Saturday 11 April 2020

Product Test: Nitram Liquid Charcoal

I have finally got around to trying the new liquid charcoal. I used the approach taken by Stephie Butler, to whom thanks are due. This is to major on the charcoal with the addition of one or two watercolours in moderate amounts. There is a degree of abstraction in that colour realism isn't the object.

Native American 16" x 12"

For applying the charcoal I used a No 8 Da Vinci Cosmotop Mix B brush. This is a mixed hair brush with some synthetic. This brush in various sizes is a favourite of artists like Viktoria Prischedko. I did this because of the possible effect on my Kolinsky sables, although I did use two Isabey small brushes for the eye detail. Possibly my concerns are unwarranted. The watercolours used were the Rowney Permanent Magenta and a lesser amount of Daniel Smith Lunar Violet. This latter is very dark, almost black. and not particularly violet. The Lunar colours are very interesting as they granulate really well but  otherwise on the dull side.

The charcoal was easy to use. It dilutes well and can also be used at strength for real darks. I like the effect very much. I do suspect that the Daniel Smith Lunar Black, a true watercolour, might well be able to be used in a similar way. I say this as I've just had the above photo removed from 'Watercolour Addicts; - a pure watercolour group - as 'mixed media'. I was surprised initially but then realised that technically they were right. I say 'technically' as I'm inclined to think this new product is more like watercolour than charcoal. However if you allow one thing then that might open the floodgates. In any event I've now joined a couple of other groups that allow other mediums. Why? Because I intend to do more paintings using this medium.

Nitram Liquid Charcoal is available in a 50ml tube. I bought mine from Jacksons at just over £20. This seems steep but you do get 50 ml which is quite a lot. The amount I used on the painting is probably more than with a conventional watercolour. It comes out of the tube fairly soft - not liquid - and I used it mainly diluted with water but you can utilise it full strength. I think you will get through it fairly quickly, more so than a highly pigmented watercolour.

A final word. It's just my opinion of course but I'm really pleased with the painting and give this product top marks. The caveat is the way you paint and the style you like. It won't gel with the realistic and superrealistic artists. It is more for the messy ones like me.

1 comment:

Zvonimir said...

Hi Peter, happy Easter.
Please send my regards to the moderator who removed your painting, and tell him he was NOT right. The components in this paint are:
Water, *gum arabic*, Nitram *Powdered Charcoal*, hydroxyethyl cellulose, talc & aminomethyl propanol (all buffers), ethylparaben (fungicide). Charcoal is one of the oldest pigments known to man. Other components are the same as in any other watercolour which has some buffer in it (which prevents immediate spillage) and some necessary fungicide.