Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ottawa Art School Fair - Canson Papers

Art School Fair (ASF) was held October 31 to November 1, 2015, in Ottawa.

ASF is eastern Canada's first and only ART MATERIAL TRADE FAIR + ART CLASSES. Organizers brought together the biggest and best names and brands in the industry. Attendees were able to see, buy and try the latest products, take a workshop, demo or lecture.

This is the first of four reports on the demonstrations, lectures and workshops that I attended.

Canson Papers

On Saturday, October 31st (10:30am-12:00 pm), I attended the demonstration: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Paper with Ed Brickler.

Ed Brickler

Ed Brickler of Canson Papers
Ed Brickler has been an Artist and Art Materials consultant for over thirty years. He has been the Fine Art Education Director for Canson/Arches Paper Companies and Royal Talens Color Company, for about ten years and he travels and gives free demonstration and lectures on Canson Papers.

His enthusiasm about paper is infectious (see the two-hour video of Ed Brickler giving a lecture at University Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012 below)

Other things that I  learned about Ed:

Making Art: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist
by Ed Brickler
The History of Canson Papers

I enjoyed hearing about the history of Canson Papers
  • The Montgolfier family  had been making papers since 1557.
  • The Montgolfier brothers were inventors of the first practical balloon made using vellum paper and cloth in 1782
  • One of the daughters of (Jacques-)Etienne Montgolfier, Alexandrine, married Barthélémy de Canson who ran the mills after Etienne's death in 1799. In 1801, the company became "Montgolfier et Canson", then "Canson-Montgolfier" in 1807.
Ed Brickler knows lots of interesting historical facts that he inserts throughout his two-hour lecture. (Like how conflict in 1793 when England and France were at war and France could not get pencils made with pure Borrowdale graphite or even the inferior Englands graphite led to France's development of conte etc) There is so much information packed into such a short time frame so I will attempt to distil it into a few points that I found incredibly interesting

Interesting facts about the types of paper:

Paper Weight 

  • paper weight indicates the thickness of the paper
  • gsm is more reliable and useful to go by than the lb system

Paper Textures 

Ed emphasized the importance of knowing "the intention of the paper". For example, is the paper intended for pastels, printmaking, tracing etc and while this does not limit how you can use the paper or restrict experimentation, it is important for the artist to understand. Turner apparently purposely use the "wrong side" of paper because he preferred the "gnarley texture".

It is also important to understand sizing (either gelatin or starch). Sizing is water-soluble and will come out if you soak it. (Ed said pre-soak watercolor paper for 5 minutes maximum) I had never heard of "vegan paper" until today. Some vegan artists only work with papers not sized with gelatin.
  • Smooth: for gouache, ink etc
  • Some texture: for watercolor etc
  • Rough: pastel (note mi-teintes papers can be used on both sides - the smooth or the rough)

Canson Edition paper

Acid in Paper
  • causes yellowing as paper ages
  • calcium carbonate (basically chalk and the same substance you find in Tums) is added to paper to repel the acid
  • framing art is important - everything - even the tape - should be acid-free (most glues are acidic)

Interesting Trivia
Canson Invented Tracing Paper

2009 marked the 200th anniversary of the invention of tracing paper by Canson.
"Used since its invention, by artists, architects, engineers and draftsman. Tracing paper and tracing vellum has become a staple in every design, architectural and fine art studio. Canson developed tracing paper in 1809. No one is sure exactly how the concept came about or how much trial and error was involved in the development. One medieval recipe involved marble dust, fish glue and garlic..........To this day Canson__™s technique for making tracing paper is kept secret." (Source: )

Canson invented tracing paper in 1809
Interesting Trivia 
Vellum and the First Hot-air Balloon

"The modern era of flight lifted off in 1783 when two brothers demonstrated their invention, the hot-air balloon, before a crowd of dignitaries in Annonay, France. Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Ètienne Montgolfier, prosperous paper manufacturers (a high-tech industry at the time), began experimenting with lighter-than-air devices after observing that heated air flowing directed into a vellum paper or fabric bag made the bag rise."(Source:
Canson Vidalon Vellum

Interesting Techniques
Degas - Monoprinting

Ed shared the technique of Degas' landscape monoprints from the 1890s: (see Degas Landscapes  By Richard Kendall)

Monoprint: "Wheat Field and Green Hill"
Edgar Degas

Monoprint: "Wheat Field and Green Hill"
Edgar Degas

Interesting Techniques
Dan Burkholder

Ed shared the techniques of  Dan Burkholder who creates high contrast inkjet prints on vellum paper and applies gold leaf to the back to create this technique. Dan Burkholder also authored "iPhone Artistry"

High contrast inkjet print on vellum paper 

Gold leaf on back of paper

This was an incredibly brief summary of some interesting points that I took away from Ed Brickler's excellent presentation today. I am thankful for this opportunity today at the Art School Fair.

We were also given a sampler package that had the following paper samples:

Sample from Canson presentation

Here are two interesting links mentioned by Ed:

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