Jackie’s Vellum Workshop: a wonderful day of learning for IBA Members

Posted by Tina on May 14, 2024  /   Posted in WORKSHOP

I just attended a lovely day learning how to paint on vellum with one of our IBA members, Jackie Day, as tutor. It was a very splendid day as reported by member, Doreen Taylor, in her report below (and below that is a little film of snapshots of the day):

On Wednesday 8th May seven IBA members gathered together at Santon Downham Village hall for our latest group tutorial workshop, “Painting on Vellum”, with Jackie Day.
It was a joyfully sunny spring morning: the trees looking scrumptious in green taffeta, buttercups showing off in the fresh green grass, and the sky a clear watercolour blue.
After the obligatory coffee and biscuits we settled down to learn all about the nature of vellum. What it is, which is calf skin, how it is prepared for painting and how it behaves under an artist’s brush. For example, if vellum gets wet, as it dries it will revert back to the curves of its original shape. Unlike paper, the paint will just sit on the surface of vellum, so it is easily disturbed. On the plus side, as long as the paint is a non-staining (transparent) colour, any mistakes are easy to remove.
It is a demanding support and needs to be handled with care. It will not tolerate grease so must be held in place only by its four corners. Being a bit of a shape-shifter it is sensitive to the air quality around it so in framing it needs to be anchored by the top edge only, giving it freedom to expand or contract at will.
Painting on vellum is a slow, ultra careful process of dry brush work in thin layers, using very fine brushes with a touch as gentle as painting on a butterfly wing. What is nice is that colours can actually be mixed on the surface layer by careful layering—each layer of colour showing through the next with a resultant vibrancy which is not possible on paper. So areas of differing colour, say on a leaf, can be blended together with much more control. Big bonus in my book!
We had our lunchtime break outside in glorious sunshine, enjoying chatting to each other as we always do. Then it was back to our paint brushes, and a tranquil and productive afternoon. Unusually for us the chattering soon dwindled into the silence of being totally absorbed in what we were trying to do. A lesson in mindfulness if ever there was one.
Jackie was an excellent tutor, making the class extra nice by thoughtfully providing background music of gentle birdsong (Birdsong.FM).
At the end of the afternoon it was time to gather round and admire each other’s work. The results were stunning, especially for first timers painting on Vellum.
Thank you again Jackie from all of us for a hugely enjoyable and profitable day. And I for one can’t wait to carry on with this fascinating and ancient craft that is painting on vellum. (Doreen Taylor)

Previous Post

Comments are closed.