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Painting & Drawing Techniques
by Professor Karl May

Find out more about various artistic techniques. The following is a short description of some popular techniques for creating art by Professor Karl May.

Mixed Techniques

  • Aquarelle — These are transparent colours, and water is added to the binding element.
  • Gouache — Water is also added to the binding medium, but the paint is opaque in special combination with deckweiss.
  • Pastel — This is a technique done with a soft coloured pencil, resulting in soft, matte-looking tones in comparison with oil crayon, which is bright, fat, and shiny.

Handprints & Prints

Handprints offer the artist a good opportunity to express his inspiration or abilities. The outstanding feature here is the use of a rough Japanese rice paper. The figures are cut from cardboard and painted with latex or oil paint. Starting effects may be obtained through individual techniques as the freshly painted cardboard is pressed by hand onto the wet Japanese rice paper. In this way, the artist is free to bring out the finer shades where it is desirable or screen or veil as required.

For many years, tar has been taken out of the paint market because of its tendency to darken colours in their combination with other paints.

Oils & Acrylics

Before acrylics were discovered, the painter could only use oil colour or a combination of egg tempera and oil. Acrylic is a relatively modern painting technique, with the one main difference that the thinning medium is water instead of oil. Acrylic is now being used by most artists.


Collage permits the use of any material, such as wood, glass, textile, or anything that has character. An artist might use a piece of wood with a smooth texture or another one with a rougher surface. The important point in collage is that the artist be able to speak and feel the languages of the chosen material and to enhance its individuality and characteristics. In this way, the artist can reveal his ability to combine various materials in a creative way. For example, the fashion designer would use silk, velvet, burlap, brocade, lace, or other materials. The architect uses building materials like roofing paper, tar, sawdust, etc. And the artist uses all these various materials and many more to express his or her inventive talents in a collage.


Hinterglas — or "behind-glass" painting — is the sister of the art of glass painting. In the latter, the paint is translucent (as in cathedral windows), and in the former it is opaque. Although it is almost impossible to trace the origin of this form of painting, as an art of particular interest to the West it started in the 1500s in Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, and Spain. It reached its peak during the 16th century. Essentially a folk art, the technique was practised where glass was produced, mainly in forest-rich areas where wood was an important heating element, such as Riesengebirge, Bohemia, and the Alps. The paintings were usually made by workmen in glass factories during their spare time — as a hobby, so to speak — and the themes were usually religious ones in accordance with their way of thinking and traditions.

Drawings & Lithographs

It is in drawing that the painter shows that he really knows his art, for drawing is the basis of any painting. This might sound old-fashioned or academic, but it has been proven over the centuries that the greatest masters in painting were always the most skillful in the execution of drawing. During my various artistic stages or periods I always went back to the study of animals, because there I had to draw movements quickly in order to express the animal's mood in a proper manner.

Brush Drawings

Drawings are based on lines. It does not matter what kind of material is used — whether pen, charcoal or brush. I have used oil thinned with turpentine or, in special cases, tar thinned with turpentine, resulting in a sepia appearance. When thinned with turpentine, the oil paint runs somewhat and makes the contour look larger and softer.