Sunday, March 20, 2011

Final Grisaille and Animal-Free Art Materials

I was planning to post some of this information last week but was interrupted by the need to write about our experience with the tsunami and being prepared. So, to start with here is the previous picture of the grisaille and the most recent one (bottom).

Basically I continued to balance out the tone and "pushed" the tall pitcher further into the back. I also continued to refine shapes. I decided that I am going to go into color at this point. I realized I was starting to get too detailed and fussy and it is too early to do that at this stage. I haven't done this for very long so I am still learning how far to take a grisaille along with all the other skills. I am having a lot of fun though! By the way, the second picture was taken outside (between rainstorms) on a bright cloudy diffused day. Thanks to Karen Martin Sampson for reminding me of the technique.
I have been doing a bit of research along the way into animal-free art supplies. I thought I had done a pretty good job at avoiding art materials that contain animal byproducts but found a few surprises when I started doing a bit of research. There are several artists who have gone before me but most of what I found on various blogs were materials I pretty much knew about. Supplies such as paint brushes of course, certain colors of paint, rabbit hide sizing in some canvas preparations, etc. The main thing that caught me by surprise was the amount of art papers that use gelatin in their sizing process. It turns out that one of the papers that was on my school supply list is one of these. I had been using Canson's Mi Tientes for charcoal drawing. This paper uses gelatin. I will be finding a different paper for charcoal drawing.
So I jumped into research, looking specifically at the art supplies I use. There are a few wonderful companies out there that are quite open with the ingredients they use. I use Gamblin oil paints and solvents for that, and a few other reasons. I use their chromatic black instead of ivory black. Not that I use black a lot, but ivory black contains animal bone. Information about the ingredients of each color is at their website. Fabriano Artistico papers states on their website that their papers are animal-free as does Strathmore. Derwent colored-pencils also state that they are animal-free. A few companies I contacted for more information. I got a response from Prismacolor that their Verithin colored pencils are animal-free. I contacted Legion Papers to inquire about their Stonehenge paper but haven't had a response at this time.
Some of the products I looked into are on my supply list for the Rob Liberace workshop I will take in August. We need to prepare papers a special way to be able to achieve certain effects with the Verithin colored pencils. The list calls for a watercolor wash on watercolor paper and topped with diluted shellac. Many water colors contain ox-gall but Holbien brand does not. The same issue with certain colors in oil paints apply to watercolor paints.
The paper that was recommended was Twinrocker which is handmade in the U.S. but it is sized in gelatin. I will try the Fabriano. Instead of shellac, which contains animal byproducts, I am going to try Gamlin's PVA size. I love to experiment so it is a fun challenge for me to come up with a good working alternative and hopefully achieve the same effect. I will keep you posted on the progress.
While looking around at various blogs, websites, and art forums, I came across another lovely blog, Katherine Kean. I also listed her in my links list. Please do take a look! She paints stunning pictures of our natural world. Her skies and marine paintings are inspiring. She also strives to use animal-free art materials to produce her work. So many wonderful artists and so little time to read everything.
Happy Equinox to all. Spring is here at last!
-Renee

4 comments:

Heidi (Aponi) said...

I love watching your art grow! You have come so far in such a short time.

Theresa said...

I never would have thought of it Renee, that gelatin is used in art papers!
Thanks for pointing it out and posting about it. The grisaille looks better too. I wouldn't have noticed the subtle changes if they weren't side by side
so to speak. Much appreciated. I'm glad it's spring somewhere because it's snowing here and has been all last week. I've been cheated out of that incredible moon.

evelynoldroyd said...

I am looking forward to seeing the colour begin. I like the first photo better, the second on my screen seems hazy.

Renee said...

Thanks for the comments! Evelyn you might be right. It looked fine when I posted it but today is looks a bit foggy. I had to tilt my screen just right.

Theresa, I know right? Who would have thought paper had gelatin. I thought they pretty much used a cellulose based size like the animal friendly ones I listed. I too was cheated out of a spectacular moon but kinda figured that would be the case giving where we live. I guess I can't complain as we don't have the snow (!!!) I think we will all be ready for the warmer weather.

Heidi, thanks so much for the encouraging comment. Sometimes it is hard to see one's own progress!

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