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Your source for information relating to fine artists' materials. We promote the education and use of these materials among artists by providing detailed information for their use in encaustic, fresco, oil, watercolor and tempera painting.

Mass of St. Gregory, about 1500, Master of Jacques de Besançon. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 109, fol. 55vA two-day Master Class will be offered by the J. Paul Getty Museum Department of Education and taught by artist Sylvana Barrett on the topic of Medieval and Renaissance gilding techniques as practiced by Manuscript Illuminators. Gilded embellishments in texts have an ancient history stretching back into antiquity. Elaborate techniques developed during the Medieval Period becoming the standards by which gilding is judged to this day.

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Posted in Events Gilding

Selhamin Poliment Clay
Poliment—also known as bole—is a clay-like substance that is used as a base for gilding. It is applied to a prepared surface, usually gesso or chalk ground. Gold or silver leaf is then applied over this base. The poliment enhances the tone and lustre of the gold during the polishing/burnishing process. Selhamin Poliment is a specially prepared and refined bole for priming surfaces for gilding. The best raw materials are combined in the right proportions and processed according to traditional methods. Selhamin Poliment Clay shows its special abilities in gilding with gold, white gold, silver and platinum. Especially appreciated are its characteristics in applying silver and gold leaf on surface for contemporary and traditional techniques. The richness of color nuances that can be obtained is a delight for artists. This article explains how to prepare and apply poliment and describes the gilding and toning and patina of gilded surfaces.

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Posted in Gilding

Historical Pigment: Brun Rouge

10/31/14 12:00 PM

Roger de Piles' Les Élémens de Peinture PratiqueThe palette described by Roger de Piles in his 17th century painting manual, Les Elémens de Peinture Pratique, describes a pigment in French, brun rouge. The basic palette described by de Piles comprises these colors: 1. White lead. 2. Yellow ocher. 3. Brown red. 4. Lake. 5. Stil de grain. 6. Green earth. 7. Umber. 8. Bone or ivory black. My interest is to provide hues that closely resemble the colors found on this 17th century palette, but not only the hues, the undertones and the paint consistency. It is rather easy to mimic a hue with a combination of pigments, but much more difficult the undertones and nearly impossible the paint consistency. The latter can only be done successfully by using the same pigment, at least as far as we can determine from literary sources.

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Posted in Paints Pigments

Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus saxatilis)In his book, Les Elémens de Peinture pratique, Roger de Piles describes a typical palette of the 17th century. According to de Piles, the lightest colors were always placed nearest the thumbhole on the palette. The position of each color on the palette helps us to understand their relative tones. For example, stil de grain, is a lake pigment made with unripe buckthorn berries.

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Posted in Paints Pigments

Detail of a painting by Henry Cliffe, painted in 1959, shows severe cracking and interlayer cleavage in paint containing lead white and zinc white.A paper written by scientists at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute exposes long-term problems with zinc white in oil paint. The report “The Chemical and Mechanical Effects of Pigments on Drying Oils” describes the highlights of a 28-year study on the stability and strength of oil paint films. The results are revealing and have important implications for artwork made with artists’ oil paints containing zinc white.

The paper by Marion Mecklenburg and Charles Tumosa examines the drying of different drying oils, traditional pigments and commercially prepared artists’ oil paints. It also studies the differences of the effects of pigments on the long-term stiffening and film formation of paints. For the study, different pigments were ground in different oils, applied to polyester films and then stored in a controlled environment. Over the years, the paints were removed from the polyester film and tested mechanically as unsupported thin films.

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Posted in Paints Pigments

Fred Wessel Jacqui (Corona)How Fred Wessel uses Rublev Colours Aqueous Pigment Dispersions made by Natural Pigments along with dry pigment powders in his tempera paintings. The dispersions eliminate the step of dispersing pigments in water, allowing him to spend more time at the easel and less with the muller and grinding surface: “I use Rublev Colours Aqueous Pigment Dispersions to compliment the powdered pigments that I use to make my tempera paintings. Unless my powdered pigments are super-fine, I’ll need to grind them to a fine paste with water. The dispersions eliminate this step, allowing me to spend more time at my easel and less with my muller.”

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Posted in Paints Pigments

Learning from artists manuscripts, a contemporary artist adapts a 15th century recipe for preparing grounds for oil painting on wood panels.

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Posted in Grounds

Roger de PilesIn the 17th century, Roger de Piles described in precise detail the flesh tone palette used by nearly every artist of that time in his seminal treatise, Les Élémens de Peinture Pratique. This painting manual influenced artists for several hundred years and established the current practice of setting a limited palette and a rational approach to painting portraits among the greatest artists of that period. In this article, we translate chapter four from the original 1684 French manual and explain how contemporary artists can set the limited 17th century palette for flesh tones using Rublev Colours® Artists’ Oils.

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Ceracolors--Water-soluble wax paintIt’s not often that a brand-new fine art medium comes along. Ceracolors is a new artist-grade paint made from quality pigments in a water-soluble wax binder. Although made from wax, Ceracolors are not encaustic paints in that they do not require heat, solvents or mediums.

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Oleogel Road Test

10/8/13 12:00 PM

The Artist's Magazine October 2013Oleogel was featured in Rob Anderson's Road Test column in the October 2013 issue of The Artist's Magazine. Rob writes about Oleogel: “What exactly does adding Oleogel to paint do? Oleogel maintains the body of the paint—say goodbye, in other words, to drippy paint—at the same time it increases the paint’s transparency. The medium is versatile enough that it can be used for a thick impasto and also for glazing. The fact that this medium is this versatile is something I’ve never seen before. In my experience, a medium typically is only good for one thing, either glazing or helping to extend and thicken the paint, but not both. All in all, I had a very positive experience using Oleogel. The increase in fluidity and simultaneous control were wonderful surprises. I plan on continuing to use the medium, making it a part of my painting process.”

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