Tips & Techniques


1. Important information on the use of Liquin from Winsor & Newton

As much as it pleases us to see so many positive comments about Liquin

In December’s Varnish Guide (TAM, To Preserve and Protect, December 2004), we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that¬†Liquin isn’t intended for use as a varnish.

Because Liquin is used as a medium by so many artists to speed the drying of the paint layer, it has been an easy conceptual leap for many to presume that a layer of Liquin on top is just as good as Liquin added inside. It’s not. Since its introduction in the 1960’s, Liquin has been, and always will be, intended only for use as a medium. The problem with Liquin isn’t the clarity or the resiliency of the film (it has both of those in abundance);¬†it’s that it dries too darn fast and to a solid and highly impermeable film.

If used to seal a still-wet paint layer,¬†Liquin will fully block any further access to the atmosphere and the oxygen that is absolutely essential to the drying of the paint film.¬†Without oxygen, the oil is incapable of forming all those nifty linkages that turn it into a highly durable layer. The paint layer will never fully dry, eventually proving unstable in a number of ways. Moreover, Liquin isn’t soluble or removable (at least not in a way that leaves the painting beneath intact), making it virtually impossible for a conservator or restorer to work on the paint film when needed at a later date.

The key to varnishing

The key to varnishing requires a quality that is increasingly difficult to find in today’s “I need it now” culture:¬†patience.¬†The paint film really, truly does require 6 months (at least) to add all those bits of oxygen. There’s nothing that will effectively accelerate the entire oxidation process or make the oil ‘hyperventilate.’

Note:¬†Many of you will remind me that an alkyd resin like Liquin speeds the touch dry point. And you’re right. But it’s unable to accelerate the full oxidation of the entire layer, and anything that gets in the way of the oxidation process is going to compromise the long-term stability of the painting. If absolutely necessary, a retouch varnish can be added 30 days after the piece has been completed.

The best choice for varnishing The best choice for varnishing is a synthetic resin varnish, as opposed to Dammar, which Рwith all due respect to what Ralph Mayer wrote before synthetic resin varnishes were invented Рwill yellow, embrittle, and become increasingly difficult to remove as it ages. That and a little patience.

David Pyle
Director of Communications & Technical Education Winsor & Newton

2. Using Setasilk Colours on Fabrics

Step One:
After drawing your design onto the silk, seal with gutta (silk resist). Apply the water-based gutta directly from the tube to outline each section. The gutta paste will penetrate into the silk fibres and prevent the colours from running. Gutta must be applied in a steady, continuous line. A second coat may also be applied before painting to improve the seal. Allow 30 minutes to dry.

Step Two:
Apply your colours to the center of each gutta-sealed section. Setasilk colours are formulated to run on silk, so only a small amount of colour is needed. If shading is desired, apply all colour shades before the fabric is dry. Watercolour brushes work best as they tend not to drip. Use a foam brush to achieve large sections of colour.

Step Three:
Allow colours to completely dry before fixing. Gently iron the reverse side of the fabric for 3-4 minutes. This can now be handwashed or dry cleaned.

Step One
set3.jpg (3795 bytes)
Step Two
set2.jpg (5970 bytes)
Step Three
set1.jpg (6329 bytes)


Helpful Hints:

Setasilk colours can also be used on other fabrics like cotton & poyester. Cleaning and ironing fabric before applying the design allows the gutta to reach the fibres. Lighten colours by diluting with Setasilk thinner. Thicken by mixing with water-based gutta colours (except colourless). Solvent-based gutta may also be used; however, you will not be able to dry clean the fabric. Both colours and water-based gutta will withstand washing and drycleaning.

3.  About Egg Tempera Paints

A history of egg tempera painting

Tempera painting predates the popularization of oil painting. The process was named for the technique of preparing (tempering) dry pigments with egg yolk and distilled water. Until the discovery of oils, all easel painting was done using tempera paints on wooden panels. Once oil paints became popular, tempera was mainly used as an underpainted base coat for oils. As tempera needs a solid support, its use also waned as canvas became more popular.

Despite this lack of flexibility, tempera work has a depth that can be lacking in acrylic or oil works. Due to the transparent nature of the medium itself, layers can be built upon each other without sacrificing quality. While many manufacturers market ready-made tempera colours, these are usually goaches or body paints. When buying tempera paints, be sure to specify “egg tempera”.

Making your own

To increase the colour range, many artists prefer to make their own tempera paints. Traditional tempera is made by mixing finely ground pigment with egg yolk, distilled water, and sometimes linseed oil and varnish to increase the workability. While any pigment can be used, opaque pigments such as cadmiums and artificial pigments work well. Since they are used thinly and combined with the egg emulsion, these pigments will appear semi-opaque, giving the painting body while retaining its translucency.

Preparing the emulsion

To maximize workability, use only fresh eggs. The colour of the yolk has no impact on the colour of the paint. Use glass or ceramic containers to avoid contamination, as these can be washed easily. Because tempera is fast-drying, only a small amount of paint should be mixed on a palette at one time. Tempera dries too quickly to be mixed on the support. Unlike other paints, tempera cannot be stored for use later. Generally, one yolk is enough for a days work.

  • Gently break an egg and seperate the yolk.
  • Remove the white by rolling lightly in your hand or on a paper towel.
  • Puncture the yolk and drain into a glass jar or dish. Discard the sac.
  • Mix yolk with a little distilled water using a plastic palette knife.
  • (Do not use metal tools as these will contaminate the emulsion.)


Pigment is sold in a finely-ground form. Mix the pigment with a little distilled water into a paste with a palette knife, or place the pigment into a small jar with a little distilled water and shake to blend. This is then added to the emulsion a little at a time on a clean surface or palette using a plastic palette knife. The amount of pigment added depends on the colour you are using as some colours are more intense and require less pigment. Experimentation is the best way to learn the proper balance.

Emulsion Recipe One

  • 3 parts egg yolk
  • 3 parts distilled water
  • 1 part linseed oil

Add the oil to the yolk one drop at a time, stirring between. Add the distilled water, one drop at a time, stirring between.

Emulsion Recipe Two

  • 3 parts egg yolk
  • 3 parts distilled water
  • 1 part damar varnish
  • 1 part stand oil

Add stand oil to the yolk one drop at a time, stirring well. Add the distilled water and varnish and stir well. When dry, this emulsion creates a smooth, hard surface that can be buffed up to a slight sheen with a soft cloth.

Using Tempera

Applying tempera is a process of layering, and the techniques used are dictated by the medium. The quick drying time precludes working on a large scale. As with oils, tempera should not be used in a single, thick layer. The paint must be built up in thin washes glazing over each other to consolidate and set properly. Tempera can be used on many supports including canvas and paper, but the traditional support is an inflexible board whose surface has been primed with two or more coats of white gesso.

Similar to watercolour, tempera should be used in thin, semi-transparent glazes. These can be washed on loosely to quickly block a work, or, in a controlled way to build up specific areas. If the work is on a white gesso ground, a thin glaze will soften the background.

Tempera Accessories & Supplies

Most accessories used for other mediums can also work well with tempera painting. Because tempera is quick drying medium, special attention must be made to keep tools clean. Some artists prefer to keep seperate tools for tempera.

Brushes used in other media work equally well with tempera, however, softer brushes used for watercolour work best. Do not let the paint dry on the bristles, as this will ruin the brush.

Plastic palette knives should be used to avoid contamination.

Use a glass, plastic, or disposable paper palette for easy clean up.

If you prefer to grind your own pigments, or to soften pre-ground pigments, a glass muller and slab can be usfeul. When working with dusty pigments, even those labeled “non-toxic”, a protective mask should always be worn. The best masks have replaceable cartridge filters for use with dust or vapours.

4.  About Encaustic Waxes


Encaustic is an artistic hot wax painting process in which wax-bound paints are fused together with external heat. Encaustic (meaning “to process with heat”) dates back to Ancient Greece and Egypt. Proof of the durability of these techniques can be found in the Egyptian paintings known as the Fayum Portraits, painted in the second century AD as funerary decoration to cover an embalmed mumy. Encaustic work fell into obsurity in the 9th century AD, replaced by fresco, tempera and oil paints.

Several Renaissance artists, including DaVinci, attempted encaustic painting, followed by artists such as VanGogh, who experimented with wax mixed into their oil-painting mediums. Another major artist to utilize encaustic waxes was the American pop artist Jasper Johns, who created many encaustic works. Recently, due to modern equipment, these techniques have been experiencing a revival resulting in a growing awareness of the unique possibilites of encaustic waxes.


Encaustic waxes create durable work with a relatively hard surface, though some special attention is needed. As it will not expand or shrink, atmospheric changes in dampness are not an issue, though it will soften with heat and the work may crack when cold. Encaustic surfaces may be damaged by abrasion, but maintain a slight sheen which can be buffed with a soft cloth. The wax material will adhere to most surfaces, though a rigid support is best.

Traditional encaustic work is created using a media of dry pigments mixed with hot wax. These same pigments are used for making other materials including pastels, oils, and tempera. When working with these dry pigments, always be sure to read the safety instructions. Due to a low oil content, encaustic work will not yellow or darken with age as do oils.

Encaustic Supplies
Pure, refined beeswax is best for encaustic work. Available natural or bleached, the pale difference in colour has little effect on pigment colours. Beeswax has a very low melting point and is sold in small, solid blocks. With encaustic, heat is used as a solvent. Beeswax is a slightly soft solid, relaxing into a liquid when heated. Modifying the wax with turpentine, varnish or linseed oil will affect the workability and drying time, allowing opportunites for experimentation.

Encaustic wax sticks can be made from pigment mixed with wax, then cooled into sticks. Darker colours with more pigment will have a thicker consistency  while lighter colours will be more liquid. This wax stick can be melted into a dish for traditional use, or used directly as a crayon, then heated with a hot-air gun. To create encaustic wax sticks, place the beeswax into a stainless steel container or measuring cup and melt over low heat. Do not use an open flame for this process. For a harder stick, melt 15 percent Dammar Resin into the beeswax. Slowly stir in pigment. The guideline for wax/pigment proportions is that there must be enough wax to coat the pigment particles. Darker, opaque colours require more pigment, while translucent colours need only a small amount. Pour the hot liquid into a heat resistant mold. These sticks are ready for use when cool.

Equipment & Cleaning

Tools designed specifically for encaustic work may be difficult to find, however, common domestic tools like those listed below are handy and easily accessible. Be sure to keep a set of these tools only for encaustic use, to prevent damage to other work, and DO NOT use these tools in food preparation afterward.

Hot plate
A small cooking hot plate with a flat element is ideal as a heat source. This must have a control to maintain a low heat.

Mixing trays and containers
Metal containers are needed for holding melted wax and pigments over the heat source. Metal cans are handy, and metal cupcake trays with depressions make great palettes. A flat metal baking sheet can also be used directly on the hot plate to mix small amounts of colour.

Hot-air guns
As mentioned above, a hair dryer set to high works well as an encaustic heat gun. The hot air softens or melts the wax to blend colours.

Brushes and knives
Traditional bristle brushes can be used in short, quick strokes. Brushes must be natural, as synthetic or plastic brushes will melt. Brushes should be kept warm when not in use, as the wax will harden as it cools. Steel painting and palette knives are perfect for encaustic use and clean up easily.

Cleaning Brushes
Always use natural fiber brushes with encaustics, as synthetic brushes may melt. Before cleaning, the brushes should be kept warm and supple by resting them on a hot plate, so they will be receptive to the process of cleaning. Add some clean thin wax to the brush (a white candle is ideal for this purpose) and work the wax into the hairs. Wipe the brush hairs using a tissue. Repeat this process with clean wax until the brush is clean.

5.  Acrylics РBasics & Techniques

The Acrylic Advantage

The acrylic advantage lets you concentrate on painting without worrying about mixing the right amount of oil, turpentine, or varnish. In addition, you can paint right over it. Acrylics can be used thickly, like painting with oils, or in fine transparent glazes. Because acrylics dry so quickly, glazes can be applied immediately, rather than waiting weeks as you would with oils. Also, previous layers won’t lift as they can in watercolour. Just remember that if you want to blend the paints, do it quickly. Use the short dying time of acrylics to become a decisive painter.

Graded washes
Begin graded washes at the top of the paper with a brushload of pre-mixed colour. Work the colour down the sheet using horizontal strokes. Let the dampness of the pre-wetted paper and the decreasing amount of color in the brush do the work.

Use this wet-in-wet technique on cold-pressed paper to create a soft, atmospheric effect which is great for landscapes. After pre-wetting the paper, the background can be washed in with a 1″ flat brush. While the paper is still wet, the foreground, as well as other fine details can be suggested with a bristle fan brush. The key to working wet-in-wet with acrylics is working quickly.

Combination Painting
Acrylics allow you to render the background first, then paint the foreground right over it. After the background is completed, trace the outline of your foreground image onto the panel. To bring out highlights, glaze areas with a mixture of white and other light, opaque colours before rendering the details.

Direct Painting
The versatility of acrylics allow you to paint directly as the Impressionists did, with the added bonus of being able to paint over anything you don’t like. The only challenge is to blend the paint before it dries. To facilitate this, apply the paint quickly, then blend one area into another right away with whatever brush you have in hand. There’s not always time to switch to a fan blender.

Tips for Acrylic Brushes

  • Flat brushes are good for large washes.
  • Use stiff bristle brushes.
  • Use synthetics, as dried paint can ruin a brush.
  • Round brushes are great for shaping, highlights and detailed areas.
  • Liner brushes are good for fine detail and delicate highlights.
  • Use a palette knife for impasto effects and colour mixing.
  • Gel medium can be added to acrylics making them thicker and stiffer.

6.  Creating and Stretching a Canvas Frame

Creating a Canvas Frame

Materials needed for making a frame:

  • Wooden stretcher bars, which are sold in a variety of sizes.
  • Plastic or wooden wedges for the corners.

The stretcher bars will be thicker on the outer edge than the inner.
This thickness should appear on the upper face of the frame, the side which will be
covered with canvas. This will keep the canvas away from the corner joints and make
a better finished product.

Stretcher bars are not glued
The mitered corners fit snuggly into each other and are held tightly in place by the
joints, the mounted canvas stapled to the stretcher, and by wedges hammered into
the corners which slightly stretch the canvas and form a rigid frame.

can1.jpg (6101 bytes)

Check the squareness of your frame before attaching the canvas.


Stretching Canvas

Customized canvas are easy to make once you have created the frame, as detailed above. Here are some simple steps to complete your project:

Materials needed for stretching a canvas:

  • Canvas cut approximately 3″ larger than the completed frame.
  • A staple gun, and perhaps pliers or a staple remover.

Center the frame on the canvas and fold one edge over to the back.

    centered.jpg (2761 bytes)

Place a staple in the middle of the back of one of the longer sides.

staple1.jpg (2953 bytes)

Pull the canvas taut and place another staple in the same position on the adjacent side of the frame. Continue stapling the middle of the other two sides, pulling the cavas taut. Work out from the center of each side towards the corners adding staples every 2″ or 3″, alternating a few staples per side, and pulling the canvas taut as possible.

        can2.jpg (4776 bytes)

The canvas will now be secured to the frame and you will only have to finish off the corners. Be sure to leave approximately 2″ untacked at the corners to allow proper folding. Fold the canvas over the frame in a “hospital corner”, holding it as flat as possible, and staple the excess canvas flat. If the canvas appears a little loose or creased at the corners, plastic or wooden wedges can be tapped into the joints. Place these wedges into the corners and gently tap them into place. They do not need to be completly inserted, just enough to achieve a tight, smooth finish on the canvas front.

   corner.jpg (4096 bytes)

Never wet the back of the canvas as this may cause permenant distortions. Small indentations may be blotted lightly with a damp cloth and allow to dry back to its original shape. Your finished canvas may now be primed with gesso and used to create your next great masterpiece.

     gesso.jpg (3664 bytes)

7.  Using Solid Oil Colours

Using solid oil colour in a “paintstick” form is a convenient way to paint with oils. Paintsticks always stay fresh and moist by ‘self sealing’ to form a protective film within 24 hours, so the colour won’t dry out. This film is easily removed by peeling it away with a paper towel, or gently rubbing it off. Paintsticks can also be sharpened with a paring knife for a finer point. When the stick has begun to wear down to the edge of the sleeve, simply loosen the sleeve and push the stick forward. Press the sleeve back in place for use, and then repeat as needed.
Solid oil colours are the same as tube oils, so all the same techniques, mediums and surfaces can be used, including finishing varnishes. They are non-toxic with no offensive odour. Most colours dry in 24 hours and all colours fully mixable. Soild oil colours are compatible with other oils and mediums and are permenant when dry.

Drawing with solid oil colours

When working on paper, wood, canvas, and other surfaces, simply hold the paintstick as you would a pencil. Great for use when roughing in your work. A colourless blender can then be used to smooth the outlines and blend the colours. Use a paintbrush dipped in turpentine or a thinner to make your strokes become a ‘wash’ for a watercolour look. Solid oil colours cover rapidly. To create a built-up effect, simply apply more pressure to the stick. Applying pressure also makes the paint texture creamier.

Mixing solid oil colours

To create additional colours, simply draw one colour over another directly onto the painting. It’s best to use the lighter colours first, then blend the darker colour onto it. You may also mix the colours on a palette then apply the colour to your work surface with a brush. Try using Titanium White to remove or lighten a colour simply by painting directly over it with a little pressure.

Cleaning up after use
Paintsticks can be cleaned up with soap and water while still wet. Afterwards, use an odourless thinner.

Fabric decorating with solid oil colours

Before applying the oil colour, wash fabric to remove sizing. Do not use fabric softeners or bleach as these will reduce paint adhesion. Be sure the fabric is not stain resistant, as this makes it paint resistant as well. Experimenting first on a scrap of fabric is recommended. After painting the fabric, let the paint cure for 3-4 days before heat setting and washing. The longer you wait, the more permenant your colour will be. Use the iron setting recommended for the fabric. Place waxed paper over the design and iron for a few seconds. Launder as usual, then hang dry or use the air-dry setting on your dryer. Dry cleaning is not recommended.

Stenciling with solid oil colours

For all types of stenciling, solid oil colours are the medium of choice for crafters because they are so convenient. Prepare your stencil by spraying with a repositionable adhesive. Press the stencil onto the design surface. Draw around the edge of the cutout design, holding your stencilling brush at a vertical angle. Using a circular motion, gently pull the colour from the edge onto the article. The more pressure you use, the more intense the colour.

On Fabric
Pre-wash fabric to remove sizing. Do not use fabric softener. Place a heavy piece of cardboard under the cloth for a rigid work surface and to prevent the oil colour from bleeding through. To keep the fabric taut, use clothespins or paper clips around the edges. Let the paint cure for at least 3 days and then heat set as above. Launder, then hang dry or air-dry in the dryer.

On Walls & Floors
Plan and measure your design. Walls and floors should have a matte finish. After stencilling, allow the colour to dry for 3 days, then spray lightly with a coat of clear acrylic. Wait 36 hours, then coat the area with a scuff-proof vinyl acylic or polyurethane varnish.

On Wood
Sand the surface, then prepare as desired by painting, staining, crackling, or leaving the surface raw. The surface should be matte. After applying the oil colour, allow the surface to dry 3 days, then spray with a clear acrylic to set. Finish with a varnish or urethane of your choice.

Stamping with solid oil colours

Stamp a colourful pattern quickly and easily on fabrics, walls, canvas, and decorations with solid oil colours. You can use rubber stamps or try stamping with leaves, flowers, lace, coins and other objects with a textured surface. Apply the oil colour directly to the stamp object. Dip a brush in thinner and blot it on a paper towel or rag. Stroke the brush over the colour you have applied, allowing the colour to blend and form soft edges. If your object is absorbant, you may need more thinner. Align the stamp to your design area. Apply firm, even pressure while trying not to move the stamp position. Non-porous objects used to stamp with can be washed with thinner. Porous objects such as lace will be permenantly stained.

8.  Choosing Watercolour Papers

Watercolour paper is widely available in various sized sketchbooks, pads, or large sheets which can be cut to a custom size. Sketchbooks range from small cartridge paper books for quick pencil sketches, to larger A4 pads of watercolour paper for more complete paintings.

Pads of watercolour paper are also made in the form of blocks. Each sheet is lightly attached on all sides and has to be torn away to remove. Blocks offer a similar effect to stretching the paper and are easier for outdoor work.

W/C papers are made in three different surfaces:

Smooth paper is known as Hot-Pressed (HP) because it is produced with heat and under pressure. Smooth paper is also available as “watercolour board”, which is often used by illustrators, as it removes the necessity for stretching. Medium paper is the most common. It is often called “not” (short for “not hot pressed”). Rough paper has a coarse texture liked by some artists, but is not the easiest for beginners.

While you can paint on either side of most good-quality papers, there may be a slight texture difference. Hold the paper up to the light to read the watermark to check which is the correct side.

Watercolour papers also vary in thickness
which is expressed in pounds, referring to a ream of 500 sheets. Paper above 200lbs does not need stretching. Paper below 140lbs is thinner, and needs to be stretched before use to prevent buckling and warping when you wet it. It will dry in the warped condition.

Hot-Pressed Paper
Ranges from completely smooth to a fine-grained texture. It is the most suitable paper for pen and line work. Less absorbant so wet paint may pool, and washes dry with a hard edge.

Cold-Pressed Paper
Often referred to as “not” paper, standing for “not hot pressed”, this is the most commonly used watercolour paper. It has enough texture to hold paint well, while allowing for fine brushwork.

Rough Paper
Offers a more pronounced grain for loose, more textural brushwork. This is not recommended for the beginner, but can be exciting to use when you become more experienced.

Cartridge Paper (Drawing Paper)
An inexpensive alternative to watercolour paper, with a smooth surface used mainly for drawing. It will accept watercolour, but being lightweight, will need stretching. Drawing paper in sketchbook form is adequate for light washes.

Handmade Paper
Made in a variety of weights and surfaces which do not conform to the above catagories. All have their own special characteristics, but the unpredictable qualities of handmade paper are recommended for more experienced painters.

Tinted Papers
A version of normal watercolour paper made with an overall, faint colour bias. Plain watercolour paper can also be ‘tinted’ with a flat wash of diluted acrylic paint.

9.  Gold Leafing Techniques

Beautifying objects with gold leaf dates back to ancient times.

Magnificent statues, plaques and panels were carved from hardwood, then embellished with gold leaf. Medieval picture panels often had gilded (gold leafed) backgrounds. In some cases panels were completely gilded, then colours were applied over this. This style was characteristic of Byzantine and Renaissance art, imparting a special splendour. Ancient methods involved applying a basecoat to carvings before covering with a thick, tacky varnish. The leaf was pressed into the varnish, then burnished. These same steps have been simplified with the use of modern materials. The following steps offer an outline to this process.

Gold Leafing Objects:

Apply a uniform coat of Statuary Base Coat Product to the object being gold leafed. Wash brush in soapy water. Allow base coat to dry 60 minutes. Apply a thin coat of Gold Leaf Adhesive. Be sure there are no ‘puddles’. Wash brush out immediately in soapy water. As it dries over the next 60 minutes, it will change from a milky white to completely clear, becoming slightly tacky. (Gold Leaf applied to adhesive which has not become clear will not adhere.)

With clean dry hands, pick up a sheet of Gold Leaf and apply it to the sticky surface. Some overlapping is alright. Be sure to work in a non-drafty workspace. An orange stick or razor blade may be helpful to carefully lift the gold leaf sheets as they are very thin.

When surface is completely covered in gold, remove excess leaf with gentle strokes of a soft, smooth brush. A pad of soft cloth or your fingers could also be used. Small spots or cracks may show the base coat in places where the leaf has torn. This is desirable for an “old world” appearance. Large spots may be patched by following these same steps again.

Adding Finishes To Your Project

Seal your gilded objects.
Apply a coat of Satin Sealer, and allow 2 hours to dry. Clean brush with thinner.

Add an antique finish to your object.
Apply a coat of Antiquing Glaze into crevices and corners. Gently wipe glaze over entire surface with a soft cheese cloth pad. Removing glaze in areas will add a highlight. Allow 3 hours to dry. Wash brush in thinner. If you are not happy with the look, simply retry the process from the beginning. After the Antiquing Glaze is dry, you can apply a final coat of Old World Art Satin Sealer, allowing 2 hours to dry before handling.

10.  Simple Tips for Beginner Watercolourists & Brush Care

Simple Tips for Beginner Watercolourists

Using white in a watercolour painting.
The best way is simply leave an area unpainted, allowing the paper to show through.

Sheilding areas of the painting.
A temporary masking liquid, such as Miskit Liquid Frisket can be painted on before an overlaid wash is applied.

Different effects techniques.
Try painting on wet or dry paper, or, using a wet or dry brush. Combining these in one painting can produce great effects.

Create subtle, ghostly effects.
Partially lift areas by blotting up wet colour with a dry brush or soft cloth.

Create a resist effect.
Lay down an area of oil pastel or crayon. A watercolour wash applied over this will bead up, producing a stippled look.

Create a starburst effect.
Sprinkle salt sparingly onto an area of wet paint and it will ‘run’ into a starburst pattern. Please be cautious as too much salt can be detrimental to the painting.

Create a mosaic effect.
Leave a thin unpainted line around each area of colour. This are can be left as a highlight, or given a light wash to blend tones.


Brush Care & Cleaning

While all brushes have a limited lifespan, with proper care artists can maintain their beauty and usefulness for several years.

Brush basics
Store your brushes upright in a jar, vase, or container to maintain their shape. Never store or stand your brushes on their hair or bristles.

Long term storage
Store brushes horizontally and protect them with moth balls or moth flakes to prevent insect damage.

Carrying your brushes
Placing them loose in a paint box may easily damage the bristles. We recommend rolling them in a piece of stiff drawing paper for protection, making sure the brush heads are covered. Secure the roll with elastics.

Sable hair brushes
May tend to lose their shape and even clog up when using acrylics. Using a synthetic or bristle hair brush with acrylic paint permits better flow and they will maintain their shape unless abused.

When using acrylics
Be careful not to let the paint dry on your brush, as they will become very difficult to clean. Cleaning immediately after use will help save the bristles and you money.

Strong solvents and chemical paint removers
May ruin artists’ brushes if used in excess. Please use them with care.


Cleaning Tips

Clean brushes
Immediately after use, especially at the ferrule, as a deposit of hardened colour at this point will cause the brush head to lose it’s shape. Do not allow colour to dry on the brush.

Use a mild cleanser
Work a cleanser, such as dish soap, hand soap or special brush soap into the interior of the brush.

Rinse the brush free
Under lukewarm running water. Do not soak brushes in water or solvent for long periods of time.

Repeat the process
Until there is no colour in the soap suds. Shake the excess water from the brush and shape the hair into place with your fingers.

Stand the brush upright or lay flat to dry.

11.  Create Patina or Rust Finishes on Paintable Surfaces

You can easily create a beautiful antique patina

You can easily create a beautiful antique patina or rust finish on nearly any paintable surface using authentic patina finishes ~ transforming everyday objects into works of art. These simple steps provide an outline to the process.

  • Create authentic patina finishes on paintable non-metallic objects:Start with a clean, paint-ready surface. Products such as Primo Primer or Clear Sealer are recommended if the surface is unprimed or porous. Priming or sealing is also needed if the object may rust.Choose a metallic surfacer as a base; such as Copper Topper, Gilded Gold, Blonde Bronze, or Blackened Bronze. Shake bottle well to ensure even distribution of the ground metal particles.

    Using a foam or bristle brush, apply a base coat. Depending on the object, a second base coat may be required for complete coverage. Allow base coat to dry completely, then apply a top coat. Wait 3 to 8 minutes, until the metallic surfacer becomes tacky, but not dry.

    Apply the Patina Green or Patina Blue solution. Be sure to use a disposable brush. A patina will develop within a few minutes. Additional coats of solution may be applied after an hour, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Black or burgundy tints may also be added to the patina solution when applying.

    Apply a protective finish. Protect your project with a matte acrylic sealer, applied in several light coats rather than one heavy coat, as the sealer may change the colour or texture.

  • Creating patina finishes on metal objects is even easier:
    For copper, brass, or bronze, start with a clean surface free of oils and grease. Apply Patina solution with a disposable brush directly to the metal. In minutes the patina will appear.Apply additional coats to deepen the patina.For metals such as iron, steel, or tin, a rust barrier primer such as Primo Primer for Rustable Metals will be needed before following the instructions above.
  • Create real rust finishes on any paintable surface:Start with a clean, paint-ready surface. If the object is unprimed or porous, products such as Primo Primer or Clear Sealer are recommended.Shake bottle vigorously. This important step ensures even distribution of the metal particles.

    Using a disposable brush, apply Instant Iron solution. Allow it to dry for before applying a second coat. The longer the second coat dries the darker the tone. Dry 30 seconds for a light orange rust, or from 12 to 24 hours for a deep red rust.

    Apply a coat of Instant Rust solution using a disposable brush. In minutes, patches of rust will appear, fully developing in a few hours. Re-apply Instant Rust solution if a deeper finish is required.

    Protect the rusted finish, if desired. A light coat of matte acrylic sealer such as Primo Primer or Clear Sealer may be added, however, this may change the texture or color of rusted objects.

12.  Toxicity & Safety Information

Complete toxicity information for art materials is provided by the ACMI Arts & Creative Materials Institute on their website at ACMI – Arts & Creative materials Institute.

The ACMI is a non-profit association which sponsors a certification label program to demonstrate conformance for possible hazardous arts materials. We have included a selection of toxicity questions here, to increase awareness that some arts products are potentially dangerous.

ACMI Toxicity Labels

How do I know an art material is “safe”?
Knowledge of materials and their proper use. Be sure to read all labels for the ACMI “non-toxic” symbols and purchase only products with non-toxic seals for children, or adults who may not be able to read or understand the labels.

What should I do if I or my child swallows a product by mistake?
First, read the label and follow all instructions. Check for the ACMI non-toxic seal on the label. If the product bears a warning, call the local poison control center to give them the ingredient information.

Is oil painting done with toxic materials?
No, the majority of oil colours are non-toxic. Some colours do contain heavy metals and other potentially toxic ingredients, so be sure to read and check for the proper toxicity labels.

Safety Tips:

  • Read the label for manufacturer’s instructions and toxicity rating.
  • Children under 12 and adults who may not be able to read or understand
  • safety labeling should only use non-toxic materials.
  • Do not use products past their expiration date.
  • Refrain from eating, drinking, & smoking when using art materials.
  • Wash your hands and supplies after use.