Jo Sonja Color Chart Matte Flow Acrylic Paint, Review, Lightfast Test.
Jo Sonja matte flow acrylics are made by Chroma in Australia. They are a low viscosity waterproof paint (creamy and fairly thin, but not quite "fluid", despite being labeled as "fluid acrylic" for several years). The paints come in a few formats including mini 20ml tube sets and 75ml individual tubes. There are a few iridescent (transparent mica based) colors as well as "background" colors (super opaque and matte) in plastic flip cap bottles.
Where to buy? Purchase Jo Sonja acrylic tubes at Blick art store here, or get the background color bottles here.
Most of Jo Sonja colors are opaque and gouache-like, drying to a matte (not glossy) finish. They were at one time marketed as "acrylic gouache" - a waterproof (glue-like polymer binder) alternative to traditional (re-wettable gum arabic sap) gouache. These are fairly similar to Holbein's acryla gouache, Turner and Liquitex matte acrylics, but much more affordable. I've been really impressed with their quality for a paint that costs a small fraction of competitor prices. Jo Sonja paints work really well on paper, canvas, terra cotta and wood. I've seen them used for miniatures, on metal and plastic.
As soon as these paints touch wet paper the pigment starts to flow across the surface. They remain waterproof even when extremely diluted with water, but I would only trust the long term durability of this technique on porous surfaces (toothy absorbent watercolor paper, canvas, cloth, wood and gritty gesso). This binder does not seem to keep the pigment trapped in a glue or gel-like state like some products:
These paints seem to be made in a different way than most standard acrylic paint, as they are particularly easy to dilute with water. If you are a mixed media artist, the way these eagerly flow across wet surfaces may be useful for making watercolor-like washes that are waterproof and durable. This can make for an enjoyable painting experience on watercolor paper. I am not sure if it's just a high pigment load, less or different type of binder - but these can be mixed with water right on damp paper with a brush and be worked into smooth washes.
This is different than the odd textures, streakiness or resistance to diluting I have experienced with other medium to high viscosity paints like Liquitex, Blick, Pebeo etc. They are not as watercolor technique friendly as true liquid state acrylics (Golden "high flow", Holbein, Liquitex, FW or Amsterdam "acrylic INK" etc.) but Jo Sonja tends to be more affordable, matte, opaque and an overall versatile paint that can be used in multiple ways. It can be used just as well for other types of projects - such as achieving a thicker solid background color on canvas, painting wood picture frames and home decor, or even painting details on polymer clay jewelry.
I've used these paints on an off for over 10 years and can tell you from experience that they are extremely shelf stable compared to other acrylic paint brands. There were many colors that remained untouched for 3 to 6 years at a time while I explored other mediums (I'm primarily a watercolor artist). Each color has remained fluid and stable, with no binder separation, hardening or chunks. While I don't really advise buying paint you won't use, I was certainly pleased that I could still use these after years of storage.
--- Tutorials and painting demonstration images coming soon! ---
Color chart for the individual matte flow acrylic paints in tubes. This chart includes pigment ingredient (color index code) and lightfast ratings. I have added a * next to each color that only contains a single pigment ingredient, as these colors are particularly useful for mixing. While not a single pigment, I also like Yellow Deep for primary mixing with Transparent Magenta and Phthalo Blue. This chart does not include "iridescent" or "background" colors. For colors in my personal collection I will also be adding scans of my hand painted swatch cards (including masstone and diluted range, wet wash and salt reaction towards the bottom of this page).
Iridescent colors are transparent, mica-based (made from pigment PW20 a shiny clear-white silicate mineral) with a coating that reflects subtle colors. These are very subtle on white surfaces, but are more colorful when used on dark surfaces.
Jo Sonja Matte Flow Acrylic (also previously labeled as fluid acrylic or acrylic gouache) hand painted swatch card scans:
Jo Sonja Background Colors (very opaque for complete coverage and priming of surfaces such as wood) hand painted swatch card scans:
Blick USA has great prices on Jo Sonja Paints:
See how each color swatch compares to the same color in another brand on the pigment database here.
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