried several other 'store-bought' sanded grounds and made some by a couple of different recipes over the years, but---I have just never liked any of the others nearly as well---and prefer the Cfix surface. AND it's so nice to be able to just grab the jar off the shelf, prime a piece or two or more---and PAINT! Washing the brush or roller and screwing the lid back on is the only clean-up. Nice. I think it's important for us to try different things and then discover what works best for us at the time for a time---and it will be different for each of us. Don't think it's about what is best---but what works best for any one of us.

The newer Colourfix SuperTooth comes as a clear Primer, too, along with the stiffer paper. A really lovely rich and more assertive surface. But I do so love the original surface. So glad to have them both to choose from.

There are other things we can do with the Primer. There have been several times where I've needed to "repair" a painting surface. The first time---had built up layers and fixed and built up and fixed, etc---(painting on a sheet of Cfix)---and realized mid-way through that I really needed to move a very dark conifer for the sake of the composition. It had quite a texture and anything I painting over it showed the conifer's texture, still. So---hardware store sandpaper---'got rid of the evidence.' LOL! Then I painted back over that area, feathering it out into the rest of the painting, to be able to start that area fresh. Was only a few square inches, but---important ones! This took maybe 5 or 10 minutes total, with getting out the roller, etc. It was a great benefit to fix this completely and fast!

A couple of us have torn the paper at times removing tape or such---and it's also a quick fix! One of the artists in class earlier this year had changed her large painting of a gorgeous bouquet she'd started from life---and had to finish from a photo---and her concept had changed a bit toward the end---and it became important to restore the Leaf Green surface of the paper in the upper left corner of the painting to continue the flow of the paper color which she was letting show through in other areas of the painting. Erasing did not get rid of enough of the pigment, so---we used a damp paper towel to wipe off some of the pigment in that corner, then I opened my jar of Leaf Green Primer and we rolled it on with a small sponge, feathering out the edge. It was dry in a few minutes and Gloria was off and running to do the final touches of melding in that area with the central area of the painting. Turned out gorgeously! Angela used the Storm Blue to clean up an area of her painting on that color of Colourfix paper where it was striking to have the paper color flowing through the painting last month.

I've also experimented with putting on the Cfix Primer with varying textures. Can be really interesting and effective---such as for a landscape, really smooth in the sky area with increasing texture with the bristle brush as it comes forward. Something that might work for some of you to play with.

I've also used the different colors of Primer to do the underpainting of color areas. That was rather fun. Need to work FAST! And---I worked small on the experiments doing this.

So---a lot of possibilities with the Colourfix Primer. So many more than I've mentioned, but perhaps this can give some ideas. Yes---have mixed a couple of colors together---and yes---have tinted the Primer in several different ways. Also have thinned it out a bit for a different quality---just don't thin it too far.

And---the Clear Primer will go on over a giclee with archival paper and lightfast inks---if we have occassion to use it as a base for a little piece we might 'hand color' as a work over an image of one of our paintings---perhaps as a special piece to use as a donation to a fund-raiser. That has been rather fun to do on several occasions---and has been much appreciated and enjoyed---so still another possibility.

I will sometimes use the Colourfix paper or primed surface sanded down a bit with hardware-store sand paper (med-fine to fine grit) and paint my pastels on to this finer, softer more suede-like surface. Still holds a lot of pastel, but just a softer, more velvety texture.

I think it's cost-effective when we figure in out time getting the materials and then making the mix compared to being able to pull the jar off the shelf ready to go. As long as we find what works best for us! That's the most important. Some of the prepared panels seem terribly pricey compared to the time required to roll or brush on primer. And some are so heavy. Don't like that. But that is not an issue for others. Door skin or luan is something to experiment more with for me. But I am so happy with the papers and the boards and my pH-balanced foam core boards to fix them to.

Very best wishes to everyone in finding your perfect solutions! Donna ;-}
(ps---and I love having 20 colors to grab off the shelf or out of the jar!) :-) d

12-12-2007, 03:43 PM
Currently I get my Pumice from Lee Valley.


You can mix a batch and keep it in a sealled container, having it handy for when you need it.

Donna T
12-12-2007, 04:57 PM
I'm real happy with the white Colorfix primer on 300lb hot-pressed watercolor paper. My favorite brand of paper is whichever one is on sale. I can do underpaintings with watercolor, gouache, or thinned acrylic paint and it doesn't buckle.

Donna T

maggie latham
12-12-2007, 05:00 PM
:) Hello,
Just to add to what Donna just posted (Donna you always post such good answers)………I use CF a lot and apply it with an old bristle 1-inch gesso brush. I like the dark purple color and the white. It works great on already gessoed Ampersand panels, and also on thick rag mat board, although you do have to coat the back of the mat board with either gesso or acrylic medium to stop it from warping.
It also works well on gatorboard, but I usually give gatorboard one coat of gesso fist. It is not as toothy as Wallis paper, but can really take many layers of pastel. If you want to incorporate the brush strokes as part of the finished painting, you can lay it down with random strokes. Sometimes it is a little thick (especially as you get to the bottom of the jar) so I often mix a little water with it to thin it down. If you want to do some quick smaller studies outside, I find an 4ply mat board primed with CF very transportable and affordable, I usually cut the mat board first with a craft knife and them prime with CF.
Let us know how you get on…

12-12-2007, 10:51 PM
i also use it alot, love that terra cotta! i use it on those left over middles from a mat i cut--too small to cut again, but yet, ouch, its rag mat, can't just toss it in the can?!! sooo, i prime it and use for plein air boards. for me, that is a great thing to do, cuz i figure they are practically free, so i am free to play! they don't blow and crease in the wind either, and in sd, there's gonna be wind! i have gone thru the clear jar, but i like the colored ones best. i took some and tinted it a bit more myself too for a special piece. good stuff.

12-13-2007, 12:24 AM
I had the good fortune to get a lot of rag matboard from Freecycle, but some of the colors just weren't good for framing so I have been putting colourfix primer on some with a Rubbermaid 4" foam roller (found at Walmart) to the wrong side (back), which makes a wonderfully even surface just like the premade papers and boards. And yes, the primer goes a long way. I've made a few full sheet boards and then cut them down, and haven't made that much of a dent in the jars yet.

nana b
12-14-2007, 02:04 PM
I don't know if this has been mentioned in this thread, if it has ignore. Blicks has the Colourfix primers on sale for 8.23 per jar, that's 44% off! I just ordered 4 jars!


12-15-2007, 12:14 AM
Art Media said the primer is being discontinued, so grab up what you can!

Donna A
12-15-2007, 03:26 AM
Art Media said the primer is being discontinued, so grab up what you can!

No---thankfully, the Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer is not being discontinued. Maybe Art Media means that they are not going to keep carrying it. The primer is the same material as what is silkscreened on to the Colourfix papers and boards. They can't quit making it since it is the primary part of Colourfix. And so popular both ways, liquid and ready to use. So--we don't have to worry! But---if someone gets most of their materials from Art Media---take lpb's comment to heart and order up their supply of it! Take good care! Donna ;-}

12-16-2007, 01:51 AM
True they will continue to make it for their own use, but maybe they are discontinuing the jars as a consumer product?

nana b
12-16-2007, 02:07 AM
I've got to ask, could the people at Art Media be wrong? Where did they get their information?