‘The only rule is there are no rules’ an Interview with artist Jim Anderson



How did you get into printmaking?

I dabbled in printmaking – using the silkscreen – as an A level pupil at school; but I started in earnest in 1883-84 during my Foundation Course year at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. The print studio was in the draughty church hall of St. Barnabas’ church, and the printmaking tutor was a cantankerous but inspirational man named Walter Hoyle, who had been one of the circle of artists around the designer Edward Bawden. Walter had a fanatical obsession with the materials of printmaking, and a very visceral sense of the alchemy of it all. At the time I was captivated by Dada and Surrealism (still am) and was entranced by the opportunities different print media seemed to offer for lucky accidents.
After Foundation course I took a degree in English and American literature, which gave me the chance to do a lot of theatre design. All the while I carried on making etchings and collagraphs at a printmakers’ co-operative. Working for my degree with words and stories, I grew to like the fact that printmaking seemed much more able than other media, such as painting, to encompass literary and storytelling elements. I liked the fact that print included the traditions of comics and posters and cheap ephemeral art – it wasn’t necessarily ‘high’ art.


We spoke about your piece named ‘Sargasso’, which we chose for our RE Original Print Show prize. You mentioned that it was inspired by the growing numbers of jellyfish in the ocean caused by global warming, is your work usually concerned with the environment?

Jim Anderson - Sargasso

Sargasso by Jim Anderson

I am very concerned about and interested in ecological matters, but I don’t think it shows explicitly in the imagery of my work, except for a handful of pieces (perhaps including ‘Sargasso’).
Without consciously intending to do so, I have arrived at a more or less ecologically-minded way of working.  I have always been interested in recycling (my parents were war-time children, so we grew up hearing a lot about rationing and make-do-and-mend). I started making handmade paper in the 80s because it was cheap, and fun (a bit like making mud-pies), and its lumpy unpredictability seemed like a tiny but enjoyably subversive gesture against all things yuppified and mass-produced.
I like to make prints which I can transport on the back of my bicycle; where possible I like to bypass complex or wasteful paraphanelia or processes.
When I started making mosaics in the late 90s it was chiefly a reaction to reading about all those wonderful ‘outsider’ artists, such as Nek Chand in India, who have created things of wonder out of the stuff society discards. Trash to treasure.

Jim Anderson - Nek Chand sculptures - Chandigarh India

Nek Chand sculptures. Chandigarh, India

In the early 2000s I spent some time in Kenya working on mosaic projects; and found it inspiring that – through necessity – a number of the artists I met there took it for granted that their work would be created from reclaimed materials.

As regards art having a ‘message’ –  in general I think that art which tries to be didactic ends up looking pretty simple-minded (though ironically a number of my favourite creative people – for example Diego Rivera, Ben Shahn, Bertolt Brecht, or – to bring things a bit more up to date – the contemporary illustrator-cum-provocateur Molly Crabapple – are unashamedly didactic in their intentions).


You use recycled materials in your work, and even make your own paper. Can describe the process you go through to create a typical print.

I am usually working on several pieces at once, often using a number of different media. Sometime I put a piece aside for several years if I am unsure where it is going. So I’m not sure I have a very typical ‘routine’.
But very broadly, a work along the lines of ‘Sargasso’ is created thus; I usually start with a form of collagraph plate – this can be constructed from old hardboard, string, sand, glue, sawdust, hair, and other abandoned materials, stuck together and sealed with carpenters glue…… This collaged plate can then be used to intaglio-print the major elements of the image onto pieces of handmade paper.
The paper onto which I print is an important part of the process. I was taught to make handmade paper by a kind South African artist named Susan Rothenberg, whom I met at Oxford Printmakers’ Co-operative in 1984. It was a craft I was eager to learn, because – when one was trying to make something (hopefully) unique – it seemed a little perverse to print onto a piece of flat mass-produced paper.

Jim Anderson - making paperMaking paper

My paper is cooked up from soft rags, scraps of reclaimed paper and card, and occasionally organic matter such as human hair. The ingredients are torn into pieces about the size of a thumbnail, soaked in water for a few days, then mixed with more water and perhaps a little glue or size, before being pulped in a Kenwood blender until the mixture is the consistency of thin porridge. This pulp can be coloured by stirring into it acrylic paints or fabric dyes. I then spread the multi-coloured porridge out onto large pieces of old sheet stretched out on boards, and leave the water to run off and the paper to dry.
When dry it can be peeled off. It has the texture and appearance of soft pastel-hued crispbread. I enjoy working onto this unpredictable, spongy, rough-hewn material as I feel it makes the final print into more of an object, more of a thing, as opposed to a flat image impressed onto an even-surfaced industrial product.
After the initial collagraph structure of the image has been printed on the handmade paper, I usually work over it and embellish it with a cocktail of lino-cut, stencil, drypoint, and hand-colouring. Because of the variations in the pieces of paper, I can never really achieve an ‘edition’ of identical prints.


Your prints are quite lively with strong narratives, what type of literature inspires you the most?

All sorts…. The Beano; Edward Lear; Nikolai Gogol; Walt Whitman; Charles Dickens; Bertolt Brecht; Margeret Atwood; H.P. Lovecraft; Newspapers (both ‘quality’ and ‘tabloid’, for their vigorous use of fantasy); William Gibson; Fairy tales and ancient myths. I am presently reading the novels of A.S. Byatt – a bit wordy but full of ideas.
I’m not sure there is any particular logic to my reading matter.


We understand you make mosaics when you aren’t printmaking? Are the mosaics an extension to your printmaking or do you keep the ideas and thought process separate?

Jim Anderson - War memorial mosaic

War memorial mosaic

They are all very much intermingled. I usually work on mosaic commissions in the morning, and prints and paintings in the late afternoon and evening. Often an image or idea that I first use in a mosaic will later turn up in a print or a painting; or vice versa. As much as I can, I use recycled or reclaimed materials in my mosaics, so the theme of recycling is as important here as it is in my prints.


Do you have any practical advice that has served you well as a printmaker?

My wonderful secondary school art teacher, Mr. John Alford, was very fond of using the phrase ‘The only rule is there are no rules’.


Which 3 artists (past or present) would you most like to be sat with at a dinner party and why?

Paul Klee – I have been obsessed with his work since I was 16, when I saw a reproduction of a painting entitled ‘A tiny tale of a tiny dwarf’ in Gombrich’s ‘The Story of Art’. When I turned the page and saw that image I remember I didn’t know whether to be affronted or delighted. How could any artist be allowed to make a painting that was so resolutely un-serious, so intricate, so densely textured, and so mysterious? I have thought about Klee and his work several time a day for the last thirty-five years. I suspect he might be rather a quiet dining companion though. So my second guest would be –

William Morris – who probably wouldn’t shut up. I like his high-minded Victorian energy, his vigorous belief that art and craft could belong to – and be made by – everyone. ‘Every man an artist, and every artist a craftsman’. However, we might have to ban him from reciting his own poetry, which apparently he used to do – at length – during mealtimes.

Also I would invite –
Judy Chicago – who is famous for her huge 1970s project ‘The dinner party’. Like the Paul Klee painting – though on a completely different scale – this weird and wonderful work was another ‘What on earth?’ moment for me. Once seen, impossible to forget. I am fascinated by way she uses several different media – textiles, ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture – to create large-scale projects which are uncompromising and single-minded in their ambition. Her work combines outrage, passion, technical skills, and wit. I think she would be an excellent dining companion.


What projects printmaking or otherwise do you have lined up for the summer?

Jim Anderson - Childrens Games V - lino-cut

I am presently working on a series of small lino-cut prints entitled ‘Childrens’ Games’, which are loosely based upon the activities of my 7-year old son, and memories of my own childhood.  I am also trying to complete a couple of Shakespeare-themed prints (this year being the 400th anniversary of his death) for exhibition at the Globe Theatre and the Bankside Gallery. The lino for all these prints was found in a skip, so once again this is an example of recycled materials
I am finishing off a mosaic mural – commissioned by a school – on the theme of various species of birds.
I have two other large mosaic projects lined up; one of which is to build a replica of one of my earlier murals which was recently demolished.

Please visit Jim Anderson’s website www.jimpanzee.co.uk to view past projects.

And www.kenya-mosaic.com for mosaic projects

Printing Ink Month – Inspiration

Printing Ink Month

This month is printing ink month, and to inspire our readers we have contacted a few professional printmakers to get some insight. In this blog post you will see examples of collagraph, etching, linocut, monotype, screen printing and solarplate etching.

 Hester Cox – Printmaker

“All of my prints are created using a mix of Lawrence linseed oil based relief inks & Lawrence French 88 intaglio inks. I particularly like them because I can lay down blocks of colour & then print my Collagraphs on top, re-soaking the paper without the risk of ‘bleed’. I can also mix them together & increase the range of colours. I use the inks in my classes except when I’m doing simple linocuts with children & then I use the speedball block printing inks.”

Watch Hester in action in this wonderful film by Paul Harris, ‘Hester Cox – Profile of a Printmaker’.

Hester Cox – Profile of a Printmaker from phpProductions on Vimeo.

The Winter Lake, Collagraph

Passing Through, Collagraph

Summer, Collagraph

Tall, Dry Point

Rookery, Solar Plate and Collagraph

See more of Hester’s work here: http://www.hestercox.com/

Gail Brodholt

Gail Brodholt’s ‘Motorway’ won our Lawrence Art Supplies prize at the RE Original Print Show at Bank Side Gallery last month. We particularly loved how the subject matter is just as captivating as a traditional landscape depiction.

“I always use Lawrence linseed oil relief inks – the colour depth is excellent and they give a lovely finish.”

Below is a short film showing Gail Brodholt producing one of her popular linocuts of a London train station. This one is of Victoria station and is called ‘Poetry of Departures’

From the Motorway, Linocut

The Day’s Work Done, Linocut

Poetry of Departures, Linocut

West End Girl, Linocut

Up With the Larks

See more of Gail’s work here: http://www.gailbrodholt.com/

Volcanic Editions – Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a printmaker and tutor at his studio Volcanic Editions. Below impressive 20 colour screen print inspired by his time in New Zealand, ‘Pancake Rocks’.

“We offer Etching, Drypoint, Monotype and Screen printing in our workshop and I have always sourced the highest quality equipment and the best inks.”

“For all my other processes I use inks from Lawrences. I specialise in a three colour monoprinting technique using the process colours from Graphic Arts (supplied through Lawrence Art Supplies). This technique allows you to create full colour images from three acetate sheets printing wet on wet. The first print is very intense and the ghost printed from the same acetates delivers a mysterious and soft version of your original print.

For the bulk of our work we like to use Lawrences French 88. I stock the complete range of colours mostly from tubes. They rarely need copper plate oil to reduce them (except for yellows and the blacks) and I can’t fault them.
We use Intense Black for drypoint and linear type etchings and Bone Black for Solar Plate Etchings where the emphasis on the fidelity of tone is paramount. Bone Black in tests delivers more tonal steps than Intense black but if you just want a rich black alone – then Intense Black hits hits the spot.”

For more info on Volcanic Editions visit my website at www.volcaniceditions.com
If you would like to subscribe to my monthly mailchimp newsletter you can do so on the home page – and you are able to unsubscribe at the click of a mouse if you tire of us!
There is one place left on my Screenprinting Summer School running in the first week of August.

Below are prints created by his students.

Hilary Stewart, Three mythical figures, Solar Plate Etching/Monotype

Pat Thornton, Untitled, Solar Plate Etching with Chine Colle

Pam Aldridge, Humming Birds, Drypoint with embossing

See more of Ian’s work and information on courses at: http://www.volcaniceditions.com/


Owain Kirby

Owain Kirby is a freelance Illustrator and has worked on a variety of commissions including many historical projects. His chosen medium is lino cutting with a traditional woodcut style. His bold black and white prints depict complex narratives.

 See more of Owen’s work here: http://www.owainkirby.co.uk/

Interview with Hannah Forward Printmaker & Illustrator


Tell us a bit about your artistic background and education

I studied Graphic Design at Brighton University, then became an illustrator kind of by accident – an illustrator friend passed on a commission to me when she didn’t have the time to do it. It was for a charity so I didn’t get paid, but it gave me a lot of confidence as they loved what I did for them. I did a few more illustration commissions but generally found the experience quite terrifying – the tight time pressures and having to meet the expectations of a client just wasn’t for me. I landed at Lawrence’s about 5 years ago, and through working here I’ve discovered printmaking. I now have my own fully-stocked printmaking studio, where I can experiment and create whatever I want, whenever, to my heart’s content. I think my work is very informed from what I learnt about design on my BA, with the very ‘human’, hands on, lo-fi aproach of relief printmaking.


What is it like working for Lawrence Art Supplies?

Working here you get to know about all sorts of different art materials, perhaps in mediums you’d never considered trying before but always wanted to. This knowledge is so useful for an artist – and I think it makes you bolder about trying new things out and pushing your work further.


What inspires your work, generally?

Making documents or social records of current times, in order to understand them better, think about them, be fascinated by them, and in the future look back at them.


Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

I spend quite a long time turning over an idea for a subject matter in my head. Once I’ve settled on it I’ll begin scribbling out composition ideas in pencil. Composition is a huge part of what inspires me to create a print – I always like it to be quite unusual, not go with the obvious. Next I’ll think about colour, and usually experiment with swatches, over-laying colours to see what new colours I can make. Once I’ve decided on composition and colour, I’ll divide the image up into about four or five separate layers of lino, each a different colour. Hopefully, if I’ve worked it out correctly, once they’re printed one on top of the other they’ll create the image I want. Usually things go differently to how you plan, but this is usually a good thing.




What does your typical day in the studio entail?

I like to start early – about 9.30 – so I can start printing and get a lot done at once. I’ll stop for lunch then maybe work on another project while the prints dry, perhaps drawing up a new composition for a print idea I’ve been thinking about. About 5.30 I’ll stop for dinner then a walk. I’ll almost always have something to listen to when I’m working in the studio – music, podcasts, radio shows, audiobooks – to help get me absorbed in whatever I’m doing.

72What is your favourite colour and why? There is not one colour I do not like. Colour is so fundamental to an artist…I could never pick just one.


What is your favourite product and why?

The set of Japanese woodcut tools Lawrence’s sell is excellent value for a beginner and really helped set me on my road to printmaking. The Lawrence linseed oil-based relief inks are brilliant too, endless colour experimenting fun.


 How has your artistic knowledge helped someone else?

I’m always keen to talk to people about relief printmaking – how rewarding it is, how you don’t need expensive equipment and anyone can have a go at home. I don’t have a huge breadth of knowledge to impart yet! Only what I’ve picked up as I’ve gone along – I think that’s the way that works best for me – get an idea of what you want to create then try and figure out how you can get it to work. I’m usually quite unorthodox in my approach to things – I like to make it up as I go!


What inspired you to become an artist?

A life-long steely determination to be completely myself, completely free, and therefore completely happy.


Who is / are your favourite artists and why?

Picasso, for taking on every medium and doing it completely differently. Hockney for his inventiveness.


What is the most valuable piece of advice anyone has given you that you still use today?

Don’t give up! Self-belief is paramount.

To see more of Hannah’s work see her website www.hannahforward.com


An Interview with Karen Keogh

We recently interviewed artist Karen Keogh about her work and studio. Karen predominantly works with a three plate etching technique; inspired by the colours and patterns found in cities and landscapes.

Something Old Something New‘Something Old Something New’ – Three plate etching

Tell us a little bit about your artistic background and education
My artistic background is rather eclectic. I trained to teach art at Roehampton University in the early 1980’s, specialising in ceramics. I first discovered printmaking at Putney School Art. I taught ceramics at secondary school level for a few years. In the mean time I was studying printmaking at Morley College in London under the amazing Frank Connolly. I also studied at the London College of Communication.

When did you know you wanted to be and artist/printmaker?
I knew I wanted to be an artist from around the age of 11 years old after doing a week’s course in ceramics at the Chelsea Pottery in the King’s Road. My school in Twickenham had a fantastic art department, and that was where my passion developed. I was lucky to have grown up in London and visited galleries and exhibitions with my parents from an early age.

What does your typical day in the studio entail?
I share a studio with 4 other artists, a picture framer and an architect, in West Dulwich. It is a quirky building that used to be a bakery. We have wood burning stoves. It is still freezing for the first couple of hours, in the winter. I have tried fingerless gloves, but still can’t feel my fingers!

My typical day entails lighting the stove. Trying to warm my hands up! I am either drawing in preparation of making a plate, working on the plates or printing the images. I usually spend around 5 hours there daily.

I also teach art to children in my home studio, so have to be there by 3.30pm. Teaching has been an excellent way of extending my knowledge of techniques and art history. I am always on the lookout for new projects that will inspire the children. I recently visited an interesting show of African Prints at the British Museum, and the children are now making animal collagraphs for a Noah’ ark effect. Inspired by John Ndevasia Muafangejo

Karen Keogh's StudioKaren Keogh’s studio

Three plate etching, appears to be your predominant medium of choice, what is it in particular that draws you to this process?
I have been making 3 plate etchings for the last 15 years or so. Once I had mastered this technique, after my 10,000 hours, I was hooked! I can produce great depth of colour, and texture with 3 plates. The colour variations are endless. I quite often use the primary colours. I particularly like the Lawrence French 88 process colours.

I also enjoy producing painterly monotypes. I paint onto the back of a plate using oil paints thinned with white spirit. It is a spontaneous process, very different from the sometimes painstaking method of making etching plates.

First Plate and 2nd plate'St Pauls by Twilight'‘St Pauls by Twilight’ – First and second plate
'St Pauls by Twilight' ‘St Pauls by Twilight’ – third and final plate

As your subject matters are mainly landscapes and cityscapes, do you work from photographs, plein air paintings and drawings?
My landscapes are inspired by my environment. Most recently, I have been concentrating on London. I sketch and photograph my subjects. The finished image is often quite different from how I first saw it in my head. For instance my Battersea Power Station image ‘ After the rain’ was not a dark image to start with, more of a sunny day. That image was hung at last year’s Royal Academy exhibition were the image was made into to a card and a poster. The edition of 75 sold out.

What challenges (if any) do you face with your work and how do you overcome them?
There are many technical challenges working on zinc, particularly using 3 plates. I guess it is experience that helps me to overcome them. I usually make the first plate which is the key plate and the darkest. It will have the most information on. I then have to offset this image onto the second plate where I use aquatint to produce the tone. The first and second plates are then offset onto the third plate. The registration has to be perfect, which also involves lots of adjusting and filing of the plates. I love building up textures on my plates. Often I use numerous techniques on each one, including hard ground, soft ground, sugar lift, spite bite.

'After The Rain'‘After The Rain’ 

Which artists have inspired you the most and has your taste in art changed in recent years?
I have been inspired by numerous artists during my career. In the early days, Picasso –well, I still am. He was a master of all mediums. Raoul Dufy and his use of colour. I find all the Fauves inspiring. Of course David Hockney’s prints are amazing. The recent show at Dulwich Picture Gallery confirmed this. Peter Doig and his watery, icy images are wonderful.

What is the most valuable piece of advice anyone has given you that you still use today?
I have a mantra that started at Morley College, which is ‘ just one more print’. There is always time to print one more, even if there isn’t. You never know what this next one might look like. The joy of printmaking is, that you never quite know what you will end up with, even after all these years of experience. I have always felt, there is nothing like the thrill of opening the kiln or seeing what you have produced when you throw back the blankets on the press. I guess this is not quite the same if you use one plate, hence my addition to 3 plates.

Have you got any projects/ exhibitions coming up?
I will be showing some new work at the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers (RE) annual original Print show in May. I was elected a member in 2008. It will be at Bankside Gallery, next to Tate Modern. I will also have work at LOPF (London Original Print Fair) at the Royal Academy with the RE in April. Later this year I will be showing in a mixed printmaking show at Cambridge Contemporary art gallery.

Bankside Gallery BannerBankside Gallery Banner

To see more of Karen Keogh’s etchings, monotypes and paintings, visit her website
Make sure you watch her brilliant video ‘A Glimpse of St Paul’s’.


This month has #sketchjanuary and #thedailysketch we’d like to share what we’ve been filling our sketchbooks with and give some of you some ideas to fill your sketch books for the last few days of January.

Many of you will have made a new start for 2015 and used #sketchjanuary to give you some inspiration and drive. It’s a great new year’s resolution! A blank sketch book is one that is just waiting to be filled with ideas.

There are many benefits to having a new sketch book, to record daily observations and inspirations, to hone in on and improve artistic skill and to gain confidence are just a few of them!

See what Lawrence staff members have been doing with their new sketch books this January.

Don’t miss our Pinterest board http://www.pinterest.com/artshophove/sketchjanuary/


Aimee Brigginshaw http://www.aimeebrigginshaw.co.uk/

“I have previously neglected sketching in recent years , but this January I have made a bit of a resolution to start a sketch book. I am an abstract painter predominantly, but feel it is essential to keep on top of my observational skills. I intend to keep going to life drawing sessions throughout the year, which will encourage me to draw compositions that I may find awkward and challenging. The sketch above was made at the Eggshell Life Drawing class at The Black Dove in Kemptown, Brighton.”

“Eggshell Life Drawing promotes the freedom of drawing and started in the eclectic Black Dove in Kemptown, Brighton, UK. You can  still find this class every Wednesday 7.30pm – 9.30pm for £5 including model and materials. Everyone is welcome to join Eggshell Life Drawing especially if you have never tried it before. Why not?”- http://www.eggshellstudio.com/lifedrawing.html


Del Thorpe- http://www.delthorpe.co.uk/

“I’m a Brighton-based Illustrator of children’s books and similar things.”

Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_3 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_4 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_5 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_6 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_7 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_8 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_9 Del_Thopre_Sketchjanuary_99 Georgia_Flowers_sketchjanuaryGeorgia Flowers- http://georgia-alice-flowers.blogspot.co.uk/

“I work with black ink; from heavy black outlines to subtle dot work, from elegance to vulgarity. I am inspired by wildlife & nature, mythology, anatomy & biology, amongst other things.”

“Sketching is a routine when I’m at home. I make a cup of tea and get going. I jot down my ideas in a notebook as they come up. When I’m not working on a commission I work through my ideas notebook, just choosing any idea to work from”

“I tend to use paper rather than a sketch book so that I can easily make a print from the piece. Because my style is so detailed, sketch books don’t suit me as they often get scruffy quickly!”

Georgia_Flowers_sketchjanuary_2 Georgia_Flowers_sketchjanuary_3 Georgia_Flowers_sketchjanuary_4


Hannah Forward http://www.hannahforward.com/

“I like to keep a lot of different sketchbooks on the go at once – some are big watercolour books for neater work, some are for rough sketch ideas I keep scattered around the house, and some are small enough to fit in my pocket so I’m never without a book incase I need to get something down.

I like to take a lot of inspiration for everyday life and day-to-day experience so keep a book on me all the time to write down or make a quick observational drawing.

I think they’re a great way to help bring ideas to the surface, generally practise your mark-making and develop your drawing or painting style. I think sketchbooks become beautiful art objects in themselves as well once they get full of work and look nicely battered and well-used.”

Hannah_Forward_sketchjanuary_2 Hannah_Forward_sketchjanuary_3 Hannah_Forward_sketchjanuary_4 Hannah_Forward_sketchjanuary_5 Hannah_Forward_sketchjanuary_6 Hannah_Forward_sketchjanuary_7


Buy sketch books here: http://www.lawrence.co.uk/shop/Sketch-pads.html

Gamblin Glenn Brill workshops & lecture

Thank you to all that came to our Gamblin Lecture and workshops, presented by artist and Gamblin Education Manager Glenn Brill. Here is just some of what we learnt.1


Glenn demonstrating the difference between traditional and modern pigments. Cadmium red medium is dulled with the addition of titanium white, where the modern napthol red is very vibrant. 

If you have been frustrated when mixing colours, for example you can’t make a hot pink with your red and white, it is probably because you have a traditional pigment, try using modern pigments for more vibrant colour mixing. The clue is in the name. Anything that sounds like a chemical ie phthalo, quinacridone, napthol etc will be modern. Don’t blame your mixing skills!


Here are examples of traditional pigments verses modern pigments. The old masters painted only in what was available, e.g. yellow ochre, raw umber, venetian red, ultramarine etc. The colours are more neutral. By the time the Impressionists were around colour technology had got much better with a wider and brighter range of colours; cadmiums, alizarin crimson, viridian etc. Today we have a vast collection of colours with the help of science we can achieve bright and vibrant colours the Old Masters could only dream about. Hansa yellow, napthol red, phthalo blue etc


Glenn explains the colour wheel and how limiting your palette will limit the vibrancy of the colour you mix. Ideally having a warm and cool version of yellow, orange, red, violet, blue and green will allow you to achieve the best intensity mixing colour. If you stick with just the primary colours which is often what you are taught at art school you can only achieve more muted colours when mixing. In comparison the painting with fewer colours will look murkier3a

Glenn explaining how to approach mixing colour. He advises it will help if you start with the white. Try to imagine what percentage of white is in the colour you are trying to achieve, then slowly add the main pigments. More often than not you will need to mute the colour down to look more realistic. Try using a colour from the opposite side of the colour spectrum before you use black! 

Muting a colour with a cool or warm white can vastly change the painting, demonstrated above. Gamblin have a selection of warm and cool greys and whites to help quicken the mixing process.

Here is another example of colours Gamblin have designed to aid mixing.


On to mediums! Glenn went through each of the mediums in the Gamblin range. Starting with Gamsol – An odourless and nontoxic mineral spirit. Very safe to use in the studio and reusable.

If you are looking to create glazing techniques or impasto textures Gamblin has it all. Galkyd is fast drying and self-levelling – great for the ‘Oiling out technique’ (will explain later in the album) it is quitethick and sticky but can achieve an enamel like finish. Galkyd Lite flows better than Galkyd which is probably the best one to try first when experimenting. It retains brush stroke definition and is fast drying. Galkyd Slow Dry is similar to Galkyd Lite but dries slower, which might work better with your style of painting. Galkyd Lite and Slow loosens the paint making it easier to be more expressive. All three are transparent and dries with a gloss sheen.

For impasto work Galkyd Gel will extend the colour and give body to the paint. It dries fast too. If you are worried about solvent content try Solvent Free Gel instead, this is made with oil so will try slower. Neo Megilp is a contemporary version of Maroger medium, it gives a silky feel to the paint with a satin gloss finish when dry. Neo Megilp like Solvent Free Gel will dry slower so workable for longer. Cold Wax Medium is pure white bees wax, used to thicken paint and has a matte finish. Add this to reduce the sheen in the other mediums and Gamvar picture varnish.



8Gamblin Fast Matte oil colours contains an alkyd medium, this allows fast drying underpainting and dries with a matter finish. The pigment quality is exactly the same as the Gamblins Artist Oils!



‘Oiling out’ is a brilliant method for a number of reasons. Mix 1 part Gamsol and 1 part Galkyd together (make sure is it Galkyd medium)

To ‘oil out’ brush your mixture onto surface and let it sit, then with a dry cotton cloth wipe in. This creates a thin layer of medium to be used in any of the following ways;

1) Sealing wood/canvas – acts as clear primer. Ready to paint on if you want to see texture/colour of the substrate under painting. 
2) Reactivates an old painting – acts like a retouching varnish. The oil out process allows the surface to be suitable to work back in to. Without oiling out the painting might have cured leaving the surface less likely to stick to the new application of paint in the long run.
3) Levels the sheen of a painting where there is a mixture of gloss and matt on the surface. You may find this distracting and the ‘oiling oil’ method will help with this.
4) Apply to your dry painting before vanishing with Gamvar. Test it is dry by pressing your nail into the thickest painted area, if it is hard it is ready. (try to be gentle!) The surface will be more even and the varnish will not be absorbed in to the paint.

11Varnishing with ‘Oiling oil’


Gamvar varnish can be removed easily with Gamsol. Picture varnish can get dirty in time, being able to remove the varnish allows you apply the varnish again.

Sarah Shaw interview


We visited Brighton artist, Sarah Shaw at her studio recently. It is an exciting time for Sarah at the moment, with a host of exhibitions and a TV project on the go. Sarah Shaw is a painter whose work hovers between figurative and abstract, where the subject matter is inspired by a varied collection of imagery. Sarah explores ways of depicting time passing on a canvas by building up and stripping back images, composing painterly snap shots like memories.

Sarah’s studio is situated in a court yard in the centre of Brighton and Hove. It is in a wooden clad building with a corrugated tin roof; which was originally used as an old fire station.

Upon arriving at her studio we squeezed past another artists’ project which was being worked on; a giant boat sculpture made with shingle. We followed Sarah up a slightly precarious stairway to her space on the 1st floor. It is quite an idyllic setting for an artist, but Sarah assured us it is not so romantic in the cold, rainy months of winter.

Sarah’s wonderful paintings were hanging on every wall, some completed and some drying waiting to be worked on. The desk is covered in a multitude of curled up paint tubes and a vast mixing palette coated with years of colour. Pots of brushes of every size congregate on all available surfaces, with post cards and print outs of inspirational images taped to the walls, and an armchair in the corner for contemplative moments. It is a well-used and well-loved studio.

Here is our interview with Sarah Shaw;


What is your artistic background/education?

I studied at Falmouth College of art; three brilliant, tumultuous years which were some of the best in my life! It was a massive privilege to indulge my love of painting for those years, being taught by incredible tutors, who, importantly, were still practicing their own art, and alongside some brilliant artist friends.

What is your favourite medium and why?

Oil on canvas or linen. Something about wonderful oozy, glossy, pungent oil paint that gets me every time.

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What inspires your subject matter?



Your work takes on a figurative and an abstracted style, is the subject matter as important as the abstraction?

I always find it weird when people refer to me as an abstract painter! I suppose there is an abstracted element, but it is only because I feel so dissatisfied when an image I have created stays on one plane. I always feel the need to disrupt, to fracture, dis-assemble, re-assemble, to have the painting reflect something more true about the subject than a straight forward depiction would. Something more human, something that reflects different facets of a mental state, or the different dimensions we live through. The subject matter is definitely more important. I’m not purposely abstracting things just for the sake of it. It’s a personal thing but I think that kind of incompleteness reflects something about how I feel about existing in this world. It’s how I make sense of my place in this world.

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Tell us about your process and do you strictly stick to it with all your work?

I’m an image/idea magpie. I collect images from different sources, from newspapers, magazines, internet, posters, personal photos etc etc etc and place these around the studio with notes usually scribbled on them to remind me of what has provoked my interest. Not all these images, ideas will make it into a painting, but I select some that have some relevance to my thinking and kind of start to make a painterly collage. I then take this into Photoshop and mess around with different combinations, and generate more information to paint from. I usually then print this out and mess again with it, cutting and changing elements which are superfluous. The initial painting process is usually quite a speedy affair, quickly establishing, hopefully, the sense of dynamic that I’m envisioning. The paintings will go through a hundred different changes before I’m in any way happy with the results. The final result will, inevitably, retain nothing of the initial collage but may retain the markings of the journey of the painting. And no, I don’t stick to it with all my work, sometimes a painting just happens without all of the above. One of my favourite paintings happened because I had an image in my head I just wanted to get down on canvas and bring into existence. Three blissful hours later, it was there, tangible and real.

Which Artists’ work has influenced you the most?

That’s a very difficult question. The most? As an adult I would probably say Peter Doig, but I think an artist/illustrator called Kit Williams, author of the famous ‘Masquerade’ book had a massive effect on me when I was a child, and made me want to paint. In terms of Kit Williams it was his subject that fascinated me, not so much the execution, in terms of Doig it’s both his subject and his incredible application of paint.

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What challenges (if any) do you face with your work and how do you overcome them?

Oh, lack of confidence, over thinking things, eternal dissatisfaction. It’s a constant challenge to overcome these, but I think it’s an important part of being a painter and the journey.

Have you got any interesting projects/ exhibitions coming up?

It’s all a bit crazy at the moment! Y’know that saying you wait for one bus for ages and three turn up at once? Well the equivalent of ten have turned up in the last couple of months!

I’m currently showing work in the ‘Pushing Paint’ exhibition at Ink-d Gallery, Brighton alongside artists I really respect, and in the Cork Street gallery as part of the UA Open competition. I have two paintings selected for this year’s East Sussex Open at Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, work in the Lawrence Alkin gallery in Soho, London and my own solo show coming up swiftly in July at the Naked Eye gallery in Hove. Oh and the BBC are following my painting progress for a project I’m not allowed to publicise yet…

What is the most valuable piece of advice anyone has given you that you still use today?

Believe in yourself. And keep a well stacked fruit bowl.


Please visit Sarah Shaw’s website www.sarahshaw.co.uk to view her online gallery and see exhibition information.


Gamblin Torrit Grey

If you took all the pigments in the colour spectrum and mixed them together, what colour would you make?

Every spring, Gamblin Artists Colors collects a wealth of pigments from our Torit® Air Filtration system. We filter the air around the areas where we handle dry pigments so that our workers are not exposed to pigment dust. Rather than sending any of our high quality, expensive pigments into the landfill, Gamblin paint makers recycle them into “Gamblin Torrit Grey”.

“Pigment dust should not go into the earth, water or landfill, but into paint,” says Robert Gamblin.

Gamblin Torrit Grey on CopperThe mix of pigments is different every year, so Torrit Grey is always unique and will never be repeated. Torrit Grey tends to have a greenish tinge because of the great strength of the Phthalo Green pigment, which is a dark bluish green. Torrit Grey varies from a medium dove grey to a dark earthy grey.

We are now dating the tubes, so artists can collect them from year to year and enjoy the unique qualities of each edition. Whatever you create with these popular limited edition colors is solely up to you and your imagination.

Our Torrit Grey store promotion, which runs each year through the end of April in celebration of Earth Day, not only recycles pigment dust into paint but focuses artists on the importance of recycling, studio and environmental safety. Complimentary 37ml tubes of Torrit Grey are only available while supplies last through Lawrence Art Supplies alongside any order of a Gamblin product! Last year, we distributed more than 11,000 tubes of Torrit Grey! Limitations are often your greatest creative assets and it is remarkable what talented artists can achieve with a color palette limited to white, or black and Torrit Grey.

The Torrit Grey Painting Competition, conducted annually in the Fall, attracts more entries every year. In 2008, we received over 160 submissions from painters willing to take the challenge of making a value based painting using only Torrit Grey and any black or white oil paint. The competition is judged by Robert Gamblin and the winners receive a supply of Gamblin Artists’ materials.

You can see the winning entries from the 2008 contest at Torrit Grey Winners. Torrit Grey Painting Competition entry forms are available from your local fine art materials retailer, and from our web site at Guidelines & Entry Form.

“We invite you to enjoy the paint today—to capture its subtle monochromatic excitement – because this special color will only exist next year as paintings,” says Robert Gamblin.

Donaldson® Torit® has been improving industrial air quality for over 90 years. To learn more about the their various air filtration solutions, visit Donaldson Torit.