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07. Hints & Tips

PERSPECTIVE - Arthur Johnson
Quick check for perspective

Hold one end of a length of string on a vanishing point. 

By moving the other end along the perspective angles it is possible to quickly check that angles are in the correct alignment.  

This can be repeated for other vanishing points in the picture.


Once pastel has been applied a misty, hazy effect can be achieved by rubbing the surface gently with fingers in a latex or vinyl glove.

Gloves can be bought from most Pharmacies. B&Q etc.

Line Drawing - Dot Burgess
'Micron' Ink Pens are the best on the market for line drawing.  They are fade resistant and waterproof and come in various nib sizes.
Available from Amazon - approx £3.45 ea.(2015)


Soluble Colours
Those that DO dissolve in water and form a solution where the water can not be separated from the colour pigment. THESE COLOURS STAIN THE PAPER, they are dyes.
Alizarin Crimson
Winsor Blue
Winsor Yellow
Hookers Green
Sap Green

Insoluble colours
Those that DO NOT dissolve in water, where the heavy particles of pigment are in suspension in the water. These colours stay on the surface of the paper and can be lifted or EASILY REMOVED with clean water on a brush and then blotted with kitchen towel or absorbing paper. Sometime referred to as sedimentary colours because the pigment settles to the bottom of the liquid, in this case water.
Cobalt Blue Light
Raw Umber\French Ultramarine Blue
Burnt Sienna
Yellow Ochre
Burnt Umber
Raw Sienna

How to make a good BLACK -  Bob Burgess
Use French Ultramarine & Burnt Sienna.
This 'black' sits more naturally in a painting than Black straight from the tube.
These two colours also granulate when used with lots of water, wet in wet.  Ideal for dramatic skies.

Watercolour - Limited Palette - Suggested Colours (Courtesy Ged Mitchell)
French Ultramarine
Alizarin Crimson
Cadmium Orange
Indian Yellow
Prussian Blue
Burnt Sienna
Black ( Use hint above)

MASKING FLUID - Arthur Johnson
Masking fluid is basically a latex suspension.
Copydex’adhesive has similar properties and can be used for the same purpose.
It can be tinted with a hint of cobalt blue

How to make accurate curved lines - Nicola Coxon
To make curves with acrylic paint, put a fairly generous blob of paint on a flat surface. Run a pizza cutter through it so there is an even amount of paint on the cutter.  Apply to artwork in required curved shape.  If paint too blobby! spray the cutter with a small amount of water before putting through paint.

Finish and seal - Anthony Barrow
Can use any water based interior quality clear varnish such as Ronseal interior varnish - Satin (Gloss and Matt available)
This is quick drying (about 20 minutes), acrylic and use water to clean brushes.
Available from any well known DIY outlet and of course Amazon.
Cost varies across outlets but about £14 for 750ml size (also available in 250ml size for about £10)


Fixing paintings onto mount board -:Dave Norcross

Problem:  Mount board not fitting hard against the artwork causing unsightly gaping. Generally caused by too much of the paper being left to be hidden behind the mount. When moisture is present, as seen on many of the pictures shown at Rode Hall, the gaping can appear.

Solution:  Cut off surplus paper and leave 5 or 6mm max. hidden by the mount.  Then tape down all around the picture using 25mm self adhesive framing tape available from the SAA (code SAT25).  An alternative to this is Archival hinging tape (SAA code AHT25).

These are consistently reliable products not subject to the varying adhesive qualities of Masking tapes, most of which go dry over time and may result in pictures becoming detached from the mount.

Taping pictures into frames -:Dave Norcross

Problem:   Similar to above with masking tape.  Due to it being applied to materials that tend to be open grained, it does not give a good bond.  The use of Wet Gummed Tape is not recommended as although the adhesive will normally give a more lasting bond it can attract bugs that feed on the gum.

Solution:   Use SAA 38 or 50 mm Self Adhesive Framing Tape (codes SAT38, SAT50) respectively.

Note, there must be other people who make/supply these tapes.  I am only quoting SAA materials because they are the only ones I know and can vouch for.

Mount Board around pictures -:Dave Norcross

Problem:   Insufficient area of mount board to show the picture to best effects.

Solution:   Bearing in mind – “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, my rule of thumb on a picture 35 x 24 cm is to have at least 7.5cm top and sides and 9 cm at the bottom.  Although not always possible I treat these as minimums on the size quoted and scale them up or down as other picture sizes dictate


Fixative spray is used for fixing pastel, graphite, chalk, charcoal, either to fix layers, to fix the final painting, or both. It is also used by coloured pencil artists to fix the finished painting. Fixative stops the chalk, pastel etc falling off the picture once it has been framed and hung.

Always buy the best fixative you can afford - Daler Rowney/Sennelier/Schmincke etc.  Cost around £10 but will last a long time. Quality fixatives are low odour and have minimal effect on tonal values.  Do NOT use hairspray which may discolour your painting, and do NOT use cheap sprays from bargain stores. Not only are they likely to discolour your picture but they are also very smelly and are likely to give you a headache!  

Always read the instructions on the can and check that you are purchasing the fixative for the medium you are using. Check with the retailer if you are unsure.

Fixative Spray should be used with caution.  Always use in a well ventilated room or preferably outside.  Do NOT spray near other people or pets.  Always cover the surrounding area as the spray may damage polished surfaces.

Before spraying test on a piece of paper to ensure that the nozzle is clear thus avoiding drips onto your work.

Hold can about a metre from your work and spray lightly and evenly. It is better to do 2 or 3 light layers of spray rather than one heavy layer. Leave to dry before moving your painting.


For helpful tips on colour mixing click on the PDF files  below.

c/o Patricia,
18 Apr 2015, 12:05
c/o Patricia,
18 Apr 2015, 12:05