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Vellum Workshop – Sarah Gould

In August 2016 we had the welcome return of Sarah Gould to Colesbourne Park for two days of workshops using vellum. Sarah began by talking us through the preparation of vellum, which is calfskin (or sometimes goat or sheepskin). The skin has the hair and flesh scraped off and is then cleaned and stretched out, a process that can take months, reflected in the price of the finished article. Sarah had brought examples of different types and told us about the differing choices to the artist.
Before painting, the piece of vellum is attached to a board with masking tape and the surface is degreased with pumice powder using the fingertips. This powder, known as pounce, is then tapped off and can be used again.
Sarah had brought some lovely and interesting specimens for us to choose from. The watercolour paint is applied very dry using a patting process with miniature brushes. Very small quantities of paint are picked up and layered. The paint does not get absorbed into the vellum but sits on the surface. As vellum is naturally translucent, it is important to choose non-opaque colours so that the light shines through; this gives the finished painting a characteristic glow.

Sarah gave two very interesting and absorbing demonstrations during the day and gave us all individual attention and hints and tips on how to get then best out of our paintings. We marvelled at Sarah’s own work; her accuracy and the beauty in her paintings is stunning.
The weather was kind to us at Colesbourne and with Sarah being such a good teacher, I think everyone was pleased with their efforts. The Magna Carta was painted on vellum and has lasted nearly a thousand years, who knows where our paintings will be in centuries to come!!


Above: Rosa Rugosa (unfinished) by Debbie
Below: Onion by Sarah