Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our whites and blacks in oil paints

Transparent Black
Transparent Black enables the artist to mix glowing, vibrant darks without the overpowering effect of Lamp or Ivory blacks. On its own Transparent Black is a neutral black with a mid grey undertone, as distinct from the cool undertone of Lamp Black and the warmth of Ivory Black.
BWS8, Permanence ****

Ivory Black
A semi transparent black with a warm undertone. By far the most widely used and popular black today.
ASTM1, Permanence ****

Lamp Black
The most opaque and blackest black. Lamp Black is a cool, very slow drying black with a slightly blue undertone. Please note that Lamp Black will appear blacker than can be registered in this colour swatch.
ASTM1, Permanence ****

Zinc White
Simply unbeatable as a mixing white because of the subtle luminous results when mixed with colours. Being one third the opacity of Titanium White, it allows stronger, translucent tints to be mixed. It can also be used for subtle glazing effects; a pin head of zinc added to each colour layer will identify that colour within multiple layers of glaze.
Permanence ****

Titanium White
Titanium is extremely opaque and is the whitest of all whites. Its covering power and resistance to yellowing makes it a popular choice where areas of pure white colour are needed. In mixes it produces opaque, more pastel shades, as distinct from the more luminous results obtained with Zinc White. Titanium White contains a small amount of PW4 to ensure useability for the artist.
Permanence ****

Titanium White #2
Formulated with more pigment and less oil than our standard Titanium, the Titanium # 2 is milled for long periods which results in an extremely heavy bodied paint. It is an exceptionally opaque and brilliant white, and because of the heavy body and lower oil content is ideal for impasto work, and a useful replacement for the toxic flake white (lead white).
Permanence ****

Underpainting White
A fast drying oil-resin white ideal for priming and under painting. Straight from the tube it has a soft, cottage cheese like consistency which becomes smooth when brushed out or worked with a palette knife. Underpainting white dries in around half the time of other whites.
Permanence ****

Oil Paint ratings explained
Lightfastness refers to how much colours are subject to fade with exposure to light over time.
ASTM refers to the American Society for Testing Materials. Oil Paints are rated as Class I through to Class V, with Class I being the most lightfast.
BWS refers to Blue Wool Scale, a lightfastness rating system of 1 to 8, with 7 and 8 being the highest (and thus equivalent to ASTMI).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Create your own Colourfix Paper background shades

Did you know you can create your own pastel background colour by using Colourfix Primer?

Simply apply the Colourfix Primer of your choice to paper (300gsm or heavier) or canvas, board, timber ... (there is a whole range of clean, dry surfaces this primer will adhere to). Each colour in the standard Colourfix range is available (as well as a clear, extra-textured 'Supertooth'), but you can also mix them together or tint them with Art Spectrum Gouache or Artists' Ink to make your own customised Colourfix paper.

The primer can also restore your original background colour during, or at the end of, the painting process. For example, see Donna's tips on using Colourfix Primer to correct errors:

So now you can make your own coloured pastel paper, perfectly matched to your palette!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Art Spectrum celebrates its 45th year!

In 2011 Art Spectrum celebrates its 45th year!

 The first tube of Art Spectrum paint was produced in 1966 when the business was running out of the studio of artist and founder David Keys. It was initially an artists’ co-op created to import high quality linen at affordable prices. Now Art Spectrum paints and papers are sold around the world. Art Spectrum remains a family company with David, his wife Gay and their son David still running the business.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Artist Maria Paterson on Art Spectrum dark pastels

Artist Maria Paterson has written a post on her blog about our dark pastels:

Below is a painting of hers using Art Spectrum pastels.
Three boys  pastel on paper  45cm x 55cm

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An introduction to Art Spectrum Varnishes

Varnish is used on a fully dried oil painting to even out the gloss of the paint and to protect it from dust and other contaminants. Please note that it may take between six months and a year (or more) for an oil painting to completely dry, depending on a range of factors such as climate and the thickness of paint application.

If the painting becomes dirty or yellowed over time, the varnish may be carefully removed with an appropriate solvent then new varnish applied – thus preserving the colours of the original painting. Often a conservator is employed for this purpose.

Picture varnish should never be used during painting as a medium, as any attempt to clean off the surface in future may result in paint being removed. Conversely, care should be taken never to use a medium as a varnish. For a simple introduction to the proper use of mediums please see our mediums page. Usually the longest lasting paintings are based on simple and time-tested techniques. Beware of faulty techniques in oil painting, as it can take a long time for problems to develop in the surface of your painting. Always use varnish in a well-ventilated area and carefully follow safety instructions.

Our range of varnishes includes:

Damar Varnish
Damar Varnish is a traditional gloss final varnish for oil and alkyd paintings. Also used in making some painting mediums. Remove carefully with Gum Turpentine. Damar Crystals are also available.

Artists’ Gloss Varnish (formerly called Paraloid Varnish)
A high gloss, non-yellowing acrylic varnish. Remove carefully with a small amount of methylated spirits on a lint-free cloth.

Retouch Varnish
A fast-drying, touch-up varnish. A thin coat restores luminosity to dull areas to aid colour matching. Used as a sealer for painting grounds if the surface is too porous. Must be dry before overpainting. Retouch Varnish is sometimes thinly applied as a temporary picture varnish for works that are touch dry but not fully dry enough for a final varnish. Remove carefully with Mineral Turpentine.

Matt Wax Varnish
A satin matt varnish made from beeswax and natural resin. Can be rubbed and buffed to a sheen with a lint-free cloth. Use Gum Turpentine as solvent.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

pastels, pastels, pastels! (Margaret Evans workshop and the final instalment of our pastel sets description)

Margaret Evans has just been from one end of Australia to the other - sharing her knowledge of pastels. It's been a great opportunity for pastellists to extend their technique and understanding. It's also given us the pleasure of seeing artists enjoying Art Spectrum Pastels, Colourfix and Colourfix Suede! There have been some glowing reports on the workshops and a rumour that Margaret may return in 2012.

The photo was kindly provided by Nina Poulton of the South Coast Pastel Society, NSW.
Find out more about Margaret Evans at

And to complete the final instalment of our pastel sets information... Our Deluxe Pastel box includes no less than 154 colours (our complete range of standard pastels). The pastels are protected by six foam trays in an elegant, dark wooden box with sliding lid. If you are very serious about your pastels, this may just be the set for you. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Margaret Cowling on a favourite AS watercolour: Tasman Blue

Tasman Blue - some say it's opaque, but so what? It can be, but it depends what you do with it. It's bold as a saturated colour, a sweet, joyous mid and a warm blue. It can dilute down to the finest suggestion, in fact a veil. I love to glaze a Tas Blue veil across an area - figure, still life, land or seascape - that mood change is magic.

Margaret Cowling.

Margaret Cowling is an Australian artist who has had a long and wonderful association with the Art Spectrum company.  
You can find out more about Margaret here
And view one of her painting galleries here