The Bottom Line
Updated June 2013: After a reader queried the length of drying time, I contacted M. Graham. It seems I misinterpreted what their leaflet meant; it's not that the paint will stay workable, but rather that "It means you can rewet a surface dry color by scrubbing with water and a brush. It does not mean it takes an hour to dry." (to quote part of the email exchange.) Given I tend to paint with a very wet brush, and on canvas, this will help explain why the paint stayed workable for up to half an hour for me.
Original review: The acrylic paints manufactured by M. Graham & Co. are formulated to have an longer working time than most acrylics, depending on temperature and humidity. This enables you to work wet-on-wet and blend colors in a way that's more like working with oil paints than with acrylics.
Being used to acrylics that dry rapidly and building up colors by glazing, using M. Graham & Co's acrylics with their longer working time takes a little getting used to, but open up new options.
- Extremely strong, saturated colors.
- Tube states if a color is opaque, semi-opaque, or transparent; useful for glazing and mixing.
- Consistency of soft butter, suitable for impasto or brush work.
- Not the cheapest acrylics, but you do get what you pay for.
- Not as widely available as some other brands of acrylics (try online stores).
- Artists' quality acrylic paints. Available in tubes and jars, with the identical formulation.
- All acrylic paints conform to ASTM D4236 product safety requirements.
- Gloss and matt acrylic mediums available for thinning the colors for glazing techniques.
- Identical pigments used in M. Graham & Co.'s acrylics, watercolors, gouache, and oil paints.
Guide Review - Acrylic Paint Review: M. Graham & Co. Acrylics
Original Review: I admit, I was skeptical when I saw that M. Graham & Co. claim their acrylics have a long open time of up to an hour. Their leaflet says "Our unique high solids acrylic resin is slower drying with a longer open time that allows subtle blends of color and soft transitions between tones. The slower 'cure' rate of this pure resin allows the surface to be reactivated for the first hour after application allowing striking wet into wet effects." But when I started painting with them, I was pleasantly surprised.
Okay, I didn't get an hour, more like half, but I was painting in very dry and hot (25-30C/80-85F) conditions. In cooler and more humid conditions, I believe you could well get the hour's working time with these acrylics the manufacturer claims.
It took a little getting used to working wet-on-wet with acrylics, but using the transparent Azo Yellow with the Phthalocyanine Blue produced the most beautiful greens (see painting with just these two colors).
I don't have the ability to test the fact that the acrylics made by M.Graham & Co. "contains more solids (acrylic)" which is why they say they're able to "eliminate dependence on commonly used 'thickening' agents" enabling them to "incorporate more pigment in our color for added strength and brilliance". But when you squeeze a color out a tube you're struck by its intensity. The next time someone asks me why they should bother spending money on artist's quality acrylics rather than students, I'll show them these colors!