Along with the Derivan Matisse Structure acrylics I picked up in one of Riot Art and Craft’s sales a few years ago, I also put together a set of their Flow acrylics. I already had a lot of the Chroma Atelier Interactive acrylics, but I was interested in trying a more fluid type of acrylic.
Instead of having a printed coloured label, each tube has a swatch of the paint swiped onto the tube, which is really helpful. As the ‘Flow’ name suggests, these paints are not as solid as other brands. If you’ve used folk art paints from the little bottles (eg. Jo Sonja or Golden Fluid paints), these are a similar consistency, if a bit less runny. Consistency is pretty uniform across most of the paints I have, though some were very runny; Yellow Light Hansa was almost like water and poured out of the tube as soon as I opened it. I thought at first that it was defective and exchanged it (twice), but it seems to be just how that colour is formulated, unless the whole batch was faulty.
This is the colour chart I made for my Flow acrylics:
Other than the consistency issues I mentioned above, these paints seem to be reasonably good quality. Even without diluting them, they spread nicely thanks to their fluid formula, and they provide good coverage (especially the opaque colours). When it comes to mixing, choosing the right colours to start with is important, but the quality of the paint pigments also matters, and with these paints, I’ve always been able to mix any colour I wanted. With a little water or medium, you could dilute these further and they would be suitable for use in folk art or in place of actual fluid acrylics from a bottle, but if you want to do heavy texturing effects or work with a palette knife to mold and layer the paint, you’d be better off getting heavy body acrylics with a more buttery consistency, or use some sort of textured medium.
Like most acrylics, Matisse Derivan Flow dries quite quickly and you can paint over it after a few minutes (depending on how thickly you’ve applied it) without colour lifting up from the previous layer.
For the amount of paint you get in a tube, Derivan Flow is a bit more expensive on average than the Atelier Interactive acrylics I’ve reviewed previously, but cheaper than Winsor & Newton or M Graham acrylics (tubes are 75ml and start at about $7.50-8.50 for series 1 colours right up to $28-32 for series 7 colours; it’s also available in 500ml and 1 litre tubs but my local art shop didn’t have them).
This is a painting I did with the Derivan Matisse Flow acrylics (for a step-by-step demonstration of this peacock painting, click here.
If you’re looking into getting started with artist grade acrylic paints and don’t want the solid, buttery consistency of some other brands like Winsor & Newton or M Graham, these are a good starting point, and as they are an Australian brand, fellow Aussies will find that they are easily available and are among the cheaper acrylics available in local art stores.