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  • 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


  • The Art of Paper Marbling


    The technique of Suminagashi originates from Japan. It's name translates to "ink floating", as the ink patterns that marble the paper are prepared on the water surface.
    You can use this impressive, versatile technique to decorate sketchbook covers, wrapping paper or to dye fabrics.


    The practice of paper marbling was invented in Japan in the 12th century, and it's still a popular technique today, all around the world.

    In 15th century Turkey and Persia they developed a similar technique called Ebru ( “cloud art”) but they used oil or gouache paint instead of inks to create the prints.

    The technique of paper marbling came to Europe in the 17th century, and was mainly used for the purpose to decorate book covers.

    You will need:

    • Watercolour or Japanese Ink Paper / fabric
    • (Chinese) brushes
    • Tray filled with water
    • Marbling ink, or Acrylic paint and Turpentine
    • clear dispersant (Photo Flo, or alternatively dish soap or conditioner)

    Do It Yourself

    The name Suminagashi describes the technique in one word, as it really as about floating ink on the surface of water.

    All you need to do to create these unique patterns is to switch dipping coloured and clear brushes on the surface of water. While it sounds rather easy, it can be a bit tricky, as you basically can't really control how the image will turn out.

    the technique comprises of the variation of colour(s) and clear 'circles', and when you have enough, you can try to create new patterns by blowing into a straw.

    Useful Tips:

    • you only have to touch the surface of the water with the end of your brush - but even if accidentally touching the bottom of the tray, it won't influence the whole image.
    • if the ink doesn't "float" properly, try wiping the water surface with a piece of newspaper to get rid of all the dust
    • try to lay your paper in one even motion - otherwise tiny air bubbles might appear that will leave white dots on your image
    • change the water every now and then
    • or try the technique on other surfaces like fabrics and wood!



  • Printmaking With Salt and The Sun

    An Alternative Mix Between Photography and Printmaking

    You don’t necessarily need a darkroom or professional equipment to make your own photo prints – salt printing is a relatively easy but nevertheless spectacular technique to produce your own images. The best thing is that you can make them with the power of the Sun! This is as organic as it gets. Dundee is supposed to be the sunniest of Scotland - get the most of the Spring sunshine, and make your own prints by following the method below.

    What you will need:

    - Salt
    - Silver nitrate
    - distilled water
    - paper (optionally sun print paper, but it actually does work on regular paper as well)
    - light source (like the Sun or light table)
    - fixative
    - brushes
    - interesting objects or paper cuts you’d like to print
    - gloves
    - plastic tray

    Preparing the Mixture:

    You will need two solutions. First, you mix 2.0 gm Sodium Chloride (table salt with Distilled Water) to make 100.0 ml. After that, mix 12.0 gm Silver Nitrate with Distilled Water to make 100.0 ml of solution.
    (Dark glass works better for the silver nitrate solution because it is more sensitive to light)

    The Method - Step by Step:

    After you have prepared the solutions, first you need to find a dark room (with relatively less source of light) where you should prepare a string to hang your paper to dry. Next, you take however many pieces of paper you want to print and gently cover them with the salty water. You want to cover them evenly, but you shouldn’t soak them! Leave time for them to dry. (At this point, it’s a good idea to mark the back of the paper, so you don't forget which side you’re wanting to work with)
    The next step is to stroke the dry paper with the silver nitrate solution. Since this mixture makes it possible for the patterns to appear on the paper after exposure, you want to work in an environment that's as dark as possible. Again, apply the mixture evenly on the paper, but you won’t need too much. Also, one thing to keep in mind is that silver nitrate can stain your skin; therefore you might want to wear gloves for this part.
    Once again, you must to hang the paper up until they are completely dry.
    In order to get clearer results, you should use the paper as soon as possible after drying. While the paper is drying you can gather the objects you wish to use – the best results come from using flat things such as feathers, pressed flowers, leaves, different fabrics or paper cuts. Be careful to keep your paper in the dark until you are ready to expose them to the light – keep them in a folder or cover them with some fabric.
    If you are using the Sun, try to keep the paper away from direct sunlight while you place your objects onto the paper – after you’re done, leave the rays and chemicals to do their job! Using the Sun, of course, can be tricky. You may have to experiment with the exposure time, not to mention unwanted clouds and other natural occurrences – but this is part of the fun: you can never know how your print will turn out, thus you will probably get unique prints each and every time.

    What’s next?

    After the exposure is finished, you need to rinse the paper – you can do this simply by placing it under running tap water.
    The next step is to fix the prints – for that, you will need to freshly prepare the fixer (10% solution of sodium thiosulfate (hypo) with 2 grams of sodium bicarbonate to each litre. You should leave the prints in the fixing solution for around 3-6 minutes. Optionally, after that you can also put the prints into a clearing agent for another 3 minutes . When it’s done, rinse in water, and hang it up to dry.

    The Results:







    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


  • 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 -
    • Using the Secrets of the Master in Portrait Painting by Brigid Marlin -
    • Reconstruction of Rembrandt”s “burnt plate oil” -

    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.





    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


  • Easy and Fun Printmaking Techniques!

    Have you ever wanted to try out quick, simple ways of printmaking at home?

    Did the thought of needing specialist equipment or using solvent-based materials around the house put you off? Now you can explore high quality printmaking techniques at home with just a few easy products that we have here in store at iArtsupplies. All you need is a roller, our Seawhite of Brighton water-based block printing ink, some plastic sandwich bags or sheets of acetate to use as your printing ‘plate’ and any drawing materials that you have around the house.


    Easy and safe to use printing inks

    All you need to do is ‘ink up’ your sandwich bag or acetate – meaning roller out a thin, even amount of your printing ink (you can even use acrylic paint with some acrylic medium or fabric paint if you want to print onto fabrics, all of which we stock here!)

    Then draw into the wet ink or paint with whatever drawing materials you like to create your design. Get creative! You can use pens, pencils, brushes, but also things like cotton buds, scrapers, old toothbrushes… anything that makes a mark that you like. You can also experiment with pressing materials into the ink that will leave an imprint, or pattern – like leaves, twigs, sponges, bubble wrap, even scrunched up paper or cling film!


    (Photograph courtesy of Alisa Burke)

    Get Creative!

    All you need to do now is press your chosen material face down onto your plate, whether its paper, card, fabric or even canvas, and roller it across the back with a clean roller to really press the surface into the plate. If you’ve applied a thick layer of paint, you may even get a ghost print if you try printing your plate again. Happy experimenting!



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