Tag Archives: ink

Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache

CIMG2401It is often very confusing when starting out in calligraphy to be faced with bottles of different inks, some specifically for calligraphy, some for drawing and some for fountain pens. What’s best to use? To avoid any confusion I would strongly recommend paint rather than ink, and, in some cases, paint is actually far better than ink on challenging papers or when writing in books. So if using paint, then the only paint I would recommend is Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache. I know I’m a bit biased because I did work with Schmincke to develop the paints, but my payment ended there, and I now recommend them because they are really good!

 

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******Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache special offer! L Cornelissen, main suppliers of Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache, have very kindly arranged a fantastic offer! If you subscribe to my newsletter (subscribe here) then the price of the set of 13 x 20 ml tubes in a wooden box with an explanatory leaflet is £60 instead of £97. AND for those who live in the UK the p+p is FREE for a limited time. (The cost of p+p from Cornelissen is very reasonable for non-UK). If you would like to have this set, which will last most people a lifetime if they are calligraphers and/or painters of mediæval miniatures (ie don’t use a whole tube at one go!), then send me an email through my website and I’ll send you back your own personal code which you then use when you contact Cornelissen!

Layout 1The colours chosen for the set are based on Michael Wilcox’s book, Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green, which is well worth reading if you’re not familiar with it. This means there are two reds, two blues and two yellows. In addition there is a green – oxide of chromium (which works particularly well with a pen), burnt Siena as the brown (mix it with ultramarine for a great grey), Jet black (a great black ink), ivory black, permanent white, goldpearl and redpearl – both metallic pigments. All are particularly finely ground so pass well through a pen and also almost all have great coverage so pencil guidelines don’t show through (important for we calligraphers!)

 

IMG_1898For more information about the selection of colours and how to mix them, there is a special Calligraphy Clip here.

 

 

 

 

CIMG2423The tubes are a good size, and in calligraphy and painting miniatures, you don’t need much paint, so they will last a long time. Palettes for most painting are usually wide to allow for big brushes, this means the paint evaporates quite quickly, not what we want for calligraphy. I use small science crucibles for mixing paint as they have less surface area for evaporation. Squeeze about 1 cm (just under half-an-inch) of paint into the palette and then add water to the paint drip by drip. This is easiest done with an ink dropper (available at Cornelissen); if you add water from your brush, you don’t know how much liquid it is holding and so may add too much and then have to add more paint – and so it goes on!

CIMG2403The consistency of paint you want is that of thin, runny cream, so add sufficient water and mix up all the paint until that is achieved. If the paint is too thick then it won’t flow through the pen, and if too thin then it won’t cover pencil guidelines. The consistency is the same for painting mediæval miniatures.

 

 

 

CIMG2404Always add dark colours to light as you will need less pigment. It takes a lot of a light colour to make a difference to a dark colour, but only a touch of a dark colour to change a light colour. See my Calligraphy Clip about this paint to find out an easy way to reproduce mixed colours. It is important to mix up all the paint before using it. On the right there is clearly some red still unmixed and this could change the colour in the pen when using.

 

 

CIMG2402I never wash up palettes or throw paint away. Using crucibles, I simply pop on the lid and leave them. When I want to use that colour again, I add water drop by drop until the paint has softened and then use a brush and more water to mix to the consistency of thin, runny cream.

 

 

 

 

CIMG2424The same applies with paint palettes; I don’t wash them either, and, as they’re used by students on my courses, they often have quite a mix of paints on them. I love these porcelain palettes with many tiny wells which are ideal for the small amounts of pigment used for miniature painting. They also come with a lid which provides another surface for mixing, but you do have to let the paint on the lid dry before putting it over the welled part of the palette. I forgot this once – oops!.

Layout 1So to mix good colours using the Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache set, use those which have a tendency towards one another. So for a good orange choose a red which has a bit of yellow in it – vermilion – with a yellow that has a bit of red in it – cadmium yellow. To get a less pure orange, here I mixed cadmium with madder. Madder has a bit of blue in it, so works well with ultramarine, which has a bit of red in it to make a good purple (better than the colour shown on the right!). A less pure purple is made by mixing madder with Paris blue. Paris blue has a bit of yellow in it so makes a great green if mixed with lemon yellow which has a bit of blue in it. A less good green is made by mixing Paris blue and cadmium yellow. Oxide of chromium is a bit of a dull green so add other colours to liven it up. And burnt Siena and ultramarine make a grey with great depth – you’ll never use just black and white again once you’ve mixed this!

The metallic gouaches do need a bit of practice, and I show how to use them both on my DVD – Illumination – and also in my book Illumination – Gold and Colour. Order here.

IMG_2466The Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache set comes with a useful two-sided leaflet which explains more about mixing paints and also has some ideas for using the paints too.

Teach Yourself Calligraphy

FullSizeRenderTeach Yourself Calligraphy was described by one reviewer as doing ‘exactly what it says’. It is, of course, always best to learn calligraphy from a good tutor, but for many people this isn’t possible. This book, then, could be the next best thing! It consists of the main four alphabets – Uncial, and minuscules and majuscules (capital letters) of the Foundational Hand or English Caroline Minuscule, Gothic Black Letter, and Italic. It starts by considering tools and materials, what to look for, and how to look after them.

 

IMG_2194But it isn’t just writing individual calligraphic letters, it is also putting those letters into words and the words into phrases. So there are clear explanations of how to space letters in words, the best spacing between words, and then between lines to get the most pleasing effects.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2195And then, most people don’t want simply to write out words, but to use their calligraphy in different ways. So there are ideas, and clear and precise instructions, on how to make bookmarks, cute little boxes, bags for gifts, wraps, folds and envelopes.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2198Some people like to use their calligraphy to make books. So there are also instructions on how to create simple single section books of various types, with lots of different ideas. And for those who want to produce a hard-backed book with covered card covers, Teach Yourself Calligraphy shows you how to set out the book’s text (page design), how to sew the pages together, and how to put those pages into a hard cover with a spine.

 

 

 

IMG_2196There are also lots of ideas for using calligraphy for invitations, menus, wrapping paper and matching gift tags, mementoes and cards.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2197And for those who want to write out poetry and prose as broadsheets, there are clear guidelines on how to start with the text, the best layouts, how to transfer a rough to a best piece of paper, how to use colour (with a clear colour chart for reference), how to lay a wash, use pastels and gouache, and so much more.

With 124 pages and a pleasing square format, chapter headings are: tools and materials; writing calligraphic letters; greetings cards and bookmarks; wraps, folds and boxes; celebrations; writing little books; poetry and prose; and a glossary.

To get your own signed copy for £10 + p+p with your name written calligraphically, please contact me via my website.

 

 

Shakespeare and writing

Tom BatemanIt is so heartwarming when production companies take their projects seriously enough to ensure that things are done properly, and this was the case with the forthcoming production of Shakespeare in Love in London’s West End.

I was asked to teach actor Tom Bateman (right), who is William Shakespeare in the play, how to cut and use a quill.

The teaching session was in the Playhouse Theatre and that particular night was the Press Night, so the red carpet was out (I knew it wasn’t for me!) and preparations were being made for that evening. I’ve never been at a Press Night and it all looked very exciting.

We found a quiet room off the bar, I set knives, feathers, ink and hand-made paper up on a table, and Tom looked for a bin – essential for quill cutting.

I went through the stages of quill cutting, with quickly drawn diagrams, and explained the process as I cut and changed a swan’s wing feather into a usable pen. Then it was Tom’s turn. At first he didn’t realise quite how tough the barrels of feathers are, but once I’d shown him how to place his thumbs and the angle of the knife for maximum effect, he was well away. It’s so marvellous teaching people who pick things up quickly, and Tom had a good quill cut in no time.

Then it was on to the writing; I had some hand-made paper with me that had a slightly textured surface, which would have been similar to the paper used in Elizabethan times (and at this time it is more likely to have been paper than vellum or parchment). Tom enjoyed the ‘tooth’ between a well-cut quill and the paper, and the scratching sound of the quill nib – there’s nothing like it! I also explained how precious paper was. The screwed up rejects of paper thrown over Shakespeare’s shoulder in the Shakespeare in Love film as he suffered from writer’s block were very unlikely. Paper was just too expensive to be wasted like this!

So all stages of cutting and using a quill were revised again, and Tom was happy with the process, so, armed with my DVD to remind him of what he had learned, he was then off to buy a quill knife (I use X-Acto knives with replaceable blades, removing the pointed blade that it comes with with a curved blade that are sold in sets of five) and feathers to practise.

I’m looking forward very much indeed to the production at the Noel Coward Theatre, and will be eagle-eyed to ensure that the quill is cut properly (if it writes and you end up with the right numbers of digits after cutting it, it’s fine!). It will also be interesting to see if Tom has any little ‘starting writing’ processes – I did suggest one to him, and if he uses it, you know where it came from!