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Articles

  • PRINTMAKING TECHNIQUES IV.

    Linocut

    No wonder using Linoleum as the ground for printmaking is a popular technique – it’s relatively cheap and easy method, compared to etching and lithography. It is widely available and pretty much doable without a printing studio.

    Picasso

    Picasso

    The History of Linocut

    Linocut is a type of relief printing technique, that's predecessors were wood and metal plate cutting. Linoleum was invented in the 1800s, for its common purpose of covering floors. By the 1860s it had its name, then gained its popularity in the 1900s when artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso began using it to create images. It was also used in Germany to create wallpaper patterns, as well as a cheap option for practising in printmaking schools.

    Henri Matisse

    What materials do you need for making linocuts?

    • Carving tools with different blades
    • Printing Ink
    • Printmaking paper - light weight, for example Stonehenge, Rives BSK, Japanese washi paper
    • Lino Blocks

    or just get a complete linocut kit

    How Can You Make a Linocut?

    1. When you decided on an image, either transfer or draw it directly onto the linoleum block. Keep in mind that your design will be printed reversed!
    2. Start carving the linoleum - what you carve out isn't going to be printed.
    3. Ink your linoleum block evenly with your roller
    4. Start printing! Lay your paper carefully onto the block, and press them together with the help of a baren or wooden spoon.
    5. Take off the paper, and reveal your print!

    Multicoloured Prints - The Reduction Method

    In order to create multiple colour images, the simplest way is to use the reduction method. That is, when you print different colours onto one image, using only one linoblock. First you need to decide how many pieces you want in this particular edition. As you will be carving away more and more of the lino, you can only make a certain number of prints. When you're done with the first layer, carve out more details and print each paper with the  new colour. You can do this as much as you prefer, until you're done. You can also experiment with printing different designs on the same paper.

    video demonstration:

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl4lmTQJ5uM[/embed]

    Useful Linocut Tips:

    Heating the linoleum block makes it easier to cut.

    1. Draw the reversed image onto the linoleum
    2. Use carbon or tracing paper to transfer your image.
    3. Paint a light layer of acrylic on your drawn image to make sure it stays on during the carving process.
    4. If you made a mistake, try gluing back the cut out part, or fill the gap with epoxy resin.

    Linocut by Bill Fick

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVJ-ArlB6XA[/embed]

    REFERENCES

    http://www.boardingallrows.com/linocut-process/ https://shellielewis.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/12503975764/ https://www.artfinder.com/blog/post/inside-the-art-of-linocut-printmaking/ http://www.accessart.org.uk/pdfs/printmaking.pdf http://www.artistsandillustrators.co.uk/how-to/printmaking/222/top-tips-for-linocut-printmaking http://greatnorthartshow.co.uk/the-history-and-process-of-linocut-print-from-paupers-to-picasso/

  • Screen Printing

    A long long time ago...

    Screen Printing (AKA silk screening, serigraph) began over a millennia ago during the Song Dynasty in China. Within the past 100 years, however, this printmaking technique has been widely utilised in the western world by artists and commercial processes alike, making it possibly the most common form of modern printmaking.

    Screen Printing https://www.logos-unlimited.co.uk/services/printing

    Process

    Screen Printing is the process of creating an image built up with different colour layers, which has it's origins in ancient stencilling techniques. The name screen printing/silk screening finds its meaning through the use of silk or synthetic mesh stretched around a wooden or metal frame.

    To create the image layer, light-sensitive emulsion is applied to the screen; once dried the image is placed on top of the emulsion layer and is exposed to high levels of UV light; this 'sets' the emulsion around the artist's design leaving the masked area unset. This unset area is then washed away leaving a very accurate outline of the artist's design.

    Once cleaned, the screen can be exposed again to help make sure that the emulsion is fully 'set'.  When this part of the process is complete, the screen can now be used as many times as needed.

    http://www.sfy.org.uk/services/screen-printing/

    To begin the printing process, the screen is fixed to a screen bed with a hinged bracket, which allows the printer to raise and lower the screen between prints. Tape is used to border the design and to mask out any areas of the screen that you do not want to be contacted by the ink.

    Once the screen has been fully prepared, ink is applied directly to the taped area of the screen and using a 'squeegee' the ink is dragged over the stencilled image; the ink is forced through the mesh and onto the paper, wood, plastic, fabric underneath the screen.

    screen printing process set-up https://www.saxoprint.co.uk/blog/screen-printing-process

    As the 'squeegee' passes over the image, the taught screen lifts away from the paper leaving the the desired image. This can be done as many times as needed, as long as ink isn't left to dry in the gaps in the mesh.

    It is common that this process of preparing the screens will need to be repeated several times for each full design, as each colour needs to be prepared separately.

     

    Modern Screen Priniting History

    In the early 1900's an Englishman named Samuel Simon patented the first screen printing machine; the main use of which, was to create luxury wallpaper on silk and cotton using cut stencils and push the ink through the screen with a brush.. In these early days of western screen printing, many of the techniques and processes were kept as closely guarded secrets of industry and it wasn't until three San Francisco based print-makers, Charles Peter, Roy Beck and Edward Owens experimented with photo-reactive chemicals and photo-imaged stencils in 1910's, that significant and progressive developments were made.  No longer were techniques kept secret and screen printing became an extremely popular commercial and artistic practice, free to progress and expand.

     

    Andy Warhol

    Pop artist, Andy Warhol's name is synonymous with screen printing or 'serigraphy' (the term used by artists to separate their work from the commercial process). In the 1960's he championed the technique creating iconic images, which are still widely regarded as highly influential, revolutionary works of art.

    One such artwork, 'Marilyn Diptych' 1962, boosted Warhol's work into the mainstream. Weeks after Monroe's death, Warhol produced 50 replicated images of a publicity photograph from her starring role in 'Niagara'. The transition between the bright, colourful left side and the monochromatic, fading right side evokes themes of mortality, celebrity culture, and the futility of which.

    http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093

    Warhol's choice of using screen printing lent itself perfectly to his project and allowed more meaning to be taken in; watching the iconic visage of Marilyn Monroe shine brightly and then fade almost completely into a ghostly image. The power in this piece is magnified by Warhol's use of repetition, reflecting the corporate consumerist nature of advertising, repeating images again and again until they become old, ineffective and of no use.

    This is a great example of how screen printing can be used, not only as a means of creating multiple prints of an existing artwork, but as a legitimate artistic process for the fabrication of new original work.

    References

    http://www.catspitproductionsllc.com/screen-printing-history.html

    www.saxoprint.co.uk/blog/screen-printing-process

    www.logos-unlimited.co.uk/services/printing

    www.sfy.org.uk/services/screen-printing

    http://www.printa.com/blog/post/history-and-technique-behind-silk-screening

    http://www.estout.com/designthreads/archive/History-08_16-History_of_Screen_Printing.asp

    http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093

  • PRINTMAKING TECHNIQUES II

    More Printmaking Techniques: Lithography

    A very interesting and versatile way to make multiple prints of drawings and painting-like images. Lithography is also responsible for the well-known Moulin Rouge posters, and the decorative advertisements of Alphonse Mucha, or the haunting images of Edvard Munch.

    While lithography might not be the easiest method of printmaking, people do make versions of it for those who don't have a proper printmaking workshop at hand. 

    What is the meaning behind Lithography?

    The word lithography means “writing with stone” in Greek, which refers to the process of printing with a flat stone surface. (In other words called planographic technique as the printing image is on the same level as the non-printing surface.) Essentially, lithography uses a greasy substance to reach water-repellence and adherence at the same time, making it a great technique for multiplying detailed drawings and sensitive tone effects.

    "Moulin Rouge: La Goulue" Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1891

    Lets look at the history of lithography

    The German born Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) invented the technique that now we know as lithography in the 1790s. He was an actor and playwright who wanted to get more profit by reproducing his texts – which made him interested in the development of a suitable printmaking process. Since copper plates that they used for printing were too expensive to make mistakes with creating the reversed image, he decided to experiment with cheaper Bavarian limestone. The process he discovered through his experimentation was the following: he used the fluid to correct mistakes in the drawing, which also happened to provide a water resistant surface, which then could be drawn on with oil-based ink.

    Senefelder also discovered the method to transfer images onto the stone, thus making it possible to create prints with the image on the right side up.

    "Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm" Edvard Munch, 1895

    After Senefelder’s publication of A Complete Course of Lithography the process became popular, and the new endeavour was to begin creating coloured lithograph prints. The first attempts achieved watercolour like tones by using one or two colours. For detailed colouration, artist still had to do this by hand after printing. Chromolithography became more widely used and cheaper by the 1880s, as printing presses became steam-operated, allowing lithograph prints to be used for magazines and advertising posters.

    Mary Ann Bacon Mary Ann Bacon "Winged Thoughts" (Drawn on stone by E.L. Bateman. London: Longman & Co., 1851.)

    Alphonse Mucha: Poster of Sarah Bernhardt for 'La Plume' Magazine (1897) Alphonse Mucha: Poster of Sarah Bernhardt for 'La Plume' Magazine (1897)

    The Method

    1.

    Drawing tools that can be used for drawing on stone slates should include grease, such as lithographic crayons, rubbing blocks, tusche (grease and water). After the drawing is finished, the image should be dusted with french chalk for protection.

    2.

    After the drawing is done, the stone has to be processed, which method depends on the drawing materials and grease already on the stone. The image on the slate is fixed with the use of the etch, which is a mixture of gum arabic and nitric acid. This material is responsible for the creation of a water receptive (hydrophilic) and water repellent (hydrophobic) area; thus the non-image area remains clear while the image will become receptive to ink. This process has to be repeated. The first layer has to be applied carefully with clean tools, then thinned down with a sponge before drying the gum. After leaving the stone covered for a night before applying the second layer.

    3.

    The next step is to remove the drawing materials from the stone with the use of plain gum arabic and then turpentine. The excess and the gum arabic should be wiped off with a damp cloth, leaving the stone only slightly wet. After that non-drying ink should be applied with a roller, until the image is fully visible. (The stone should be kept damp during this process.)

    The image is then dusted with french chalk, and the second etch can be applied. After the stone is dry, it can be printed after a few hours.

    4.

    Greasy printing ink is applied onto the damp surface with nap or glazed roller. Usually the first few prints aren’t good representations of the image, as the slate needs to go through multiple inking processes. For the well-inked plate, pre-damped paper should be used for the prints.

    5.

    After the printing is finished, the stone has to be cleaned off before new images can be drawn onto the surface. It is done by graining the stone, a process that removes the grease from the surface, and exposes the new, chemical-free stone.

    Oil patch cleanser is applied onto the stone and has to remain on for half an hour. After that it is scrubbed off with a scourer. Carborundum grit is applied three times (coarse, medium and fine) on the wet slate, each time washed off with Vim with a small piece of litho stone.

    A very good demonstration of lithography by The Museum of Modern Art, New York:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUXDltQfqSA

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec "Jane Avril" (1899)

    Some Videos:

    Kitchen Lithography Demo Printmaking using Plaster of Paris -- No press or paper required! Stone Lithography at Edinburgh Printmakers Minneapolis Institute of Art, Printmaking Processes: Lithography

    Frank Stella [title not known] 1967 Lithograph on paper Frank Stella [title not known] 1967 Lithograph on paper

    References:

    http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/l/lithography http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/printmaking/lithography.htm https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/moma/moma-printmaking/v/moma-lithography-process http://www.leicesterprintworkshop.com/printmaking/a_brief_history_of_stone_lithography/ http://www.leicesterprintworkshop.com/printmaking/step_by_step_guide_to_stone_lithography/ http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/color/lithogr.htm

  • Van Gogh, the painter

    Have you seen the brand in the shop, but not sure it is suitable for your work? Curious how can Maths and Vincent Van Gogh be in the same sentence, or intrigued how much has he actually cut off of his ear? Come along and admire the “tortured genius’s” works!

    Vincent Willem van Gogh

    Self Portrait with Straw Hat (1887) Self Portrait with Straw Hat (1887)

    Interesting Facts About Van Gogh

    1. Van Gogh worked as an art dealer, and was fairly successful. Since he couldn’t really bear to do his art dealer job, he became a preacher south of Belgium.
    2. Van Gogh was dismissed because of his exaggerated religiousness, and moved back to his parents’ home and began learning to draw. Mostly in his lifetime he was too poor to afford models, therefore he practised by painting self portraits.
    3. Later in his life Van Gogh started attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. However, as the academic environment didn’t appeal to him, he went to Paris after a year.
    4. Van Gogh spent some time with his friend Paul Gauguin working in a shared studio. However, as he suffered from numerous mental and physical illnesses, during one of his epileptic seizures he tried to attack Gauguin with a razor, which resulted in him cutting off his earlobe.
    5. In his lifetime Van Gogh's family tried to convince him to go to a mental asylum, and after his deteriorating mental health caused the incident, he willingly committed himself into an institution in Saint-Remy
    6. After a while Van Gogh was well enough to return to the outside world, but his depression got considerably worse when his brother, Theo, could no longer afford to finance him.
    7. It was believed for long that Van Gogh committed suicide by shooting himself in a field, however, a recent study claims that in fact his death could have been the result of his encounter with two drunk boys who had a malfunctioning gun.
    8. What is certain that Van Gogh died two days after being shot, and according to his brother, his last words were: “the sadness will last forever”.
    9. Theo died six months after his brother, and it was his wife who pursued galleries and art dealers to get Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings recognised. It turned out successful, as while van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, he became famous after this death.

    Painting Techniques / Style:

    Self Portrait with Bandaged ears (1889) Self Portrait with Bandaged ears (1889)
    The later, most well-known style of Van Gogh is supposed to be that of Post- Impressionist. Post/Impressionism wasn't really a movement like impressionism, it was more of a response to the strict rules of the style. Painters who identified as 'Post-Impressionists', put more emphasis on the spiritual, symbolic and emotional expression, thus creating completely unique works determined by each individual painter's persona.
    Wheatfield with Crows (1890) Wheatfield with Crows (1890)
     A Wheatfield with Cypresses (1889) A Wheatfield with Cypresses (1889)

    Pointillism

    Pointillism is a painting style most characteristic of Georges Seurat - but Van Gogh made attempts to recreate it in his own way as well. Pointillist paintings are made up of (tiny) dots of paint out of the tube and placed next to each other - this way eventually the dots seem to blend together and give out the forms and colours.

    Self-Portrait (1887) Self-Portrait (1887)

    Impasto

    This technique creates a somewhat 3D effect as the paint is applied heavily on the surface.

    Detail of the 'Starry Night' (1889) Detail of the 'Starry Night' (1889)
    Detail of 'Houses at Auvers' (1890) Detail of 'Houses at Auvers' (1890)
    detail of 'Wheat Fields With Cypress' (1889) detail of 'Wheat Fields With Cypress' (1889)

    Van Gogh’s colour palette You can find more about it in the previous article by clicking here

    “How to paint like van Gogh?” [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDEMxd6EDDA[/embed] [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86RsoSdIN4w[/embed]  

    Still want more?

    Documentaries: The Mystery of Van Gogh's Ear The unexpected math behind Van Gogh's "Starry Night" - Natalya St. Clair Studies: Rhythmic Brushstrokes Distinguish van Gogh from His Contemporaries: Findings via Automated Brushstroke Extraction A comparative study of Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom series References: http://www.vangoghgallery.com/misc/fun_facts.html http://www.theredheadriter.com/2011/06/vincent-van-gogh-30-interesting-facts/ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/arts/30iht-vangogh30.html http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/portraits/van_gogh.htm http://www.theartstory.org/artist-van-gogh-vincent.htm http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15328583

  • A GUIDE TO PRICING YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS

     How should I price up my illustrations?

    Arthur Rackham - 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ' - Lewis Carrol (1907)
    Having worked as a freelance illustrator for a number of years, you would assume that I would have managed to work out how to price my work for the various different commissions I undertake. Unfortunately – not so! It is one of the most stressful things you have to do as an illustrator. Clients often try to pay tiny amounts for your work, citing that ‘art is fun – not real work’, or telling you that the exposure you will get will advance your career and build up your portfolio. As all illustrators know, this is rubbish! Illustrating is hard work. Not only do you need the skills and imagination to be an illustrator, but it takes years of experience and hard graft to get to that point. If it was that easy, your client would be doing the work themselves. They need your skills, so you should realise your value and demand fees that are appropriate to the work you are being commissioned for and turn down those that aren’t. The main point to remember about pricing illustrations is that it’s all about the usage of your work and the rights to reproduce it, in what numbers, where and for how long. Where will your work appear? Will it be a front cover or inside? The highest fee will be for a full wraparound cover, followed by a front cover then a back cover, a full spread, full page, half page and finally a spot illustration. You have the same situation if you’re illustrating for a website – position, size etc.
    Brian Froud, Alan Lee - 'Faeries' (1979)

    How long is your artwork going to be used for?

    Usage is also a determining factor. How long will your work be used?  In an advert on TV? As background art on a TV programme? As a food label? CD cover? There is a direct correlation to how much your work is seen to the amount you should charge. The geographical areas where your work will be on display is also a factor. Will it be seen locally, nationally or internationally? Starting with a local audience and increasing up to an international audience. Adding value the more countries and languages the client intends to reproduce your work in. The entire world and every language is going to have a much greater cost to your client than Scotland and in English.

    Quentin Blake - 'The Enormous Crocodile' by Roald Dahl (1978)
    There is also the time factor. A magazine will have a short run, books much longer – for the life of the book. Some clients will want the rights to reproduce your work in perpetuity. The longer your client wants to use your work, the larger the amount you can charge.

    What about Exclusivity?

    If a client wants the exclusive rights to your work, you should charge a higher price, as being able to sell your work to additional clients would obviously increase the amount you could make on your illustration. Working in colour, rather than in black and white takes much more time, so colour work should be charged at a higher rate. The more copies of your illustration, the higher price you can charge.

    Norman Rockwell - 'After the Prom' - Saturday Evening Post Cover (1957)

    How & Where does your client want to use your artwork?

    Another consideration is the rights your client wants to your work. Is it just for a book jacket? Will they reuse it on a website? Will they use it in further international editions? Will they use part of it as an inside illustration? For every additional right to your work, you should charge a higher fee. The highest fee being for total rights control. There is also an agreement called ‘work for hire’, where your client will not only have total control over the rights to reproduce your work, but could also keep your original artwork, the copyright and wouldn’t even have to link your name to the work. In this instance a much higher fee would have to be negotiated. You must also consider who your client is – a multi national or a private individual and tailor your fee accordingly. Certain countries put a higher value on illustrators’ work. For example, working with a US client, you can command a much higher fee. Considering how long an illustration will take you and factoring in research, meetings and travel time. Make sure you’re not working for minimum wage, but earning a decent amount for the time and skill you put into your work. A rush job is when you are offered a last minute commission and you have to work every waking hour to complete it. In this case you should ask for a higher fee.

    Ernest H Shepard - 'Winnie the Pooh' - AA Milne
    If you are working on something that has a long run, such as illustrating a book, you should be entitled to royalties. Your fee will normally be an advance on royalties and sometimes the royalties fizzle out, so it’s advisable to ask for a reasonable upfront fee, as you may never see another penny.

    Two methods of pricing your illustrations

    There are two different ways of working out your pricing. The client approaches you with the fee they are offering, or the client asks you how much you wanted for the work. If the client has a figure in mind, it is much easier. From there you can negotiate up. If you have to come up with a figure yourself, it is much more difficult, as you could get it horribly wrong and lose a lot of potential money by undervaluing yourself. If you really have no idea where to start there are some excellent books that you can reference :- The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines; The Illustrator Guide to Law and Business Practices Association of Illustrators); Becoming a Successful Illustrator (Successful Careers) by Jo Davies; How to be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees. Alternatively speak to your illustrator friends and ask about their experiences and how they price their work.

    Janet & Allan Ahlberg - 'Each Peach Pear Plum' (1978)

    Arrgh - My Head hurts!

    If this all sounds a wee bit stressful, don’t worry. The more you do it, the easier it gets. It’s important not to aim too high and scare clients off, but it’s equally important not to undersell your worth. The best place to be is somewhere in the middle. Where the client and you are both happy. The most important thing to remember, is that it’s the rights to your work that you are selling and you want to keep as many of them as you can. The more rights the client wants and the more exposure your work will get, the higher the fee you should demand. If you’re not sure, ask a higher price – your client can always come back with a lower offer if they’re not happy with it. You should always be paid fairly for your work and your unique skills.

    Nicola Bayley - 'The Mousehole Cat' by  Antonia Barber (1991)
    Written by Mary Aitken - Freelance Illustrator & Designer

  • PRINTMAKING TECHNIQUES I.

    Printmaking is a very versatile and interesting process, which allows you to create lots of prints of the same image. Different printmaking methods achieve completely different results – therefore, this series, introducing the most common techniques, will hopefully be a helpful guide to find the most suitable for your art.

    Etching

    According to the Tate’s glossary, etching is a printmaking technique that creates images by lines that stay in the metal printing plate with the use of chemicals. Etching gained popularity in the beginning of the 17th century, even Rembrandt was a dedicated practitioner of the technique. Despite how long etching has been used, it still is not an outdated technique – both drawing and painting like characteristics can be achieved, and even better, due to the longevity of the metal plate, the same image can be printed over and over again for a very long time.

    Rembrandt (1630) Rembrandt (1630)
    Rembrandt: The Three Trees Rembrandt: The Three Trees
    Francisco Goya 'The sleep of reason produces monsters' (1797-1799) Francisco Goya 'The sleep of reason produces monsters' (1797-1799)

    Etching in History

    The printmaking technique of etching originates from goldsmiths, who decorated metal guns, armour and cutlery with ornate designs, the foundations of which had been made in the Middle Ages, or even before. Etching as we know it today was supposedly invented by Daniel Hopfer around the 15th – 16th century, who decorated armour with the use of iron plates. The earliest dated etching was made by Urs Graf, the Swiss Renaissance goldsmiths, in 1513.

    The Method of Etching

    Traditionally, etchings are done on a metal surface (usually copper or zinc) on which the ground is applied – a coat of wax. It should be applied on the heated plated with a roller, evenly. Optionally, in order to make the drawing process easier, it is advised to ‘smoke’ the waxy surface with candles. When the plate cools down, it’s possible to scratch into the surface – although, it is not necessary to push the needle very hard, as the exposed metal lines will be ‘scratched’ into by the acid. Keep in mind that the actual print will be the reverse of the image on the plate, therefore, in case of words you will need to write them the opposite way.

    Once the image is finished, you place the plate in the acid – for the first time, it’s a good idea to do a trial plate and test for how long you need to keep the plate in the acid – the longer it’s in, the darker the lines will be, as the acid can ‘bite’ into the surface more effectively, and it will be able to hold more paint.

    It is also possible to cover certain parts with stop-out varnish so you can influence which parts of the drawing will be darker or lighter, depending on how long you allow the acid to bite deeper into the metal. (Make sure to dry the plate and the masking fluid before you put it back in the acid!) Once you’re done with the plate, you can wash off the wax with white spirit, and then the etching is ready for printing! Apply etching ink to the plate with a squeegee, then press it into the plate with circular motion, removing any excess paint. You need to soak the paper in water before printing, but make sure to lightly squeeze the water out of it by placing it between other sheets of paper, before you put it under the press.

    Aquatint

    Stephanie Rampton: Fenestella (2013) Stephanie Rampton: Fenestella (2013)
    The technique of Aquatint is a good method to produce watercolour / ink effect. It is possible to achieve by dusting the plate with resin powder – then marking the surface of the metal with lots of small lines that will appear to be different tones. The resin dust should be applied onto the plate, then it has to be heated up so the resin can melt. After the plate has cooled down, you can stop out the areas you wish to remain white, and after it’s dry, the plate can be put into the acid. To create different tones, you will need to experiment with the time you leave the plate in the acid, as well as with stopping out different areas to achieve the desired tone differences.
    print of an aquatint test plate

    Soft Ground Etching

    Soft ground etching is used in order to create crayon-like drawings. It can be achieved by applying a waxy ground that is made softer by some sort of grease. It is possible to create different textures and patterns by pressing various objects into the waxy surface. Or for creating lines, a sheet of tracing paper should be placed over the plate and then drawn on. When the object / paper is removed, the exposed lines will be bitten into by the acid.

    Nelson Dawson Sc et Imp - The Gesuati 1915 Venice Nelson Dawson Sc et Imp - The Gesuati 1915 Venice

    Signature and Editions

    Signatures on prints are usually placed on the lower margin, on the right side of the paper. The place for the edition mark is on the left, and the title goes to the centre. According to the Glasgow Print Studio's guidebook, these are the edition markings that can be used:

    • A/P - Artist’s Proof – (the artist’s personal use.)
    • P/P - Printer’s Proof - for the printer
    • B.A.T. – (Bon à Tirer - means “Good to Pull”) the standard quality and colour for the rest of the edition.
    • H/C – (Hors Commerce - means “Outside of Commerce”) means that the print is not for sale
    • S/P - State Proof – a work in progress print to show the development
    • V/E - Varied Edition – prints of the same plate with hand, or differently coloured.
    • Chop Mark – it’s an embossed sign on the paper to identify the workshop where the printing happened.

    If you liked this post, keep your eyes on the blog to learn about more printmaking techniques in the future! References: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/e/etching http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/printmaking/etching.htm http://www.limitededitionprints.info/what-is-etching.html http://greatnorthartshow.co.uk/printmaking-etching-and-engraving-focus-on-aquatint-and-soft-ground-techniques/ http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt_etching_technique.htm http://www.gpsart.co.uk/DownloadDocs/GPS_Etching_Handbook.pdf how to do an etching, the old way Etching demonstration by Glynn Thomas — part one

  • Rembrandt, the painter

    Have you seen the previous article on the Rembrandt and Van Gogh paints? Or you would like to get some painting tips from the Dutch Master? Even if you’re just interested in some fun facts about painters and techniques; curious what chiaroscuro means, or why it is so soothing to look at Rembrandt’s paintings, keep reading!

    Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn |1606 - 1669

    Self-Portrait, aged 51 (c.1657) Self-Portrait, aged 51 (c.1657)

    Interesting Facts About Rembrandt

    1. Rembrandt started attending the University of Leiden when he was 14 years old, but as he found art more interesting than his studies, he left for Amsterdam to master his painting skills. Not long after he returned to Leiden, at the age of 22, where he started teaching art.
    2. Rembrandt's famous painting Night Watch is actually a nickname standing for tediously long original title – funnily enough, the painting is actually set at daytime, only the old dark and dirty varnish made it look nocturnal.
      Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642) Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642)
    3. Rembrandt is famous for painting himself into his paintings – here he is in the background of Night Watch
    4. In 1715, the forementioned painting was supposed to be brought to the town hall of Amsterdam. However, it was so big that it couldn’t simply fit on the wall – therefore, to hang it, it had to be cropped, and in its present state it’s actually missing some parts.
    5. January 13, 1911, September 14, 1975, and April 6, 1990 – what is common with these dates is that they mark the days when the Night Watch somehow provoked violent reactions from visitors, they actually attempted to slash it with a knife – or a more modern method, pouring sulphuric acid on it. Nevertheless, the painting still remains untouched
    6. There are many reasons why Rembrandt’s paintings stand out from others, but one is definitely the phenomena of “guiding the eye”. Apparently, Rembrandt’s painting technique enables the viewers’ eyes to be directed throughout the paintings on a specific route, as if Rembrandt consciously wanted to present a certain narrative by making sure where his paintings “begin and end.” As the study – mentioned in the article “The Magic of Rembrandt’s Painting Technique”- shows, it has been confirmed scientifically that Rembrandt knew how the human eye works, and did actually guide the viewers’ eyes with his brushstrokes.

    Rembrandt’s Painting Technique:

    Chiaroscuro, meaning “light-dark” in Italian, is technique used to create contrastive effect, especially in painting. Moreover, it’s not simply the strong contrast of light and dark surfaces, but according to Tate Britain’s Glossary, the chiaroscuro technique is generally only remarked upon when it is a particularly prominent feature of the work, usually when the artist is using extreme contrasts of light and shade" The effect of Chiaroscuro is very characteristic of Rembrandt’s paintings; he usually used dark shades of browns for shadows and pale yellow tones with white highlights to achieve an illuminating effect, as if his subjects were the sources of light.

    Danae (1636)
    Self Portrait (1628) Self Portrait (1628)
    Self-Portrait in a Gorget, (ca. 1628) Self-Portrait in a Gorget, (ca. 1628)
    More on Rembrandt's techniques:
    • How to Paint Chiaroscuro - https://sites.google.com/site/oilpaintingdemonstrations/how-to-paint-chiaroscuro-in-oils
    • Using the Secrets of the Master in Portrait Painting by Brigid Marlin - http://www.artofimagination.org/Pages/RembrandtTech.html
    • Reconstruction of Rembrandt”s “burnt plate oil” -http://www.northernlightstudio.com/new/burnoil.php

    What was Rembrandt’s colour palette? You can find more about it in the previous article by clicking here

    How can I paint like Rembrandt?

    Well, naturally, to acquire such skills as Rembrandt’s, you probably would’ve need the expertise of the master himself. Although, perhaps with some help of these videos you can learn the technique and pretend you’re a contemporary of the Dutch Baroque painter. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8RLtL5NZhg[/embed]   [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5YIEzmwfPA[/embed]  

    Rembrandt Etchings

    Fortunately, Rembrandt wasn't only a talented painter: he took an interest in this particular printmaking technique - and became quite known from his etchings as well. In fact, he produced almost 300!

     Triumph of Mordecai Triumph of Mordecai
    The Three Crosses The Three Crosses
    Interested in printmaking techniques? Keep your eyes on the website, or sign up for the newsletter to hear about the arrival of the article! Still want more? Rembrandt style drawing - U Tube Clip Painting techniques from Rembrandt to Vermeer - U Tube Clip BBC Fine Art Collection 3 of 7 Rembrandt - U Tube Clip Why I Tried to Copy Rembrandt By Sarah Hart

    References:

    http://www.tate.org.uk/ http://www.naturalpigments.com http://www.livescience.com http://www.rembrandtpainting.net

  • CHOOSING NEW PAINTBRUSHES DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DIFFICULT – BRUSH SHAPES.

    Finding the brush thats right for you...

    It can be daunting going into an art shop or ordering online and being faced with the seemingly endless number of different brushes from which to choose. A good set of brushes will make the most of your paints and choosing the shape of a brush is probably the first step. Paint brushes have been used since the age of cave painting. Animal hair was bundled and fastened to a handle. In ancient Egypt reed stalks and reed fibres were beaten at the ends to make brushes. Artists made their own brushes right up until the 16th century. For several centuries brushes could only be round due to their construction using the quill of a feather. However in the 19th century, brushes could be made in various shapes due to the introduction of metal ferrules. The Impressionist turned the art world on its’ head with the new mark-making options that new brush shapes offered. Today there are many new shapes available. Hopefully our list will help make your choice simpler.

    ROUND BRUSH

    The Round brush is good for: sketching, outlining, detailed work, controlled washes, and for filling in small areas. You can create thin to thick lines – thin at the tip, becoming wider the more you press the brush down. Use with thinned paint, rather than thick paint.

    A pointed round is narrower than the round brush and has a sharply pointed tip. It is good for:  creating fine details and lines, delicate areas and for spotting and retouching.

    DETAIL ROUND

    This brush has round hairs that are shorter in length and has a shorter handle. It is good for: details and short strokes and it holds more paint than you might think!

    SWORD BRUSH

    A long haired brush which is angled to a sharp point at the end. This brush is good for: creating long smooth lines, ideal for painting plants and leaves, it is adaptable and can be used to create both thick or thin lines using different parts of the brush.

    FLAT/GUSSOW BRUSH

    The Flat or Gussow brush has a square end with medium to long hairs. It is good for: filling wide spaces, for impasto and you can use the edge for fine lines, straight edges and stripes. Long haired Flat brushes are also ideal for varnishing.

    GUSSOW INTERLOCKED/BRIGHT BRUSH

    These brushes are flat with edges curved inward at the tip and have shortish hairs.  They are good for: short controlled strokes, thick heavy colour and are better for working up close rather than holding the brush at a distance from the canvas.

    The Gussow is made by binding two bent bundles of hair together in the ferrule, so that they are curved towards each other. This brush has the same uses as the regular Gussow brush. However an Interlocked brush is less likely to have hairs sticking out.

    FILBERT/CATS TONGUE

    Filbert or Cats Tongue brushes are f lat, have an oval shaped end with medium to long hairs. They are good for: blending and have soft rounded edges like flower petals. This brush is a sort of combination of round brushes (because it can be used for detail) and flat brushes (because it can cover more space than a round brush).

    FAN BRUSH

    Fan brushes have flat, spread hairs. Natural haired fan brushes are good for: smoothing, blending and feathering, synthetic haired fan brushes are better for textural effects and are great for painting clouds and leaves on trees. For acrylics, use a strong and sturdy one, otherwise the hairs will clump when paint is added.

    ANGULAR FLAT (SHADER) BRUSH

    These brushes are flat with angled hairs at the end. They are good for: curved strokes and filling corners and you can reach small areas with tip. They can also be used to cover lots of space, similar to flat brushes.

    RESERVOIR BRUSH

    The Reservoir brush is made up of two different bundles of hair, set together. There is a long thin bundle in the centre surrounded by a shorter bundle. The outer bundle acts as a reservoir, feeding the paint into the inner bundle. It is good for: fine detailed work and has the benefit of allowing you to work for a long time before having to dip into your paint again.

    LINER/RIGGER BRUSH

    Liners or Riggers are brushes which have extra long hair. As you move the brush handle, the hairs follow in a wiping motion. These brushes are good for: painting long lines and stripes. They can hold quite a large amount of liquid. There are round and flat versions. Flat Liners are also known as Lettering brushes.

    OVAL BRUSH

    An Oval brush, also known as a Bombe, is a flat brush with an oval tip. It is good for: using as a wash brush.

    So which brush do you think you will go with?

    As you can see there are many different types of brushes for various different techniques, and using the right brush will no doubt aid and improve your skill and enjoyment from painting. Come in-store to browse our wide selection; we will have the brush for you.

  • "Rembrandt or Van Gogh?" That is the question

    Do you know these paint brands?

    Have you seen these brands in a shop, but are not sure if they are suitable for your work? Or perhaps you wanted to paint as if you were a Dutch Master, or Vincent Van Gogh himself?

    Curious what's the difference between professional and student quality paint?

    Keep reading and get to know why it is so accurate to name the brands after these two particular painters, and why you should probably try them yourself.

    Rembrandt van Rijn

    Self Portrait (1659) Self Portrait (1659)
    Everyone thinks about dark, soothing colours and grandiose scenes when they hear the name Rembrandt. No wonder then, that Royal Talens based their professional artist quality brand for artist materials on the Dutch Master's practice - and now you're about to find out why,

    Why use The Royal Talens Rembrandt brand?

    The Colours; Big range of colours (120), traditional, deep and very strong. Pigments: The pigments are ground very fine, containing the highest concentration possible, thus good for creating smooth surfaces and blending colours. Very pure colours, 56 made of only one pigment Lightfastness: Highest degree possible (+100) years under museum lighting conditions). Opacity: make sure to check the little square signs on the tube; they indicate the opacity from transparent (white) to opaque (black). the Rembrandt oils have:  25 Transparent colours 20 semi-transparent 35 semi-opaque 40 opaque colours Available sizes:

    • 15ml tube: 120 colours
    • 40ml tube: 120 colours
    • 60ml tube: 5 whites
    • 150ml tube: 25 colours and 5 whites

    Rembrandt’s colour palette:

    • Yellow ochre
    • Umber – The best is probably a mix of Raw Umber and Burnt Umber
    • Lead Tin Yellow – used until the 18th century. The closest is possibly the mix of Cadmium Yellow Lemon  and Transparent Yellow Green.
    • Azurite – the closest colour is Phthalo Blue
    • Smalt (Cobalt blue)
    • Carmine Lake
    • Malachite – Closes possible colour is Ultramarine Green
    • Bone Black (or Ivory black)
    • Lead White – Unfortunately, because of the poisonous pigment it’s not manufactured by the series. It’s supposed to be the warmest tone white paint. Alternatively the same results can be achieved with the mix of Titanium White  and Zinc White  (to reduce the opaqueness of the Titanium) mixed with a bit of Naples Red  to achieve the desired effect.
    • Vermillion
    • Ultramarine
    • Naples Yellow

    The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632) The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632)

    Rembrandt's Painting Technique:

    Impasto is a technique when thick layers of paint are put on the surface of the painting in order to create visible brush or knife strokes. The word originates from the Italian verb impastere (“to put in paste”) In his paintings, Rembrandt used this technique to enhance the effect of wrinkled and detailed fabrics, jewellery, or to give highlights a more prominent look. (Note that only acrylics and oils are suitable for this technique because of the high density of pigments.)

    The Jewish Bride (1665) detail, sleeve The Jewish Bride (1665) detail, sleeve
    The Jewish Bride (1665) detail, sleeve The Jewish Bride (1665) detail, sleeve
    Flora (1635) Flora (1635)

    Vincent Van Gogh

    Van Gogh is known for his unique colour use and neurotic lines which made his works stand out of the 'regular' impressionist style. He wasn't appreciated in his lifetime, but now his name has come to represent the 'student quality' (although in some countries it is considered so good that it is artist quality) paint brand made by Royal Talens. And not by accident!

    Self-Portrait, September 1889 Self-Portrait, September 1889

    Why Use Royal Talens Van Gogh oil paint?

    Colours: Less colour shades than Rembrandt (66), but they produce a more “modern” range, in 2 price series, the result being a student quality price with an artist quality colour choice. Pigments: High level, finely ground pigments (not as fine as Rembrandt) fantastic for keeping brushstrokes visible. 33 pure colours made of only one pigment Lightfastness: High level, excellent in keeping the colour over a long period of time (75- 100) years under museum conditions). Opacity: Make sure to check the little square signs on the tube; they indicate the opacity from transparent (white) to opaque (black). Van Gogh oils have: 14 transparent colours 10 semi-transparent 19 semi-opaque 23 opaque colours Available sizes:

    • 20ml tubes: 66 colours
    • 40ml tube: 66 colours
    • 60ml tubes: 66 colours
    • 200ml tube: 55 colours
    • 500ml tin: 16 colours

    Early Works:

    Van Gogh’s early works clearly show the resemblance to traditional Dutch painting: dark, earthly brown tones – probably influenced by his tutor, Anton Mauve – were more characteristic of Rembrandt perhaps than the light colour palette of late 1800’s popular Impressionists.

    The Potato Eaters (1885)
    Self Portrait with Pipe (1886) Self Portrait with Pipe (1886)
                           

    (Post)Impressionism

     

    Starry Night Over The Rhone Arles (1888) Starry Night Over The Rhone Arles (1888)
    However, after a while Van Gogh's palette indeed went through a radical change as he allowed the popular style of the age influence his work - he switched the dark colours to that of impressionist ones: this meant that he no longer used browns, blacks and greys, but instead worked with richer brighter colours characteristic of the Impressionist style. They tried to capture the colour of their subject in natural light, using colours directly out of the tube, creating such an effect that the different pure colours next to each other would show a mixed effect on the canvas. This is particularly prominent in Van Gogh's later - and most popular - paintings.  
    Self-portrait (1887-1888) Self-portrait (1887-1888)

    Whats was Van Gogh’s colour palette?

    • Naples yellow
    • Zinc/Lemon Yellow
    • Chrome Yellow
    • Vandyck brown
    • Vermillion
    • Cochineal lake (Carmine)
    • Madder lake
    • Cobalt Blue
    • Prussian Blue
    • French Ultramarine
    • Cerulean Blue
    • Viridian Green
    • Emerald Green
    • Black
    • White

    So, whats it going to be, Rembrandt or Van Gogh?

    All in all, it seems that there is not much of a difference between so-called artist quality and student quality paints. Like most things in life, it is the subtle differences that can make big differences. Perhaps the most important thought that counts is how you use the paints and knowing exactly what you're looking for in terms of colours and pigment fineness. What is also important to note that while many popular brands now manufacture their paints in China, The Royal Talens brands keep up the quality by making their paints in The Netherlands. Therefore, it seems that even if you are looking for either student or professional quality, Van Gogh and Rembrandt are a good choice with their wide range of colours and high quality products. Speaking from personal experience, the Van Gogh oils are easy to mix, have a nice consistency and brilliant colour range. The best thing is, you really get what you expect, so no more disappointment when buying a nice tube of supposedly 'Mars violet' that turns out to be pinkish purple... I would recommend Van Gogh for fellow art students because of the good quality and affordable price! And what can I say about Rembrandt? Well, having had the chance to get a taste of what a professional paint is like, I do want more - you have to try it in order to fully understand! Perhaps, get some as a holiday present, or just simply treat yourself because you deserve it!   If this brief introduction of the artists and their techniques made you interested, keep your eyes on the blog to learn more about them in the future! References: http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/ http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/portraits/van_gogh.htm http://www.vangoghreproductions.com/art-techniques/palette.html http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/intro/renaissance.html

  • TURPENTINE – ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE?

    Essential Oils 

    You may have used turpentine to thin paints and clean brushes, which is its most typical (and  sensible) use, but some people regard it as a natural alternative to modern medicine. Turpentine is an essential oil distilled from pine tree sap – so it does have “natural” origins. The major active ingredients in turpentine are aromatic hydrocarbons called  turpenes, natural chemicals widely found in essential oils that provide the aroma and flavour of many everyday products.

    Is Turpentine An Ancient Remedy?

    Turpentine has been used medicinally since ancient times, as topical and sometimes internal home remedies. Topically it was used for abrasions and wounds, as a treatment for lice and when mixed with animal fat it was used as a chest rub, or inhaler for nasal and throat ailments. Many modern chest rubs such as Vicks, still contain turpentine in their ingredients. Taken internally, it was used as a treatment for intestinal parasites and candida because of it’s antiseptic and diuretic properties. It was thought to be a general cure-all and sugar, molasses or honey were sometimes used to mask the taste and bait parasites. It was also a common medicine used by seamen during the age of discovery and was one of the products carried aboard Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet in his first circumnavigation of the globe.

    Why risk using Turpentine as an alternative medicine?

    It is surprising that in the 21st century, when modern medicine is freely available in the UK, that there are still people who happily pay for alternative medicines, such as homeopathic remedies, which have no proven efficacy. If they were proven medically, they would no longer be referred to as alternative, but simply be labelled medicine..If someone is told that they don’t have an infection that requires antibiotics, they’re generally pretty happy. But when you explain that “detox” is a marketing term, and there is no need to waste money on a “detox” kit, sometimes it only seems to reinforce the belief that supplements are useful, that taking supplements is safer and as effective as prescription drugs. Red yeast rice is a poor substitute to statins following a heart attack and yogurt is not a reasonable alternative to chemotherapy when treating bowel cancer. Many people, however have a negative perception about the risk and benefits of prescription drugs, with the opposite perception about the merits of various “alternative” remedies. The problem with alternative medicine is, that though it often sounds benign, this is rarely the case.  Homeopathic remedies will not fight infection and drinking turpentine as a cure for anything is positively dangerous, as you might expect from the poison label on the bottle. It can cause hydrocarbon poisoning. As little as a teaspoonful can be fatal for a child. Severe and sometimes fatal lung inflammation can result in inhalation in addition to heart arrhythmia. Even the vapour can irritate the mucous membranes in the mouth eyes and nose.

    A wee tip for cleaning your brushes

    So turpentine has it’s uses, but maybe sticking to thinning your paints and cleaning your brushes is the safest option. However, please remember that as Turpentine is from the Eucalyptus tree, the liquid contains tiny resin balls, which over time will stick in you brush, and harden it, making it more or less unusable. So for brushes that are high quality, or ones that you want to last, we recommend you clean your brushes with White Spirit, or a natural alternative like Zest IT

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