Best Gifts for Painters and Artists Part 2 - charcoal, conte and oil paint
How to choose the best gifts artists
What are the best gifts for painters and artists? I outlined a few of the first, popular and easiest tools and media available in Best Gifts for Painters and Artists Part 1, but there's so much choice it's sometimes difficult to know what to buy for that really special gift. Here are a few more creative gift ideas.Once the basic tools of the trade have been acquired, an easel, palette knife, drawing board, pencils and perhaps a set of water colour paints or pastels, it's time to move on. Have you thought about a complete beginners set to oil painting, conté crayons or charcoal for drawing? What about gouache for the illustrators and designers? Canvases, brushes and paper is always needed and make welcome gifts and presents. Read on for easy solutions to present-buying headaches ...
Charcoal is the traditional drawing media
Charcoal has long been used by artists to produce beautiful tonal drawings and sketches on paper, and also to draw onto walls and canvas to establish the bones of a composition before using oil or other paints. Charcoal is made by burning twigs of wood, usually willow or Lime (Tilia) to produce black, carbon sticks with soft, medium or hard consistencies.
You can also buy compressed charcoal which is charcoal powder mixed with gum binder compressed into round or square sticks. These are firmer and less powdery than normal charcoal but have a greasier consistency not unlike conté crayon - see below. Compresed charcoal can be bought in the form of pencils;
How To Choose Charcoal Sticks
- Charcoal Sticks for Artists
I needed charcoal sticks- quickly - for a life drawing class that I'm going to attend next week and I found it quite hard to find charcoal online, so this article is born from desperation on my part! First I had to find the right words to put into th
During the Napoleonic Wars there was a shortage of graphite and this inspired Nicolas-Jacques Conté to invent the conté crayon made from a combination of clay and graphite. These days they are made from compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base. They are made into sticks with a square section and are usually found in the earth colours: black, white, burnt umber and burnt sienna although they can also be bought in other colours and in the form of pencils.
What's the difference between conté crayons, pastels and charcoal? Pastels have a powdery consistency and can easily be blended and smudged on the paper. Charcoal is soft but doesn't have the smooth texture of pastel. Conté, on the other hand, is harder the other two and has a slightly greasy quality. This means that although it can be used to create soft shades, sharp lines can be produced by using the edges of the crayon. There can be some confusion because Conté is also the name of the company that makes conté crayons - and they also make soft pastels, (not readily available in the US).
Georges Seurat was one of the artists that most famously used conté.
Find out more about pastel, chalks and conté
- What is pastel? The history of oil pastel and chalk pastel.
Artists have long used chalk pastels, and more recently, oil pastels for drawing and sketching. The medium can be used in a linear manner, or in a painterly way, so you can talk of pastel drawings or using pastels to creat pastel paintings, and as oi
Gouache is a water based paint that differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, denser and a white pigment such as chalk is also present. Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent, just as in watercolor.
Like watercolour it is diluted with water, but gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities and it is the first choice for producing areas of flat colour such as posters.
Oil paint consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The paint can be thinned with solvents as turpentine or white spirit or with linseed oil, and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the dried film
Oil paints can be difficult unless you have a dedicated studio as it can be smelly and messy. It is slow drying, and that can be an advantage or disadvantage; you ave more time to decide if you have achieved the correct effect and if not, the paint can simply be scraped off the support, but the down side is that painting outside and transporting works is difficult to organise if there isn't time for it to dry first - and this can take weeks if the paint has been applied very thickly.
The beauty of paiting with oils lies in the sensuousness of the paint, the translucency, the subtle and rich way that they blend together and the way that they can be combined with other media.* We think of the 'Old Masters' when we think of oil painting, from the early Renaissance onwards.
*(For example tempera or acrylics, for example, can be used as a base. These are both water based material and must be completely dry before oil is applied over them. They should not be mixed with oil paint.)
The quickest and easiest, and also often the cheapest way to get started with acrylics or oils is to buy a pre-primed, ready stretched canvas. It can be primed with acrylic primer and this can be used for either acrylic or oil paints, or it can be primed with oil paint and this is only for use with oil paints.
If you are selecting canvas, either to stretch yourself (see below), or a ready-stretched frame, you must match the canvas to your needs. Canvases come in duck cotton, linen, or a blend of the two. Linen is durable and nicely textured but more expensive than cotton. For beginners and budget shoppers, cotton or a synthetic blend is perfectly adequate. As you gain experience you might decide that you prefer a more textured canvas, or a smoother one. Also the larger your work, the stronger the canvas needs to be.
How to stretch your own canvas
- How to stretch a canvas yourself
Life in our Chambres d'htes, Limousin, France, is ever varied. Today I'm going to make a stretcher for a portrait, so I'll take the opportunity to show how to make your own canvas stretcher. Making a stretcher yourself is not difficult and you don't
Where in the world is Limousin?
I've found some really beautiful luxury gifts for that special artist in your life!
- Ten Luxury Christmas Gifts For Artists
That touch of luxury says it all. I'm a professional artist and I can vouch for the fact that artists just love those extra-special materials and tools that
Are you inspired to take up the pencil?
Do you enjoy drawing for pleasure?See results without voting
More by this Author
Beautiful decorative eggs at La Vie en Rose Porcelain factory in Saint Junien, S W France make the perfect gift. French Limoges porcelain boxes are very collectable and each is a veritable little gem.
This art gift guide, drawn up by a professional artist, makes finding the perfect gift for artists easy. It takes the guess-workout of choosing. There are basic starter art materials and art equipment for beginner...
This Medlar jam recipe makes a wonderfully special and spicy Medlar cheese which is perfect for Christmas breakfasts (we serve this jam in our bed and breakfast near Rochechouart, S W France.) The Common Medlar...