Musings

Painting with Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic paint on Hahnemühle Leonardo paper

hahnemuehle Leonardo paper watercolour and liquitex acrylic gouache paint bottle

My second and probably last review of physical art medium covers Liquitex Soft Body painting on Hahnemühle’s hot-pressed Leonardo watercolour paper. Liquitex Soft Body can be used as a pouring medium but can also behave as a watercolour medium by adding Flow-Aid to it, while Leonardo is a lush 600gsm watercolour medium that you can literally soak. Leonardo is hot pressed and has a very smooth, satin finish.

Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic is the original acrylic paint. It can be made to behave much like watercolour if you add medium, but its main characteristic is its high pigmentation. It has a satin finish, which I sometimes prefer above a matte finish. Soft Body gives triple the coverage area of Heavy Body. If I had to choose one paint, this would be the one as it suits a wide range of techniques and applications, leaves a nice, subtle brush stroke if that’s what you like and can be easily diluted to decrease brilliance and saturation — which is also sometimes what you’ll want.

It may sound silly but Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic loves hot-pressed Leonardo. I tried the large block of paper. The satin look and feel of the hot-pressed Leonardo paper is a perfect match for the smooth, high-viscosity paint that Soft Body Acrylic is. When I used Soft Body Acrylic as an alternative for watercolour, Leonardo responded by giving me beautiful gradients that aren’t broken or hindered in any way by the typical structure of a cold-pressed paper. The only way you can tell the paint is on the paper, rather than be part of it, is by the slightly rougher surface after paint has been applied.

Of course, you can apply paint in thick layers and layer as much as you want, but the hot-pressed variant of Hahnemühle’s Leonardo paper has such a lovely satin look that I for one want to have the paper shine through. That is also the reason that I am not using it with Liquitex Acrylic Gouache. After having tried that as well, I found the gouache paint to be taking away too much of the paper’s lovely satin shine.

One thing I think Hahnemühle should somehow change is the way the paper is glued inside the block. In contrast to the 300gsm Anniversary Edition Aquarelle paper, Leonardo is held firmly in place on the sides with a mesh of what look like glued nylon strings. To remove a sheet, you’ll have to be very careful not to cut into the paper as it is quite easy with such thick edges as Leonardo’s.

Conlusion

Hahnemühle certainly has a winner with its hot-pressed variant of Leonardo. It’s a splendid paper for watercolour and fluid acrylic painting enthusiasts with a beautiful satin lustre and the heaviness that is needed to use plenty of fluids with it. The largest blocks available have a size of 36 x 48 cm, but you can also buy individual sheets of Leonardo.

The hot-pressed variant allows you to paint with much higher detail and lets you use paint in its purest form with no paper structure to scatter the light. If that is not what you want, there’s a cold-pressed Leonardo paper as well.