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Welcome to the Jackson's Materials Guide Issue 2. Within these pages you will find a selection of product reviews and comparisons, in-depth expert articles, and behind the scenes stories. Our visit to Coates Charcoal illustrates the journey of charcoal from willow field to studio. Find out how natural hair brushes are handcrafted, about the development of synthetic hair brushes, and what the necessary qualities are for each type of filament used. Uncover the story behind one of the newest paintmakers in the world, Langridge Oil Colours, and hear from their director David Coles. Learn about Golden acrylic mediums, encaustic painting techniques, and what makes Liquid Charcoal so unique. And lastly, read about how Jackson's Art Supplies began, with a first-hand account written by our founder Gary Thompson.

Jackson’s Art Supplies is one of the largest dedicated fine art suppliers in the world, offering a vast range of fine art products for those who love to paint.

Design & Art Direction Hayley Connaughton Graphic Illustration & Design Kaki Wong Photography Darius J. Zomorodian Editorial Team Chief Editor Tegen Hager-Suart Dan Brady Julie Caves Evie Hatch Clare McNamara Lisa Takahashi Jill Watton

CONTENTS COLOUR Oil Langridge Artist Colours Jackson's Professional Oil Gamblin Reclaimed Earth Violet Chelsea Classical Studio Words from the Founder Acrylic Golden Acrylic Paint Golden Acrylic Mediums Schmincke Aerocolors Watercolour Daniel Smith Watercolour Lutea Watercolour Coliro Finetec Pearlcolors Pastel Oil Pastels vs. Oil Sticks R&F Encaustic Wax Coates Willow Charcoal Nitram Liquid Charcoal

4-5 6-11 12-13 14-15 16-19 20-21 22-23 24-26 27-31 32-33 34-35 36-37 38-39 40-41 42-43 44-45 46-51 52-61 62-63

BRUSHES Handcrafting Brushes Synthetic Brushes Vegan Watercolour Brushes Jackson's Marseille Soap Pellets

64-67 68-70 71 72-73

S U R FA C E Stonehedge Aqua Black Paper Canvas

74-77 78-81

STUDIO Studio Tools Palettes Sharpeners Moku Hanga: Japanese Woodblock Printing Richeson "BEST" Easels

82-83 84-85 86-87

Community The Dairy Scale

94-95 96-97

88-91 92-93

92-95 98


OIL Oil paints have a richness that is unparalleled. Finely ground pigments are carefully milled into a drying oil, usually linseed, or, sometimes, for pale colours, clearer yet slowerdrying safflower, poppy or walnut oil is used. Different pigments have different particle sizes and absorbency which means that some paints are more saturated, thicker, or have an extended or shortened drying time. Oil paint is slow drying which means colour can be blended on the support. The ability to move and lift colour with a rag or palette knife can lend the painting process an almost sculptural quality—adding colour, taking it away, leaving traces, adding more—the history of the process gives depth to its surface. Delicate layers of thinly glazed colour can create luminous, subtle tones. Buttery impasto effects can be built up thickly to create rich colour and texture. Paints are thinned and brushes cleaned with the use of oil solvents, such as turpentine or Zest-It. Solvents are used to follow the fat-over-lean rule, whereby fatter paint (with more oil) needs to go over leaner layers to prevent cracking, this is due to the layers drying at different rates. Drying times can be sped up with the use of alkyd mediums or driers, so that the waiting times between layers of glazes or thick impasto can be minimised. Water-mixable oils get around the problem of needing oil solvents, while oil sticks allow you to draw straight on to canvas with pure colour and discover a direct, tactile way of working.


MODERN PAINTMAKERS LANGRIDGE ARTIST COLOURS As one of the youngest paint makers in the world, Langridge Artist Colours seeks to push the perceived limitations of traditional colour making. Their range’s highly saturated hues reflect the modern world and the brightness of Australian light. Founded by David Coles, the company retains at its core a minute attention to the qualities of individual pigments and a drive to create new colours, whether they are modern singlepigments or exciting new blends that mimic digital colours. David Coles was first introduced to the world of colour when visiting his father, an advertising illustrator, at his London studios. David discovered the art shop nearby, where he would later learn 18th-century pigment recipes and begin to hone his paint-making


knowledge. When David attended art college in the 1980s, he focused on the practicalities of painting and began to see how the progression of art exists as part of human evolution. In David’s book and oil colour range, it is clear that he has utilised the knowledge that artists are part of historical progression and that they have always used innovation to further their work. While, Chromatopia, explains the history of pigment development chronologically, Langridge Oil Colours use both traditional pigments and modern ones, obtained with cutting edge techniques, to create a contemporary range. Langridge becoming such a renowned paintmakers is a testament to their ethos of innovation and quality. Especially true when you consider

that the Australian start-up initially had a capital of $2000 and its first large mill was originally designed to process chocolate. What makes Langridge special is their respect for 500-year-old traditional paint-making processes, combined with their passion for creating completely new colours—that reflect the technicolour of our contemporary world. The colour choices encompass everything from Carbon Black, comparable to the pre-historic Lamp Black, to Brilliant Magenta that appears to be the ideal pink of Hubba Bubba—an icon of the modern age.

Courtesy of Langridge Artist Colours


C O L O U R I N S P I R AT I O N F R O M U N L I K E LY S O U R C E S A N I N T E R V I E W W I T H DAV I D C O L E S Do you have a favourite colour or pigment to make? David: That’s a difficult question to answer because my favourite changes constantly. At the moment though it would be making Rose Madder from the roots of the madder plant. Inside the mature roots are a variety of natural dyes. One of these is purpurin. After macerating the chopped roots in an alkali solution the dye is extracted. Extreme care must be made to prevent the other dyes from the roots being included. By adding alum to the extracted bright orange dye an insoluble delicate pink pigment is made. It sounds relatively simple but great care is needed in raw material selection and process to create this famous pigment of the nineteenth century.

Courtesy of Langridge Artist Colours


What pigment recipe would you recommend to someone just starting out making their own pigments? David: Nice question! Although probably the easiest to make are pigments made by collecting, cleaning and grinding iron-oxide rich earths (often known as ochres, these can range in colour from earthy yellows, oranges, reds and purples) I like pigments where a chemical transformation has occurred. In a sense it’s a bit like alchemy, quite magical when you create a new colour from seemingly unlikely sources. Lamp Blacks are some of the oldest manufactured pigments, their creation going back to prehistoric civilisation. The process is simple: by burning a vegetable oil with a lit wick, the resulting black soot can be collected and used as a very fine but powerful pigment. I recently visited Japan and was lucky enough to be invited to see the manufacture of Lamp Black at a family company that has been making the highest quality sumi-ink in exactly the same manner for over 470 years. Their production method is identical to all small-scale Lamp Black recipes so it is easy to replicate. You will need a non-porous container to fill with approximately 250 ml of a vegetable oil, such as sesame. It is important to use an oversized wick (5 mm+ in diameter) to encourage inefficient oil combustion. This allows some of the hydrocarbons to turn into carbon. Fix the wick upright in the container and suspend a heatproof concave saucer (face down) about 5 cm above the burning wick. Soot (carbonised oil) will accumulate on the inside of the saucer. You can then scrape or brush off the soot for immediate use as a beautiful blueblack pigment.

In your foreword in Chromatopia, you mention when you get in the studio, you love mixing paints, do you have a particular mix of two or three colours that you enjoy making most? David: Tough question! Pigments such as Nickel Azo Yellow are exciting to play with because they are able to “flip” and seemingly do different things depending on how they are applied. Add to that Quinacridone Red, as it starts out a cool red but as it’s diluted moves towards fantastic hot fuchsia pinks, and finally Turquoise Phthalo which flips between blue and green depending on what other colours are mixed with it. With these three I get a lot of colours that you probably never thought possible, but they’re especially useful for creating the widest range of flesh tones with enormous subtlety and nuance. If you could revitalise one forgotten, outdated, banned pigment (without any environmental, toxic or moral implications) what colour would it be and why? David: This is an easy one! Manganese Blue. Production ceased in the 1990’s and it only had a short history of about sixty years but it is a magnificent “sun-filled” blue. Semi-opaque and fast drying, it is a fabulous addition to the painter’s toolbox. Unfortunately, due to environmental concerns, it is no longer produced. When I learnt at the time that production had ceased, I went out and bought a lot of pigment stock for my own use. We are now, however, in talks with a small pigment manufacturer to reintroduce it for artist’s use.

A N I L L U S T R AT E D H I S T O R Y O F C O L O U R R E V I E W O F C H R O M AT O P I A “Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Colour”, initially appears to be a cross between a photography coffee-table book and a very visual cookery book. All the images are deliciously textural, the writing is enjoyably descriptive and sensual, while providing in-depth information on the most popular pigments through the ages. For each pigment, David Coles explains how it was made, where it came from, its cultural and artistic significance, and why it has the name it does. The book opens with the tale of how David Coles found his path to becoming a colour maker, followed by a glossary that sets you up with the key terms you’ll need to understand while reading—very helpful to anyone

discovering the intricacies of colour making. This introduction is then consolidated by an overall history of the fundamental colours: blue, purple, red, orange, yellow and green. From that, the text moves seamlessly, and chronologically, from the first pigments used by humans in art, such as Bone White, to those used in Medieval times, like Dragon’s Blood, through to those that have only been possible with modern technology, such as Vantablack. This gives a sense of the expanse and changing nature of the palettes that have been available to people throughout time, and how lucky we are to have the widest range in this current day and age. It also includes practical recipes on how to create your own pigments so you can start experimenting.

Recipes included are for Lead White, Carmine Lake, Ultramarine (the amount of Lapis Lazuli you need may be impractical for most home paintmakers) and Madder Lake. Each recipe is only a page long and very easy to follow, with an appealing photograph beside it. The last part of the book ‘Artists’ Colour’ shows an inspiring variety of contemporary artworks, that explore and celebrate colour to demonstrate how colour can be applied. Chromatopia draws you into the intricate details of each colour it describes. It makes you aware of the history of the colours you’re already using and wish for those no longer commercially available, all the while providing you with a wealth of interesting colour trivia.


RED GOLD, VIOLET AND VIDEO BLUE Langridge Professional Oil Colours are constructed to excel in saturation of colour and physical handling qualities. Like most professional paints, the colours have maximum pigment loading, and each colour has an individual drying time and consistency. There was an expectation that the colours would have a gritty feel, common to some handmade paints, but they’re gorgeously smooth. The tubes look clean, minimalist and modern, with a wide band of painted colour making it easy to select a paint tube while working. Pigment information, binder, transparency, consistency, and drying time are all printed on each tube. This is essential if you want to be aware of how each paint behaves.


Nickel Azo Red Gold Pigments: PY150, PV19; vehicle: linseed oil; consistency: buttery; drying rate: 3-6 days; Series 4; transparent Earthy red-gold—very rich in stronger applications, with undertones that come through as it is extended. Nickel Azo Red Gold has a lovely smooth buttery feel and its undertones vary from a rich orange, burnt deep red to a light muted yellow when thinned. It can make very clean and vivid mixes which is surprising as it’s a blend of pigments. It is made from Nickel Azo which can range from a deep dullish red to a green shade yellow and through to a transparent muted yellow, similar to Gamboge, but all of these can be mixed to create botanical yellows,

oranges and browns. The addition of PV19, Quinacridone Violet, or Rose, shifts the colour more towards a warm red but still maintains its ability to create fresh spring greens and rich golden yellows. Quinacridone Violet Pigments: PV42; vehicle: linseed oil; consistency: soft butter; drying rate: 2-5 days; Series 6; transparent An elegant modern violet with a deep burgundy mass tone and sweet violet undertones. Creates cool but not cold tints and glazes, in comparison to say, Dioxazine Violet. Made from PV42 (Quinacridone Pink), it is quite a dark valued violet, appearing bluer than most magenta coloured Quinacridone Pinks. As a single pigment colour, it’s great for mixing and produces lovely browns, maroons and brooding reds with

warm colours. Combined with dark blues it creates interesting violets and deep atmospheric blues. With greens, you can obtain some delicate greys. The Quinacridone Violet was described as having the consistency of soft butter, but feels more like butter that had recently come out of the fridge, needing some handling to loosen. It is transparent and able to produce a range of coloured glazes that could be tonally useful. Video Blue Pigments: PW4, PB15.3, PB28; vehicle: safflower oil; consistency: stiff; drying rate: 3-6 days; Series 4; semi-opaque Designed as a generate light, this intense warm azure blue is full of depth and space, and came from the idea of a computergenerated colour. It is a mid-value warm blue that can be used as a base with other blues to create warm azures and aquamarines. Video Blue is made with Phthalocyanine (PB15:3), a very clean mixing blue with a very strong tinting strength. The colour is lightened somewhat, and the tinting strength reduced, by the addition of Zinc Oxide (PW4). It also contains Cobalt Teal (PB28) which is a soft blue, verging on green—giving a warmth that makes Video Blue beautiful for warm skies and oceans, synonymous with Australia. The Video Blue creates strong, un-muddy mixes, even though it’s a pigment blend. It is very stiff, leaving distinctive brush marks visible when unthinned, which could be useful for scrumbling. Langridge Professional Oil Colours are available in 40 ml and 300 ml at priced between £6.20—£41.00.



EXTENDED RANGE: 7 COLOURS JACKSON’S PROFESSIONAL OIL We’ve expanded the Jackson’s Professional Oil colour range. Our seven new colours comprise of three convenience mixes, a non-toxic replacement, a lightfast replacement and two single pigment colours. King’s Blue Deep Pigments: PB29 PW6 PW4 A mixture of transparent Zinc White (PW4) and opaque Titanium White (PW6) with Ultramarine Blue (PB29). Designed as a darker replacement for the historic pigment, Smalt. A good base to start mixing sky colours. Adding a little Sap Green makes an understated, light blue-green, useful for sea colours. Indigo Pigments: PB15:3 PBk7 PV19 A lightfast replacement on the palette for traditional, fugitive Indigo, made of Quinacridone Rose (PV19), Lamp Black (PBk7) and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) (PB15:3). It is a deep blue that when used thickly is almost black and can be thinned or mixed to a light blue. Great for adding depth to shadows.

Sap Green Pigments: PG7 PBr7

Emerald Green Pigments: PG7 PY3 PW6 PW4

A mixture of transparent, bright Phthalo Green (PG7) and natural Iron Oxide (PBr7). A classic warm, dark, mossy green capable of a wide range of tones, from a yellow green in a thinned out layer to a rich near-black when applied thickly.

A non-toxic replacement for Emerald Green, a colour that was available up until the 1960s, when it was discovered it released arsenic in damp conditions. This bright, clean green is popular with plein air painters. It can create transparent, natural greens and strong, opaque greens. Made with Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) (PG7), Hansa Yellow Light (PY3) and both transparent Zinc White (PW4) and opaque Titanium White (PW6).

Manganese Violet Pigments: PV16 A deep, reddish violet with a balanced neutral temperature. It is great for shadow mixtures and for darkening colours. Mixed with Alizarin Crimson, it creates a rich maroon colour. Brilliant Pink Pigments: PW4 PW6 PR188 PR209 A mixture of transparent Zinc White (PW4) and opaque Titanium White (PW6) with orange-red Naphthol Scarlet (PR188) and intense, slightly cool Quinacridone Red (PR209). This creates a warm, vibrant, eye-catching orangey-pink, which can be used for bright underpainting.

Lamp Black Pigment: PBk7 A single pigment colour, the pigment has been made the same way for over 4000 years, by collecting the soot from burning oil lamps. Used to create warm greys, it has almost violet undertones and dries to a very matt finish. All of these Jackson’s Professional Oil colours are available in 40 ml and 225 ml at priced between £5.20—£41.00.


Acid Mine Drainage near Oreton, Ohio — Aerial View. Courtesy of Ben Siegel.


T O X I C A R T: T H E P R O O F I S I N T H E P A I N T GAMBLIN RECLAIMED EARTH VIOLET Back in 2018, we heard about a group in Ohio who were turning toxic waste (acid mine drainage AMD) into an attention-grabbing non-toxic oil paint, called Reclaimed Earth Violet. Set up as a Kickstarter by John Sabraw, Guy Riefler and Michelle Shively, the project’s mission statement was to clean up an Ohio stream and create a pilot paint plant that would prove their process could work on an industrial scale. The pollution from the coal mines into the river is often the equivalent of ‘junking two cars in the stream every single day’. The high heavy metal and acid contents in the stream kills aquatic life and contaminates drinking water, as well as eroding infrastructure (such as bridges). Environmental engineer, Riefler, and artist-activist, Sabraw, saw an interesting solution to this disastrous problem. They could turn the iron oxide into paint and simultaneously clean up the polluted streams. ‘We intercept the toxic acid mine drainage before it gets to the

stream, neutralize the acidity, extract the iron oxide, and release the clean water back into the stream. The iron oxide can be ground into pigment and blended with different binders to make paint. In creating a viable product from contamination, our process provides a closed loop. We’ve made it possible to restore the streams from their own clean-up,’ explains Sabraw.

each created through a unique process: Raw AMD pigment, Red AMD pigment and Violet AMD pigment. In April 2019, the state approved the proposal for a full-scale plant in Truetown, so keep your eyes open for Gamblin Reclaimed Earth Violet Oil Paint to be available for purchase soon.

The Ohio team has now not only set up their pilot plant, but have started a new partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Together they have submitted a proposal to build a full-scale plant that would treat the entire 3,800,000 litres per day of acid mine pollution in Truetown, while producing over 2,300 kg of sustainable pigment every day, for years to come. Getting hold of the paint: AMD paints were only available as Kickstarter rewards, developed with Gamblin. The rewards included tubes of Gamblin Professional Grade Artist’s Reclaimed Earth Violet Oil Paint, and vials of three pigments,

PROCES S: FROM POLLUTION TO PAINT Polluted streams: Toxic drainage from abandoned coal mines kills aquatic life and turns streams orange. Collecting toxic runoff: The acidic and iron-laden toxic runoff is collected and brought to the lab for processing. Extracting the iron oxide: In the lab the acidity is neutralised, the iron oxide extracted, and the safe water returned to the streams.

Iron oxide pigment: Iron oxide is dried and ground to form non-toxic pigments. Firing the pigments at different temperatures produces a range of colours. Making paint: Pigments can be ground with linseed oil to make oil paints, or polymers to form acrylic paint.

Gamblin: The team is partnering with Gamblin Artists Colors to refine the pigments and make them available to artists around the world.

Paintings: Paints made from AMD can be used just like any artist grade paint.



RENAISSANCE RECIPES IN THE 21ST CENTURY CHELSEA CLASSICAL STUDIO Chelsea Classical Studio was founded as an artist studio in New York by portrait artist Brandon Soloff. The success of the studio has seen it become a regular venue for workshops and life drawing classes over the past 10 years. As a result of running the studio, the group of artists developed a desire to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between artists working in the studio and their materials. Many of the teachers and students felt that it was difficult to know exactly what you were buying when it came to art materials. Beginner artists were intimidated by the variety of art materials available, many of which claim to

do the same thing at dramatically different prices. In response to these concerns and with a wealth of expertise to aid their cause, Chelsea Classical Studio decided that they wanted to offer a range of highquality art materials, complete with transparent information explaining exactly what they were offering. Chelsea Classical Studio focused on three main aims: 1. Getting paler, faster-drying linseed oil. Artists have often desired to work with the most colourless oil possible, like the pale oils described in old manuscripts. Since many oils on the market today are chemically alkali-refined, slow-drying and quite yellow, Chelsea Classical Studio

wanted to adopt traditional methods to create a higher grade linseed oil. 2. Re-introducing lavender spike oil to artist studios. Used since the Renaissance, lavender spike oil serves the same function as turpentine but has a pleasant fragrance, doesn’t cause side effects such as headaches, and is much kinder to the lungs and skin. 3. Simplifying some of the complexities surrounding mediums, in order to solve basic painting issues. A better understanding helps people have greater control over drying, adhesion, permanence and the material composition of their painting.


Brandon Soloff in his studio, Chelsea Classical Studio School. Courtesy of Chelsea Classical Studio.

Oils Chelsea Classical Studio linseed and walnut oils are cold-pressed, naturally clarified and purified by hand using historic techniques. This process is used to make oils that dry faster and yellow less. They are non-toxic and contain no additional chemicals. What makes Chelsea Classical Studio Oils different from other oils? Most oils available on the market are alkali-refined. The process of alkali-refining is a complex one that involves treatments that use bleach, sodium hydroxide and heat—all of which are necessary to optimise the colour and re-wetting abilities of the oil. Chelsea Classical Studio opt for a more traditional means of manufacture. They take raw, cold-pressed linseed oil and use a centuries-old process of purifying it using water and minerals—without heat and chemicals. The process takes three months during which half the oil is lost, but because it has not gone through a chemical process, the end product is lighter and dries faster. Traditionally, cold-pressed oils have


been considered more effective for grinding paint, because they have a higher total acid number, which tends to coat pigments more effectively than oils with a lower total acid number. If you make your own oil paints in the studio, you may find milling pigments by hand is easier with this vehicle. While modern alkali-refined oils are available with a variety of acid numbers, cold-pressed oil will always appeal to those who prefer to steer clear of materials that have undergone chemical processes, and wish to work instead, with the same oil that painters centuries before them would have used. What is the difference between linseed and walnut? Linseed and walnut are the two main oils used in oil painting. Linseed is known to dry faster and stronger, whereas walnut is slower drying, more fluid, and is often paler. For these reasons, many artists might use linseed oil for warm colours and reserve walnut oil for paler, cooler colours. That being said, Chelsea Classical Studio Linseed Oil is paler than their Walnut Oil because of the nature of their refining process.

Solvent Lavender Spike Oil Essence is the essential oil of spike lavender. Despite its name, it is a solvent and can be used to thin oil paint. Its use has been documented since the Renaissance and it was commonly used by artists, including Jan Van Eyck. Research has shown that oil of spike lavender is non-carcinogenic and is significantly kinder than turpentine or mineral spirits to the skin and the respiratory system. In the twentieth century, spike oil was largely abandoned in favour of less expensive turpentine and odourless petroleum mineral spirits, both of which have since become the most common painting solvents. Lavender spike oil mixes well with oils and when used in painting mediums provides great control and adhesion. It evaporates at a similar rate to turpentine and faster than odourless petroleum mineral spirits. As well as thinning oil paint, it is also strong enough to fully dissolve resins. Although it is less toxic than other solvents, it is still highly concentrated and care should be taken when using it—avoid excessive contact with skin and use only in well-ventilated areas. As the name

suggests, lavender spike oil has a strong distinctive scent—a mix of lavender and eucalyptus—which is why its other main use is in aromatherapy. Mediums It’s important to follow the fatover-lean rule when painting in oils. Always apply layers of paint with a greater proportion of oil, or fat, over the top of lean layers of paint—those with less oil content in them. This ensures a good bond is achieved between layers and gives the opportunity for each layer of paint on the canvas to dry fully. Additionally, layers of paint need to have enough oil in them to bind the pigment and make them permanent when they dry. If there is not enough oil in the paint, it is possible that the solvent found in a final picture varnish may remove the top layer of colour when it is brushed on. With this in mind, Chelsea Classical Studio has formulated two painting mediums—a lean medium and a fat medium. Their lean medium is 1/2 linseed oil, 1/2 spike oil. Their fat medium is approximately 1/2 linseed oil, 1/3 spike, 1/8 dammar resin.

Varnishes A varnish can be used to protect a painting from dust or dirt, or alter the sheen of the paint surface. Varnishes with a lower concentration of resin are known as retouching varnishes and can also be added to painting mediums to make them stickier, shinier and faster drying. Chelsea Classical Studio varnishes are made with Lavender Spike Oil Essence and natural dammar resin. Their retouch varnish is made from 3/4 spike oil and 1/4 dammar resin and can be used throughout the course of the painting. The thin retouch varnish layer allows the paint to continue its deep drying and avoid cracking. Their dammar varnish is made from 2/3 spike oil and 1/3 dammar resin —it is a final picture varnish but can also be added to mediums in smaller quantities to make them fatter, stickier, shinier and faster drying. Brush Cleaners

natural, non-toxic brush cleaners to help maintain the quality of artist brushes. They clean brushes and palette knives easily and are less abrasive than turpentine or spirits. After cleaning with solvent, artists can use Lavender & Olive Oil Soap to further clean and moisturize the brush hairs and to make them perform better and last longer. The Lavender Brush Cleaner is derived from lavender (not spike lavender). The Citrus Essence Brush Cleaner is made from 100% distilled orange rinds. Both are solvents and they evaporate as typical artists solvents would. Both brush cleaners are non-carcinogenic and they clean like odourless petroleum mineral spirits but without the harsh odours. They are better for the brush hairs and the mixture can be reused day after day, even when it starts to look murky. All of these Chelsea Classical Studio products are available in 118 ml, 236 ml and 473 ml at priced between £13.80— £62.00. Lavender & Olive Oil Brush Soap is available at priced at £10.30.

Taking care of your brushes properly can save you time and money, and good quality brushes can last a lifetime if treated well. Chelsea Classical Studio has produced two


THE ORIGINS OF JACKSON’S WORDS FROM GARY THOMPSON, FOUNDER OF JACKSON’S ART SUPPLIES Without St.Petersburg Paints, there wouldn’t be a Jackson’s. Back in the early ‘90s, Nick Bell, a friend of mine from art college, was on an exchange to Moscow. He stumbled across an art shop that stocked these very inexpensive artist oil paints, labelled only in Russian and with a Cyrillic letter logo that looked like a 3 and a K but was actually a 3XK. 3 - завод - plant X - художественных - artistic K - красок - paints He decided to bring some home. He gave me some to try, and although the oil-soaked, leaking tubes were slightly sticky, I was amazed by the most intense colours that I had ever used or hoped to afford. It was a similar story with the watercolours—beautiful colours that were almost impossible to unwrap. In fact, we used to advise customers to leave the pans in the fridge for a few hours, so that they wouldn’t be as sticky and you could get the foil off in one piece. Nick persuaded the Royal College of Art shop to stock the oils and quickly his import business grew from a suitcase to a van. At the time, I had opened a gallery with another art school friend in a converted shop in Waterloo, London. Although we had the occasional visit from prominent artists and collectors, Waterloo was, at that point, not the most conducive site for a contemporary gallery and as a result, we struggled to make ends meet. So, Nick with only one (albeit very good) customer, and nowhere to store his paint, joined forces with us and our struggling gallery, and we began to sell art materials from the basement. There was a trickle


of customers, but most were not overly impressed with the rough Russian packaging, the barely decipherable colour names, and the 5 ft high ceiling of our shop! Even with prices at a fraction of the high street brands, the sales didn’t take off. Then, out of the blue, an artist, searching for a rare Russian green pigment, ordered a watercolour set and wrote a glowing review for one of the practical art magazines. Almost overnight, we were inundated with cheques from all over the country, and a mail-order company was born: 3K Project Art.

in sales, setting new standards in delivery times and pricing. Unfortunately, our new business partner had other ideas for the business and at the peak of our success, we were unceremoniously dumped. We were very young and green, and looking back, we can now put what happened down to experience.

We added other products to the range—acrylics from Spain and Handover brushes (more about that later)—but quickly realised that in order to fulfil customer expectations we needed a complete array of art materials. We mentioned this to the owner of an art shop in Leeds, a trade customer of ours at the time, and he offered to fund the enterprise with stock from his shop. We left the gallery in safe, single salary hands, and Nick and I packed our bags and moved to Leeds to start our new baby —Art Express.

I, on the other hand, had trained as a painter—abstract at that—and needed to find new ways to fund the cost of living. My first venture was a stretched canvas business—Italian linen sold out of a railway arch under Putney Bridge tube station in Fulham, now the premises for one of our stores and run by another art college and painter friend, Tim. Whilst I was offering a great quality canvas, I had the same old problem of not offering enough diversity of product to fulfil the customer’s needs. It was tough, although I did have plenty of time to paint. The following year I received a call from Michael, the owner of Handover brushes, who had heard about our story in Leeds and he kindly offered to help me set up in competition to Art Express. I jumped at the opportunity, and in late 1999, I set about designing the new Jackson’s catalogue, full of incredible value

Digital photography was barely a thing, but we were the first to produce a fine art material colour catalogue in the UK. We even had a shoppable website, although no one really bought online at the time. We went from strength to strength as a mail-order company and very quickly surpassed the art shop

At this point, Nick had had enough and returned to his artistic talent, architecture, which he has continued to this day, and with a very successful practice in Sydney too.

brushes. In January 2000, we launched it and the company quickly grew in reputation. Today, we send out 1500 orders a day to tens of thousands of artists in 150 countries around the globe, including to my delight, Russia. We are not a traditional family business but we do have families, many of us are practising artists, we are independent and not owned by any bank or corporation. Our ethos has always been the same, we hunt down the finest materials we can, often with the help and guidance of our customers, importing directly when possible, and by cutting out distributors we are able to keep the selling price down to a minimum. We’ll commission or make products that aren’t available, and if we think we can improve on quality or price, we will. Our level of service is second to none. Our great team of knowledgeable staff work very hard on educating artists about the best use of materials, and, more than anything, we listen to our customers and react accordingly. It seems to work. Oh, and St.Petersburg watercolours are as popular as ever and we recently introduced the reformulated oils, which I am very pleased to report are no longer sticky!

Courtesy of St Petersburg










ACRYLIC Acrylics allow a huge amount of control over their working qualities, giving you creative freedom at your fingertips. Bright, consistent and smooth, acrylic was first used by artists in the 1950s and has been loved ever since, for its ability to offer a fast drying paint that can achieve both oil-like richness and watercolour-esque delicacy. Made from pigment suspended in acrylic resin, there are a vast range of acrylic formulas with different fluidities, sheens and tacks. This explains the array of forms acrylic is available in—heavy body, soft body, fluid, inks, markers, spray paints and acrylic gouache. Hundreds of mediums can be used to modify the sheen, drying times, consistency, transparency, and texture of each type of paint, meaning you can decide exactly how you want the paint to behave, especially as acrylics are intermixable. Gels alter body and transparency, and pastes add bulk, but de-intensify the colours. Both can be used to change the texture of the paint. As with the majority of acrylic mediums, most acrylic resin binders have a milky appearance when wet, but as the paint dries, the milkiness disappears and the paints appear darker: known as a colour shift. Acrylic paint will adhere to many surfaces and provides a stable ground on which to apply wet or dry mixed media. You can just use soap and water for the clean-up and oil solvents are unnecessary while painting, so it’s a convenient choice for many artists painting at home.



BODY & FLOW THE FOUR CONSISTENCIES OF GOLDEN ACRYLIC PAINT Choosing the paints you work with is about more than choosing the right colours for your subject matter: viscosity, sheen and opacity are also essential to take into consideration. To accommodate a wide variety of applications, acrylics are available in different viscosities— from bottles of fluid acrylic ink to tubes of buttery heavy body paint. Golden’s acrylic range encompasses the variety of acrylic consistencies, making their paints useful for providing a comparison. Heavy Body Acrylic The most characteristic feature of heavy body acrylic paints is their stiff, buttery consistency. This allows them to hold peaks and retain brush strokes, making them ideal for impasto techniques and painterly brushwork. A palette knife or a stiff hog brush can be used with heavy body acrylics, as they allow you to sculpt the paint and build up layers of rich colour and texture. In the 1980s, Golden introduced their first acrylic range: heavy body acrylics. Their thick texture appealed to oil painters who were already familiar with a similar consistency. Heavy body acrylics are recommended for artists who enjoy the density of oil paint, but who find the long drying time too restrictive. When painting with acrylics, multiple layers of varying thicknesses can be applied in any order and the next layer can be applied as soon as the last is touch dry, unlike with oil painting, where you need to be mindful of the fat-over-lean principle. This is an advantage for artists who want to build layers of paint quickly. Heavy body acrylic’s dense consistency and thick paint film allows solids such as marble dust,

pumice powder, sand and glass beads to be incorporated. Once dry, the material will be firmly held by the acrylic polymer, adding bulk and texture and bringing a three dimensional aspect into the work. Of all of the available viscosities, heavy body acrylics generally provide the best coverage. This is due to a thicker paint film, rather than a higher pigment load. Golden’s acrylics vary in terms of sheen and opacity depending on the individual qualities of the pigments used, because Golden refrain from adding mattifying or opacifying agents to their paints

viscous and stiffer, without forming a skin, allowing for more textural handling of the paint. This slow-drying quality is an advantage on the palette, as well as on the canvas. Because it dries quickly, standard acrylic paint can become unusable on the palette, which can be wasteful. Golden Open Acrylics can be kept fresh for far longer, reducing wastage—even as it begins to become tacky, it can be reopened by brushing with water or a medium. It can take more than two weeks for the paint to form an impermeable, immovable film, and once it has reached this stage, it will remain so indefinitely.

Open Acrylics (soft body)

Fluid Acrylics

Most acrylics dry quickly, giving the artist a relatively short working time. Open Acrylics have been formulated to have a drying time which is up to 10 times longer than traditional acrylic paints. It offers possibilities for techniques which require the paint to stay workable for longer, such as blending and wet-in-wet painting.

There is a common misconception that thicker paints contain more pigment than their fluid counterparts. However, a fluid paint will provide the same depth of colour in a less viscous binder.

Golden Open Acrylics are an example of a soft body paint, although they are slightly more viscous than most other soft body acrylics. Straight out of the tube or jar, they have a creamy consistency and are more self-levelling than their heavy body counterparts. Lower viscosity means that soft body paints are suited to more fluid, continuous brush work. A soft brush will give you the smoothest possible application, but this versatile consistency of acrylic can also be applied with a medium to firm brush, depending on your painting style. The paint will retain brush strokes to a certain degree, but to a lesser extent than heavy body acrylics. Golden Open Acrylic’s extended drying time makes it behavedifferently to other soft body acrylic paints. As it dries, it becomes increasingly

Golden originally made fluid acrylics for artists on a custom basis, but their popularity was such, that they were soon introduced as a standard line. Golden Fluid Acrylics are available in bottles and have a consistency like heavy cream. They can be poured or dripped onto the surface for vivid puddles of colour, or they can be used for more precise techniques, such as glazing. Glazing is a technique originally established in oil painting which relies on the inherent transparency of certain pigments. Multiple transparent layers are used to render the subtle complexities of colour, light and tone. This gives the painting depth and realism which are impossible to achieve when using opaque colours. Fluid acrylics flow consistently from the brush and are self-levelling, reducing the retention of visible brush strokes, especially when used with a soft synthetic


The comparative viscosities of Golden Acrylics as they behave on a tilted panel From left to right: Heavy Body, Open Acrylic, Fluid Acrylic and High Flow Acrylic

brush. Oil painters know that glazing with oil paint can be a time consuming process because each layer can take a long time to dry. In contrast, acrylic paint generally dries very quickly, allowing you to work at a faster pace, which may be preferable for some artists. Golden also refrain from using opacifying fillers in their fluid acrylics, so the naturally transparent qualities of certain pigments can be used to full effect. Information regarding transparency for each colour can be found on the tube, on a colour chart, or online. High Flow Acrylics High Flow Acrylic are the most fluid paint in Golden’s range. They are a good example of an acrylic ink and have an aqueous consistency. Many inks are dye-based, meaning that colour is completely dissolved in the binder to make a solution. High Flow Acrylics and other acrylic inks are pigment-based, where


extremely finely ground pigments are suspended in the binder to make a dispersion. They might need a gentle shake before use to ensure that the pigment particles are evenly distributed throughout the bottle. The advantage of pigment-based inks is that the colour is generally more lightfast: dyes are vulnerable to fading after prolonged exposure to light, whereas pigment-based inks are far more stable, as long as the pigment used is lightfast. High Flow Acrylics come into their own when used to create watercolour-like effects, staining and highly pigmented gestural washes, on porous substrates, such as paper or raw canvas. Unlike watercolour, the acrylic binder ensures that the paint will be water-resistant and immovable when dry. Golden High Flow Acrylics contain a retarding agent to extend the drying time which gives them excellent spreading capability when painted wet-in-wet. As well as flooding areas with colour, High Flow Acrylics can be used

delicately with a small, soft synthetic brush for fine detail. For even finer lines, the paint can be used in refillable markers or with a dip-pen. While each kind of acrylic paint behaves very differently, all of them dry to form a water-resistant and flexible film. Whether you want to use one acrylic paint viscosity, or several in combination, making an informed choice for your work will help you make the most of acrylic paint. Golden Acrylics are available at in a range of sizes priced between £5.20—£148.00.

TEXTURE & PEAKS GOLDEN ACRYLIC MEDIUMS EXPLAINED Which acrylic medium should I use? Because of the versatility of acrylic paint, it can be formulated with a vast range of consistencies and qualities, and easily adapted with the use of mediums. This means it can be used with techniques similar to those used with watercolour washes, impasto oil, pouring inks or even gouache, depending on the acrylic and mediums you select. Golden has the widest ranges of mediums, gels, additives and effect pastes so it can have whatever qualities you desire, including luminous glazes, gritty opaque structures, string effects, glassy areas and variable drying times. Understanding which medium is right for your required working style can be tricky, so we’ve tested out all the main mediums for you. Once you know what mediums can do, you can use the expansive range to realise inspiring possibilities and very unusual effects.

Mediums can modify the texture, sheen, thickness, drying time, hardness and viscosity. Goldens mediums can be broken into several groups, each of which modifies the different characteristics of acrylic paint and has unique applications.

Within two days of testing these mediums, all of them were touch dry and after a week they all were hard, but dentable with a finger nail. However, during the testing period, the temperature was over 22 degrees.

When colour-concentration is of key importance in your work, you should use as little medium as possible and start with a paint which is closest to your required consistency. While it is possible to mix different consistencies, the amount of medium necessary will vary depending on the consistency of the paint. For instance, when using a heavy body medium with a soft body acrylic, more medium will be required and as a result, the colour will be less strong. Equally, if you wish to thin your acrylics but keep the intensity of colour, it’s best to start with a thinner paint and add a little fluid medium to extend it further.

Plain gels can be used to thicken your paint, build up structural and textured marks, create impasto effects and thick lens-like glazes. All of this is possible without the shrinkage and crazing (cracks) that can appear when using heavy body acrylic paint by itself. They can create glazes from transparent and opaque colours, but are un-absorbent on the surface. Molding pastes are opaque and are used to build up structures or provide textural effects—useful for topographical landscapes or creating 3-D textures in a work. It has a slightly porous texture, due to the


textures. These can be interesting to paint over, use mixed media on, or mix with paint to provide rough, coloured areas. It is very absorbent but if you try to create high peaks it crumbles slightly after drying. It is also fairly tricky to control. Clear Tar Gel is used to create drips and strings of painting, like in Jackson Pollock’s work. It is easy to create strings when used neat but these dry completely clear and are prone to quite a lot of levelling and shrinkage. If mixed with acrylic (fluid is best) we suggest letting the mix settle in a sealed container overnight, as otherwise, your strings will dry with air bubbles rising to the surface. You can apply the strings using sticks or a palette knife. Shrinkage of Golden Plain Gels over a week

inclusion of marble or chalk particles, and is fairly absorbent. Light Molding Paste is very lightweight making it useful for creating a lot of depth on large scale pieces. It holds peaks well that have slightly softer edges than those created using the gels. They all mix easily with heavy body acrylic. Fibre paste can be used as a drawing ground or as a base for acrylic washes as it’s very absorbent. It provides a papery pulp texture that can be made smoother if you skim it with a wet palette knife, or, the texture can be emphasised by working a dry implement against the grain. It holds peaks and marks well, and is easy to mix with acrylic colour. It is very easy to control.

binder. It extends paint and adds texture providing a transparent gemlike effect. It can build up structures and can be mixed with transparent acrylic colours. It has a translucent finish when completely dried. It is opaque when wet and looks like rice pudding which makes it slightly strange to use. It is difficult to paint over when dry and is hard to apply with any regularity.

Crackle paste is an absorbent paste that cracks as it dries allowing anything underneath to show through the cracks. Colour washes over the top will run into the cracks. It is fairly hard to apply completely smoothly and the size of cracks will vary massively depending on the thickness of paste applied.

Glass Bead Gel provides a shimmer on work, similar to condensation on a window. It contains tiny glass beads in a binder, that scatter reflected light. Popular with pour painters, you can mix it with transparent colours to create boiled sweet effects. The reflections are most effective when it is applied at a thickness of a single bead. Using a palette knife is the easiest way to prevent the beads from clumping together and to get a consistent layer. If you paint over the top, the paint will pool around the glass beads, without staying completely on the beads and will bleed out slightly between them.

Clear Granular Gel contains uneven plastic crystal solids held in an acrylic

Pumice gels are used to introduce coarse sandpaper or concrete like


Levelling Gel levels the surface of other acrylics it’s used with, smoothing any brush strokes or ridges made during application. Glazing Liquid lets you create oilpaint-like glazes and blend acrylic colour for subtle colour transitions. This allows you to work in a similar way to oil paints without the difficult cleanup. It gives acrylics a longer working time and a stained glass effect. It will make acrylics very fluid and prone to bleeding on absorbent surfaces. Additives, by Golden, include a retarder that increases the drying time of acrylic, Open Thinner that thins the consistency of Golden Open colours without changing the drying time and a Wetting Agent which reduces water tension and increases the flow of acrylic paint. Additionally, there are also fluid mediums and special purpose mediums (GAC) available from Golden. Golden Mediums are available at in a range of sizes priced between £6.50—£84.17.

Extra Heavy Gel Matt

Extra Heavy Molding Paste Gloss

Light Molding Paste

Fibre Paste

Crackle Paste

Clear Granular gel

Glass Bead Gel

Coarse Pumice Gel

Tar Gel

Glazing Liquid


Extra Heavy Gel Matt

Extra Heavy Molding Paste Gloss

Light Molding Paste

Fibre Paste

Crackle Paste


Clear Granular gel

Glass Bead Gel

Coarse Pumice Gel

Tar Gel

Glazing Liquid



CANDY COLOURS SCHMINCKE AERO COLOR Graphic designer, Eva Manca, previously worked at Jackson’s, creating our product catalogues. She trained in digital graphic design, but she also draws by hand. Eva was fascinated by Schmincke Aero Color, so we asked her to give us some feedback on these professional acrylic inks. Sketching is part of what I do and I find that drawing is the best way to experiment with patterns, colour mixes and new surfaces. I have a special love of drawing and illustration, and I really enjoy drawing with vector software, such as Illustrator, but I would say that I am a beginner at hand drawn illustration. During my time at Jackson’s, I loved having the chance to try out a wide range of paper and materials and carrying out some creative experiments. I was keen to try Schmincke Aero Color—here’s what I found. Colour mixing I began by trying out three of the nine Candy Colours in the range. Using the drop applicator, I was able to control the amount of ink I wanted straight from the bottles, and mixed the colours on a ceramic palette. I found that they blended

easily with one another and, using just three inks, I was able to create a wide variety of colours and shades. After blending on the palette, I applied the mix to paper, where I could really see if my mixes worked. From there, I altered the saturation, transparency and tone by adding different amounts of water. Watercolour paper and acrylic paper I prepared three different colour wheels: ‘yellow and red’ and ‘red and blue’ on acrylic painting paper, and ‘yellow and blue’ on rough watercolour paper. The inks dried quickly on both surfaces, so I found I had to work quite swiftly. They dried more matt on the rough watercolour paper, though they were brighter on this surface when I wet the paper first. I found that the colour flowed better on the acrylic paper. Unlike watercolour, when the inks are dry, they cannot be re-wet, either on the paper or the palette.

layers of ink on top of the pen lines without obscuring them at all. Opaque affects with Schmincke Aero Color If I wanted to cover areas of colour, I had to use one of the Total Cover colours or add a small amount of the Supra-white Opaque to the mix. Once dry, I could also draw over them again with the pens. On top of the Total Cover, the pen lines were glossier and the surface was a bit slippery, so it was harder to keep control of the pen. The colour of the inks was very brilliant. They mix so well together on the palette but you can also pour them straight on to the paper and let the colours bleed into one another. I liked the spontaneous affects that I could achieve using them this way and I really liked how the ink and pigment pens reacted together. Schmincke Aero Colors are available in 28 ml, 250 ml and 1000 ml at priced between £7.20—£77.00.

I then wanted to see how the inks would behave when combined with pigment pens and found they worked very well over the top of Schmincke Aero Color. Thanks to the transparency of the Candy Colours, it was possible to add



W AT E R C O L O U R Watercolours have a vibrant transparency that lets artists harness a colour’s luminosity and create glowing layers. Watercolour paint is made from pigments suspended in a water-based gum arabic solution. The paint allows light through it, to reflect off the paper beneath, illuminating the colour with the reflected light. Small quantities of other ingredients are added to enhance the overall performance of the paint: a plasticiser (usually glycerin) which makes the paint more easily rewettable; a humectant, such as honey or corn syrup, which helps to preserve the paint and contributes to colour brilliance, as well as slowing the drying time. Watercolour is available solid in cakes, known as pans, or in liquid form in tubes. It is a straightforward medium to start painting with since you only need water, a few pans, a few brushes and some watercolour paper at first. The format of the paints and the lack of need for a toxic solvent makes them very easy to take on holiday, or to use en plein air. Due to watercolour’s transparency, you can produce several shades from one colour, just by varying the amount of water. It is suitable for sketching and loved by some for its unpredictability and capability for experimentation, which can be extended by the variety of mediums available. Prized for being difficult to master, it can be hard to correct mistakes. Because of this, watercolourists must often think about the effect of every single brushstroke, colour choice and tonal value: many watercolourists work light to dark and carefully plan their compositions.


G RE Y: A SPECTRU M O F CO LOU R D A N I E L S M I T H W AT E R C O L O U R Greys are the workhorse of many artists and are used to create lines, shadows, details and light effects. Most artists use complementary colour mixes or black pigmented paint, modified with another colour, to create greys with variations within


them—just as grey appears in real life—but having pre-mixed greys can be convenient and save you the trouble of trying to re-mix the same colour again and again. Choosing whether you want a warm, cool or neutral grey can set the

whole atmosphere of your painting, by allowing you to harmonise a painting’s tone and describe distance. With that in mind, Daniel Smith has collaborated with three well-respected artists to create six grey tube watercolours. Each of these produces a unique effect

and gives you a quick base to use by itself, or to mix in with your normal watercolour palette. Alvaro Castagnet’s Warm Caliente Grey and Cool Fresco Grey Premixed greys are convenient when working plein air as they allow you to keep up with changing light and weather conditions. Because of this, Alvaro has chosen greys that are especially suited to painting en plein air as they are quick and easy to use in mixes with a basic colour palette. He describes his warm grey as: ‘A terrific hue, very powerful, excellent to create strong and warm paintings. In monochrome, this wonderful grey is perfect to achieve a powerful atmosphere with amazing glow. This color is also perfect to add dramatic highlights and shadows.’ It is a soft grey that tones down colours and adds a subtle warmth. It is low staining and contains the pigments PBr 7, PB 29, PBk 6. He describes his cool grey as: ‘A very powerful and true hue, with no artificial look to it. Passionate and mysterious, great to evoke distant elements of any kind, even the unknown…I love the hue.’ Fresco Grey is a cool dark, almost black in mass tone, that can be drawn out to a cool misty wash. It mixes well, toning down and adding a coolness to certain colours. It is a granulating colour that contains the pigments PB 29, PV 15, PW 6. Jane Blundell’s non-staining, non-dulling Grey Jane Blundell wanted to develop a grey that was non-staining (unlike those using Phthalo Blue) and that didn’t have the dulling effects that a grey including a black pigment has. It needed to be easy to lift and granulating, to create stormy skies

and soft shadows, as well as being a neutral tint that could darken colours without changing their temperature. Jane’s Grey is a convenience mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. Jane herself has been mixing this colour in individual pans and palettes for years and approached Daniel Smith to make it available in tube form, so that she could meet the demands of her students and followers. It is semi-transparent, granulating, low staining and contains PB 29, PBr 7. Joseph Zbukvic’s Neutral Grey, Warm Grey and Cool Grey Joseph recommends having a range of greys to cover different light conditions. Since light can be neutral, cool or warm, he has created with Daniel Smith three greys that match each type of light. This allows you to modify other colours quickly, to produce the right temperature and atmosphere throughout the piece.

undertone in light washes, allowing it to tone down other colours while adding a slight warmth. It is granulating and contains PY 43, PV 19, PBk 6. He designed his cool grey, in his own words: ‘for those frosty morning and rainy winter day paintings. It has a lovely greenish sediment which is perfect for low light, early morning light effects. I think this is a must for anyone painting winter scenes.’ While very dark in mass tone, this colour has an unusual green violet tone that tones other colours down nicely, while adding a lush coolness. All of these Daniel Smith Watercolours are available in 15 ml at priced at £13.20.

He describes his neutral grey as: ‘…perfect for those strong, New York type cityscapes. When undiluted it is basically black and can provide powerful monolithic shapes without looking chalky. It gives a look of charcoal drawing or old-fashioned photographs.’ It is a rich, black grey, that is very dark in mass tone and has virtually no colour bias, meaning you can tone down colours easily. It is granulating and contains PB 29, PBk 9, PBk 10. He describes his warm grey as: ‘…perfect for strong summer light when shadows have that rich warm glow. It’s particularly useful for painting late afternoon light effects with its pinkish glow when it’s diluted into lighter washes. It can capture that evening glow perfectly.’ His warm grey is also very dark in mass tone, but had a pinkish


AN ORGANIC VISION L U T E A W AT E R C O L O U R Lutea Extra Fine Plant-Based Watercolours are a visionary concept. Made using only organic, sustainably produced natural raw materials, the Belgian paintmaker offers the opportunity to rediscover rare and beautiful colours. Each has a long history within the canon of fine art painting and is specially sourced from around the world. “Colour has been part of our heritage and our economy for many centuries”, says Anne-Sylvie Godeau, founder of Lutea, who is pioneering what could one day become an organic paint revolution. With eyes firmly set on creating alternatives to common, synthetic paints, Lutea’s hallmark is the revival and celebration of precious materials and colours. These have, little by little, disappeared since the establishment of the industrial era. By the turn of the 19th century, plant cultures for pigments had been largely extinguished, due to the artificial synthesis of alizarin (a red pigment present in the madder root) by German chemists in 1869.


The pigments in the Lutea range have been carefully selected, following extensive research and development into organic colours. They possess a fair to very good lightfastness rating as certified by French laboratory Green’ing, but have yet to be tested up to blue wool scale 8. Most of them, with proper mounting and display, will last perfectly well for at least 50 years. They offer the possibility to create mixtures which cannot be achieved with synthetic colours, yet are fully intermixable with both mineral and synthetic watercolour paints. The pigments are extracted from the plants under the care and expertise of artisan Anne-Sylvie Godeau, and then meticulously incorporated with the highest quality binding agents (gum arabic, glycerine and honey). The 9 ml metal tubes are then filled by hand. The full range of 12 colours includes natural raw materials sourced from cultivated plants, gleaned plants, recycled plants, international plants, and one insect. These are

found in parts of the world such as Iran, Canada and Lutea’s native Belgium. Lutea watercolours should be stored at a temperature below 25° Celsius, as these organic and living watercolours are delicate and must be kept away from heat sources with the lids properly closed after use, to prevent fermentation. Artisanal, sustainable production is the touchstone of Lutea. It’s about innovation: using extraction techniques to celebrate plants whose pigments can achieve great quality paints. While more expensive than most watercolours, Lutea’s price tag reflects the organic origin of the materials used to create these sophisticated and totally unique watercolours, as well as the rigorous, hands-on process required to obtain the pigments. Lutea Watercolours are available in 9 ml at priced between £17.80—£24.00.

Courtesy of Lutea


SHIMMERS: 46 PEARLESCENT COLOURS C O L I R O F I N E T E C W AT E R C O L O U R S Metallic and pearlescent watercolours are becoming increasingly popular with artists who want to accentuate light and experiment with reflectivity, as well as for painters who want to emphasise a dark ground. Coliro is a favourite brand of pearlescent watercolour because the paints are luminous, intermixable, easy to manipulate and bright. History Coliro paints have been manufactured in Germany by Finetec GmbH since 2005. They’re made from mica-pigments and gum arabic which makes their handling very similar to watercolour, however, they are more opaque, resembling Japanese watercolour or gouache. They can be used on paper, stone and wood,


and have an excellent lightfastness. They are also free from any ingredients derived from animals. Pearlescent, metallic and iridescent colours Pearlescent paint is reflective, but only reflects back some of the light that hits it, allowing you to see the colour of the pigments as well as the reflected light. The pigment particles are transparent and as light is reflected between their tiny layers, they emit different coloured light that “sparkles”. A little like how a cut glass prism can create rainbows, but picture thousands of microscopic prisms packed in together with minuscule spaces between them. Once dry, pearlescent paint produces a diffused, textured glow that is reflective without being overpowering.

Metallic paint reflects back the maximum amount of light evenly. This means, in bright conditions, the marks can show up as pure light and you are unable to see the colour of the paint, but you do get a very strong area of reflected light. Imagine the particles as mini coloured mirrors: in low light, you can see the backing colour but in bright light, you just see the reflected light. Iridescent paint varies in reflectiveness and can appear to be multiple different colours: these changes depend on the brightness and angle of the light in which its viewed, and the colour of the surface it’s painted on. It is made from fine prismatic particles: each particle has different coloured facets, through which light is refracted, giving off a different

colour depending on which facet the light has travelled through and what angle the viewer is standing at. Coliro’s range consists of all pearlescent colours, hence the name Coliro Pearlcolors. However, within the range their “shimmer” colours are both iridescent and pearlescent. For instance, Coliro’s Shimmer Fine Lilac can be both a light greenish silvery glaze, but also the elusive pink of a trout’s belly. The shimmer colours leave a delicate sheen on white paper, whereas on black paper, they create vibrant colours.

gather in the dips of paper and produce uneven marks.

Coliro’s Behaviour Wet and Dry


When used on fairly hard sized watercolour paper, the pigment stays radiant on the surface without sinking in and dulling. Once dry, the paint stays exactly where it was applied, even after vigorous scrubbing. This permanence is a great advantage of Coliro, as often, mica dust can remain transferable once dry, ruining clean, crisp marks and making a workspace glittery.

Used thickly, Coliro is incredibly opaque—perfect for adding strong, polished details to the shell of a beetle or the edge of a bee’s wing. In washes, they can create nuanced sheens, with a dappled reflectiveness that catches the eye without disrupting the cohesion of a piece. You can also build up their opacity in layers to create jewel-like marks.

When wet, Coliro colours are slightly less bright and reflective, but as they dry, their captivating, reflective shimmer will increase. You may want to take this into account if you’re making tonal work.

Colour range

When dropped into wet washes, the paint barely disperses, making it surprisingly easy to control. Rewetting dried paint strokes is also easy and allows you to draw out colour later, or redefine lines and boundaries as you go. Applied thickly over dried washes, it barely moves them, so you can layer highlight upon highlight. Coliro can be mixed with other watercolours, if you would like to tone down a Coliro paint, or add a gentle shimmering diffusion to another watercolour or gouache. Coliro’s mica pigments are very predictable in their soft, malleable behaviour, creating washes with even coverage, unlike some metallics with very heavy particles, that can

The Coliro range includes over 46 rich, alluring colours. Collectively, they form a comprehensive palette, reducing the need to mix these pearlescent colours with normal gouache or watercolour. Most other brands that provide pearlescent or metallic versions of their watercolours and powders typically only offer between 3 and 16 colour choices. Coliro paints come in thematic sets, such as Ocean which could be useful for capturing the glimmering shades of the deep sea, or Candy which provides you with the colours to produce reflective works that can describe brash boiled sweets or the metallic shine of cutlery.

pans. Most of the pans have an intriguing wave pattern on the surface that shows the glimmer of the paints when dry. When wet, the troughs in the surface act as wells, with rivulets of sparkling wet colour running through them. This is useful because it is recommended to wet the pans with droplets, or a spray of water, and leave them for a few minutes before you start working, so that the paint is creamier to use. Sets are plastic or metal, and the pans are held in place by a click mechanism that makes them easy to remove and exchange for another pan. All of Coliro’s colours are available to purchase individually. Bright, reflective, lightfast and rich with pigment—the colours are true to their uniquely designed pans. The pigments are lightweight, allowing them to be washed over other layers, leaving a consistent glimmer, or they can be built up for maximum impact. With a vast colour range and easy handling qualities, Coliro is ideal if you want a pearlescent paint to bring your work to life with light. Coliro Finetec Pearlcolors are available at as singles priced between £3.60—£5.50 and as sets priced between £3.60—£24.00.

Packaging The Coliro pans themselves resemble eyeshadow palettes. They are fairly large (30 mm in diameter) and are contained in circular white



PASTEL Soft pastels are the closest to working with pure pigment you can get; they are essentially pigment mixed with natural gum. Compared to other media, they contain much less binder. No mediums or tools are needed—just an abrasive surface that catches the pigment as you push the colour across it. They come in little sticks that are often hand rolled due to their softness. Hard pastels contain slightly more binder and create crisp lines of crayonlike colour. They are usually cuboidshaped and the edges can be used to draw fine lines, while the side of the stick can glide across paper to make broad strokes. They are great for adding detail to soft pastel works, or can be used to create dynamic drawings on their own. Working with pastels requires blending colours on to the surface of your work. Although some artists feel unfamiliar with applying and blending colour straight on your artwork, it all adds to the immediacy of the medium. Fine detail can be tricky unless you employ a few pastel pencils, but the real beauty of pastels is the resonant pure colour that sits on the surface of your painting. Pastels can create dust as you work, and many artists like to ensure the dust falls away from their work in progress, by tilting it forward during the painting process. Because soft pastels contain such a small amount of binder, it is advisable to spray finished work with fixative and present it behind glass, though this is less necessary with works made using hard pastels.


TH E D IFFEREN CE WA X M A K ES OIL PASTELS VS. OIL STICKS With their portability, richness of colour, and possibilities for gestural mark-making, oil pastels and oil sticks share many attributes. But understanding their unique characteristics allows artists to fully realise their potential.

first be primed with acrylic gesso or oil primer, to prevent the oil leaching into the support, therefore compromising the longevity of an artwork. There are also universal or oil primed canvases and panels, and prepared papers that can be used immediately.

Oil sticks (also known as oil bars and pigment sticks) are composed of pure pigment, a drying oil (such as linseed or safflower oil) and a small amount of mineral wax that allows the paint to be moulded into a cylindrical bar. They will dry and cure like oil paint and are fully compatible with traditional oil painting techniques. Almost any fine art support is suitable, including canvas, paper, and wooden or aluminium panels. However, the surface must

Designed to be held comfortably in the hand, oil sticks can be used as a drawing tool to apply rich colour directly to surface; this immediacy offers a different approach to oil painting. Whether used for initial gestures, to sketch out a composition, or for the addition of accents and highlights on a more developed piece, the application of colour is directly in the artist’s hand. A light touch will make a crayonlike line, and a stronger pressure will produce thick, painterly marks.


Once the colour has been laid down, it can be manipulated with a palette knife or a brush, or extended with an oil medium. Dipping the stick directly into linseed oil before using it achieves a wonderfully soft and luxurious mark. Each brand varies in composition and handling properties: R&F Pigments Sticks are loved by many artists for their lipstick-like consistency, and you will find that they are softer than their Sennelier counterparts. Sennelier include a small amount of siccative (a drying agent) in their oil sticks, whereas R&F Pigment Sticks are without additives, so have a longer drying time (bear in mind that the drying time will vary depending on the pigment used).

Sennelier and R&F both produce a colourless medium in stick form that can be used to create glazing effects, add body and blend colour. In addition, R&F also offer the blending medium in large jars which can be applied impasto with a painting knife. They also offer a medium with an added cobalt siccative to accelerate the drying time. Just like oil paintings, artworks made using oil sticks should be allowed to dry and cure for at least six months before a final varnish is applied. Oil sticks require very little special attention when storing, but it is important to keep them away from sources of heat. They will form a thin skin after being exposed to the air which must be removed before each use. This can be done by dragging the end of the stick along a hard surface to remove the dried film. Oil sticks that have been unused for a long time may be a little more stubborn and require a blade to remove the outer layer. However, the paint will still be fresh and buttery underneath. Oil pastels are made with pigment, mineral wax and a non-drying oil: their oil content is considerably lower than oil sticks. The inert wax binder allows them to be used on wood, paper, canvas, and metal with no preparation beforehand, this gives them the versatility that makes them so popular. This immediacy lends itself to both preparatory sketches and developed work. In contrast to oil sticks, because of the absence of a drying oil, the pastels are unable to cure and harden by oxidation and will remain workable indefinitely. Works made with oil pastels will remain sticky and vulnerable to smudging unless they are protected by glass. If transporting or storing work, the surface should be protected by glassine paper (a smooth, greaseresistant paper) to prevent damage to the fragile pastel film. An oil

pastel fixative, usually based on an acrylic resin and alcohol blend, can help protect against smudging and dust accumulation, and can also be used to fix colours between layers, so more can be added on top. Our own tests have found that oil pastel fixatives vary in effectiveness and some give a gloss or a matt finish: for example, the brush-on Sennelier Pastel Fixative was more successful at preventing smudging and gave a glossier finish than it’s aerosol equivalent. Even when using a fixative, we recommend using glassine paper to further protect your artwork, as fixative may leave some areas un-set. Colour can be applied directly to the support and diluted with turpentine or mineral spirits for painterly blending effects. Oil pastels are also ideal for adding highlights and reinforcing details on dry oil and acrylic paintings. Because they remain movable they make an unstable base for subsequent layers, however, when oil pastels are used underneath watercolour or dilute acrylic, the pastels’ waxy binder will act as a resist. Adding details or highlights to a watercolour painting, you can be confident that the mark will remain visible in subsequent washes and the colour will remain strong and bright. Similarly to oil pastels, oil sticks can be used for resist techniques but it is important to work on a substrate that will work with your chosen materials, i.e absorbent enough for watercolour yet able to withstand applications of oil without being prone to rotting over time. An acrylic-based watercolour ground would work well for this.

considerably cheaper than oil sticks because they’re smaller—an advantage for artists who enjoy having a wide range of colours. As well as single pastels, there are many sets to choose from which are either a general assortment of colours, or assembled in thematic sets, such as landscapes or portraits. Oil pastels and oil sticks can each be used for their particular qualities. An artist who enjoys the immediacy of oil pastels but wants the finished artwork to have the permanence of an oil painting might find that oil sticks are a rewarding alternative. For oil painters, oil sticks offer a gestural, hands-on approach to traditional oil painting. However, there are considerations which must be taken into account when mixing them with other media. Oil pastels can be used more freely without as many limitations and they make a versatile addition to the toolkit of any artist. R&F Pigment Sticks are available in 38 ml and 100 ml priced between £7.50—£48.00. Sennelier Oil Sticks are available in 38 ml and 96 ml priced between £5.30—11.30. Sennelier Oil Pastels are available in regular size priced at £1.80 and large size priced at £11.70. All available at

Oil sticks are measured in millilitres and priced according to series numbers, just like traditional oil paints. Some sets are available from R&F and Sennelier, but you may choose to purchase colours individually to match your particular palette. Individual oil pastels are



M O LT E N C O L O U R R&F ENCAUSTIC WA X Encaustic paint is a combination of beeswax, dammar resin and pigment. The paint is solid at room temperature, so it must be melted on a heated palette before it can be applied. Once on the support, it cools and hardens, and a heat tool is used to ensure that each layer is fused to the last. The technique of painting with molten wax was first recorded over 2000 years ago. The most wellknown examples of the medium are Roman funerary portraits from 100300 AD. Some of these paintings can be seen at the British Museum in London and the vibrancy of the paint is a testament to the longevity of the medium. The remarkably lifelike rendering of skin and hair shows the use of transparent glazing techniques in encaustic painting, long before they were used in the 15th Century in oil painting. Over the centuries, encaustic was superseded by other painting techniques, but the availability of electronically heated

palettes in the 20th Century has led to a revival of the medium. Reading about the history of encaustic painting, emphasises its intriguing, temperature sensitivity, that sets it apart from other mediums. Trying out encaustic painting as a beginner allows one to discover what it has to offer. Encaustic wax R&F Encaustic Wax Cakes are available in small (40 ml), medium (104 ml) and large (333 ml) sizes. At room temperature, these blocks feel like hard cheese. Just like other professional quality paints, they vary in transparency and tinting strength, depending on the nature of the pigment. Painting supports Encaustic paints require a rigid and absorbent surface, to ensure that the paint adheres properly. It is not suitable for applying on stretched canvas because the paint is likely to crack on the flexible surface, and the weight of the wax could make

the canvas sink in the middle. A wooden panel is a great surface to use: encaustic paint can be applied directly onto raw wood, but an absorbent gesso can also be applied. R&F produce an encaustic gesso which is ready to use and can be applied like any other acrylic gesso primer, but differs in that it contains a lower proportion of binder in order to make it absorbent, unlike most acrylic primers that are not absorbent enough for the wax to adhere effectively. Alternatively, you can make traditional gesso with rabbit skin glue and whiting which is also suitable. We used Iceflow Encaustic Card and Ampersand Encausticbord, to demonstrate encaustic painting. Both surfaces were ready to paint on immediately, without prior preparation. The encaustic card is very smooth and a bright white, while Encausticbord is more a more natural white colour with a slightly textured surface, similar to Ampersand Gessobord panels.


The wax colours tend to spread gradually across the palette, sometimes bleeding together unintentionally, but dippers are very useful for keeping the colours separate when required. The smell of hot wax and resin is quite strong, but quite pleasant, and could be preferable to the more potent smell of turps or white spirit. That said, it’s crucial to keep your working area ventilated while working, as the released fumes of encaustic paints, when concentrated, may cause headaches and irritation. Oil solvents are unnecessary when painting or during clean up, instead, soy wax is used to clean brushes and surfaces after a painting session.

Heated palette Because R&F wax cakes have a melting point of 72°C, we used a hot plate, with an adjustable temperature dial, and an aluminium panel on top as a heated palette. Metal dippers can be clipped onto the palette to create contained areas for keeping some colours separate. Heat gun Heat guns are hand-held and are used to fuse each layer to the one before, as well as for reheating the paint while it is on the surface. This allows the paint to be manipulated by a brush or a palette knife. Brushes It is important to use natural hair brushes with encaustic, as synthetic filaments may melt. Hog brushes are


particularly good for encaustic work: we used Jackson’s Black Hog Bristle brushes for this test. Softer natural hairs, like sable and squirrel, are unsuitable for this kind of painting, as the hairs are too delicate. Palette knife A palette knife can be useful to control the paint on the heated palette, as well as for creating sgraffito marks—a technique where one layer is scratched, or scraped through, to reveal the layer underneath. In practice When preparing the paints, there is an appealing immediacy to pressing the wax cakes directly on to the aluminium palette and letting them melt into ready to use, puddles of colour.

The paint cools and hardens almost as soon as it touches the support, this can allow for only very short brush strokes. If you paint in a very fluid manner, you may find it initially jarring to use a medium that moves so quickly between liquid and solid. A heat gun is an essential tool for extending the liquid working time of the paint, as well as ensuring the adhesion of the wax to the previous layer. Holding the heat tool in one hand, and a paintbrush in the other, allows you to brush out the paint and blend colours together. After adding a few layers of paint, the subsequent layers will remain liquid for longer— presumably because the heat tool has warmed the support. The fast cooling of the paint can lead to the brushes’ bristles getting gummed up within seconds. It is essential to wipe the excess wax from the brushes with a cloth, while it is still liquid, and then to leave the head of the brush resting on top of the palette so it stays malleable during the painting session. Even when the paint has solidified on the support, it remains workable. Encaustic painting gives a new meaning to the idea of painting “sculpturally”—you can work in relief, by building up layers of



thick texture without the worry of previous layers being disturbed. Additionally, you can literally sculpt the paint as a solid material, by drawing through it and scraping it away. Equally, while the paint is on the support, you can continue to re-heat and liquify the paint to blend and create textural effects. You might imagine that the repetitive cooling and reheating of the paint might affect the overall longevity of a painting, however, R&F say that re-heating their encaustic paint numerous times has no adverse effect. Any solid wax that is scraped off the surface of the painting can be put back onto the palette, to be melted and used again. The finish of the paint is like a satin enamel with no colour shift from liquid to solid. Any painter who loves a rich application of colour will find encaustic satisfying to work with. After the painting is finished, it can be buffed with a soft cloth that will give it a shiny finish and enhance the colours.

Encaustic paintings cure over time, rather than drying in the way that acrylic or other water-based media do. This is due to the addition of dammar resin that makes the paint harder and more resilient over time. Varnishing is unnecessary, as encaustic contains beeswax which is highly water-resistant and is often used to varnish oil paintings. Because of this, encaustic is a very stable and long-lasting medium. Encaustic paint will melt at temperatures of 72°C and above, but it will remain solid in normal storage or exhibition conditions, just avoid storing paintings in hot areas. Equally, avoid freezing temperatures which could cause the paint to crack. Encaustic paint does not have oil paint’s tendency to yellow with age. However, like linseed oil, beeswax is photoreactive which means it may go yellow when kept in the dark for long periods of time. The reaction is reversible and the colours will be restored to their original brilliance when the painting is exposed to natural light.

There are many possibilities for adding mixed-media elements to encaustic painting: collage and photo transfers can be incorporated into the paint. Oil colour, whether brushed on from the tube or drawn on with an oil stick, can also be applied on top of the painting. The unique sensitivity and physicality of wax is unlike any other medium, having surprisingly little in common with acrylic and oil painting. Encaustic painting can really come into its own in abstract and textural work, where the artist is intuitively led by the changing nature of the paint itself, adapting as the paint moves between liquid and solid. There is something wonderful about discovering a historical medium and recognising its relevance to contemporary approaches to painting. R&F Encaustic Wax Paints are available in 40 ml, 104 ml and 333 ml at priced between £10.80—£63.00.



FROM FIELD TO STUDIO C O AT E S W I L L O W C H A R C O A L Coates Charcoal is based at Meare Green Court, in the charming rural village of Stoke St Gregory, just outside of Taunton, in the South West of England. It is the site of one of the world’s biggest producers of willow charcoal, however, it

could be easily mistaken for just a pretty tourist destination— there is a cluster of coffee shops, art and gift boutiques, and a discreet visitor centre that houses a willow museum. The shop inside sells intricately woven willow fences, baskets

and outdoor furniture. Behind the quaint facade lies a willow charcoal production line, steeped in 200 years of history, run on the enthusiasm of its team and the ingenious purpose made machinery they invented along the way.



Anne Coate, who married Chris Coate in 1965 has dedicated her working life to the growing, harvesting, and use of willow, be it for charcoal or basketmaking. She showed the Jackson’s team, who visited Coates, a treasured photo album which documented their lives on the farm and explained the Coates Charcoal history. The Coate family have been growing willow commercially since 1819, and to begin with, the demand for willow was solely for the purposes of basketmaking. However, in the 20th century, the demand for willow baskets began to wane because plastic started taking over. The Coate family faced a challenge: they would need to diversify if their farming of willow was to continue. Then in the 1960s, the idea of producing artist charcoal came to fruition. It all started one morning in 1967,

when Percy Coate found that a piece of charred willow, used to light the previous evening’s open fire, was capable of drawing lines and marks. Inspiration struck. He decided to pursue this idea, gradually solving problems at every stage of production and refining a process of artist charcoal manufacture that continues to this day. Growing Chris Coate, the 77 year old son of Percy, still works in the nearby willow fields. In these fields, three types of willow are grown: Salix viminalis and a native species hybrid, both used to create artist charcoal, and Salix triandra (commonly known as black maul), for basket making. The willow is planted in sets that take between two to three years to become established, and commercially

viable, as beds. Once planted, the sets produce initially only a few willow rods, maybe two-four, but once matured, a set forms a stump that will yield 10-20 willow rods for each annual harvest. The growing season of these willow rods is from May to September, after which they’ll be harvested, leaving the stump in the ground. The following spring, this stump will produce new willow rods, ready to be harvested in the winter, and so on for up to 30 years. The annually produced rods grow to 8 ft during their growing season and have a single ring in their cross section—this remains visible in each charcoal stick. Willow fields that are left for two years tend to reach a glorious 12 ft. The willow from these fields is used for thicker charcoal, as well as hurdle uprights and furniture legs.



The ground on which they are grown is situated on the Somerset Levels and is relatively wet, so it is rare that the willows need watering with anything other than rainfall. Cattle are brought to the withy beds to eat the weeds and early growth that could be damaged by a late frost. The process of harvesting the crops was once carried out by hand, but since the late 80s, the rods have been harvested with the use of a cutting machine which not only cuts rods, but also bundles them. Harvesting takes place in mid-November when the plants have stopped growing and are dormant, and leaves have started to drop from the rods. These leaves provide nutrients to the soil, so this means that artificial fertilisers are unnecessary for the willow beds. Once the bundles are transported back to Meare Green Court (just three minutes drive away) they are dried in the sun before being stacked in the store shed. Grading The willow then needs to be graded by length. This is done by hand, with the aid of a very long ruler fixed to the wall, and a 3 ft deep sunken barrel in the floor. John will take a bundle and place it into the barrel, and measure the length against the ruler on the wall (unfortunately John is not 8 ft tall which is why the 3 ft sunken barrel is a necessity). Using this system he is able to quickly sort rods of a similar length, arrange them in piles and tie them into “wads�, ready to be boiled.This method of grading has been in use for over 200 years. Boiling Only willow stripped of its bark is suitable for charcoal production, and the easiest way to remove the bark is to boil the willow first. Approximately 150 wads at a time are packed into a crate and


lowered into a vat of boiling water, where they will boil for 10 hours. The water is heated with a combination of oil and biomass fuel. Stripping and drying The bark is then stripped, with the aid of a couple of very noisy, but very efficient stripping, machines which use friction to remove the bark. The stripped willow rods then need to be put back out in the sun again to dry, in order to prevent mould forming.


When the weather isn’t too good, it is necessary to dry the rods in a drying shed, which again is heated with biomass. Once the willow is dry, it can be used for basket making or charcoal. Turning the stripped rods into Charcoal The rods are then sawn into regular lengths, graded into sizes mechanically, apart from the very small or very large sizes which are

graded by hand, and packed tightly into tins, by the hands of a very dedicated team. Firing The sticks are hammered into place in their firing tins, as it is imperative to get rid of as much space for air as possible. This prevents any combustion during heating, which would cause the sticks to burn to ash. Once all the sticks are in the tin, it is topped up with sand, to fill in



any gaps. The lid is put on and sealed with plasticine before the tin goes into a firing kiln for 10 hours. The process of firing is a sensitive, tried and tested one, with gradual rises in temperature and intermittent cooling. With decades of production experience, the optimum firing has been worked out to achieve a consistently smooth quality in each stick that is capable of creating expressive black marks. Packaging Once firing is completed, the sticks of charcoal are packaged in their sets

by hand and sent out to retailers and art materials re-sellers. Any sticks that fall short of quality—that are too short or brittle, or have any irregularities—are ground down to charcoal powder. Understanding Coates really shows the artistry and care behind their willow charcoal production. It is awe-inspiring that centuries of working tradition is still being put into practice, following a process that minimises waste, maximises fuel efficiency, and is conducted by a team of workers that take pride in every stage. So when you’re

next sat at an easel with a stick of willow charcoal in your hand, take a moment to consider the history, craftsmanship and purity of the material, with which you are about to make your mark. Coates Willow Charcoal is available at in boxes of 1, 4, 12 and 25, in varying thicknesses, priced between £1.70—£4.20.


A NEW DIMENSION NITRAM LIQUID CHARCOAL Charcoal is one of the oldest drawing materials. The earliest recorded examples of its use are cave paintings in Namibia, South West Africa. These are around 25,000 years old. Thanks to its immediacy and versatility, the appeal of charcoal has endured. Nitram Liquid Charcoal combines extra-fine powdered charcoal with a gum arabic binder.

Before putting brush to paper, we put together a list of dry charcoal’s qualities: Sensitive and interactive, it is great for bold, expressive drawing as well as delicate studies. It is easily manipulated and blended on the page, but it requires a fixative to stabilise it. It’s possible to achieve a wide range of tonal values.


To what extent does Nitram’s Liquid Charcoal share these attributes, and what other possibilities does it offer? For the first application, we squeezed some charcoal paint directly onto cold-pressed watercolour paper, loaded a squirrel mop with water and brushed out the paint. The first noticeable thing was the range of tones that were created with one continuous brush stroke. At its darkest points, it was warm velvety black and at its

lightest points a smokey, light grey. The deepest tone, where the paint was only minimally diluted, was as dark as a hard willow charcoal mark. It compared favourably with dry charcoal in the range of tones it could achieve, lending itself to the dramatic contrasts of light and dark which are so characteristic of charcoal drawings. It dried quickly to a matt finish with areas of varying texture and granulation. Because it has gum arabic as its binder, Liquid Charcoal is essentially a watercolour paint that has charcoal as its pigment. In watercolour painting, granulation is an effect that occurs when the pigment particles settle unevenly. As a general rule, pigments with smaller particles tend to cover the surface more consistently, whereas large or irregular pigment particles will gather in certain areas more than others. Powdered Nitram Charcoal has a particle size of 100 microns, which is large compared to other pigment particles that generally range from 50-0.05 microns. This gives Liquid Charcoal a textural graininess: an effect that can be enhanced by using rough paper and more water. Is it workable when it’s dry? One of the most characteristic properties of charcoal sticks is that, before a fixative is applied, the marks aren’t firmly adhered to the surface. This makes the medium workable, allowing for corrections to be made with an eraser, or blended out with a finger. Nitram say that the Liquid Charcoal is workable ‘wet or dry’, a claim which suggests that it shares dry charcoal’s malleability. We found this claim to be partly true. The gum arabic binder in Liquid Charcoal stabilised the paint in areas where it was darker and less dilute. These areas were difficult to erase with a putty rubber and they did not blend out when rubbed with a finger. However, in lighter areas where the paint was thin, and the

binder was less strong, the paint could be smudged and easily erased with a putty rubber. For this reason, we would suggest fixing finished work. For fixing work, Nitram advise a general purpose fixative, such as Lascaux Fixative Spray.

work the paint after it’s dry which is one of the main appealing attributes of this product. If you want to use charcoal paint in an impasto matter, you could make your own with powdered charcoal and an acrylic medium.

Gum arabic is a re-soluble medium, so when Liquid Charcoal is dry it can be reactivated with water. It was much easier to manipulate the paint by re-wetting it, than by using a putty rubber or a blending tool on the dry paint. The charcoal did not stain the paper, so after wetting the dry paint it could be lifted off the page with a tissue to create a glowing highlight. Also, we found that a damp brush was the best way to blend the marks, rather than smudging them.

Where painting and drawing meet

Suitable surfaces for Nitram Liquid Charcoal Gum arabic based paints require a porous support. If the ground is not absorbent enough, the paint will not adhere properly, leaving it brittle and liable to flake off. Watercolour paper is prepared specifically for the ideal absorption for watercolour, so it makes a great surface for Liquid Charcoal. It’s worth stretching it before use to avoid buckling, especially if you use a lot of water. If you wish to use a panel or a canvas, the surface will need to be prepared appropriately with a watercolour ground. These are acrylic based yet formulated to be porous enough for watercolour. Nitram recommends that the Liquid Charcoal can be used straight out of the tube and manipulated with a palette knife which suggests that it is suitable for impasto applications. However, gum arabic based paints have a tendency to crack if applied thickly on a flexible support. Our tests on paper confirmed this so be aware that you may need to add an acrylic medium to increase flexibility. However, bear in mind that the addition of an acrylic medium will mean that you are no longer able to move or re-

Charcoal’s different properties are partially due to its gum arabic base that allows it to be used as a paint as well as a drawing material. It can be used to create textural effects within watercolour painting, whether for monochrome studies or for describing a dramatic sky. It is compatible with watercolour mediums, and can be mixed with tubed watercolours to create tinted neutral colours with highly granulating properties. For artists who draw, washes of Liquid Charcoal can be laid down at the start of a drawing to establish the composition, or tonal values, before working over the top with a charcoal stick. Equally, it can be used alongside dry charcoal to vary the quality of your mark-making, or for covering large areas—the size of the mark is as big as your largest brush. This is an innovative approach to a long-established medium that will give a whole new dimension to many charcoal drawings, and perhaps a few watercolours too. Nitram Liquid Charcoal is available in 50 ml priced at £21.50.



A F A M I LY M AT T E R : H A N D C R A F T I N G B R U S H E S Brush making is a fascinating tradition that has been going on for centuries. Craig, one of the brushmakers at A.S.Handover Ltd, explains how he came to be a brush maker and what goes into handcrafting a brush. My entry to brushmaking was simple; my mum worked wiring specialist mop brushes. I went round with the dog to meet her from work

one day and got dragged in. A man with a French accent was showing me all these things about how to make a brush and at the end he simply said ‘you come back in the morning’.

The French man was the founder’s son-in-law and you can read all about the business in the history section of Handover’s website.

My first day was the 2nd of February 1987 and I was only 17. My youngest son, Thomas, works here now, so he’s the third generation brushmaker in the family.



Handcrafting a chisel kolinsky sable brush in a ferrule First of all, I select the hair and get it to the correct approximate weight for that particular brush. The weight will be adjusted for each brush as I work. The hair is then combed through on the back (blunt end), primarily to straighten it, but also to remove any short hairs. Next, the hair is placed, always point down, into a metal cannon (so-called because originally, they were made from empty shell casings) and tapped until all the points are level, on a hard surface. The hair is removed and combed through again, on the pointed end to remove short hairs. A sharp knife is then used to remove any blunt or turned hairs, so that all we have are the pointed tips.

The hair is once again straightened with the comb, returned to the cannon and tapped down.

set with adhesive. This completes the making of the head for a kolinsky sable brush in a ferrule.

This process is repeated until all the blunt hairs have been removed: this is called dressing the hair.

Additional steps for a quill sable brush

The dressed hair is laid on a work bench and then the right amount to make the brush is picked up, which can be done by sight. The hair is carefully fitted into the ferrule, making sure the fit is right. It is then tapped again in the cannon, to ensure all the tips are level. The right hand is given a soft tap onto the left and this will bring the hair through. Finally, I pull the hair out to the correct length and check the chisel edge for sharpness and straightness. For a point, the brush is wetted and checked for blunt or stray hairs as well as being measured to the correct length. If all is well, it can be

I pull the hair through the ferrule to just beyond the correct length and then tie off a brushmaker’s knot (shoemakers’ thread was traditionally used and I still do use it). A second tie is placed a few millimetres further along and, once again, I check for a chisel edge/straightness. After this, the head will be set in an epoxy resin and once it is dry, it will be set in a quill of an appropriate size, with the same length of hair out as the equivalent brush with a ferrule.



THE DEVELOPMENT OF SYNTHETIC BRUSHES The use of animal hair in artist brushes has developed over many centuries and, over time, the industry has learnt what hairs are best for each specific application of colour. The use of synthetic filaments started in earnest during the 1970s and is now the most commonly used brush hair. The first synthetic filaments for brushmaking were developed by Dupont in the USA during the 1950s, mainly for the decorating industry. Their development was given urgent impetus by the USA banning the import of Chinese bristle. The primary filament used was nylon (brand name, Tynex) that was extruded, mechanically tapered, and then tipped and flagged to resemble pig bristle. Today this filament is still widely used for paintbrushes. But for artist and cosmetic brushes, this filament is not a good alternative to natural hair, as it is too stiff and has no fine tips.

(polybutylene therephthalate) is the most widely used for artist brushes and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) for paintbrushes. It is also possible to mix the two raw granules together. PET is much cheaper than PBT. Over the past few years, the industry has become heavily involved with the use of synthetics, as many customers feel synthetics are more hygienic than animal hair, and more ethically acceptable. Artist brushes need to be able to apply a spectrum of media, from very wet to quite dry mediums which has led to difficulties replicating animal hair. We are now able to add many features to synthetics (different diameters, taper ratios, crimps, hollows etc) which means it’s now far easier to replicate animal hairs. However, animal hairs have certain attributes that still make it problematic to totally replicate them.

The real holy grail is trying to replicate kolinsky sable that has unique characteristics which make it the best hair for use in fine artist brushes. An artist is looking for various facets in a brush: a fine point; retention of the point; paint/water holding and release; strength/snap; durability and control. Kolinsky is the only hair that manages to do all this well, due to the unique structure of the hair. It has very fine cuticles along the follicle which control the pick-up and release of paint. It also possesses a belly, meaning the hair is thin at both the root and tip end. So, when the hair is put into a brush ferrule, the belly sits in the middle, this gives the required strength/snap. It is now possible to create synthetics with scales on it but to date, nothing matches pure kolinsky. In many brush catalogues, you will see synthetic replacements for many types of hair, such as

The breakthrough for the artist brush market started in the 1970s, when Dupont found a way of chemically tapering polyester filaments. But, as the market was seen as being too small for them, Dupont sold the patent to Toray Industries of Japan. Toray developed the process with input from Japanese brush companies, notably Takamoto (who used their brand name, Taklon). The only other company to produce chemically tapered filaments at that time was Teijin. Because their filament was slightly different, it didn’t infringe on Toray’s patent rights. During the ‘80s, Toray licensed the patent to a Korean company, Kolon, but, once the patent expired in the ‘90s, many other firms started production. There are various types of polyester filament but PBT

Scaling of Kolinsky hair


X Section of Kolinsky hair

mongoose, badger, squirrel hog bristle etc—all these replacements are made using similar polyester filaments, but are adjusted to resemble the animal hair. So, for example, a mongoose imitation hair is dyed five to six times, to resemble the colour, and a thicker diameter is used to resemble the

hair’s strength. Heavier gauges of synthetic brushes are able to replicate the hollow core that natural mongoose hair has. This acts as a well for the paint, but it is harder to reproduce this hollow in lighter gauges. Another item that is not straightforward to imitate is hog bristle.

The best type of hog bristle comes from South West China and is known as Chungking. It is very stiff with fine flags, that make it perfect for oil painting. In order to replicate the bristle, a heavy gauge fibre is required and then it needs to be either ground, or mechanically tipped, to split the ends open. Squirrel hair is the softest of all hairs used, and the challenge for filament producers is to extrude an as-fine-as-possible filament that still has enough strength to make a brush. A very light wave is added to the extrusion, and anti-static agents are added to stop the fine filament from splaying. This creates a very suitable alternative to squirrel.

Nylon flags and tips after mechanical processing


Natural hairs are becoming more and more expensive as suppliers are becoming scarcer, meaning more artists are moving towards using synthetics. As this happens, the investment in the technology that is developing synthetic replicas is increasing. This means the quality of synthetics is only going to get even better in the coming years.

V E G A N W AT E R C O L O U R B R U S H E S R E C O M M E N D AT I O N S F R O M A B O TA N I C A L A R T I S T Sandrine Maugy on animalfriendly brushes Like their real fur counterparts, synthetic brushes come in a variety of styles and cater for all artists— from soft touch painters to those who prefer a stiffer brush. The quality of synthetic bristles is now just as good as those of real sables and actually have a wider range of texture and spring. Soft vegan watercolour brushes If you like a very soft brush that caresses the paper, you could try the Da Vinci Casaneo Series 5598, Jackson’s Studio Synthetic Series 505, Jackson’s Raven sries 528 or Escoda Versatil. Jackson’s Raven brush is a synthetic squirrel brush with soft bristles. It is absorbent and carries a lot of water and paint, making it perfect for looser wet-in-wet washes and thin glazes. Another stunning one is the Princeton Neptune. When I first tried it, I thought that there had been a mistake, and that I had been sent a natural hair paintbrush, instead of a synthetic. If you are a

fan of translucent glazes, the Neptune will float above the previous washes without lifting them in the slightest. I found when painting leaves with the Princeton synthetic squirrel that the soft bristles slightly teased the ink lines and blended them, without erasing them. Medium texture vegan watercolour brushes with a good spring If you prefer a medium texture brush with a good spring, ProArte Prolene Plus Series 007 is a great brush to try. It is well balanced in the hand and responds well to gentle pushes, bouncing back in shape, while giving you control in wet-inwet washes. The Da Vinci Cosmotop and Jackson’s Onyx are also springy without being scratchy providing a similar effect. Strong, stiffer vegan watercolour brushes If you like a strong, stiffer brush, that can lift washes and gives more control, the Da Vinci Nova and Jackson’s Artica Toray have firm and less absorbent bristles.

If you are partial to a quill brush, try a Da Vinci Casaneo 498 or Da Vinci Spin Synthetics 488. Miniature vegan brushes For the miniature painter, Princeton have created the mini-detailer Series 3050 R, a lovely brush with a shorter handle and a long pointed head, that goes down to size 20/0. By trying out these different brushes, you should be able to make an animal-friendly brush kit for your watercolour practice, or you could just choose to swap out some natural hairs with more durable synthetics. Sandrine Maugy Sandrine Maugy is a well known botanical painter and a regular contributor of articles to the Artists & Illustrators magazine. She has also published a fully illustrated botanical painting book on advanced colourmixing theory and painting wet-inwet with watercolour. All these brushes are available at



MOISTURISING BRUSH CARE JACKSON’S MARSEILLE SOAP PELLETS Jackson’s Marseille Soap is made with pure vegetable oils. It is very useful for artists, and it also has a rich and interesting history that places it as a traditional, practical soap. Marseille soap, also known as Savon de Marseille, started being produced in the Marseille area of France, around 600 years ago. It was created, thanks to the abundance of suitable materials in the vicinity: olive oil from the Alpilles; sea water from the Mediterranean sea; coconut and palm oils imported into the Marseille port, from countries colonised by the French. The original soap was made by mixing seawater, vegetable oils (olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil), and alkaline ash from seaweed, into a large pot that on average could contain eight tons. This would be heated for several days, while being constantly stirred, and then poured into moulds to set. Our soap flakes are made from palm oil, coconut oil and soya oil using methods similar to those from hundreds of years ago. But, ours is allowed to flake and is properly dried and dehydrated, so the end result is lighter, more versatile, and has a whiter colour than the old fashioned green Marseille soap. When first created, Marseille soap was developed as a clean alternative

to old animal soaps and as a form of convenient cleaning. It became less popular for general household use when petroleum based soaps came into production, but it is now desirable because of it’s gentle treatment of hands and brushes, as well as its lack of toxicity and vegan friendly content. This soap, known for its purity and high quality, is naturally colour and scent free, biodegradable, phosphate free and poses no danger to the water table or environment, when it’s disposed of. Most importantly for the artist, it not only effectively cleans paint off brushes but also moisturises natural hair brushes. The oils it is made with gently condition brush hairs, so the brushes will last for longer and maintain their softness. These oils also restore natural fats to your skin, so instead of brush washing leading to cracked hands and palms, your skin will be lightly moisturised. The soap pellets resemble “hundreds and thousands” and are often referred to as soap flakes, soap needles, or soap pellets. You need to add water to the flakes to render them usable because they are solid soap and not soap powder. The benefits of this are that you can adjust the consistency, and the amount of soap, to meet your needs. Adjusting the temperature of the

water you add will also change the soap’s characteristics. Mixing a 1:1 ratio of soap pellets to water will give you a creamy gel that is great for brush cleaning. If you make up a cm or two in a jam jar it’s about the right amount to clean a batch of brushes—that’s a tablespoon scoop of soap and the same amount of hot water. You can also sprinkle a few pellets into your hand, rub a wet brush over them and work them in to a lather. That way, if you’re only using a few brushes at a time, a tiny pinch can be enough to clean a brush or two. Use medium to hot water to dissolve the pellets within a few minutes with only a small amount of stirring. Modern, abrasive, petroleum based soaps or washing up liquid, can damage your brush hairs and make them more brittle over prolonged use. Marseille soap acts as a brush soap and helps return your brush bristles to their original state. Since you just need a spoonful of Marseille soap with water to create a brush cleaning jelly for several brushes, a bucket of soap pellets will go a long way. It doubles up as a fantastic hand soap, is long-lasting, stores easily, and is free of any animal derived ingredients. Jackson’s Marseille Soap pellets are available at in 1 kg priced at £10.10.


L I G H T FA S T B L AC K S U R FAC E STONEHENGE AQUA BL ACK PAPER Papermaker heavyweights, Legion, have rolled out an exciting new addition to their range of watercolour papers: Stonehenge Aqua Black. This 100% cotton paper, produced exclusively in 300 gsm, is a hard-wearing watercolour surface. Coldpressed, with a medium-rough surface texture, the paper is the same quality on each side and is acid, chlorine, OBA (Optical Brightening Agent) and lignin free. This archivally sound watercolour paper provides a mirror world of possibilities, when painting light and shadow, using water-based materials. Because it is a dense, cotton paper, with a fairly hard size, Stonehenge Aqua Black has an exceptionally short bleed. This allows for superb

74 | S U R F A C E

control of almost every water-based medium, whether applied straight from the tube or diluted in a wash. When painting on a black surface, the surface itself will most likely be the darkest tonal value of your image, so you need to work in reverse to achieve a depth of tone—drawing out areas of light and building up layers from the dark. Due to the restrained bleed of Stonehenge Aqua Black, and the blending control this allows, tonal values can be obtained by layering varying dilutions of paint, without them bleeding into one another. As it has a medium-rough texture and hard size, the paper has the right level of absorbency for wet media, so it can take washes while keeping pigment on the surface. This feature is very important with a black paper, as it can often absorb lighter

colours so much that they disappear. We found the paper’s absorbency was suitable across the variety of mediums we tested. Stonehenge Aqua Black comes as a pad or sheets, rather than as a pre-stretched block. While it claims to be buckle-resistant, it is prone to very slight warping with the addition of water, when using gouache, watercolour paint, and watercolour pencil. That being said, it eventually dries to a relatively flat state, similar to that of other 300 gsm watercolour papers. Therefore, you may still want to stretch your paper before you begin painting. Samples that were left in water overnight remained black, and were able to withstand scrubbing without wearing away. It would take excessive scrubbing for this paper to deteriorate.


Jackson’s Studio Acrylic Silver 972 This was one of the most satisfying mediums to apply to the paper. Because it was so easy to control, several layers of paint could be built up and, by diluting it with plenty of water, a wide range of tonal values were produced. There was a small amount of buckling in the paper while working, but this flattened out once it dried. The vibrancy of the silver colour remained bright and reflective, both wet and dry. Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache - Silver This was another excellent medium to work with on Stonehenge Aqua Black as it was easy to control and had an equal metallic luminescence as the acrylic. The gouache, when built up in dense layers, resembled hammered silver on the texture of the paper, or applied sparingly as a wash, appeared like distant stars. Once dried, it could be almost completely lifted from the paper and there was no sign of warping or buckling whatsoever. Finetec Coliro: Mica Watercolour Paint - Moon Gold and Tibet Gold from the Vintage Pearlcolours Collection With the addition of a little water, these paints burst to life, sparkling in pools in the valleyed grooves of the


pan. While they are a little less easy to control than the acrylic or gouache, they handled well on the paper and had an exceptional amount of lift. Many layers could be applied without damaging the paper, though it warped slightly upon drying. Stonehenge Aqua Black seems made for metallic watercolours of this kind—the bright sheen of the paint remains just as strong when dry, and is further accentuated by the matt black of the paper which appears even darker by contrast. Uni Posca Marker Pen - Silver 26 (bullet shaped 0.7 mm) and White 1 - (pin type 0.7 mm) Using these pens on black watercolour paper felt definitive, as it was harder to conceal your marks and impossible to lift them back off the paper with water. The ink sat on the surface and lines remained sharp and clear, without bleed. Occasionally, and unpredictably, the friction between the semi-rough texture of the paper and the plastic pen tip caused the nib to scratch, splatter, and spit out ink. Jackson’s Artist Watercolour Chinese White 471 Applying watercolour paint thickly, was the most effective way to avoid it absorbing into the paper too much. On the Stonehenge Aqua Black, the paint dried to a ghostly pale blue, rather than a white. Unlike

the metallics, the watercolour paint dried unpredictably, with irregular pooling in the texture of the surface, and some slight warping in the paper. The combination of the paper’s dry rough textured finish and the various colour shifts, meant the results of the watercolour paint were harder to predict, but were full of potential for experimentation. Derwent watercolour pencil Cloud Grey 22 and White 24 Applying the watercolour pencils with a light pressure, prevented them from rubbing the texture of the paper flat, so it retained it’s shape, texture, and absorption qualities. The pigment remained visible when wet, and after absorbing into the paper had a full coverage. The watercolour pencil dried to a matt finish, and it was harder to lift back to the original black tone of the paper, without leaving grey smoky patches. Stonehedge Aqua Black Paper is available at in pads priced between £1.30—£24.50.

SU RFACE | 7 7

H O W C A N VA S C A M E T O B E Canvas has been used for fine art painting since the Renaissance. It replaced wood panels when it was discovered that stretching material over a wooden frame made for a much more portable painting support. They are lighter and it is possible to remove work from the frame and roll it up.


The first artist canvases were made from high quality Venetian hemp sailcloth, and the word “canvas” derives from the word “cannabis” referring to hemp. Linen possesses an elasticity, thanks to the natural linseed oil found in the fibres of the material, and soon became another popular material from which to make canvas. In the early 19th Century, as hemp production declined, cotton production

increased, and soon cotton became a less expensive alternative to linen for artist canvas. It appealed because it is easy to stretch, and when it is sized and primed properly, it can last hundreds of years. The appeal of painting on canvas endures today, thanks to the “spring” it gives, as well as the colour enhancing qualities of the weave which helps to bring out the texture of brushmarks.

The Alu-Pro range

W H AT M A K E S A Q U A L I T Y S T R E T C H E D C A N VA S Stretcher Bars Stretcher bars have a bevelled edge on them, so that the canvas is raised away from the stretcher bar, preventing an imprint of the bar from showing through on the surface of your painting. All stretcher bars have pre-cut or moulded finger joins for easy assembly. This reinforces the structure and makes it resistant to warping or twisting. There are also sockets for wedges that can be used to maintain the optimum tension in your stretched canvas.

Our Professional range is made from PEFC Certified kiln-dried fir, in 18 mm, 21 mm and 43 mm depths. They are strong and reliable, although you may need a centre bar, when using the thinner bars on lengths over a metre. Our Museum range is made of triple laminated PEFC Certified kiln-dried pine wood, in 20 mm and 25 mm depths (up to 2 metres). This makes them even stronger and resistant to changes in humidity. Our Alu-Pro Range is made from aluminium reinforced wood,

From the left: Jackson’s 8 oz (primed), 10 oz (primed & unprimed), and 12 oz (primed & unprimed)

available in 25 mm and 45 mm depths. This range is the strongest and is available in 10 cm increments up to 200 cm. Because aluminium is resistant to warping, and changes in temperature or humidity, there is no risk of any variations in tension across the canvas over time. They are so sturdy that cross bars are optional at any size. If you need a size other than the standard sizes avaliable, all bars can be cut to bespoke lengths on request.

From the left: Belle Arti 586. 575, 564, 576


7 Belle Arti linen From the left – finest to jute: 535, 537, 533, 548, 536, 568, 581, 681, 565

Canvas Canvas is usually made from cotton or linen, but coarser weaves, such as hemp and jute can also be used and work especially well as a substrate for thicker applications of paint. Unprimed cotton is a cream colour. It is economical, but because it has shorter length fibres than linen, it is weaker and easier to rip. It is easy to stretch, but will retain more moisture from the atmosphere than linen. This moisture can slacken the canvas tension. Poly-cotton is a purpose-made canvas with a tighter weave, finer thread and overall, a smoother surface. Even the medium texture is finer than a regular cotton duck, and there is an ultra fine weave version that is as smooth as can be. The polyester in poly-cotton helps this fabric to stay taut for longer than a regular cotton.


Unprimed linen is usually a pale umber colour, and its longer fibres make it stronger than cotton. A thin linen can be just as strong as a thicker, heavyweight cotton, but with a more refined looking weave. However, it is stiffer which means it can be harder to achieve a uniform tension across a stretcher frame and this can lead to rippling along the edges of the canvas later. It is less likely, than cotton, to tear at the staple line or on a sharp outside edge of a stretcher bar. Ready-made linen canvases are a wise choice for those who wish to bypass the often tricky process of stretching linen. Linen is more costly than cotton because it takes many more steps to process the flax fibres, and because it is harder to weave into fabric as it is also less elastic. Comparing linens Artfix linen is made in France. It is made from the highest grade of flax which has been turn into a

very smooth, tightly spun yarn. As a result, the linen has a regular, tight weave and is very strong. If you paint, scrape, repaint, scratch back, impasto, scumble glaze, and are generally hard on your surfaces, then this French linen is a great choice, as it will survive rough treatment. However, because it is so tight, it can be difficult to stretch. Claessens, a Belgian linen, is made using small scale production and longstanding traditional sizing and priming methods. They apply two layers of size and two layers of primer (either oil or acrylic). Canvases up to 2.1 m wide are primed mechanically, but larger canvases are still primed by hand, using a palette knife, and in the case of oil primed, smoothed with a roller. It has a slightly irregular, characterful weave. The Belle Arti Italian linen is made with a coarser thread and a more irregular weave than both Claessens or Artfix. It is a characterful linen for

Unprimed linens From left – finest to roughest: 549, 60, 596, 40, 548, 90, 581

all painting approaches. Ultimately, the differences in these weaves will appeal to a range of preferences. Weight and weave Similarly to paper, canvas is measured in grams per square meter (gsm) or ounces per square yard (oz). Heavyweight linens will either be made of a thick, tough yarn, or a finer yarn that is more tightly woven. Lightweight linens have an open weave and, usually, a fine yarn; they are easier to stretch and are more responsive to tightening procedures. Finer textured linens are often preferred by those who paint fine details or incorporate subtle blending techniques in their work. Texture is not necessarily a guide to the weight of a canvas. You can have a lightweight canvas with a rough or medium texture, or a heavier weight canvas with an extra fine texture. Our 574 Italian universal primed linen is both lightweight and

very fine, but, because it is linen, it is strong enough to stretch tightly and it’s absorbency means it can take watercolour and inks.

to prevent the paint from sinking in, which could subdue your colours.


Primer is usually a white coating applied to a canvas. The white is usually made of titanium and chalk, blended into a clear acrylic binder (acrylic primer) or a blend of alkyd resin and linseed oil (oil primer). A smooth satin finish can be obtained by applying a thin layer, allowing it to dry and lightly sanding it back (outdoors, while wearing a dust mask), then applying another layer. Traditional gesso is another form of primer, made from rabbit skin glue and French chalk. Applying several thin layers will give you a smooth, absorbent surface that can also take watercolour or ink. Acrylic gesso aims to replicate these properties and dries with a slightly rougher surface than a regular acrylic primer.

Size is used to coat the natural fibres of an unprimed canvas, to protect them from the acidic properties of the linseed oil in oil paint, which would cause canvas to rot over time. Traditionally, rabbit skin glue was used for this purpose, but acrylic alternatives, such as applying a layer of clear acrylic medium, are now thought to provide a better sizing. This is because rabbit skin is hygroscopic (absorbs and “sweats out” moisture from the atmosphere) and swells and contracts as a result of changes to atmospheric temperatures or humidity—problems acrylic sizes avoid. There is no need to size a canvas for acrylic paint, but you might wish to if you want to paint on unprimed canvas but also want






5. 1.



7. 2.




11. 14.



STUDIO TOOLS 1. Jackson’s Blake Brush and Pencil Roll: £13.80 | 2. Jakar Crank Desk Top Pencil Sharpener: £26.00 | 3. Princeton Catalyst Blade Painting Tool, No. 6: £8.40 | 4. Princeton Catalyst Blade Painting Tool, No. 1: £9.40 | 5. Studio Essentials Airtight Brush Washer: £15.90 | 6. Jackson’s Round Soft Eraser: £0.95 | 7. Aristo Artist Drawing Broom: £9.60 | 8. RGM Extra Large Palette Knife, No.2: £10.80 | 9. Arteina Etching Tool Dry Point Box Set: £43.00 | 10. Da Vinci Professional Brush Soap: £11.30 11. Studio Essentials Glass Bottle: £2.70 | 12. Work Table Non-Slip Fabric: £4.00 | 13. Handover Genuine Agate Pestle and Mortar: £240.00 | 14. Japanese Soft Rubber Roller: £32.00 | 15. Jackson’s Glass Palette: £21.00


New Wave Expressionist Confidant Wood Palette: £48.00


Stephen Quiller Porcelain Palette: £79.00

Jackson’s Ceramic Palette Daisy: £7.70








9. 12.

16. 7.


3. 13.

1. 10.





GETTING THE BEST POINT C O M P A R I N G T H E C O M P AT I B I L I T Y O F S H A R P E N E R S A N D P E N C I L S A sharpener may seem like a simple tool, but which one you use can change the performance of your materials completely. When acquiring a sharpener, you need to consider the diameter of the pencils you want to use, the brittleness of their leads, whether you want a manual or electric sharpener, and what type of blade you prefer. Blade sharpeners are the most common as they have the standard recognisable blade. You may want to consider that higher quality blades will stay sharp for far longer and that non-plastic casing is less lightly to break, meaning your sharpener will have a longer life. Most simple blade sharpeners are available with reservoirs that will collect dust and shavings, to avoid them spilling out on to your workspace, your work, or even your bag.


Helical sharpeners are typically attached to a desktop. The pencil lead is held in place while a crank handle is used to turn a multibladed cylindrical cog against the lead. The pencil lead is ground to a point, rather than sliced against a single blade, as with the simple sharpeners. Electric sharpeners provide a quick, easy way of sharpening your tools and some also have auto stops that almost guarantee the right length of point. Pencils diameters typically correspond to their medium. Graphite pencils tend to have a diameter of 7 mm, or come in jumbo ranges that vary in diameter between 9-12 mm. Pastel pencils tend to be 7 mm in diameter sometimes going up to 8 mm. The diameters of coloured pencils vary between 8-9 mm. A few pencil ranges also have larger diameters going up to 15 mm.

The material you’re using also affects which sharpener you’d want to use. Pastel pencils, and some charcoal pencils, have much brittler leads, meaning you need a sharpener with a wider (or adjustable) angle, such as 45° for pastel pencils. These angles can create a shorter sharpened tip, less prone to breakage. These sharpeners can also work well with very soft graphite pencils, however, for a hard pencil you may want one that sharpens the lead quickly to a long point. The quality of the pencil’s wood will also affect the capacity to get a sharp point. Lower grades of wood may splinter, refuse to sharpen, or rather, be shaved away, regardless of the sharpener’s quality.





Jumbo Graphite Pencil (10 mm diameter)

Charcoal Pencil (8.5 mm diameter)

Pastel Pencil (7 mm diameter)

Water-Resistant Coloured Pencil (8 mm diameter)

Normal Sketching Pencil (8 mm diameter)

Great but very long point

Excellent very long, very sharp point

1. KUM The Masterpiece Metal Pencil Sharpener

8 mm

Quite blunt but did sharpen

2. JAS Single Pencil Sharpener

7 mm

Good – very long tip though

3. Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 Sharpener

15 mm

Only suitable for pencils with a 15mm diameter

4. KUM Single Plastic Jumbo Pencil Sharpener

12 mm


5. Brahman Design Brass Hovel Pencil Plane

Up to 22 mm

Bad - pencil and lead came off in chunks

6. KUM Double Plastic Sharpener

7 & 9 mm

7. Caran D’Ache Pencil Peeler for Pastel Pencils

Up to 22 mm

8. Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencil Sharpener

7 mm

9. KUM Double Metal Pencil Sharpener

7 & 9 mm

10. Jakar Trio 3 Way Pencil Sharpener

7, 9 & 12 mm

Only suitable for pencils with a 15mm diameter

Only suitable for pencils with a 15mm diameter

Only suitable for pencils with a 15mm diameter

Only used for Stabilo : Woody 3-in-1 Pencils

Surprisingly good considering size difference

Okay - the sharpener got slightly blocked

Okay - hard to get a sharp tip

Good – sharpens to a short tip Not great hard to get a consistent lead chunks pulled off

Good – very long tip though

Excellent easy to control

Excellent easy to control

Good - nice tip varieties

Great - really mallable

Great (use the smaller hole)


Excellent - easy to control

Good - hard to get a sharp point

Acceptable, but not brilliant


Acceptable, but not brilliant; it doesn’t quite fit

Good – short tip but very sharp

Good – short tip but very sharp


Good – sharpens to a long tip

Good – again, produces a long tip



Good but produces a very long tip

Very good – graphite holds long tip well, so no problems

11. Staedtler Pencil Sharpener Yellow, Black & Red

7 mm

12. KUM Glass Jar Metal Pencil Sharpener

8 mm

Good - bit too long a tip

Excellent - very sharp tip

Good - very sharp but slightly short tip

13. Derwent Manual Twin Sharpener with reservoir

7-8 mm

Good – sharpens to a dangerously long tip though


Very good

14. Faber Castell Dual Sharpener Box

7 & 9 mm



15. Caran d’Ache Plastic Desktop Crank Pencil Sharpener

7 mm

Good – very long tip though



16. Derwent Super Point Manual Helical Sharpener With Pinch Chuck

7-9 mm


Very good


Good – very long tip though



17. Jakar Automatic Battery Double Pencil Sharpener


Suitable for Pencil Diameter

6-8 & 9-12 mm

Not really but almost

Fine but don’t try to sharpen to a fine tip

18. Jakar Automatic Battery Pencil Sharpener

8 mm

Very good – very ‘hungry’ though

Very good – a very sharp tip

Very good – very ‘hungry’ though

19. Jakar Electric Pencil Sharpener with “Auto-Stop”

8 mm


Very good

Very Good – exceptionally sharp tip



MOKU HANG A : JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINTING AN INTRODUCTION In recent years, there has been a growing interest, globally, in the practice of Japanese woodblock printing or “Moku Hanga”. Part of its appeal can be attributed to the fact that it is entirely waterbased, and can be done in the comfort of your home or studio, without the need for a printing press. Pigment colour can take the form of gouache or watercolour and everything needed can be packed up into a small case and taken wherever you wish. Many contemporary artists have been drawn to its subtle and expressive possibilities. These are achievable

because the colour and starch paste, called “nori”, are mixed on the block in varying proportions and absorbed into the dampened paper during printing. It is quite a different inking approach to the Western equivalent— where flat colour is rolled across the surface of a block—the resulting aesthetic in Japanese printing can be more delicate and nuanced. During the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan, a flourishing of print production occurred, developed on from the reproduction of Buddhist text and images. Then, a socially restricted, but well-heeled, merchant class developed a taste for refined

social ritual and the acquisition of beautiful objects. From this, a new commercial enterprise was born. Orchestrated by print publishers, who employed highly skilled artists, woodcarvers and printers to produce Ukiyo-e prints, or “pictures of the floating world” to meet the growing demand. The tools of print production evolved, utilising natural, mostly plant based materials. These consisted of wood, plant-based pigments, glue, paper and printing barens which were responsive to humidity. The damp printing process offers artists an intimate engagement with and respect for these materials.


M AT E R I A L S F O R M O K U H A N G A Wood

Inking brush pigment paste

Printing paper

Traditionally, cherry wood was used for carving the line or key blocks, but nowadays, more abundant woods are used, such as katsura and magnolia, as well as, perhaps most widely, shina plywood. Shina plywood is manufactured from trees grown in the cold climes of northern Japan. It produces a plywood that is soft to carve and has a hardly discernible grain. Many artists have also turned to dense Baltic birch plywood, grown in a cold northern climate, which produces a wood with a tight and fine grain.

Japanese printmakers adopted printing technology that had been developed in China, and combined this with their own great legacy of blade technology. This led to the production of the fine tools required for the art of Ukiyo-e prints and its characteristic precision carving. The “Hangi To” is the quintessential Japanese carving knife. Held upright in the fist with the thumb on the top, it is used for outlining your design with flexibility and accuracy. Chisels and gouges come in various sizes. Japan also adopted V gouges: a Western style woodcut tool that they found widened their repertoire of mark making.

Pigment and “nori” paste are dotted onto the surface of the dampened block, and then mixed with special brush into a smooth colour for printing. “Hanga bake” are specialist inking brushes that resemble shoe polishing brushes. They are held upright and brushed over the print areas with circular movements. This method of applying ink allows for more expression, by adjusting the amount of colour on the block, or by blending areas of pigment into the paste in subtle graduations, known as “bokashi”. “Nori” paste is used in the printing process to bind and disperse the pigment colour and to add to its brilliance. Without “nori”, the pigment will print with a dotted pattern known as sesame seed printing, technically considered a fault but often exploited as a form of texturing. Taking a print from the inked block utilises the baren, a small, flat, disc shaped tool that is rubbed over the back of the paper in a zigzag pattern, while applying pressure with the heel of your hand. Traditional “hon” barens are finely crafted tools that are deceptively sophisticated. Fine rope coils are fixed to a rigid disc of layered Japanese paper, known as “washi”, then covered with an outer layer of bamboo. Modern barens are manufactured from ball bearings or plastic.

Traditional Japanese woodblock printing has, for centuries, utilised “washi” paper made from the inner bark of the paper tree, called “kozo”. “Kozo” fibres are extremely long and create a very strong and absorbent paper. Known for its great character and resilience, the paper has evolved to withstand the stresses of hand printing where strong pressure is exerted on the dampened paper. The inherent strength and dimensional stability of this paper, helps to prevent it from distorting, so that accurate registration can be maintained. In addition to the long “kozo” fibres, a viscous, plant-based substance, called “neri” is added which significantly impedes the draining of water from the paper mould. This slowing down of the draining allows for the fibres to be agitated and intermingled for longer, evening out the thickness of the pulp layer. Thus, it is possible to achieve papers that are thin and translucent, whilst retaining their extraordinary strength. This is what gives Japanese “washi” their distinctive characteristics and sets them apart from Western papers, know as “yoshi”.

Modern baren and traditional hon baren

Vinyl cutting and Japanese traditional tools

Sosaku Japanese Block Inking Brush





STRENGTH WITH LONGEVITY RICHESON “BEST” EASELS Jack Richeson & Co is a familyowned and operated company, from Appleton, Wisconsin, that started from humble beginnings, founded on the belief that art is a necessity in life. Richeson has been committed to producing professional-quality art materials since the early 1980s, paying close attention to the needs of artists. Richeson “BEST” easels are known as some of the finest in the world. They are designed and tested by practising artists and custom-built by experienced craftsmen. Strong, carefully constructed and beautifully finished, each easel is designed to be much more than just something to rest a canvas on.

which distinguishes its appearance from lighter, more inexpensive woods. “BEST” easels are reliable for a lifetime and are supplied with a warranty that promises to repair or replace any part of any one of these easels for life. Just like Richeson’s floor standing easels, the Richeson Deluxe Tabletop Easel offers functionality as well as style. This sturdy and durable easel can be used on any flat surface and is excellent for all types of media.

can be made using the patented slide guides. Milled from self-lubricating plastic, the slide guides eliminate bolt-thread wear and make for an easy and smooth tilt, which adjusts from 0° to 85°. The easel also folds flat for compact storage. Richeson Easels are available at priced between £190.00— £1283.00. The Richeson “BEST” Deluxe Tabletop Easel is available for £190.00.

Its expandable mast adjusts to accommodate canvases up to 36 in (92 cm) high. Easy angle adjustments

Richeson uses Appalachian red oak for their easels because of its strength and durability; screws and glue remain secure due to the hardness of the wood. Oak is not naturally absorbent and soft, so over time it won’t absorb moisture and the screws won’t loosen. This makes oak excellent for long-lasting easels. Red oak from the Appalachian Mountains has a coarse texture and is straight-grained, hard, strong and very stiff. Using this wood means the easels are considerably heavier than less expensive easels, although this is made up for by their sturdiness. The high-quality material and manufacturing process is a reason for the easels’ high price point. Each easel is handcrafted and carefully assembled, in the same manner as fine furniture. The Appalachian red oak is prepared, cut to size and carefully checked, before it is then sanded to a smooth surface. The wood is then handrubbed with oil for protection and to draw out the natural beauty of the grain. This wood is known for its light tan to pinkish-red colour


COMMUNITY A S O U R C E O F K N O W L E D G E & I N S P I R AT I O N In 2009, one of the Jackson’s team decided to share her expertise and considerable knowledge of art materials, by publishing the first article on the Jackson’s Art Blog. Since then, the blog has become an invaluable treasure trove of reliable advice, artist interviews, material investigations, product reviews and inspirational articles. Jackson’s Art Blog is an online open studio, made up of contributions from a team of dedicated artists. With our widely-followed social media platforms, we source and provide helpful, engaging, creative content that opens up space for dialogues— connecting people with a passion for painting, from all over the world. Here, we also promote and share


artists work, providing them with exposure and a supportive audience. We collaborate with artists and art groups, by providing material sponsorship and publicity support for a variety of workshops and exhibitions. From donating brushes and paints for art workshops to sponsoring live portrait painting sessions, we seek to provide the tools that encourage creativity. So that we know what artists are looking for, we send out our materials across the world, to be trialled and reviewed by a variety of artists. They then provide us with valuable, practical feedback. Our annual art competition, the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize, celebrates the finest two-dimensional artworks made by international artists at all stages of their careers.

With £10,000 in cash prizes to be won, artists can enter their works in any of the following categories: Portrait/Figure, Animal, Landscape/Seascape/Cityscape, Still-life/Botanical, Abstract/Nonrepresentational and Scenes of Everyday Life. As well as, a top prize in each category, we also award an Emerging Artist Prize, a People’s Choice Award and an Overall Winner Prize. Each year, to help us decide the winners, we invite six leading figures in the contemporary art world to make up the Expert Judges Panel— widening the scope of professional art world exposure for entrants and helping to elevate their careers.


THE DAIRY SCALE When buying new paints, there can be an element of the unknown. Will it be fluid like water, need to be scooped out with a palette knife, or something in between? “The Dairy Scale” is a means of communicating how thick or thin a particular product is. Over the years, our sales team have found themselves instinctively comparing paints to various dairy products—whether a paint is thin like single cream or thick and buttery. “The Dairy Scale” is by no means faultless, but it does get across a sense of the consistency, and can also help you choose the right tool for your paint. It is worth taking into consideration that some paints are best with specific hair types. Encaustic paints should only be used with natural hair, as synthetic fibres may melt. Acrylics are best suited to hog or synthetic hair, as it can be difficult to keep sable or squirrel hair in good condition, when using acrylics. We’ve placed watercolour at the thin end of the dairy scale because although it can be solid in a pan or paste-like from a tube, it’s almost always thinned with water. Pigment can affect the thickness of the paint: some pigment particles are larger than others and as a result, the viscosity can vary from fluid to buttery within a single range (this happens most frequently with professional oil paints).


Jackson’s Procryl Synthetic Jackson’s Studio Synthetic Jackson’s Squirrel Jackson’s Sable



Drawing Ink

Acrylic Ink

Indian Ink Oil Mixed with Solvent




Please note that certain paints should only be used with natural or synthetic hair.




Jackson’s Shiro Hog Jackson’s Akoya Synthetic Jackson’s Black Hog Jackson’s Onyx Synthetic

Palette Knife






Designer Gouache Fluid Acrylic

Oil Mixed with Linseed Oil

Soft Body Acrylic

Acrylic Gouache


Watercolour Stick

Heavy Body Acrylic Artist Oil

Professional Oil

Oil Stick Encaustic Paint

Encaustic Paint (Warm)

Oil Pastel


OUR ETHOS Jackson’s Art Supplies is one of the largest dedicated fine art suppliers in the world, offering a vast range of fine art products for those who love to paint. From shipping a handful of products out of a gallery basement, we now handle over 400,000 parcels a year, shipping to tens of thousands of artists around the globe. Our team is made up of artists, and art materials are our passion. We work hard to educate artists about the best use of materials and provide artists of all abilities with every tool imaginable to help them realise their creative potential. We’ve been at it for years and understand what our customers want and need. They talk to us and we listen. This guide is an opportunity for us to share our knowledge.

HOW TO ORDER You can place an order either by phone, by post, online or in person. Online: Browse, home to all our products and latest offers. By phone or by post: Call our customer service team on 020 7254 0077 to place an order, or fill out the order form at the back of one of our catalogues. In person: Visit one of our shops and our staff will assist you. If you are looking for something specific, we suggest phoning ahead of your visit, so that we can check it is in stock or order it in for you. Alternatively, you can use Click & Collect via your nearest participating store, at a time that suits you.

COMMUNITY Our blog is where you’ll find extended articles, as well as interviews, product reviews, comparisons, exhibition news and information on our latest art competition. The blog has been growing for the past 10 years and seeks to inspire, advise and encourage the act of creating. On social media, we communicate with fellow artists and connect them by sharing inspiration, tips and ideas online.

VISIT OUR SHOPS Dalston 1 Farleigh Place, Dalston, London N16 7SX | 020 3772 0132 Monday—Friday 9–5:30 / Saturday 10—6 Fulham Arch 66 Station Approach, London SW6 3UH | 020 7384 3055 Monday—Friday 9–5:30 / Saturday 9—5 Gloucester Unit J, The Aquarius Centre, Edison Close, Quedgeley, Gloucester GL2 2FN | 01452 226378 Monday–Friday 9—5:30 / Saturday 10—3




MATERIALS GUIDE ISSUE 2 — 2019 / 2020 — £5

Profile for Jackson's Art Supplies

Jackson's - Materials Guide Issue 2  

Within these pages you will find a selection of product reviews and comparisons, in-depth expert articles, and behind the scenes stories abo...

Jackson's - Materials Guide Issue 2  

Within these pages you will find a selection of product reviews and comparisons, in-depth expert articles, and behind the scenes stories abo...