The Art of using amber varnish a.k.a. alchemical gold in oil painting

Alchemical gold

Amber is and has always been considered the “alchemical gold” of oil painting.

Used by the old Flemish Masters from the outset as well as the luthiers of Cremona, the secrets of preparing the amber varnish seemed lost until a while ago when it was rediscovered by Jacques Blockx at the end of the 19th century.  After extensive research, both scientific and academic that included the study of the old manuscripts, Jacques Blockx succeeded in obtaining these mediums through the process of dissolving amber.

        painting by Fabien Cateux - example of work with amber medium

Since then, several scientists such us Jean-Claude Portner have also succeeded in this reconstruction.  It is the use of these mediums, in painting and in the varnishing, that Fabien will be teaching during this course.  To quote Fabien who says that "for more than ten years I had the pleasure of working with dissolved amber, a marvelous and bewitching material.  Using amber varnish will not only bring out the depth and beauty of colors, it will also alter the properties of paint and impacting in a profound way a painter's daily method of working".

During this workshop Fabien Cateux will help you discover the wonderful world of this alchemical gold.
After a brief history of amber in Western art, focus of the workshop will be on discover this medium as you render a painting with exercises on color, on the glacis (glazes) and the varnishing of a painting.


- theory and history of amber in the Western art
- demonstration on glazing a painting
- wet on wet exercises
- discovering amber in mediums and in different recipes
- preparing the glaze
- executing a painting with amber medium
- finishing touches using amber medium



Organiser:      Atelier Nadaï
Instructor:     Fabien Cateux
Dates:            TBA
Duration:       5 days (40 hours)
Tuition:          1100 euros net
(course fee exempted of French 20% VAT)

Course fee includes materials such as canvas, paints and mediums
Does not include brushes and other sundry tools, travel, meals and accommodation.

Please contact us to receive course brochure.