The Alchemy of Art

2014-02-28 14.25.29Conte/ Powder charcoal made with red iron oxide and yellow ochre mixture with an addition of kaolin whilte china clay/ DIY spray workable drawing fixative

Spray fixative for Drawings
1part Casein
2parts Vodka/alcohol
5parts distilled water
Mix well and strain in cheesecloth / pour strained liquid into a fine mist spray bottle.
Use as a workable fixative on pencil, pastel, conte or charcoal drawings.

Impasto painted Bluebirds made entirely from DIY paints:

While I am on a renaisance enlightened path to making your own art supplies I highly recommend taking a peak at this blog – two artists who enjoy sharing wonderful ways of creating their paintings from scratch.
The site link for the blog and the artists in Duncan David Gluck and his partner Kate Stone HERE –
David Gluck and Kate Stone
IF you really cannot bring yourself to be part of the new rennaisance of art supplies then you can have them made from natural materials by this wonderful company HERE:
Pigment suppliers that are less expensive than art stores Victoria Clay art but I prefer Vancouver island pottery in parksville  and
Seattle pottery supply  but will need to be ordered and shipped .  Also Greenbarn in surrey sells pigments.
For my blog PEEPS HERE IS THE LINK TO  suppliers such as the mason stain site

Also check out cement supply stores and cement pigment – I am not an expert but I believe it is the same as mason stains or artist pigments from the same suppliers.

ron red oxide & yellow ochre is less expensive to purchase at the pottery supply stores and makes the
orangey red conte artists  know and love.

The basic ingredients of pastels are simple: pigment, a filler, and a
binder. You start by dissolving the binder, mix in the pigment and binder,
get the consistency right, then roll out your pastels and leave them to dry.
It will take a bit of practice and experimenting, so keep records of what
you do so you can recreate your successes!

Cheap Pastels Recipe:
• Quarter cup of rolled or crushed oats (combined with the water to make a
• A quart (just over a liter) of water (preferably distilled so there isn’t
any chlorine in it)
• Two tablespoons of powdered tempera or poster paint (for pigment). Another
option is to collect leftover dust when using bought pastels and use them to
make new ones (the mixture of colors can give a beautiful grey)
• Half a cup of unscented talcum/baby powder (for filler)

Step 1: Put the water in a pot and set it on the stove to boil. Add the oats
and leave it to boil for five minutes.
Step 2: Pour the oats mixture through a fine sieve to strain out the oats.
You’ll be using the water only.
Step 3: Mix the talc with the paint powder, then add a teaspoon of the
strained oats water. You’re after a consistency like dough or putty
consistency, which sticks to itself not your fingers.
Step 4: Roll out into sausages, put on absorbent paper (newspaper is a cheap
option), then cut into pieces about two inches (6 cm) long.
Step 5: Leave to dry at room temperature, at least 24 hours.

• If your pastels are very crumbly, your binder was too weak; add some more
oats next time. If your pastels are very hard, your binder was too strong;
break up the pastel and dissolve it into some more binder.
• You could use diluted wallpaper paste as a binder.
• Create tints of a particular color by adding more filler or white pigment.

True Pastels Recipe:
• Gum arabic or gum tragacanth (binder)
• Distilled water
• Pigment
• Chalk or kaolin/China clay (filler)

Step 1: Dissolve the binder in the water in the ratio 1:20 (one part binder
to 20 parts water).
Step 2: Mix filler and pigment in the ratio 2:1 (two parts filler to one
part pigment).
Step 3: Add the binder liquid to the filler/pigment slowly, until it has the
consistency of dough or putty.
Step 4: Roll out and dry as described above.

• Gum arabic makes a harder pastel than gum tragacanth.
• Damar resin mixed with plenty of white spirit or turpentine can be used as
a binder.
Basic Pastel Recipe
1 part Gum Tragacanth
Alcohol or wine
30 parts distilled water (approx)
The making of pastels is fun, easy and surprisingly economical. It is felt
by many that handmade pastels are much better quality than the extruded type
typically sold to artists. One of the first pastel-works was Leonard de
Vinci’s “Portrait of Isabelle d’Este” in 1499.
Preferably used dry, these pastels may also be diluted with water providing
infinite nuances and ranges of permanent, non-fading color. An artist can
achieve varying effects by further working the pastels with his or her
fingers. The key to making pastels is the right balance between hardness and
softness, as this will affect its ability to adhere to the paper and to be
Prepare gum by placing it in a covered glass bottle or container. Begin by
pouring a small amount of alcohol (grain or denatured ethyl) to moisten the
gum, then add water and shake the container. Leave this solution for 1 or 2
days. Tragacanth can’t be rushed. It will not dissolve, but instead will
form into a gelatinous solution. When ready to mix with your pigments, warm
the tragacanth and strain it through cheesecloth. Mix the pigments with
distilled water to make a paste. You may wish to use the pigments alone, or
mix them with chalk, for example in a 1 part pigment to 2 parts Whiting
Chalk ratio. Crush the pigment paste with the gum solution until smooth and
evenly distributed.
Spread the wet pastel onto absorbent paper to help pull excess moisture from
the mixture. While it is damp before complete drying, cut or break into
shapes to work with. Test to see if the proportions are correct. If the
pastels crumble in your fingers, there is not enough gum. If they slide on
the paper without leaving color and texture, there is too much gum. In
addition, linseed oil or wax can be added to your preparation to make
pastels last longer.

Check out Pistrucci Artworks tile: Animal Kingdom line launching soon!

First Steps Old World Grey