Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Graydon Parrish Workshop - Fabric Study

Oil on Canvas Board and Set Up
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to take another workshop with the amazing, talented, generous, patient...I could go on, Graydon Parrish. This is the third time I have had the opportunity to take one of his workshops (see Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 for more info) and every time I am amazed at how much I learn yet how relaxed and fun the process is.  When I learn on my own, it is more like a battle of wills and frustration and as I tend to learn by realizing what not to do....and then learning by the process.

The workshop was two weeks long during which time Graydon walked us through setting up the still life which he set up as a work of art in itself.  He showed us how to determine the colors of the fabric and how the light affects the hue, value and chroma.  He had us paint half a sphere and cube with the local color to better understand what we were seeing.  We then mixed the color strings we needed by matching the munsell chips to what we observed on the fabric.  Below is a photo of my palette with all of my paints mixed up.

Palette Before Painting Session
 I have all of my mixtures organized by hues first and then by value.  So I have two hues strings one a purple blue that leans towards yellow and one a purple blue that leans towards purple, in munsell speak, 2.5PB2/4, 2.5PB3/4 and 2.5PB4/4 and 5PB2/4, 5PB3/4 and  5PB4/4.  I also mixed up several darks to cover the range of darks observed in the fabric, a dark neutral, N1/ and a few more chromatic darks using the blues that I used to make the hue mixtures (ultramarine blue, winsor blue (yellow shade) and dioxazine purple) and a very dark chromatic black using peach black and a mix of ultramarine blue and winsor blue (yellow shade).  For the background I used my pretubed colors of a neutral grays, very handy I must say.  

While this sounds a little confusing and time consuming, it is actually quite simiple and quick once you get the hang of it and the best part is that all the work is done prior to starting the painting so once I paint, I only need to think about painting and do not have to shift between painting and mixing as much.  I still mix while I paint, but the shifts are so slight that it feels more like part of the painting process than actual mixing.  Below is a photo of my palette after the painting session.

Palette After Painting Session
My palette used to be so messed up after a painting session as I frantically searched for the correct mixtures, often running out of that perfect mix near the end of the session.  Then when I would come back to paint several days or weeks later, I would totally forget how I had achieved the mixtures and would waste more time trying to match up my new mixtures on my dry paint, not fun.

Now, using Munsell, I can easily match up the mixtures exactly and just carry on with fresh paint during the next session.  If I am going to be painting the next day or within about a week, I can freeze my paints until the next session but they do get a little stiff.  I am trying also putting a q-tip with clove oil in as well to see if that helps.  Below is a photo of my palette after being in the freezer overnight.

Frozen Paint
As you can see I have to label everything as my memory totally sucks the older I get!  For more paint storage tips check out my Paint Storage Tips

Graydon then walked us through the entire process from the drawing to the finish all the while teaching us to think and see the full effect rather than just the object that was in front of us.   There were a couple of students working at the first and second level and Graydon had them working on other projects such as painting cubes like the ones below.

Tanya Bone Painting Cubes
Painted Cubes
Painting of Cubes

I have learned so much and can't wait to apply everything over the next few months.  I will also be teaching an oil painting class starting in September and while we will not be using Munsell per se, we will definitely be applying much of what I have learned.

If you would like to join me, please visit http://register.asapconnected.com/StaffDetails.aspx?pk=24306 for more information and to register.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tips for Storing Oil Paint Between Sessions

Well, that was fun, well fun like a long workout is when you are done ;) It definitely helps to have good music when paint mixing as sometimes it can seem like it can take forever to get the exact mix you are looking for. 

It is so worth it though as there is nothing better than having all of your paint premixed in clean little tubes so that you can squish out fresh paint every time you paint.   I have thought of mixing while sipping a glass wine or martini but I am sure I would end up with very sub par mixes ;)

I don't premix all my colors but I find it so helpful to premix a flesh palette as I may not get the chance to paint every day, especially in the summer, and there is nothing worse than mixing up your paint and then having to through it all out because it did not keep between sessions. 

Also, as some days I only have an hour to two to paint and if I have all of my colors premixed, I get to spend almost all of the time painting rather than getting ready to paint.  Of course, even when premixing the mixes are merely starting points but they create a sense of harmony and consistency.

Tubing is not for everyone though so I listed a few other ways to keep your paint usable between sessions.  Oil paint does not actually dry out, it oxides due to contact with the air.  So the key is to slow down the oxidization by limiting the amount of air the oil is exposed to.  I have tried all the methods below and they all work, depending on the size of paint nugget left and the amount of time the paint is left out.  I listed them in order of my preference after tubing as nothing compares to fresh paint ;)

Pure Clove Oil - clove oil actually slows down the oxidization of the paint.  If you have a sealed container, place your palette inside the container at the end of a painting session.  Dip a q-tip in pure clove oil quickly as you don't want too much clove oil, just dampen the cotton.  I use a bit of masking tape and tape the q-tip to the box and close the lid.  I have had paint last over a week during a summer heat wave this way.

I use this method for plein air painting and the first time I tried it I used too much clove oil and my paint was a little runny so I just use a little oil now.  I also use it in the studio now (duh, I don't know why I didn't sooner) as I like this method because I paint mostly using the indirect method which uses smaller piles of paint and I find that it prevents a skin from forming more so than freezing.

I like the smell of clove oil but it can get pretty strong so when I am painting, I remove the q-tip and put it in a zip lock bag while I am painting and then just put it back on the palette after my session.  You can also add the oil directly to the paint (1 drop per 1 inch of paint squeezed from the tube) but I don't like to do that as I like my paint to dry once rather quickly during painting so I can paint the next day if I want to...and I always want to ;)

Freezing paint - works best for paint storage for a few days depending on the size of the paint nugget. he larger the better.  Try to keep paint in thicker piles, scrapping up to a peak if needed and I like to cover with saran wrap and gentle pat down to create a seal between the paint and the surface (I usually put on an piece of glass or disposable palette paper).  I have several pieces of glass, some that are tempered and thicker so I don't need to tape the edges.  This one I grabbed from a cheapo dollar store picture frame and taped it to a piece of neutral gray painted board for support.  Also, the tape protects the edges from chipping and from cutting me.  You lose a bit of paint on the saran wrap when you take it off but it prevents the air from reaching the paint even more and will keep longer.

Under Water - crazy but it works!  Fill a tray with at least an inch of filtered water, with your paints on a piece of glass or water resistant surface (mine is a piece of grey plastic), flip the surface upside down so that the paints are fully submerged in the water.  This method works great, when you are ready to paint, just take out your palette and blot off water with paper towel. 

The only issue with this method is that if you forget to refill the water and the paint dries out...yeah, so my paint is still stuck to my palette...I will have to scrape that off at some point ;)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Acrylic Abstraction Class Starting Sep 24, 2015

Just a few of the fun projects will be working on at the next Acrylic Abstraction class starting Sep 24, 2015 at the Port Moody Arts Center.

If you would like to join me, please register online at Port Moody Arts Center Online Link or call 604-931-2008.  Please register at least 5 days prior to class start date.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Acrylic Abstraction Class - Student Work

I wanted to share these beautiful pieces created by one of my students during one of my recent Acrylic Abstraction Classes.  She framed the pieces beautifully and they were included in the student exhibit at Port Moody Arts Center.

The pieces were done as part of one of the exercises that we do during class which is a process of exploration of how we can allow acrylics to react with the paper which guides how the painting will evolve.  For the top painting, three colors were used, for the bottom, only two colors were use.  Just goes to show what you can achieve with a very limited palette and a keen eye!

If you are interested, I have another Acrylic Abstraction class starting Sep 24 on Thur nights from 7-9pm.  You can register online at Port Moody Arts Center Online Link or call 604-931-2008 to register.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Registration for Fall Art Classes are Now Open!

Still Life Seashell - Oil on Panel (Indirect Method)
Wow, time is flying by! Registration is already open for fall art classes.  Please check out my Workshops & Classes page to see a full list of classes I am offering this September.

I have planned new exercises and some fun projects for each of the classes and am so excited to share them!

Students have already signed up for several of the classes so if you are thinking of joining me, please don't wait too long to decide as spaces are limited.

Looking forward to another fun fall of teaching and sharing my love of art with all the art lovers out there :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Alla Prima Painting of Blue Vase & Apples From Life

Blue Vase, Green Apples - 6x8" Oil on Paper Canvas
This is a little alla prima painting I painted yesterday in my studio, SO much fun!  The blue vase I found last week at the thrift store and love it.  I have been hunting for simple ceramic bowls and vases to paint and got very lucky with this one as it was exactly what I was looking for.

I usually paint using the indirect method but as I am short on time in the studio over the summer, I wanted to try alla prima so I could get in & get out all in one day as who knows when I can get back in the studio in this heat!

I used a very limited palette, only the three primary colors and burnt umber and white which is the same palette I use for plein air painting.  Using a limited palette really simplifies the painting process and makes the painting feel more harmonious...plus I manage to keep my palette so much more organized and clean! I will have to take a photo of my palette next time. 

This was painted from life with no preliminary drawing other than a very rough block in with the burnt umber paint thinned out with odorless mineral spirits.  That is the only stage that I use the straight mineral spirits as I hate the thought of it wafting through the air in my studio even though I have the window open.  Then I used straight paint with the smallest amount of medium I could get away with, just to give the paint a bit of flow.  I actually really enjoyed how I did not have the drawing to worry about "keeping", which is the beauty of painting a more simple set up.

I meant to take a photo of the still life set up but I forgot, darn.  I used the shadow boxes I made for my Drawing From Life classes that I teach, which is the same as I used for the shell  but I used a proper clamp light with a daylight bulb which shone in from the top.   I plan on doing a lot more paintings with this set up so I will get a photo of the next one I do.  I really love simplicity of these "boxes" as I can adjust the lighting so easily and just leave set up.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wisteria Acres Art Retreat with Lalita Hamill & Michael King

View from Pagoda Ridge Golf - 5x7" Oil on Paper
Last week I got to spend two wonderful days at Wisteria Acres for the Art Retreat in Langley, BC put on by Michael King & Lalita Hamill....SO fun!

I went last year for one day but this year I planned ahead so I could make it for two days.  On the first day Michael King did  a demo filled with tons of great tips.  We then went to Pagoda Ridge Golf club to paint for a few hours.  

When we got there everyone migrated to a huge shady tree (did I mention it was smokin hot, 34 degrees, ugh) and set up in front of a pond with a beautiful view of the mountains.  I loved the pond but of course the view I wanted was outside the golf course, looking through a chain link fence.  

Luckily I still had the shade of the tree so it was such a great afternoon of painting.  I have not done much plein air or alla prima painting as I mostly do indirect oil painting.  I found that I tend to rush when plein air painting and use too many brush strokes so I really focused on slooooowwwing down for this one and using a few brush strokes as possible.  My mantra for the day was "paint with purpose" and I really like how much more peaceful it was to be more mindful of each brush stroke rather than frantically trying to fill the white space.

It was so nice just to paint for fun, not worrying about creating anything, totally changes your mindset.  It is just painting for the love of painting.  The bottom foreground of the painting was done by Michael King.  Michael is a very colorful painter with very bold, expressive brushstrokes... I on the other hand, usually totally refine my brushstrokes so they are almost invisible and obviously, I love my neutrals.    The more I look at my little painting though, the more I like the contrast of texture and color between the foreground and background, hmmm new things to try :)

The next day we went down to Marina Park and Michael King did a few really quick demos which were great to see how to simplify and get everything down quickly.  Then as it was Lalita Hamill's day to paint as she was to be doing the demos for the next two days, I parked my easel beside her and watched her paint for the first part of the day.  Lalita is like a treasure trove of knowledge and she is so passionate about sharing all of her knowledge that it is impossible not to be inspired and learn a lot! I learned a lot of great tips from Lalita Hamill and again, tried many new techniques and much more chromatic colors than I normally used.  So the opposite of how I normally work....and SO much fun!

It was so interesting to watch how both Lalita and Michael paint so differently yet at the same time there are many similarities to what they do.  They are both so approachable and giving of their knowledge.  They really know how to simplify the process into useable tidbits that their students can use in their own work, they make a great teaching combo! 

That is what I love about taking classes and workshops, trying new things that I likely would never do in my studio and learning new techniques and styles.  The other fun part, is that it is such a social retreat that it is just as much fun sitting and visiting with the other artists at the retreat.  I definitely plan to attend this retreat every year, it is a great way to kick off the summer! 

I posted a few photos below of the resort as it is so peaceful, had to share!


The barn
The patio was so nice and shady, great for late night wine and early morning coffee....and no internet, tv or phones...nice  :)

The barn, with a beautiful loft above.  You get to walk through the barn to get from the parking lot to the main house.  I LOVE horses.

Bedroom greeters

The beds were so comfortable, just like they look.  A big white cloud to melt into after a hard day of painting :) The rooms are actually bigger than they look in this photo too ;)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Federation of Canadian Artist's
Limitless Exhibit
June 29 - September 30, 2015

End of Autumn - Graphite Pencil on Paper
$350 - Matted & Framed
After a long hiatus, I have started exhibiting again and I am happy to say that my piece, End of Autumn, was accepted in the juried show LIMITLESS the FCA's online exhibition and competition.

You can view the exhibition online in full at: http://artists.ca/show/limitless/0  there are some amazing pieces in the exhibit and it is a very diverse show.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bargue Plate II, 23 A Roman Woman by Adolphe-William Bouguereau - Graphite Study

Graphite Pencil - Master Copy Study
I completed...well I think it is done....this study of Plate II, 23 which is a copy of a study of A Roman Woman by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905).  It is not nearly as accurate as it should be but I was having so much fun that I just decided to let her be herself.  I will have to do the study again in the future and be more diligent.   I started this just prior to my drawing classes that I am teaching as a way to get back in the swing of drawing.

It had been awhile since I had the time to draw and draw just for pleasure and it was SO much fun.  I love painting but the more I paint and then go back to drawing the more I realize how much I really love drawing.  I plan to draw several more plates and master copies over the summer months.  I hope to have one on-going in the studio and just left on an easel so on days where I only have limited time, I can just pop in and get some art time in.  It is the best therapy out there and totally free! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

So Proud of My Drawing Student

Hard at Work
I am so proud of my student's hard work! She is taking my Drawing From Life class and is working on a portrait that she will be giving away as a gift.  It is such a busy time of year yet she will be working every night this week to complete her portrait on time...while trying very hard not to rush!

Things really started to take shape tonight and I can't wait to see the final piece by the end of tomorrow night, nothing like working under a deadline to get you to maximum productivity level ;)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Suite E Life Drawing - Sustained Pose with Lily & AGM Tues June 9, 2015

Sustained Pose - Drawing of Lily
Well this Tues was the last drawing session with Suite E Life Drawing group until September, gasp...sob.  This is my effort from that session with a lot of shading work done at home, I am sooo slow!

There are several areas that I would have liked to improve but this method while hugely fun, is not one of speed, so this is as far as I got.  I would love to have sessions with the model where we do the same pose and model for two to four sessions to fully complete a drawing...perhaps something that the group can implement next season if others are interested?

If you would like to put add your voice, please join us for our AGM Tues June 9th at Port Moody Arts Center.  We are a non-profit Life Drawing Group and welcome new members and drop in artists and students.

You are welcome to become a member if you are not already as memebers decide on what things to keep or change to make annually to make our life drawing group even better year after year.  Come on out with ideas and an appy/desert as we will have a little pot luck party after the meeting.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quick, Portable Shadow Boxes from Foam Core

Portable Shadow Box
I needed to come up with shadow boxes for my Drawing from Life class that are portable, have attached lighting, quick to set up & take down and reasonably cheap.  No small order! 

So shopping I went.  I had a several ideas of what I could use, cardboard boxes, black fabric bins...but in the end I decided to go with black foam core.    The boxes are made from four pieces of foam core cut to the same size, in this case roughly 13x14".  I then taped three pieces together along the longest sides, alternating the side that I taped on. 

This way the "boxes" fold flat like an accordion in seconds.  The third piece of foam core is the same size and sits on top.  I wanted to leave the top unattached to keep things portable but also, this way I can slide fabric over the back panel if I choose for different set ups.  The base is just black construction paper that I will cut to size. 

The reason I chose paper rather than foam core was to keep costs down but also this way students can trace their still life set up with white chalk so that the following week they can quickly set up their objects in the correct positions.

The light is a cheapo clip on LCD light from the dollar store but does the job.  If I had a set up that could stay set up I would invest in better lighting but as the room needs to be set up for each session, this will do. 

Well, that is one box down, 10 more to go.  So excited to try these out in class next Monday!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Monday Night Drawing Class Supplies

Drawing Class Supplies
Look at all the goodies I got from Colour's Artist Supplies!  I love shopping for art supplies, any art supplies and I especially love shopping at Colour's.  Everyone there is so helpful and really passionate about art so we always get chatting about or latest projects.  Laury makes my life as a teacher so much easier as she organized and rounds everythign up for me so I can just come in and pick everything up.  They even offered to cut up my full sheets of drawing paper for me and practically gift wrapped it :)

These supplies are for my lucky students that signed up for my Drawing From Life class that starts June 1.  The black foam core sheets are not technically part of the supplies as I bought those for me..for what you ask?  You will have to wait to see, so excited to "build" with them.

There are two days left (I never count the day I am on ;)) and two spots left so if you would like to join us, you can sign up using  online registration or call (604) 931-2008. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tracey CostescuCommission Portraits & Original Artwork: Some of My Favorite Watercolor Supplies

Tracey CostescuCommission Portraits & Original Artwork: Some of My Favorite Watercolor Supplies:  These are some of my favorite watercolor supplies. For info about each and links on where to buy them, visit my Fine Art Blog . ...

Tracey CostescuCommission Portraits & Original Artwork: Some of My Favourite Acrylic Supplies

Tracey CostescuCommission Portraits & Original Artwork: Some of My Favourite Acrylic Supplies: Well you knew this post was coming ;) Again, I only use high quality professional materials as in the long run, you save money by buying hig...

How Can I Improve My Paintings?

Drawing Classes Starting June 1
Scroll Down for More Info
I get asked this at pretty much every class that I teach.  My answer is always, draw, draw, draw.  Yes, I know, I have heard that a zillion times, but the fact is, it really is true.

If you can not draw it, imagine how much harder it is to paint it when you are dealing with drawing (proportionsa and form modeling) as well as color and paint handling.

For years I did not do thumbnail sketches and pencil studies prior to starting a painting as I was so anxious to dive in and hey, I only have a few hours here and there to get stuff done.  I would use a grid to draw out a reasonably quick outline sketch of my subject and then it was on to the paint.

Without fail though, I would struggle so much during the painting process, unsure as to what I was really seeing.  The painting, more often than not, turned out ok in the end, but it was always such a struggle and I did not feel like I was improving nearly as quickly as I felt I should be.

So I broke down and thought, ok, I will try doing a decent sketch first, working out all the values (lights and darks) and really getting a firm handle on how the light was affecting my subject prior to even thinking about painting.

As it turns out, I love working this way, it is a luxury I thought I could not "afford" time wise.  I fully enjoy the drawing process which usually does not take long.  This way I have a fully rendered sketch to work from as well as the photo or subject from life. Then, once I move onto paint, I am so aware of every nook & cranny of my subject, that all I really need to deal with is color and paint handling. Yeah, just that ;) 

But I have worked out most of the form and composition issues so the painting process has become much less of a struggle and more of a pleasure.  In the end, I also spend less time on a painting, including the drawing time.  Go figure, those teachers that told me to draw more time and time again really knew what they were talking about :)

If you would like to draw with me, I have a drawing class starting June 1, 2015 please register online registration or call (604) 931-2008 for more information.  We will use several time tested methods to progress from drawing a 2 dimensional image accurately and then progress to drawing a three dimensional object from life using casts and still life objects.

No experience necessary. All professional quality supplies included and are to take home at the end of the class. Please register early as registration closes prior to start date.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Suite E Life Drawing Session - Sustained Pose with Caitlin

Portrait of Caitlin from Life Session
So sad that there are only a few sessions left for the season, I am going to miss it!  Last night was a sustained session with Caitlin, one of my favourite models.  She is amazingly still and oozes grace, very inspirational.

I would have loved even just another 15 minutes, of course there is never enough time and I barely got the darker values in her hair started and time was up.  It is funny because I used to draw much faster, but of course then I would get to the end of the night and notice an eye sliding off, slow is definitely better.

Today I started another drawing from life from one of the images from my beloved Charles Bargue Drawing book which I am slowly working my way through.  This book will keep me busy for so many years to come. 

I plan to do a drawing a day to get my drawing chops in shape for my upcoming class  Drawing From Life for the Beginner  at Port Moody Art Center starting June 1.  There are still a few spots left if you would like to join me you can register at http://register.asapconnected.com/courses.aspx?coursegroupid=9898 if you are interested.  Please register early as registration closes prior to start date of class.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Suite E Life Drawing Session - Sustained Pose with Gina

Life Drawing Portrait of Gina
It seems like forever since I have been able to make it to Suite E Life Drawing at Port Moody Art Center, I was worried I would not remember how to draw!

Although I did not get nearly enough done on this, I was so happy to get the chance to draw from a model again that I really didn't care.  It is darker in real life as my darn flash kept going off on my camera and I was too lazy to find my detachable flash which directs the light at the ceiling rather than at the subject.

I have been busy painting in watercolor and acrylic lately and did not realize how much I have missed drawing.  I see a lot more sketching in my immediate future!

Plus I have to get back in the drawing groove for my upcoming Drawing From Life for the Beginner classes at Port Moody Art Center starting June 1, you can register at http://register.asapconnected.com/courses.aspx?coursegroupid=9898 if you are interested.  Please register early as registration closes prior to start date of class.

If you are interested in checking out Suite E Life Drawing, only 5 sessions left before summer break so run don't walk.  The meeting and model list is at http://www.myartclub.com/group.php?c_no=22

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Some of My Favourite Watercolor Supplies

I often get asked about the materials that I use for my watercolor paintings so I thought I would post a version of my supply list online.

I never use student quality materials and honestly feel like nobody should. Working on student grade paper can make even a seasoned watercolor painter feel talentless! Professional quality paint and paper allows even the absolute beginner to feel like they are working with their materials, not fighting against them.

Student grade paints may be "cheaper" but they are filled will "fillers" so that it looks like you are getting more paint for your buck.  What you are really getting is a weaker pigment load so you use twice as much paint than you would if you had bought the professional quality.  The luminosity and handling also do not compare.  My advice, buy only three - four tubes to start and mix your own colors.  Your paintings will be more harmonious and you will learn so much about color mixing and how your colors work together. Then add pigments over time.


I love the Allegro Watercolor Brushes from Opus.  I have several rounds ranging from size 2 - 18 but a you can easily get by with two round brushes, size 4 & 10.  If you treat them properly (ie NEVER let them stand in water, always clean after using & allow to dry flat) they will last you for years & years.  I have had mine for over 10 years and work like new.


The only paper I use for watercolor is Arches and for good reason, it is so forgiving and accepts the paint and water so well.  I like the Arches Cold Pressed 140lb paper that I buy in a full 22x30" sheet.  I can then cut to size either four 11x14" pieces or 11x24".  I also buy the paper in bulk when on sale, usually once a year and it lasts me all year.  Also, by buying the large sheet and cutting to size you save more than if you buy the pre-cut pads or in blocks.

Stretcher Board

I work very detailed and in many layers so I always stretch my paper to remove the gelatin sizing & to ensure a perfect warble free surface no matter how wet the paper gets.  The Incredible Boards are amazing and worth every penny.  I bought two 24x32" boards, one for when I paint full sheets and the other I used an exacto knife to cut into quarters so that I can paint 11x14" pieces perfectly. Again, if you treat these well, they will last you for years and years as the surface allows you to staple again and again.


Winsor Newton Professional Water Colors are the colors I use most. I also like Daniel Smith Watercolor professional watercolor paints.

My personal favourite starter palette is permanent rose, cobalt blue & transparent yellow.  My usual palette is:

permanent rose
alizarin crimson
french ultramarine blue
cobalt blue
winsor blue (red shade)
winsor green (yellow shade)
transparent yellow
cadmium yellow
cadmium red
burnt sienna

Miscellaneous Supplies 

·         Basic office stapler with staples for stretching paper
·         Palette (can use white ceramic dishes from the dollar store)
·         water container  (I use 2, 1 for clean and one to rinse dirty brushes)
·         green painters masking tape
·         staedler  pencils ( HB) - Staples also sells them in packs of 12
·         kneaded eraser

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some of My Favorite Oil Supplies

I often get asked what paints, brushes & supplies I use so I thought I would create a post with images for all us visual learners to make sharing the info easier.

These are the supplies that I use when I teach my workshops and art classes.  My next class starts in March, please visit http://register.asapconnected.com/EventDetail.aspx?pk=343461 if you would like more information.


 Silver Bristalon Synthetic Rounds - Absolutely LOVE these brushes! They allow you to scrub to your hearts content yet the bristles stay together nicely and do not splay.  They may break down over time, but they always retain their shape and you don't get that annoying odd stray hair sticking out the side as you usually do with scrubbing brushes.
 Silver Ruby Satin Synthetic - Again love this brush.  Excellent snap, soft yet able to achieve fine control.  Very resilient brush.

Rosemary & Co Ivory Long Flat - Love, love these brushes for alla prima and plein air painting.  They hold a lot of paint and keep a clean edge no matter how many times I have used them (assuming you are caring for them properly).

Winsor & Newton Oil Brushes  - These are great brushes for plein air and alla prima as well and are easily found in Canada, sadly the others need to be shipped from the UK and the USA.  They are great for alla prima as well but stiffer so they do not wear as well as the Ivory brushes and require a much softer touch to get soft edges as the bristles are quite stiff but still a great all round brush.

You get what you pay for with art supplies and student grade paints cost less for a reason.  They are full of fillers rather than paint pigment so buy less and buy quality.  I like Gamblin, Holbein, Old Holland and Winsor Newton Artist Oil Paints (not Winton).

Gamblin Flake White Replacement -  lead-free and offers a beautiful opalescence, a long and ropey stroke, warm colors, translucency, and a short, sharp brush mark.
Gamblin Van Dyke Brown - I use with my flake white to mix my neutral grays but it is also great for glazing as is a warm, transparent permanent black.


Painting Medium - I make my own painting medium with a mixture of refined linseed oil and Gamsol Odorless mineral spirits.  I adjust the amounts in each layer to ensure I am painting fat over lean.

Oleogel is a non-toxic medium made of linseed oil and pyrogenic silica.

Oleogel contains no driers and a little goes a long way. As with any medium, use sparingly to ensure the fat over lean rules are followed.

Gamblin also makes a solvent free painting gel now which is quite nice and easily available in Canada.

 Gamsol  -  I don't use in my workshops but I do use at home.  It is a bit more expensive than many other solvents but the evaporation rate is much lower so to me worth every penny.  I only use it very sparingly in the first layer of my paintings and then if I am not using Oleogel, mixed with oil for successive layers decreasing the amount of solvent added as the layers progress.

The amount I use is so minimal in a small dipper cup that I am sure I am exposed to much more toxicity styling my hair ;)


I have several palettes, wooden, paper and glass but prefer glass.  This is a glass palette that I made by taping a piece of grey disposable palette paper to a sheet of glass and then taped the edges with sturdy black masking tape to avoid cuts.  I have several palettes like this in various sizes.  The glass can be picked up at a glass store or automotive and the edges can be rounded and tempered.  For a quick cheap glass palette, go to the dollar store and pick up a 8x10" or 11x14" frame that you can either slide a piece of the grey palette paper under or even just leave with the brown cardstock.  Depending on the frame you could just leave the frame as is or through out the frame and tape the edges of the glass.  If the glass is thin as most are, use mdf or heavy cardboard for support and tape the edges well to avoid cuts.

 Empty Aluminiumm 15ml Tubes  - I like to premix colors I use frequently so these tubes are great for storing the paint so it is fresh every time I paint.

Subtrates (Supports)

I like a variety of substrates depending on my subject and the mood I am trying to capture in a painting. 

My absolute favorite substrate is Centurion Linen.  These are great for alla prima and indirect paintings alike and are great for portraiture. 

Centurian Linen Oil primed linen at a reasonable price that is great quality.  Available in pads, panels or stretched canvases.  I recently discovered this linen and love it for finished paintings, studies and plein air.   

Opus ArtBoard - I like these for plein air painting and smaller paintings and often tone them prior to using with either a neutral grey or burnt sienna.

Opus Pre-Cut Birch Plywood -  For larger paintings as well as smaller sizes.  These are also great for studies and plein air painting as they are really light yet still rigid.

Opus Exhibition Canvas -  For larger paintings when I want a surface with more tooth.
For studies or plein air paintings, I also like the substrates below.

  Canson Vidalon Vellum - can also be called Mylar but get this brand.  I tried others and not the same.  You can buy it by the sheet or in pads.  Great for doing oil exercises on and studies as you don't need to prep at all.  Just cut and use.

Canson Canva-Paper - a great canvas paper with a look similar to linen that you can do alla prima, plein air and studies on without having to prep.