Painting with Golden OPEN Acrylics

FCA (Federation of Canadian Artists) signature member Bob McMurray has a passion for painting the world around him. Beginning much of his work on location in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, he will later complete his paintings in his studio. Bob is always prepared for the elements and he extends his time out on location by using Golden OPEN Acrylics from Golden Artist Colors. This allows him to paint in warmer weather as well as to achieve the blending and shading techniques often associated with oil painting.

See Bob’s process of working with OPEN acrylics on location and back in studio. Gain insight on why OPEN is perfect for artists wanting to work in warmer weather, and walk away with the knowledge to begin utilizing Golden OPEN Acrylics to the fullest!

Watch our video above and read the full exclusive article, Paint out in the OPEN, below.

For more plein air inspiration, watch some of our other outdoor inspired videos.
Painting En Plein Air with Maria Josenhans
Opus Outdoor Painting Challenge 2012
Travel Easels at Opus
Murray Phillips: A Conversation with my Canvas
Working Outdoors with Watermedia
Drawing from Inspiration

Interested in some of the materials Bob uses?
Golden OPEN Acrylics
Golden OPEN Acrylic Medium – Gloss
Golden OPEN Acrylic Gel – Gloss
Golden OPEN Thinner
Golden Artist Fluid Acrylics
Golden MSA Varnish
Opus Arietta Brushes
Opus Studio Canvas
Artograph LED300 Digital Art Projector
Garibaldi Sketchbox Easel
Sta-Wet Palette
ArtBin Cases

Paint out in the OPEN

The Basics of OPEN Acrylics

What I find most endearing about Golden OPEN Acrylics are their slower drying time, making them practical for outdoor painting in warmer weather. OPEN Acrylics are made with a special binder that eliminates the need for a retarding medium, therefore your pigments stay strong and the “open time” (how long they stay wet) is extended.

They dry a lot quicker then oils yet allow for the shading and blending techniques often associated with oils. I’d suggest starting with a limited palette; get the primary colours (red, yellow, blue) and the secondary colours (orange, green, purple) plus a white. If you like a specific colour that is not in the OPEN brand, mix the desired colour with a bit of OPEN to extend that colour’s drying time.

OPEN has 3 specific mediums to help enhance your work. Golden OPEN Thinner (extends paint), Golden OPEN Acrylic Gel (adds body), and my favorite, Golden OPEN Medium Gloss (glazes and enriches your colours). Try them out to see how you can further discover techniques with these new media.

Taking your Studio on the Road

I use a standard French easel when I go out on location because they tend to be lightweight. One like the Garibaldi Sketchbox Easel is great because it can hold your supplies in it when it’s condensed and set up. However, I bought a wheeled carrying box that I use to transport everything in. I can fit my easel, my paints, mediums, brushes, Sta-Wet Palette, paper towel, and anything else I would need on location. The wheels allow me to easily bring it wherever I go and it makes a good table when I need flat surface.

I always bring my camera with me to take references photos. That way when I am back in studio I can project the image with my Artograph LED300 Digital Art Projector and paint from it as if I was still on location. I try to keep in mind that I am painting my impression of the photo rather then a duplicate of the image.

Working with the Elements

Picking your subject matter can be challenging as it is the first step when painting outdoors. Spend some time looking around, if you stop at a place that grabs your interest put your gear down and look around some more. Usually there is a viewpoint better then what originally caught your eye and if you have your camera with you, take as many photos as you can. You will end up with a full library of photos to choose from back in the studio.

Because the light will change rather quickly, get your rough sketch down by doing your shadow lines first. Position yourself and the painting out of the sunlight, I’d suggest setting up so the canvas is shaded. That way you can better judge your colour values. I usually use a toned canvas, pre-primed with Golden Artist Fluid Acrylics, to help unify the colours. I usually pick a colour that will be prevalent in my scene (pthalo turquoise for water/sky, quinacridone nickel azo for trees/buildings, etc).

Learn more about Bob McMurray and the Federation of Canadian Artists by visiting

For more information about Golden OPEN Acrylics visit