Monday, March 11, 2019

Watercolor on Calfskin Vellum

This is a sample done in preparation for my workshop for the
GNSI - Carolinas Chapter, March 16th and 17th, 2019. 

Calfskin vellum was used before paper was available, and is still used for British Acts of Parliament, Jewish scrolls, and other special documents. Vellum is prepared by soaking the skin in a lime solution to soften and remove the hair, and it is then stretched on a wooden frame. A crescent-shaped blade is used to scrape the skin to achieve the desired thickness. 

The above study is done on a scrap of vellum, leftover from when pages were cut from the whole skin. Hence, the irregular shape. The blue swatches at the right show a solid blue, and a gradated blue. These were made by layering small strokes of watercolor. Because paint sits on top of the vellum and does not soak in, a relatively dry brush method must be used in order not to lift paint. A light touch and a good brush also helps.

Water can cause vellum to buckle, so working relatively dry is a good idea. 

I use Sennelier, Schmincke and Daniel Smith (mineral) watercolors. I prefer Winsor & Newton Miniature Series 7 Kolinksy sable brushes - sizes 1 and 2.