Meet Jim Cobb. The paint making alchemist.

I’m sure I’ve already met a great deal of you while on my travels from town to town discussing the paints that I’ve created over the years. For those of you that I haven’t met, it may be worth understanding why I’ve been pioneering artists’ paints for almost 50 years!

Jim Cobb. The paint making alchemist.

I am a paint maker and formulator of artist paints but also an artist myself. I started out as a student using oils, but when I moved across to acrylics, because of their convenience of use, I found that I still wanted to have the blend-ability that I had enjoyed so much when painting with oils. To those around me it seemed a bit unreasonable to expect two such seemingly opposite properties in one kind of paint. I couldn’t help feeling though, that there must be many other artists who were using acrylics that would have the same basic wish that I did, ‘to be able to prolong the acrylic drying process and yet still have that wonderful oil paint blend-ability’. In essence, a fast drying acrylic, where artists had complete control over its drying speed. Yes of course this seemed ideal, but why couldn’t this type of acrylic formula be created in this day and age?

For me the need to innovate is generated by experiencing a sense of dissatisfaction with what I’m using. I see it like an Oyster producing a pearl. Little by little that irritation can lead to an innovative endeavor. It has taken me many years to find the right formulas, but now I can share an array of artists’ paints that offer something a little extra – traditional, innovation. To date I have modified and improved both heavy bodied and fluid acrylics, a resin based archival oil and a rather unique watercolor soon to be released. Below is a brief synopsis of the paints that we currently offer to artists who want that little bit more - from the traditional artists paints that they currently use.


Professional Acrylics

Atelier Interactive is a respectfully traditional, innovative acrylic.

One of my most passionate endeavors has been to create an artists acrylic that allows the artist to have complete ‘control over the acrylics drying’ speed. The result is Atelier Interactive, a fast drying artists’ acrylic, with a smooth and buttery consistency. Atelier also has exceptional pigment loading and lightfastness, making it a world-class acrylic.

You will find that you can use the normal fast drying techniques that everyone uses every day and you can also mix Atelier Interactive with other professional acrylic brands. When Atelier Interactive dries at its own natural speed, expect it to dry at the same speed as other professional acrylics. Offering a fast drying acrylic is of course is not that unique, but it remains an essential working attribute that everyone uses.

Jim Cobb painting trees with Atelier Interactive

So what makes this traditional acrylic different?

Jim Cobb using the Unlocking Formula

Atelier Interactive is an acrylic that allows you to prolong its drying. Being able to prolong or slow down the drying process is unique and offers artists a greater array of blending and painting possibilities. You will find that you can easily prolong the drying time for more blending by adding the Unlocking Formula to Atelier’s unique acrylic formula.

When Atelier Interactive starts to dry, simply add a small amount of the Unlocking Formula into the paint with a brush, or you can choose to use an atomizer on your painting to prolong the drying of the paint if you wish. The Unlocking Formula gently absorbs into the paints body to soften the drying process. This process can be repeated every time the paint begins to dry. The Unlocking Formula evaporates at the speed of water, so expect the acrylic to dry at the normal speed when you have chosen to let it dry.


An acrylic that you can reopen after its dried

The unique formula of Atelier Interactive allows it to be reopened by the Unlocking Formula even after it has dried. No other acrylic offers such a remarkable feature. As artists we get interrupted, so having the ability to reopen paints that dry so quickly is essential I feel. It’s also impossible on bigger acrylic paintings to keep the whole surface wet. This is no longer a concern if you are using the Unlocking Formula because it keeps wet paint wet and it also rewets areas that may have dried. Just apply the Unlocking Formula and keep on blending without worrying about the time factor. Of course you still have the option of over painting whenever you decide not to use the Unlocking Formula.


Atelier Free Flow is the most ‘vivid matte’ fluid acrylic

My new Atelier ‘Free Flow’ acrylic caters to the needs of artists who want a fluid acrylic paint. It has a unique ‘vivid matte’ finish that resembles a gouache or watercolor when used on watercolor paper and is ideal for mixed media work on paper. It has tremendous pigment loading allowing it to be diluted to more liquid or flowing states. I see no need to have several grades of fluid paint because with just a touch of water it responds so easily to decreasing viscosities, but it is interesting to explore the thicker gradients, while maintaining the special matte look.

Jim Cobb blending with Free Flow
Jim Cobb using Free Flow

For large easel paintings I have developed a very matte gel medium that allows the paint to be textural but maintains the vivid matte-ness.

Those of you who enjoy using any of Golden’ Fluid paints might like Free Flows adaptability, which should easily straddle the three different grades of fluidity by adding small amounts of water, while still giving you a vivid matte finish that gives Free Flow a strong point of difference. Mixed media artists will enjoy the way the matte finish merges with the surface of quality paper rather than forming blotches and puddles.


Creating an 'Archival' Oil

Oils still dominate the main tradition of western art, and since their invention about 1450 they have had one serious defect. When oil paintings dry out they become progressively more brittle.

I explored what allowed acrylic paints to remain permanently flexible and discovered that similar modern resins can be used to prevent oil paints from becoming brittle as time passes.

It is now 2015 and Archival oils are the only oils in the world to have successfully incorporated a modern resin additive into their formula to keep them subtly flexible after they have dried.

I am introducing another resin making it a definitive resin/oil paint. The extra resin will literally give this oil paint an “inner glow”, you can actually see the difference when you use the paint.


Creating a New Watercolor

Atelier Aquarelle

I’m currently about to launch a watercolor. It is not quite ready to market yet, but if you’re interested in being notified of its availability please leave your email details and we’ll keep you abreast of any announcements.


Are the paints I create still traditional in essence?

Some of the improvements I’ve made simply modify the paints behavior. In essence our paints are as traditional as they’ve ever been, they just do what they need to do better. I don’t need to ask myself anymore why oil paints still crack overtime, or why I can’t extend the drying time of an acrylic – because now these traditional flaws in the paints have been fixed! This is something that I have mastered over the years with a great deal of success. It’s important though, to be mindful of the way that things have been done, because artistic training and previously learnt techniques are passed on generationally. Each category of paint has its own rationale built around the way that type of paint behaves – and this must be respected. The paints that I’ve created are quite traditional, with subtle modifications that enable today’s artists to paint more easily and set aside some limitations of earlier artist’s paints.

Artists use traditional paints in extremely varied ways – this makes it a fascinating job to find the right connection between better technologies and yet maintain, in essence, a truly traditional artists’ paint.

I get immense satisfaction from seeing the freedom of expression that our paints allow.

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb | Paint Maker