Golden Airbrush Paints and Silverpoint Ground --- Who knew!

Golden Airbrush Acrylics on Silverpoint Ground
8.5x11 across a two page spread in a Stillman & Birn Beta (180 lb) hardbound sketchbook

A few weeks ago I went to the Golden Artist Colors factory for the day. In addition to other things, I was able to spend a few hours with tech staff to discuss some things I've been trying to achieve with acrylic paints, and possible alternative solutions to my mission. One of the things I was able to play with that day were the Golden Airbrush Paints and Silverpoint Ground. When one thinks of painting with brushes, Golden Airbrush Paints are not what come to mind! (Neither does painting on Silverpoint Ground, or using Silverpoint Ground to reclaim whites in a painting.)

Well, I was smitten with the possibilities of these paints! First of all, they are very highly pigmented, yet already in an ink-like consistency. This gives me an ideal solution to achieve watercolor-like pigmentation without the pigment disappearing on me. Furthermore, the Airbrush Paints have something that the Golden Fluids do not: retarder! Yep, the retarder is already added to the paint, so it stays workable longer on the paper, and can be lifted before it sets if you work quickly.

The down side to working with these has been finding an easy way to use them on location while out hiking. I've been experimenting with a few different ideas as I've carted them around. This sketch of Kaaterskill Falls was done on location in about 40 minutes. The pages were prepared in advance with Golden Silverpoint Ground. I applied two coats, drying with a hair dryer in between. The idea was that by sealing the surface, it would be easier for me to make use of the lifting capabilities of the Airbrush Paints. On location, I coated the entire sketch area with Transparent Red Oxide mixed with some Airbrush Medium. Then I used a piece of paper towel, sometimes dipped in water, to pull out my lights, as if I were doing an underpainting in oils. I continued to work transparently for awhile, adding darks and pulling out lights, then used more opaque paint toward the end. I used a little Silverpoint Ground for some highlights and light, opaque color mixtures. It has a very heavy Titanium Dioxide content and worked great! I'd put about 5ml into a small empty vial from an ink sample.

Transporting paints in a watery consistency has issues for sure. For one thing, I can't use the same palette that I can for oils or acrylics, nor any flat or disposable palette, for that matter. I ended up using two small, rectangular watercolor palettes that I taped together on one end so it could fold in half. I put velcro on the outside to affix it to my lap board with the sketchbook. That's worked out pretty well so far. I bring several of the small airbrush bottles of color with me, and pour them into the palette on location. Cleanup is a serious mess, and remains the biggest problem for me to resolve when out on location.

Here's a photo of the scene with my sketch. Unfortunately the sketch was in shadow and the scene in light, so it's a bit hard to see the sketch.


  1. Absolutely super sketch Jamie.

  2. I haven't been here in a while, but the colors in your recent pieces are wonderful!!! Your experimenting is defintiely having great results!!!