One day when I was going on a YouTube video bender – as I so often do when I’m trying to avoid working on my thesis – I came across a channel called Colour in Your Life, which shows various artists working on their projects. A few of the more recent videos featured artists using Hydrocryl acrylic, which I’d never heard of before. When I looked into it I found the prices were quite reasonable – starting at about $6 each for the 65ml jars – so I ordered a few to try.
Here is the colour chart for my Hydrocryl acrylics.
Texture-wise, Hydrocryl is about the thickest acrylic I’ve come across. When I opened the Titanium White, I tilted it around and even held the jar upside down, and the paint didn’t budge. The other colours weren’t quite that thick, but they did still feel at least as thick – if not thicker – than the Matisse Structure acrylics, another Australian heavy body acrylic. They can be thinned down with water well enough, but I think it’s also worth using some flow medium to make it glide onto the canvas more easily (I think Hydrocryl do make their own mediums but I just used the Atelier Interactive Flow Medium I already had, and it worked fine). Most other heavy body acrylics can still be pushed around with a brush with little effort, but I found that the Hydrocryls were less amicable in this regard. These are definitely worth trying if you love shoveling paint onto the canvas with a palette knife (or a trowel) for thick impasto effects. However I did notice that they seemed to get ‘tacky’ a lot faster than my other acrylics.
These are highly-pigmented paints that provide good coverage. Made in Melbourne since the late 70s, they were apparently created by a pharmacist for his artist friends before being made available to a wider market. They are non-toxic – no cadmiums or cobalts are used – so they’re a good choice if you’re buying paint for a child or are worried kids might get into your paints. I found that even when I thinned the paints down with water or flow medium, they still retained most of their opacity, which I was pleased with.
The website claims Hydrocryl paints are all single pigment colours, but neither the website nor the jars themselves actually have the pigment information on them. I submitted a query through the contact form on the site on the 3rd of November asking if there was a colour chart with the pigments listed available, but at the time of writing this post, they have not replied (though they still managed to sign my email address up for their newsletter). If they truly are single pigment colours, many of them are easy to guess by their colour name – eg. Prussian Blue is probably PB27, while Carbon Black is probably PBk6 or PBk9 – but some of them are ambiguous and it’s difficult to tell from the online colour charts. For example, my Magenta is a lot darker and looks more reddish (like an Alizarin Crimson) than the swatch on the site, which leans more towards pink, and Burnt Sienna, which is often made with PBr7, is quite reddish in the Hydrocryl line, leading me to suspect it could be PR101. It would be nice to be able to confirm exactly what is in each colour, especially since most manufacturers of artist grade products provide this information anyway, either on the packaging of the product itself or at least on their website. Some artists may not care much, but for those who have preferred pigments they are used to working with, it’s annoying not to be able to tell with certainty which colours contain those pigments.
Here’s the painting I did with the Hydrocryl acrylics (yes, I probably spend more time playing Nintendo games than I do painting).
The Hydrocryl acrylics handle very nicely, especially for thick, textural applications, and their prices are reasonable compared to a lot of artist grade brands, but the lack of pigment information available and the radio silence from the manufacturer when I enquired about it was disappointing. As far as I know, they are only available from the manufacturer themselves or from Arthouse Direct (which has a few shops around Melbourne as well as a website), so they may be difficult to get your hands on if you prefer to buy from a brick-and-mortar store. I’ll continue to use the Hydrocryl paints I have, but I don’t think I’ll buy any more, at least until if/when the manufacturer makes the pigment information accessible. This is just my personal preference, however; those who aren’t too fussed about what pigments they use as long as it’s roughly the colour they want will find a reasonably priced and good quality paint in the Hydrocryl range.