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  • Who are Royal Talens?

    Some History on our main supplier of fine art materials

    Hopefully after reading this page you will understand a little more of what Talens make, and why we focus mainly on selling their products.

    Royal Talens have been manufacturing paints and other art supplies for over 100 years, and their art materials encompass a number of globally renowned brands including Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Cobra Watermixable Oil Paint, Amsterdam Acrylic Paint, Art Creation and the new Amsterdam Deco range (Decorfin HobbyCraft), amongst others. Their products lead the market in art materials and have built up a reputation for their superb quality over many years. The versatility between their ranges truly allows the artist more flexibility and choice when expressing themselves through theirchosen medium. Talens brands of art materials are characterised by comprehensive and unique colour ranges, pure and authentic pigment sources, exceptional durability, high viscosity, and excellent levels of lightfastness. You can find all these important qualities and more in the Rembrandt ranges; particularly the Soft Pastel and Oil Paints.

    Talens take a generic approach when naming the colours of their paints, not using terms like 'hue' when describing a cadmium alternative. They will instead but the alternative pigment in brackets. E.g.. Cobalt Blue (Ultramarine) - this mean that this colour is an alternative Cobalt Blue, with a Ultramarine pigment, not a Cobalt one. Also colours with 'Azo', are the cadmium equivalents

    Dutch Insight & Vision

    Royal Talens brands form a wide consistent product range of artists colour and drawing and sketching accessories. Traditional and modern at the same time, the brands that Talens offer are suitable for both the professional artist and the beginning painter; and always offers high quality art and craft materials at an attractive price, especially the art supplies for kids. Royal Talens is a household name of art & craft materials, mainly focused on fine art materials, which are used across the world professional artists and crafters. However many if their artist supplies are very versatile and can be used for crafting and printmaking. Over the years, a strong position has been gained in the fine art materials marketplace as a product of choice by ceaselessly working upon improvements since its establishment in 1899. Ambitious and innovative, Talens always looks for the ultimate balance between art & craft, expertise and innovation; aiming to encourage people's creative artistic expression by providing them with the best possible art & craft materials, and relevant informative artists information for their artist materials.

    The Old Talens Factory Marten Talens

    1899 - The beginning

    It was this year that Marten Talens founded the Dutch Factory for Paints, Lacquers and Inks in Apeldoorn (the Netherlands). As a family business it concerned itself initially with the production of office supplies and artists inks.

    The Old Rembrandt Logo

    1904 -Rembrandt oil colours & watercolour

    The arrival of Rembrandt oil colours and watercolours saw the start to the production of a wide range of high-quality artists' paints. This can be seen in a photo from the 1904 catalogue.

    1912 - First expansion of the company

    With the ever-increasing production of oil colours and new products the business soon expanded for the first time. Also abroad theRembrandt oil colours, known from the "Dutch farmer", became a success. Talens set up a sales office in America.

    1920 -Further automation of the production of fine art materials

    The demand for Talens products continued to grow and in 1920 the company continued to expand and further automated the production. Steam was introduced as the supplier of energy. In the years that followed the company took over a local ink factory and built its own tin plant.

    Old set of Rembrandt Pastels

    1924 - Introduction of the Rembrandt soft pastels

    The company always responded to the needs of the market with the underlying concept of "meeting an as wide as possible range in this sector". This approach led to the development and launch of the Rembrandt soft pastels. It did not take long for this product to become an international success as well.

    Royal Talens Factory

    1927 - New office wing in Apeldoorn

    In 1927 a new office wing was built, which still stands today at the front of the building. Behind this façade the Royal Talens head office is located. The architect of this characteristic building was Mr P.W. van den Belt. This building is now listed as a historic building and is on the list of the Dutch Historic Buildings Council.

    1932 - The emergence of the typewriter ink ribbon

    The product range was expanded as a new market opened up: ribbons and carbon for typewriters. Distribution took place through the office stationer's and the emerging office machine sector for which then stencils and stencil inks were also produced.

    1945 - Building up after the war

    During the war the production of many products had stopped because the necessary raw materials were simply not available. A stray bomb also caused a great deal of damage to the factory. After 1945 the company combined all its forces to start production again and the company continued to grow once more.

    1949 - Designation "Royal"

    The high demands Talens had already set itself in 1949 regarding sound and high-quality innovation helped it acquire its "Royal" designation. Royal Talens gives this honourable mention shape in a modern manner.

    1955 - Welcomed strong growth

    The 1950's were characterised by enormous growth. In addition to the expansion of factory buildings Talens opened up a new laboratory. Export also became increasingly important. With offices in a number of European countries and agencies in more than 50 countries, Talens products were becoming increasingly available throughout the world.

    1963 - New paints

    After having joined the Sikkens Group NV in1963 the range received a new boost with the introduction of a great many new products including modern types of paint such as Polymer Colours and ETA. In the mid nineteen seventies Sikkens was taken over by the AKZO group and Talens too became an AKZO subsidiary, until 1991.

    1970 - Acrylic, the new paint

    The catalogue of the time introduced;a brilliant acrylic (= plastic)-based paint, incorporating the latest chemical innovations; a paint which is an evolution in the area of artists' paints.

    1974 - 75th anniversary

    With the celebration of the 75th anniversary a number of art lovers among the Talens staff requested that the management put together a Talens art collection. To this day Royal Talens has been managing this ever-increasing art collection with its aim to stimulate young professional artists.

    Amsterdam Expert Acrylic Colours

    1976 - Introduction Van Gogh and Amsterdam

    The nineteen seventies saw the advent of the phenomenon of marketing. Many changes were made in the range. Van Gogh and Amsterdam were introduced: high-quality paints for amateur painters that catered to a wider target group.

    1982 - Introduction Decorfin Hobbycraft paint

    For years the Talens range included paint for folk art typical of the Netherlands: for example, a hobby craft paint that was used for the Hindeloopen style and Staphorst stippling technique. This paint, however, was increasingly often used for other more universal purposes/decorations and was re-branded Decorfin: paints and materials with which everyone can create a personal atmosphere in the interior and on numerous objects.

    1989 - Large-scale development

    Talens; most prestigious new development to date was festively opened by His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard: the new filling and packaging hall. The production takes places here for all kinds if ranges, like mixing mediums and varnishes on the most modern of machines and meets the most stringent of standards.

    1991 - Part of Sakura Colour Corperation Japan

    Royal Talens became part of the Sakura Color Products Corporation, with its headquarters in Osaka, Japan. Sakura has 1500 staff worldwide and is fully privately owned. The portfolio consists of writing instruments and colouring materials. Sakura offers Royal Talens a solid foundation for expansion and commercial success.

    1996 - Talens Polska founded

    In the Polish city of Lesko Talens built a factory where a highly complete range of brushes, easels and stretched canvases are now produced according to European standards. In-house production and direct distribution to the branches here, too, guarantees a reliable quality product.

    1999 - Expansion of distribution centre

    Due to the constant lack of space in the centre of Apeldoorn, Talens moved in 1990 to a new distribution hall on the outskirts of the city. From this location the products are sent to retailers in the Benelux and Germany. The company’s own branches in Europe are also supplied as are more than 90 distributors worldwide.

    2002 - Packaging award for new range of pencils

    The combination of a knowledge of pigments in artists' paint with the technique of drawing resulted in an innovative product: colour pencils with a guaranteed lightfastness. It was unique in the market and in 2002 received the Best Packaging Award from the NAMTA for its revolutionary packaging design.

    Wooden Box Set of Rembrandt Oil Paint

    2004 - New range of Sets and Boxes

    Keep what is good and improve where it is possible. This was the challenging principle behind the restyling of the ranges of Rembrandt and Van Gogh artists’ painting sets and boxes. At the heart of the restyling is a clear and visual communication regarding the contents and an atmosphere that prompts artistic creations.

    2005 - Introduction of ArtCreation

    In addition to the Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Amsterdam brands Royal Talens introduced a new brand, ArtCreation. Specially developed to allow the starting artists achieve their first successes, ArtCreation offers beginners an affordable and reliable basic quality in artists’ products.

    2006 - Rembrandt is 400

    Rembrandt's 400th birthday is, of course, also celebrated at Royal Talens. A beautiful CD box with an overview of the life of Rembrandt inside is temporarily given free of charge with a number of Rembrandt de luxe artists' boxes.

    110 years of Royal Talens

    Renowned for its paints; Royal Talens celebrated its 110th anniversary on 4 October 2009. The company has grown internationally with strong brands and high-quality art materials that have been made with respect for tradition. The needs of their customers and dealers have always been paramount and that will remain so. Because together we can all make a colourful future as well!

    Rembrandt Oil Paint

  • Metallic Watercolours

    By Royal Talens' very own Van Gogh

    The Van Gogh metallic and interference watercolour set uses Mica powder instead of pigments. Mica is a natural stone mineral with shiny flakes – in powder format it seems to be very fine glitter. The main difference between mica powder and pigment is that pigments are ground-up ‘pure’ colours that create an opaque even wash. Mica, on the other hand, isn’t optimal for colouring – its main purpose is to give a shiny effect. They won’t create a solid wash of colour. To help achieve a brighter colour, use regular watercolours as a base.

    Colour chart

    The set contains 12 metallic colours:
    *click on each colours' name to see the paint in action!*

    The set also contains:

    • Pocket size selection is ideal for travelling.
    • 12 x half pans, brush and palette set.
    • Removable mixing tray.

    Fancy a try? You'll find the Watercolour Pocket Box here, and to achieve dramatic effect make sure you pick up the black watercolour paper as well, here!

    References and more:


  • Why All These Black Paints?

    Lamp, Ivory, Mars and Bone Black – What's the difference?

    There's nothing more confusing than going in an art shop, looking for what seems like the easiest thing in the world, simple black paint. Upon request we are faced with sometimes many different types of black and the question arises – why are there so many types when they all look the same? Which one should I choose?
    Be it subtle, there is a difference in all of these blacks. And here is the answer.

    Why Does it Matter?

    Choosing the “right” shade of black is more important than it seems. For the best results, your black should always have the same color temperature as the colours you are mixing it into.

    True black doesn't exist

    That's right, technically black and white are not colours, they are the absence of colour. Scientifically speaking, all colours are an expression of light; all objects reflect and absorb different wavelengths of light that we perceive as different colours. This way, when an object reflects nearly all light we see white and when it absorbs nearly all light we see black.

    To translate this to art, when we use black paint they are never truly black. The paint the got the closest to real black is the so-called Vantablack by artist Anish Kapoor, that absorbs so much light it makes 3D objects appear completely flat.

    Two identical sculptures, yet the one coloured with Vantablack appears 2D


    As you will see below, black pigment is one of the oldest pigments around, but it hasn't always been the favourite of artists. For impressionists, black was completely unheard of! Instead, they used dark greys, browns or blues.

    Blue Water Lilies (detail; 1916–19), Claude Monet

    Most Impressionists like Monet, believed that using black paint made the work flat, so they refrained from its use. Except, that's not always a problem and can lead to interesting effects like Edouard Manet's painting below.

    Luncheon on the Grass, Edouard Manet, 1863

    Types of Black Paint

    Mars Black/  (Iron) Oxide Black

    This pigment was named after the alchemical name of iron, Mars as it was traditionally made from iron oxide.  It's  a very opaque pigment, with a high tinting strength producing matte black with a warm brown undertone. Due to its strength it's really good for frescos, concrete tinting or for underpainting. Recommended to use with titanium white for good neutral greys

    Mars black is heavily featured on neoexpressionist Anself Kiefer's paintings.

    Nigredo-Morgenthau, 2012
    Emulsion and acrylic on photograph on canvas
    190.5 × 380.4 cm

    Ivory Black

    Ivory black is named after its traditional processing method, as it used to be made of roasted elephant tusks. It's a semi-transparent black with a slightly warm brown undertone. It's about three times weaker than Mars black. It's good for mixing greys and creating coloured shades.

    Lamp Black/ Carbon Black / Charcoal Black/ Vine Black

    This particular black has many names essentially meaning the same; traditionally, it was made by collecting the residual soot of oil lamps. It’s made of pure carbon, and is one of the oldest pigments. It’s a semi-opaque black with a cool blue undertone.

    Virgin and Child, Giovanni Bellini, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

    Since carbon absorbs light so well, it appears dark with infrared reflectography imaging, revealing artists' sketch under the painting.

    Bone Black

     Bone Black is made from animal bones. It has a warm undertone and is a semi-transparent pigment. This makes it excellent for glazing applications.

    Rembrandt, 1635 Portrait of Philips Lucasz
    "Studies of several paintings by Rembrandt using the technique of neutron activation autoradiography have shown the widespread use of the bone black in the initial wash-like sketch over the ground layer. Unusually, unmixed bone black pigment was used to paint the darkest parts of the clothing in the portrait of Phillips Lucasz. "

    Black or no black?

    There is no right or wrong when it comes to art-- as we've seen, artists throughout history to the present have used black pigments for different effects, or missed it out completely. Will you?


  • Montana Chalk Spray Paint

    Montana Chalk Paints are an eco-friendly and inexpensive tool for spraying a little colour on your life.

    Montana chalk spray paints are eco-friendly paints that have many uses for art and craft projects. It's mostly recommended for indoor work or outdoor temporary marking.

    They work on various surfaces such as pavements, walls, cardboard, canvas or wood. On non-porous surfaces like glass or metal they are only temporary so you might need to apply varnish after it dries to make it permanent.

    Montana Chalk sprays comes in ten different colours that are all matte, have a high coverage, and 'produce a rough chalk effect'.

    Depending on weather conditions and climate the Montana Chalk sprays can last between several weeks to several months, therefore they are not suitable for permanent application outdoors. The Chalk spray will become permanent if it’s sealed with varnish.

    For an in-depth test, see

    The Montana Chalk Spray paint is ideal for DIY projects as well. Perfect for creating that distressed look!

    Mason jar vase
    Distressed vintage furniture
    Picture/ mirror frames

    For more guides to creating a distressed furniture look, see


  • Making Acrylic Pour

    Create Amazing Patterns with Flowing Acrylic Paint

    Acrylic pour painting is one of the top techniques under the title of “satisfying” and “calming” art. And no wonder it's so popular; from Youtube stars to professional artist, everyone finds it a good fun. It's especially a good technique for those who never painted before, those who are afraid of the blank canvas or those who'd just like to have fun with this messy but amusing technique. Read on to learn different methods you can explore your inner abstract artist!

    What is Acrylic Pouring?

    Acrylic pouring is a painting technique where the paint is mixes with a medium and then poured onto a surface in different ways. Sometimes individual colours are poured onto the surface separately, sometimes one cup is filled with different colours and poured at the same time. You can try many different things, the results will always be incredible and unique!

    What do you need for acrylic pouring?

    Acrylic Paint

    The best type of acrylic paint for this technique is called Liquid or Soft-body Acrylics. For example:

    What Is a Pouring Medium?

    Pouring medium not only helps the flow of the paint, it keeps the colour separate so they don't combine in the pouring cup. It also extends the paint do as to prevent cracking.

    We recommend using GOLDEN's Acrylic flow medium. It's a 100% acrylic polymer emulsion that can be used to extend acrylic colours, regulate transparency, create glazes, increase gloss, reduce viscosity and improve adhesion.

    Find out more and link to buy >>

    GOLDEN GAC 800 

    Amsterdam Pouring Medium 

    Other Supplies:

    Different Pouring Techniques

    (click on the photo for video demonstration) 

    • Puddle Pour

    Puddle pour mean when each colour is individually poured one after the other.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    Pour each individual colour after the other onto the centre of the painting, then move the ground back and forth until the paint is completely spread or you achieve the desired effect.

    • Dirty Pour

    This is an easy acrylic pouring technique in which all colours are poured into the same container and then poured onto the painting surface.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    The colour mixtures are poured into a new container in layers. Then, this mixture is poured over the painting surface. Move the surface back and forth until the paint covers it evenly.

    • Flip Cup

    This technique is the same as the Dirty pour, the main difference is that the container needs to be on the surface. This way the layers are on top of each other.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    The colour mixtures are layered on top of each other. The surface is placed on top of the cup then flipped over whilst holding onto the cup. Carefully lift up the container and let the paint out. Move the surface back and forth, or use a hot air dryer to spread the paint mixture.

    • Bottle Bottom Puddle Pour / Flower Pour

    In this technique, the colour is applied to the painting surface via the base of a plastic bottle. The raised area creates a pattern that resembles a flower.

    Mix each colour together with the pouring medium and water in individual cups. (No need to add silicone for this technique.)
    Take a plastic bottle and cut the bottom off. It's essential that the surface and the bottle are both level, otherwise the pattern won't show.

    Place the bottom of the bottle on the canvas and start pouring small amounts of each colour one after the other onto the bottle. The colours run over the gaps and create a flower-like pattern.

    If you like the result, remove the bottle carefully.

    • Tree Ring / Swirl

    Swirl Pouring is a technique where the paint is applied to the surface with circular movements, creating a pattern that's similar to the annual rings of a tree.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    (You can also add a couple of silicone oil drops to help cell formation.)

    Each colour is then stacked on top of the other in a container.

    The mixture is poured really slowly onto the surface with very small circular movements.

    Then, the surface is tilted back and forth until the pattern is achieved.

    • Wing Pour

    The wing pour is a modified version of the Swirl Pour, where the aim is to get two mirrored wings.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    Then, start filling the cup with each colour. First the one you'd like to appear between the wings. Then pour the second colour to one side of the cup; this will be the colour on the inside of the wings. Next, you want to choose a contrasting colour and pour it in a circle on the previous ones, in a way that the colour is only at the edge of the cup.

    You can add another colour as in step three, that will be visible on the outside of the wings. If you do this you got to add some of the first colour again.

    Raise the canvas a little on the side closest to you and pour the paint in the middle in an even, constant stream onto the surface. This will cause the paint to slide away from you, forming a long wing shape. You can also start moving the cup in your direction all the way to the edge of the surface to separate the two wings.

    • Swipe

    This technique can be used alone or with other pouring technique. It's used to make visible cells or to achieve flowing patterns.

    Apply your colours (mixed with silicone) to the surface with a Puddle or Flip Cup pour. In addition, apply a new colour without silicone. With a tool (painting knife, spatula, moist paper towel or sponge) the individual colour is dragged over the previous layers. The cells should start to form at this point.

    • AirSwipe

    The Air Swipe technique is similar to the Swipe technique, except the paint is applied with air instead of hand tools.

    Mix your colours with the pouring medium and silicone in a separate cups. Then do a Flip Cup Pour. Leave the cup for a bit so the colours can settle. Get a negative colour (without silicone) and pour it around the cup. Distribute it evenly all over the surface, then lift up the cup. Once the cup is empty and the paint is covering the surface evenly, you can start moving the paint with a hairdryer.

    • String

    This technique isn't really a pouring technique as such, but it's used regularly in combination with pouring techniques.

    Mix each colour separately with the pouring medium and water. Ratio: 1:1:<1.

    Before layering the paint, put some 20 to 30 cm long pieces of sisal cord in a container. Pour the colour mixtures into the cup. Alternatively, you can mix the colour first in individual cups and put the thread in separately, which makes it possible for you to decide where to place each colour on the surface.

    Pour the mixture onto your surface. This way the threads, full of paint, are draped on the surface in a way that they wiggle back and forth. At the end you can pull the threads over the surface. The movement of the threads will create interesting patterns.


  • OPEN - Slow-Drying - Acrylics

    What should you know about the GOLDEN Open Acrylics?

    Golden's open acrylic series dry almost as slow as oil paint.

    So the question is, why is it necessary to have Acrylics, that's primary feature is their fast drying quality, as opposed to oils'?

    There are a number of uses you might prefer slow-drying acrylics instead of regular acrylics or oil paint.

    Open Acrylics are slow-drying Acrylic paint that have a little bit softer consistency than regular Acrylic paints. The increased working time makes it possible to work with them similarly to oil paints. Due to their 'open' quality they are a versatile paint medium, that are particularly recommended for portraiture and landscape painting that rely on soft brushstrokes, shades, glazing and fine details. They are also suitable for some printmaking techniques.

    OPEN Acrylics are created by the mix of pigments and 100% acrylic polymer dispersion. Its unique slow-drying quality is achieved by the reaction of the binder, humectants and pigment load.

    Moreover, the benefits of OPEN Acrylics include not only increased working time but it also reduces the amount of waste paint by preserving colour mixtures longer on the palette.

    by Kelly Mudge
    by Kelly Mudge

    Painting - Application / usage Of Golden Open Acrylic

    OPEN Acrylics are in between acrylics and oils. Due to their unique quality of long drying period they can be used similarly to oils whilst keeping all the qualities of standard acrylics. They can be thinned with water or OPEN Thinner. OPEN Gel and Medium can be added to modify the transparency, sheen or viscosity.

    The 'open' quality makes it possible to create unique surfaces, like with subtractive painting.

    and “sgraffito”-like 'drawings' too.


    The consistency of OPEN acrylics is slightly thinner than standard acrylics'. They don't hold their shape well, therefore they are not recommended for thick impasto application.

    Blending techniques

    • Smooth transitions 

    • Dilute with water for a watercolour effect. 

    • Good for layering and experimenting – If you are done with one layer and don't want to unlock the formula, leave it to dry and seal the painting with Fast Medium Fixer. This way you can continue working on top of this layer, having the chance to add or remove new layers whilst leaving the previous one untouched.

    Painting demonstration :


    OPEN acrylics may be quite different from standard ones, yet it is completely possible to mix them together. They can be used on the same painting or mixed in different ratios. It's good to keep in mind that the more standard acrylics are mixed with the OPEN, the more the drying time will be reduced. Mixing standard and OPEN acrylics together works the best when you need a longer working time on different parts of the painting; for example adding soft blends to the edge of clouds.

    by Will Kemp

    Drying times of Golden Open crylic

    So how slowly OPEN Acrylics really dry? Drying times depend on environmental factors as well as thickness of paint. According to the Golden OPEN Acrylics' manufacturers, under “ambient conditions of 70ºF/21ºC and 30% RH, OPEN Acrylics will have an average working time that is approximately 10 times longer than the usual acrylic paints”.

    There's also a great video demonstration by Jackson's Art supplies



    Coverage or opacity of paint depends on the amount of pigments and binders that it contains. The OPEN Acrylics are generally quite transparent, therefore it's recommended to mix them with standard acrylics when you require opaque colours.


    Similarly to oil paint, OPEN Acrylics should be left to dry for a minimum of one month before applying a varnish, and a minimum of two weeks before application of an isolation coat. If there are thicker layers, the drying time may be longer.

    Other uses

    OPEN Acrylics are particularly good for printmaking techniques like lino and monotypes due to their unique quality.

    To learn about these techniques read more here.

    Monoprinting is done by making a drawing on a smooth non-absorbent surface (glass, plastic sheets or Gelli Plate). Then a sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate and the image is created by pressing the two together, helping the image transfer onto the paper.

    Monotypes are unique drawings that can't really be perfectly reproduced after the first pressing as it removes most of the paint from the plate. (The second reprints are called “ghost prints” as they are a lot more faded.)

    Thus Monoprinting is a unique and versatile printmaking technique that's great to use with slow-drying OPEN Acrylics.



    Monoprinting with Patti Brady

    Jane Davies' Monoprinting


  • Oil Painting in Different Forms


    Oil paint is a very well-known, classic medium everyone thinks of when they hear the word 'painting'. Yet it comes in many different forms not only in tube form! Moreover, we've previously covered the new invention, the water mixable oil paint  as well as the 'regular'.

    Oil Bars/ Sticks / Paint sticks

    What Are Oil Bars?

    Oil sticks (also known as paint sticks and oil bars) are simply oil paint formed as a stick. They are made of wax and linseed oil mixed with pigment. They are rolled into a stick form and wrapped in paper. Oil sticks can be used for drawing and painting as they are. They can be mixed on a palette and applied with a brush or knife or used directly on the surface. They work just like regular oil paints; they can be mixed with different oil paint mediums. They dry like oil paint and grow a skin on the paint's surface, however, it is debated whether they cure as oil paint or whether the wax prevent it from completely drying.


    Jaeyeol Han S. Korea) "Passer by Distortion", Size: cm., Oil bar on Canvas,

    How to use Oil Sticks?

    Oil sticks can be used on any surface that's usually good for oil paint, although the canvas or paper should be primed with gesso or sized too. Oil sticks' surface form a protective skin when they are exposed to air that looks like it dried. It can be removed carefully with a rag or palette knife to expose the creamy paint underneath.

    Oil sticks can be used like oil pastels or crayons for drawing or like paint; diluted with turpentine. All oil painting mediums can be used with them. They are particularly good for plen air paining and for bold impasto effect.

    As for varnishing and framing, there's still a debate whether paintings with Oil sticks can be framed without a glass or not. Oil sticks dry like all oil paint but it's questionable whether its wax content prevent them form curing completely.

    Oil Pastels

    What are Oil Pastels?

    The first oil pastels date back to 1925 when the company Sakura created them; a new material that was a cross between crayons made of wax and soft pastels (hence the name cray-pas). They had the properties of soft pastels without the dust. While soft pastels were made of the mix of pigments and gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels were the combination of pigments and non-drying oils and wax binder. Whilst oil pastels harden, they never actually dry completely. They remain the same viscosity on the painting, throughout all the layers and due to the wax content never dry by exposure to air.

    How to use Oil Pastels?

    Blending examples


    The first artist quality oil pastels were made by Henri Sennelier in 1949 on the request of no other but Pablo Picasso, who wanted "a colored pastel I could paint on anything ... without having to prepare or prime the canvas."

    And true, oil pastels don't need a primed surface – they can be used on virtually anything; watercolour paper, pastel paper, regular drawing paper or indeed, canvas, wood metal and even glass.

    There are many different tools you can use with oil pastels, from blending stumps / tortillons to tissues, cloths, q-tips or even your fingers! For a graffito technique, palette knives, paint shapers or the end of pain brushes work well too.

    Oil pastels can be layered, but because they don't dry, a new layer will always slightly blend with the one underneath. Although quite different, oil pastels can be used with oil painting mediums like linseed and thinners like turpentine to help blending and create painterly effects.


    How to Seal Oil Pastels

    As oil pastels never truly dry, they need to be protected and sealed once the work is finished. There are varnishes particularly made for oil pastels and they protect the painting from scratching, smudging and dust. It usually has a glossy finish and transparent that doesn't alter the colours. For maximum protection it's a good idea to frame the work behind (plexi)glass.

    Pam Carriker Oil Pastel, Stablil, Sgraffito on Yupo


  • Drawing with...

    Charcoal and other smudge-tools

    Graphite, charcoal, conte pencils... they seem like everyday tools in an artist's toolbox, yet they shouldn't be underestimated. There's no need for expensive materials to create great work!
    If not sure about the difference, read more!



    The most obvious one is, of course graphite pencils, and graphite in other forms. Mechanical pencils for precise, thin lines, graphite sticks for broad free work and even graphite powder.

    No matter how "basic" graphite can seem, it has its own wonders - see the example for how many different shading techniques and patterns are there!


    Hatching: Creates shades by applying parallel lines. The closer they are the more even the effect.

    Crosshatching: This technique is comprised of a series of intersecting lines. The lines can cross each other at various angles.

    Stumping:  This is created by smudging the graphite. It can be done with your finger, a cloth, a paper stump.

    Stippling: Is done by creating shades with a series of dots – lots of dots close together create darker shades.



    Perhaps the oldest drawing tool is charcoal – that has many different forms as well, such as pencils, powder, sticks or vine.

    Artist’s charcoals are made of finely ground organic material and a gum or wax binder. It’s a great tool for producing soft, light lines or intense black surfaces. It’s easily removable yet it leaves stains without the use of fixatives. It can be applied to smooth or course surfaces alike.

    Depending on the manufacturing method, there are different charcoal types that have slightly different qualities.

    Compressed charcoal is shaped into a block or a stick. Its intensity depends on the hardness – the amount of gum or wax binders that are added to the powder. The harder the charcoal is the lighter the marks are.

    Vine charcoal is the long and thin stick that’s made by kiln firing vines. Vine charcoal is great for dusty, soft lines and for covering surfaces, making it less suitable for detailed drawings.

    Charcoal pencils are essentially the same as sticks, they just look like a regular pencil. They are great for sharp, thin lines used in detailed drawing as they can be sharpened with a regular pencil sharpener.

    Useful tools for Charcoal drawings include blending stumps, paper towels, kneaded and regular erasers.

    Charcoal is a great material for drawing, for beginners and professionals alike! It's relatively easy to use, cheap and you can achieve dramatic light and shadow differences, but it's Jenny Saville is one example of many professional artists who use charcoal in their practice.

    Jenny Saville's studio



    Conté sticks or crayons are composed of powdered graphite or charcoal, mixed with clay or wax and pigments. Nicolas-Jacques Conté.

    invented them in 1795 to create a cheap alternative to graphite during the graphite shortage caused by the Napoleonic Wars.


    Conté crayons are most commonly black, white, grey and sanguine tones, but with additional pigments they are available in many different colours. They have very good lightfastness.

    Conté sticks differ from soft pastels in many ways.

    Conté sticks differ from soft pastels in many ways. They are harder and more waxy than the powder-like soft pastels and are suitable to create drawings, unlike the “painterly” soft pastels. It’s easy to control them and they are suitable for small details. They don’t produce a lot of dust.

    They are the best on rough paper, but they work on different surfaces like toned paper, canvas, boards, or newsprint.

    Anthea Polson 's work


  • Ceramics Without Firing?

    Alternative 'Clays' That Don't Need a Kiln

    Like sculpting but not a fan of the hassle that comes with ceramics, especially firing? There are many other options for you that are similar to the properties of clay, some you can even make yourself in the kitchen!


    Polymer Clay

    Polymer Clay is a versatile material that works like clay and becomes hardened by baking in a regular kitchen oven. When it’s baked it can be cut, sawn or glued, as well as painted, varnished, and re-baked with additional fresh clay. 

    Polymer clay comes in many different colours that are also mixable. There are unique clay variations that glow in the dark, pearlescent, metallic or fluorescent.

    Polymer clay is not a natural clay, it’s made up of resins and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

    Note that once the package is open you need to keep it in an airtight container or paper, away from direct sunlight and heat.

    Polymer clay should be baked in the oven on a baking sheet cover with foil or parchment according to the package’s instructions. The clay will be completely hardened after it cools down. Always bake according to the instructions as the overheated/ burnt clay can let out toxic fumes. It’s recommended to bake it in a ventilated area.

    Polymer clay can be painted with acrylic paints and varnished with acrylic or alcohol based varnishes. Baked clay doesn’t need varnish but if you want a glossy finish you can use gloss varnish.

    Air dry clay

    Air dry clay has a quite telling name: it’s a natural clay that doesn’t need firing or baking, as it dries solid when it’s exposed to air. It’s a good alternative to regular clay when you need to make something quickly, something small or inexpensive. It’s great for sculpting, decorative items, jewellery or other craft projects.

    Air dry clay works just like regular clays – it has the same texture, can be formed the same way and will dry to similar consistency. You can use water to soften the clay and to create slip (the mixture of clay and water).

    The difference that’s good to keep in mind is that air drying clay starts the drying process as soon as it’s out of the packaging. Therefore it requires relatively quick work time and you need to keep the items in air tight packaging if you want to continue working later.

    Once it’s dry you can paint it or spray paint it.

    Cold Porcelain

    The name is misleading: cold porcelain isn’t actually a porcelain. It’s an an inexpensive, non-toxic and easily made material. It’s a mixture of cornstarch and glue and to enhance its smooth texture you can also add oils and glycerol. It’s advised to add lemon juice and sodium benzonite to the mixture to prevent the growth of mold.

    Cold porcelain doesn’t require firing, it simply dries on air. However, due to its contents, it’s possible to soften it by heat or water even after it dried, so it’s not suitable for some projects.



    Tools -->
    White Clay -->
    Terracotta Clay -->
    Modelling Clay -->


  • Cyanotype

    Cyanotype Printing Process

    Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that creates cyan-blue coloured prints. This technique was primarily used by engineers to produce inexpensive copies of drawings, up until the 20th century. Their contemporary use is mostly for artistic value or craft purposes.



    The cyanotype process was discovered by English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. He developed the process primarily to reproduce notes and diagrams, similarly how it was later used by architects and engineers.

    It was Anna Atkins, English botanist who first started using cyanotype process for photographic purposes, and sometimes she is claimed to be the first female photographer. She created a series of cyanotype books documenting plants, ferns and seaweed mostly.

    Cyanotype of British Algae by Anna Atkins (1843)
    Anna Atkins' cyanotype



    • 25 grams of Ferric ammonium citrate (green)
    • 10 grams of Potassium ferricyanide
    • Water (distilled if possible)
    • Scale or measuring spoons
    • Measuring jug
    • 3 glass containers for mixing ingredients
    • Plastic spoons
    • Face mask (DIY style)
    • Goggles
    • Rubber gloves
    • Apron or old shirt
    • Newspaper to cover work surface
    • Cleaning cloth
    • Brushes or coating rod
    • Clothes pegs (plastic)
    • Washing line or rope (plastic)
    • Art paper ( heavyweight watercolour or printmaking papers is highly recommended) or fabric for coating
    • Glass or a contact print frame
    • Sunshine or a UV light source


    Mixing the chemicals

    You will need two types of chemicals for this process, Ammonium ferric citrate and Potassium ferricyanide. They usually come in powder form, unless you buy premixed solutions in cyanotype kits.

    First you need to make two separate solutions and mix the two together in a third container.

    This recipe is for 50 8x10 ich prints.

    Solution A: 25 grams Ferric ammonium citrate (green) and 100 ml. water.

    Solution B: 10 grams Potassium ferricyanide and 100 ml. water.

    Dissolve the chemicals in water to make the solutions. It’s advised to prepare both in a brown bottle as the solutions will be sensitive to light. You can keep the leftover solutions away from light but they won’t last very long. Make sure to dispose of the chemicals correctly!

    It’s important to note that the mixture can stain clothing and skin, therefore it’s a good idea to cover your work surface and to use rubber gloves and other protection. Make sure to work in an area that’s not lit by UV or sunlight, as that will affect the solution and the prints too. Coloured lights are the best.

    Prepare the solutions and the surface you will be using.

    For best coverage, it’s recommended to use foam brushes.

    It’s enough to coat your surface once, as any drips or gaps will be visible. Leave the paper to dry in an unlit area.

    To print a cyanotype, you will need to place your object (to make a photogram) or negative ( to reproduce the photograph) on the surface. Photograms work the best if the object is flat, but you can experiment with lots of things for different results.

    Place the glass on top, and expose it to UV light. The exposure time varies a lot depending on the light source and season.

    To process the print, after it’s been exposed you will need to rinse it in cold water. It’s best to rinse it in running water until all the chemicals are removed – and the print turns deep blue. You can also put it in a Hydrogen peroxide solution to secure the print and avoid fading.


    More examples:

    Combine this technique with pressed flowers,

    Try different shapes,

    Or make artist books with our guide.

    References & Recommendations:

    • Cyanotype Printing


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