Here are some examples of the different techniques that we use.
Oil on canvas
This is the technique that artists have used for most of the great pictures that we know in galleries and museums. In an oil painting, the actual colours are held in a slow drying transparent carrier, traditionally linseed oil. The paint is usually put on with a brush or a flat knife.
To paint on canvas, generally stretched over a wooden frame, became the preferred method for artists some four hundred years ago, and has remained so to the present day.
There are many advantages in “painting in oils”. Great gradations of colour and tone are possible, the work can be easily altered and over painted; and once dry, the picture lasts for a very long time.
Lizzie Hale and Brian Tutt both work in oil on canvas, as well as other media.
Watercolour on paper
As anyone who has tried it will know, watercolour is much harder than it looks to do well.
Watercolour painting came into popularity in England in the 18C, when artists such as Turner used id not only for making quick sketches in the open air, but also finished pictures of the highest quality.
Watercolour artists use water to dissolve their colours, which are held in soluble gum in little pans or tubes. They normally paint on paper, and the brilliance of the effect comes from the light that is reflected back through the colours from the paper surface.
Brian Palmer’s watercolours should perhaps more properly be called watercolour drawings, since they are based on drawings made in ink with a Japanese brush, while Lizzie Hale makes drawings from life with pen and watercolour wash.
Dry point etching
In the process known as dry point etching, or just “dry point”, the image is first engraved in reverse on a sheet of metal or plastic. A diamond pointed stylus is often used, and the most common metals are zinc, aluminium or copper.
Special ink is rubbed into the grooves, and the surface wiped clean. The plate is put in a press, and a particular kind of paper, damped and blotted, laid on top of it, Pressure is applied, and the paper sucks the ink out of the lines on the plate, transferring the image. The print is then dried, and may be tinted by the artist.
One of the advantages of this very ancient technique is that it is possible to make a number of copies of the picture, called an “edition’.
Brian Palmer particularly enjoys working in this medium.
“I like the uncertainty that comes from working in reverse,
and the resistance of the metal gives the line a,
not-altogether controllable quality so that you never
know quite what you’ve got until you see the print”.
Palmer often incorporates his own poems into his drypoint prints, so of course the letters have to be engraved in mirror image too.
Whereas in etching the picture is produced from the ink held in the grooves of the plate, in relief or block printing it is the surface of the plate that carries the ink and the engraved lines or areas
will often appear as light against a darker background
The printing surfaces are usually made of lino, rubber, plastic or wood, and there may be several plates of different colours in the final picture. This method of printmaking, has been a favourite of many British artists, from Bewick to Bawden, and was used also by Matisse.
Monotype, also known as monoprint, is a method of printmaking that produces a unique result for every print taken.
The artist builds up the picture by applying special ink to a plate of metal, plastic or glass, and manipulates the colours and image with rollers, brush, or stylus. The result is transferred to paper by an etching press or other ways of applying pressure….even standing on it.
Monotype is popular for its painterly effects and the intensity of colours that can be achieved, and has been used by artists as varied as Blake and Degas.