View Full Version : Question on using Interactives for Plein Air

05-16-2010, 03:24 PM

I was wondering if anyone here uses Interactives for plein air painting? I've been thru a number of mediums, never quite comfortable with them. Had a terrible go for a summer a couple years ago using a different brand of acrylics and decided not to use acrylics for plein air anymore. However, I just recently used that little sample set of Interactives in the studio, and now think this paint might be what I've been dreaming of! (I am mostly self-taught, so it's been lots of experimentation with lots of mediums). My frustraton with the other acrylics was that my mixtures would dry before I could use them on my panel.....I do like them to layer, so am hoping I can figure out how to use the Interactives with layering...

When I used the regular acrylics outside, I had learned here on WC that I needed to keep the brushes wet until I could get them back to the studio for clean-up. I am wondering if that is the case with the Interactives, too. Do I need to keep the brushes wrapped up with something wet till I can clean them, or will they re-open for cleaning, just like they will for painting? If I don't need to keep the brushes wrapped/wet, then how long do you think I have after painting to get them in water for cleaning?

Also, would just love if anyone is using them for plein air to have more conversation/tips.....please forgive me if this subject has been covered here. I have a dial-up connection and did do a search and read as much as I could, but dial-up takes sooooooo long!

Thanks for your help....Meredith

05-16-2010, 03:54 PM
Hi Meredith,
I've been using Interactives for almost a year. I love them. They re-activate with water so if you just mist your paint while painting outside, you shouldn't have any problems. If you want to paint over a semi or dry area and do NOT want to blend, just use a dry brush as water will "open" the paints again. I just swish my brushes thoroughly in water before packing up and then give them a good washing at home. Never had a problem yet. The old acrylics would be hard before getting home. If washed out some before leaving, I don't even think you need to wrap them...but if concerned a wet paper towel will do the trick. Enjoy...and paint for fun.


05-16-2010, 07:15 PM
Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your reply. Sounds like I should be ok, then with the brushes and with finding ways to layer the paint without blending. I'm really looking forward to trying these outside...and I like what you said about painting for fun......appreciate it....


05-16-2010, 09:25 PM
I have used the Chroma Interactive Acrylics for plein air and they work much better for that purpose than the more familiar acrylics. View the demos at Chromaonline.com so that you understand how they work as they are different and it will take a while to become accustomed to them. I generally start out by mixing only a tiny amount of distilled water with my IA paints while I am blending. When the brush begins to drag ever so slightly I spray my palette rather than the canvas and keep on painting. You could also add a tiny amount of the slow-dri medium to keep it workable but my experience is that you should start with just a very small amount. Layers mixed with water and/or slow-dri medium are very matte and soft, i.e. can be easily scratched. If you begin to paint on top of a soft area with a wet paint brush it will re-activate the lower layer. So this is what I do: Once I have blended an area with the IA mixed with distilled water and/or the slow-dri medium, I let it touch dry while I work on another area of the painting. Once it is dry I use the fast-dri fixer with a soft brush and a light touch to seal off the blended area. Once the fast-dry/fixer has dried I can paint on top of THAT layer without disturbing the blended area on the bottom. I have not purchased the unlocking formula because FRANKLY i just haven't needed it. For a palette I use a 3 cup Pyrex Baking Dish (about 5x7") that has a blue plastic lid. I make my own stay-wet palette: I trace around the bottom of the dish on a piece of parchment paper (used for baking) add four layers of paper towel below it, staple the corners then cut it out. I make these while watching the evening news so I don't figure it is really costing me any time. I place them in the Pyrex dish with the parchment side up. Add water, then use my fingers to squeeze out the excess. Put a couple of pennies underneath the pad to deter mold. It is not uncommon for me to keep paint workable like this for several days. I spray the palette when I am through for the day and snap on the lid. If I am out in the field, I wipe my brushes off with a paper towel, swish them in water, then dry with the paper towel. When I get home I clean them with fresh water and Old Masters Brush Cleaner.

05-18-2010, 02:24 PM
Thanks, Linda, for the information. I didn't realize the Fast medium could be used over touch-dry areas. So far I have only tried it by mixing it into the paint (which pretty much brought me back to the consistency of paint that I disliked in the other brand I used). So, I really appreciate your sharing that idea! Have you tried the Impasto medium? Some of the Chroma literature described the Impasto medium as fast drying, just wondering if that is true.


05-18-2010, 04:23 PM
No, I haven't tried the impasto medium ... maybe someday I will. :-)

05-19-2010, 03:59 PM
Hi! I'm Chroma's Resident Artist, and I use Interactive successfully plein air. My top tips for Interactive plein air are:
1. Take both a water sprayer and Unlocking Formula with you. If you want to blend wet-on-wet on the surface, but the sun/wind has already dried Interactive to the point of not reopening with water, the Unlocking Formula will work.
2. Incorporate a little Thick Slow Medium, Slow Medium or Clear Painting Medium into your paint. Any of these mediums will give you more working time.
3. Use a stay-wet palette (homemade or store bought). Helps tremendously with keeping your palette alive, and mist it every so often. If you like to mix directly onto the surface and not on a palette, try using an ice cube tray to keep you colors clean - it works well too!

The Impasto Gel is considered fast drying, because once it dries you will not be able to open up those layers again. However, if you use a lot of it with your paint, those layers will initially take longer to dry. I've never used the Impasto Gel for plein air. I like to keep my load as light as possible!

I'm not going to post any images because of your connection speed, but if you visit my website - www.jennifervonstein.com - you can see my plein air paintings done with Interactive. You can also visit Chroma's website - there is lots of info on Interactive you can download. Feel free to send me a PM, too, if you have any questions!