Phone Us

UK: 0330 22 30 922

INT: +44 1337 860 860

(0)Shopping Cart

You have no items in your shopping cart.


  • How to present your Artworks

    Good presentation makes a big difference to your artwork, especially when it comes to exhibiting them.

    However strange it may seem, you don’t need to be a professional framer in order to give a ‘professional’ touch to your art – and it can be done by some simple tricks!


    Mounting your artworks doesn't only make them look 'professional' and exhibition ready, but helps protecting them as well!  There are two main ways to do it, depending on the type of art you have.

    Floating mount

    Good way to present your works that are either not in the middle of the paper, or where the edges have an importance / look good with the artwork.

    Floating mount has a telling name: the work attached to the mount board will be slightly 'floating' off. To achieve this effect, you attach the work with adhesive tapes in a T shape:

    Window mount

    The other popular type is the window mount, where the artwork is surrounded by a frame of mount board. The perfect choice for displaying prints and photos.


    Find what you need on our website:


  • How to Make Your Own Paint

    Oil Paint Colour

    Now, after the  INTRODUCTION TO OIL PAINTthe next challenge is to try making your own!

    Oil paints are basically the mixture of pigments and oil. Their popularity is caused by their qualities to dry without changing shape and colour, as well as their archival properties, meaning that the oxidised oil binds the pigments, making it possible to keep the painting intact for hundreds of years.

    Making your own oil paint allows you to experiment with the consistency of the paint, as well as the colours. Pigments found in nature can even be used to create your own unique colours.

    What do I need to make your own Oil Paint:

    • mortar and pestle
    • muller and glass slab
    • palette knife
    • linseed oil ( cold-pressed, raw or unrefined)
    • refined beeswax
    • pigment(s)
    • paint tubes (optional)

    The Method

    First of all, you will make a small pile of pigment on the glass slab, and make a small gap in the middle. Pour a bit of oil there and start mixing with a palette knife or spatula. Don’t worry if it’s not easy to mix, and only add a small amount of oil at a time, as you want the mixture to have the smallest amount of oil as possible.

    Start grinding the mixture with the muller in a circular motion, spreading the mixture gradually on the slab. The idea is to try covering every pigment particle with the least possible amount of oil. From time to time, scrape the paint off of the muller and start grinding again, spreading the paint. Do this until the mixture reaches a ‘paint consistency’, as it varies from pigment to pigment.

    Fillers and Binders used in Oil Paint

    Fillers tend to be seen as not good, but they have certain advantages. (the only thing you don’t want is more filler than pigment in the paint!)

    Barium sulphate and aluminium hydroxide are two common extenders, which are used to increase the volume of the paint without altering the colour. (it’s advised not to add more than 25%, as it may effect the colour)

    Beeswax acts as an emulsifier that helps strengthen the bond between pigment and oil, as well as a thixotropic agent that keeps the pigments evenly distributed.

    Storing Oil Paint

    You can choose from storing the freshly made paint in a glass jar, or in pre-made paint tubes. The latter will have an open base with a plastic cap on the other end. You can put the paint in with a palette knife and when it’s filled, squeeze the paint in the cap side of the tube in order to get rid of air bubbles. Don’t overfill the tube, as you need to leave a bit so as to roll up the excess. You might want to use pliers to fold it over. When it’s done, label the tube with the media, pigment and date of manufacture.



  • Street Art Guide

    Street art - 'genuine' art form or 'vandalism'?

    It’s a common misconception to think about street art as vandalism – of course, everything has its place and spray painting on museum buildings and names carved into historical sights do cause harm. However, street art (that includes small tags to sculptural works) has its own history and legitimacy. It’s easy to have prejudice against something one doesn’t know – here, with this short summary we’ll try to show how street art isn’t the same as vandalism.

    Interested in Dundee's street art scene? Check out what OpenClose is up to!

    Paintings on caves - the earliest form of 'street art'?


    Street art has been with us since the beginning of time, and it's purposes haven't changed much. Communication, protest, remembrance, aesthetic appreciation - whatever it be, writing and drawing on the street states a presence and calls for attention.

    Written or visual, street art is generally used to broadcast statements about current political and social issues.

    Writing on a plane, WW2
    "Famous" graffiti that appeared at the time of the Second World War.

    Words of protest and political commentary appeared on the streets since the Second World War, and continues ever since.

    Graffiti on the Berlin Wall

    Between the 1960's and 80's, street art developed in New York's streets - signs of street gangs to band posters to well-known artworks by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

    Graffiti from MMP, first recorded street gang in the history of Oregon's capital city of Salem "Spyder" was gang leader.1987.
    Scull by Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Keith Haring


    One of many appeals of street art is that you don't need a sterile gallery setting in order to show your artwork, and since its beginnings, street artists proved their technical skills by developing techniques from everyday scribbles to spectacular wall paintings.


    Murals are artworks that appear on walls, and usually include or use unique architectural features of the chosen area.




    Artworks created with this technique use pre-drawn and cut out drawings that are then sprayed onto the surface.


    Tagging is the name given to when street artists scribble their uniquely designed names/ monikers onto surfaces, showing that they have been there.


    Throw-ups are similar to tagging, but they are large scale, spray painted, and usually use a similar type of 'bubble letter'. Regardless, they are always spectacular.

    Street Art Sculpture

    Sculptural works on the streets follow the same idea: funny, critical, or just simply aesthetically pleasing, they bring street art into a different dimension. Street art sculptures usually cleverly utilise the given features of the particular area.

    Isaac Cordal 'Cement eclipses'





  • Quentin Blake

    Quentin Blake, the illustrator


    About Sir Quentin Saxby Blake

    Sir Quentin Saxby Blake CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDI is one of Britain’s most successful children’s authors, illustrators and cartoonists. He was born on the 16th December 1932 in Sidcup in Kent. During the Second World War, he was evacuated to the West Country. He attended Holy Trinity Lamorbey Church of England Primary School and Chiselhurst and Sidcup Grammar School, where his English teacher, J.H. Walsh inspired his love of literature. He studied English Literature at Downing College, Cambridge from 1953 to 1956. He has denied that studying at Cambridge University contributed to his artistic or creative talent. After his national service, he received his postgraduate diploma in teaching from the University of London. Later he studied part-time at the Chelsea School of Art and then at Camberwell College of Art. He received his teaching diploma from the Institute of Education.


    Blake's First Published Illustration

    Blake’s first published illustration was at the age of 16, in the satirical magazine, Punch, while he was still at school. A later cover featured his illustration of a weightlifter being imitated by a dog carrying a bone. He said “I can remember getting a letter from the art director congratulating me on being the youngest contributor and I thought ‘this is alright.’ I started drawing for print then”


    Blake's Professional Teaching Career

    Blake taught English at the Lycee Francais de Londres in the 1960s, building on his strong links with France and culminating with him being awarded the Insignia of Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur at a ceremony at the Institut Francais in London, in March 2014. He also taught at the Royal College of Art for more than twenty years and was head of illustration from 1978 to 1986.

    Literature’s Greatest Author and Illustrator Duos

    He has gone on to illustrate more than three hundred books, with authors including Michael Rosen, John Yeoman, Joan Aiken and Dr. Seuss and illustrated the first Seuss book that Seuss did not illustrate himself – ‘Great Day For Up!’ in 1974. Over many years he worked with Roald Dahl on some of his most well known and loved books, his illustrations capturing the essence of The BFG, Mathilda and Willie Wonka. He also illustrated and wrote a number of quirky books himself including Mister Magnolia, Zagazoo and Lovelykins.

    An Iconic Collaboration with Roald Dahl

    Blake met Dahl and began working with him in 1975 after a meeting set up by their publisher. Dahl had already published some of his most famous works including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Initially I was rather apprehensive because he was a big chap and very famous, but it was a relationship that worked” said Blake.” “Because I had established myself as an illustrator, I had something to bring to it."

    Storytelling and Stamps

    In the 1970s Blake presented more than one hundred and fifty episodes of the BBC children’s storytelling television show, Jackanory, where he would illustrate the stories as he was telling them. In 1993, Blake designed that year’s Christmas postage stamps, based on Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol.

     Memberships and Associations

    He is a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, patron of the Blake Society – Downing College’s arts and humanities society and patron of The Big Draw, a registered UK charity aiming to get everyone drawing and demonstrating that drawing is a life skill, an essential tool for thinking, inventing and communicating.


    Included in his accolades are the J.M. Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in 2008, the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration from the International Board on Books for Young People for his services to children’s literature, while he was Children’s Laureate and an honorary degree from the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

    In 1988, Blake was given an OBE, in 2014 a CBE and in 2013 he received a knighthood at Buckingham Palace for his services to illustration.

    Blake's Art Projects 

    As well as illustrating books, Blake also works with hospitals and mental health units, decorating buildings with his drawings. “It’s a different kind of brief, a different kind of audience. A lot of pictures I do in hospitals are to cheer up gaunt surroundings” he said. In 2007 he designed a huge mural on fabric. It was suspended over a dilapidated building directly opposite the entrance to St. Pancras station in London. The painting of an imaginary welcoming committee greets passengers arriving on the Eurostar high-speed railway.


    Blake also negotiated the House of Illustration project aimed at opening a gallery dedicated to illustration. The gallery was opened in 2014 near to King’s Cross in London.


    Even though Blake is one of the UK’s most beloved artists, he still has his critics and one criticism levelled at him is that his illustrations are so constantly upbeat. “There are a lot of smiles about, it’s true.” he admitted. “People have come up and said ‘Thank you for your work’ and ‘joy’ is the word they’ve used, but I’ve also reproached for it being too cheerful. But if you add a smile, it doesn’t make it necessarily joyful.”


    Article written by Mary Aitken

  • A Guide To Pigments

    Learn Useful Things About Your Paints

    It's easy to get used to going to the art shop and just selecting the most suitable tubes of paints. Even if contemporary painters don't necessarily have to make their own paint, it's very useful to know the components of your primary medium, This guide is for everyone who's interested in broadening their knowledge about paints and their colours.


    What Are Pigments?

    Pigments are fine powders, used for the colouration of paints, inks, ceramics, plastics and wax.
    In order to be able to use them, pigments have to be added to liquids. When the solvent evaporates or cools down, the pigment molecules solidify.

    A Little Pigment History

    • Until around the 19th and 20th centuries painters mostly used paint made from natural minerals
    • Before paints began to be manufactured in factories, painters (or their apprentices) were in charge of making their own pigments and paints.
    • Pigments play a very big role in identifying the age of a painting,  for example Prussian blue was first available in 1706, and lead-tin yellow was only used until the 18th century.

    Different Pigment Types

    • Earth colors - ochres, umbers, siennas, terre verte
    • Mineral colours - azurite, malachite, lapis lazuli (ultramarine), cinnabar
    • Organic colours - cochineal (derived from insects), Indian yellow, indigo
    • Manufactured colours - lead-tin yellow, white lead, verdigris, Prussian blue, vermilion

    Lemon Yellow
    (Steinbühl yellow, barium yellow, yellow ultramarine)

    Lemon yellow pigment has been used since the early 1800s. It has an opaque quality, and excellent light-fastness.
    It has a tendency to turn slightly greenish when mixed with oil binders.

    Green Earth
    (terre verte, Verona green)

    Green earth pigment is a mixture of different minerals (glauconite, celadonite), and has been used since antiquity. In medieval Italian paintings, it was common to use it for under-painting for flesh tones.

    Ultramarine Blue
    (lazurite, french ultramarine)

    Organic Ultramarine has been used for the last 6,000 years from when they first began mining its base mineral, lapis lazuli. It was used in Egyptian tomb painting then later in Europe by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo Buonarotti. Synthetic ultramarine has been produced since the 19th century.

    Zinc White
    (chinese white)

    Up until the end of the 18th century, the main pigment for white paint was lead white, however, due to its toxicity, it was ideal to replace it with zinc white. And not only that,  zinc white proved to be less opaque, which was favourable for 19th century's changing colour preferences, as it was easier to create more vibrant colours.

    Cadmium Red
    (selenium red, cadmium scarlet)

    Cadmium red pigment has always been a popular colour choice from Edvard Munch to Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon. However, the pigment is quite expensive due to the scarcity of cadmium metal, not to mention its toxicity. In 2015 artists faced a possible Europe-wide ban, but luckily it hasn't been issued and artists no longer have to fear the disappearance of their vibrant reds and oranges.

    Vandyke Brown
    (Cassel earth, Cologne earth)

    Vandyke brown pigment or "earth" as it is sometimes referred to as, is very telling: it contains almost entirely organic compounds like soil, and it has been a very prominent colour choice of old masters, since the 17th century.

    Bone Black
    (Ivory black, bone charcoal)

    Bone black pigment also has a telling name: it's partly made out of carbonised animal bones. It's also sometimes called ivory black which is similar but more exclusive as it's made out of carbonised ivory pieces.

    Description of pigments:

    Get to Know the Universal Pigment Codes!

    It's very useful to choose your paint consciously - knowing what different signs and symbols indicate on the paint tube can save you from buying unwanted colours, as well as predicting the mixed colours interaction.

    It's good to learn what Colour Index names mean, as they tell which specific pigment(s) make up that particular colour.

    The United States the Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) standardises these codes. They have two parts; ten pigment codes and different numbers after them.

    Colour Index Names

    PY = Pigment Yellow
    PO = Pigment Orange
    PR = Pigment Red
    PV = Pigment Violet
    PB = Pigment Blue
    PG = Pigment Green
    PBr = Pigment Brown
    PBk = Pigment Black
    PW = Pigment White
    PM = Pigment Metal

    Other things to note:

    • Colours that have a "hue" in their name means that the paint was made with less expensive  substitute pigments, but are a very similar colour.
    • paying attention to Colour Index Names can help you with mixing colours as well. It's particularly useful when you only need a small amount of a particular colour. For example, Payne's Grey is made from Ultramarine Blue (PB29) and Carbon Black (PBk7)!
    • The same codes might be on different but produce a similar colour. For instance, both Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna have PBr7 pigment, the difference is how these pigments were prepared for the two colours.
    • You might want to keep in mind that some paints that have more than one Colour index name, indicating that the colour is made up of more pigments, therefore you might not want to mix that colour more as the high consistency of different pigments could result in a dull colour.

    What is Light-fastness?

    Pigments' light-fastness means how much they are resistant to change when exposed to light. This can depend on the pigment's chemical composition and whether it is mixed into oil, acrylic or other type of paint. Generally, light-fastness determines the "life expectancy" of the artwork, as less light-fast paints are sure to eventually fade.

    There are different systems to determine the light-fastness of paints and pigments.

    • The American Society for Testing and Materials’ light-fastness rating:
      ASTM I — Excellent Light-fastness
      ASTM II — Very Good Light-fastness
      ASTM III — Not Sufficiently Light-fast to be used in artists’ paints
    • There are some colours without ASTM ratings, therefore Pigments usually have the B/S (British Standard) ratings, a scale that goes from 1 to 8. (8 being the most light-fast)
    • The light-fastness of Royal Talens products is indicated on tubes, labels and colour charts by these symbols:

    +++ = at least 100 years light-fast under museum conditions
    ++ = at least 25 - 100 years light-fast under museum conditions
    + = at least 10 - 25 years light-fast under museum conditions
    º = at least 0 - 10 years light-fast under museum conditions

    What's the Difference between Pigments and Dyes?


    • colour-giving substances are separated into two types: dyes and pigments. The main difference between them is their light-fastness. Dyes blended with paint or ink have a maximum of moderate  light-fastness.
    • Dyes dissolve in water, pigments are insoluble.
    • Dyes are used for illustrative purposes, when preserving the original work is not essential, as it will be published.

    Things to Know About Opacity and Transparency

    • Pigments can be arranged on a scale between Opaque and Transparent qualities.
    • The main difference comes at the stages of painting: for instance, painting with a light but opaque colour will be visible on a dark surface, but not the other way round.
    • The paint’s opacity and transparency does not relate to pigment density!

    Opaque Pigments:
    Cadmium yellows, Cadmium reds, Cerulean blue, Yellow ochre, raw sienna, raw umber
    Transparent Pigments:
    Hansa yellow, Azo yellow, Quinacridone reds, Pthalo blue, Ultramarine, Burnt sienna.
    Cobalt blue, Burnt Umber

    From left to right, the yellows shown are PY110 , PY 153, PY108, hansa yellow (PY3), and yellow ochre.

    What are the signs on paint tubes

    Useful :
    The Colour of Art Pigment Database

    A Vault of Colour: Protecting the World's Rarest Pigments





    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.


    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:


    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



  • 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


    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.

    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

    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.

    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.



    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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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:

    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


  • 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 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)


    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][/embed] [embed][/embed]


    Still want more?


    The Mystery of Van Gogh's Ear

    The unexpected math behind Van Gogh's "Starry Night" - Natalya St. Clair


    Rhythmic Brushstrokes Distinguish van Gogh from His Contemporaries: Findings via Automated Brushstroke Extraction

    A comparative study of Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom series



     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

Items 1 to 10 of 35 total

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
Post your comment ~ trinity arts