Painting Tools and Materials

A graphic which may appear in the book, showing various paint brands

I’ve tentatively prepared the above graphic for the book. It may change.

The book (about how to paint cats) won’t be written only for those who paint in oils; acrylics can work too. But for now, I assume every art piece in the book will be in oils. However, I do occasionally paint in acrylics, so maybe I’ll dust off my acrylics paint box.

“His Royal Orangeness” 5×7″ acrylic on canvas board

A lot of the advice in the book will work with most opaque painting mediums, and perhaps even digital or watercolor too. Things like drawing (capturing angles, shapes and proportions correctly), color mixing, color temperature, edges (soft edges, hard edges, lost edges), and values (levels of dark or light) transcend any particular medium.

Choosing and buying art materials

Let’s return to choosing art materials. It’s a subject that fascinates (and frustrates) many artists.

As a young art student, buying art materials was exciting and scary for me. Exciting, because who doesn’t love buying art supplies? Harrowing, because I was always worried about buying the wrong thing and wasting my money.

I’m not claiming that this book will solve all concerns in this area. But, because I am very opinionated, I will share my views and be specific about what should and should not work. A particular area I plan on discussing is paint brushes.

Many mail order art supply sites show pictures of brushes, but you can’t feel the bristles to see their “spring” or find out how well they “snap.” You can’t always tell what size they are, though sometimes the online stores and catalogs will, thankfully, give measurements.

So, one of the things I intend to do is not only give specific recommendations and suggestions about paint, canvas and painting surfaces, but also brushes. Brushes, man. Affordable brushes. Brushes that work and are the right size. I always hated buying brushes because I never learned what “type” was for what medium or application. Is this sable for oils or is it only good for watercolors? I didn’t always know. (Still don’t always know. Thankfully more vendors are being specific.)

As you can see from the graphic at the top of the page, I have a lot of different paint brands that I like. Most of them are “Artist” grade (meaning they are higher end and therefore more expensive). I definitely encourage you to use Artist grade paints, but if you’re a student or just are afraid to “waste” paint on studies and practice pieces, there are cheaper brands that you should be okay with and other brands that you must avoid.

A few suggestions to get you started

BRUSHES

Rosemary & Co has some really affordable brushes. Even though she’s located in the UK, if you live in the USA, the shipping is still not that bad. It’s better if you buy more than a few brushes at a time to make the shipping cost worth it. (Change the currency settings on the site—see upper right corner of page—to USD if you are in the United States.) My go-to brushes right now include Flat ‘Brights’ Sable Mixture. Size 8 & 10 are good sizes for the canvas sizes I most often use (anywhere from 3×3″ to 12×12″). After some time, these brushes will wear down and start to splay out a bit (but look at their low prices!) but that can be an advantage when painting cat fur. In fact, these brushes work especially well when they are a little worn out!

See the tiger painting below (and then the detail showing the effects this brush—even when semi “worn down”—can get).

“April Tiger” 8×8″ oil on canvas panel.
See the detail of the hair and the brushstrokes! That’s all Rosemary & Co’s doing, I tell you!

Buying several of the same type of brush is great, because they won’t last forever. The Rosemary “Sable Mixture” brush I am using now has been getting daily and steady use for the last 2-1/2 months and is not close to being retired, but eventually, it will. At the low price of under $5.00 (as of Spring 2018) for one brush, I don’t mind if it wears out a little quicker. I still save money in the long run.

PAINT

While I recommend Artist Grade Paint, if you already have a paintbox full of student Paint (like Grumbacher Academie or Winsor & Newton Winton) and don’t want to buy a whole lot more paints yet, I implore you to at least get an Artist grade White. White is the tube we use the most and makes a huge impact in color mixes. Using a weak, wimpy white just increases frustration and wastes time.

Winsor & Newton Flake White Hue or Titanium White are great choices, as well as LeFranc & Bourgeouis Titanium or Titanium/Zinc White. Not everyone likes it, but I love Permalba White, and it’s quite affordable (but look for it on sale). Most of the Artist Grade brands offer a serviceable Titanium White. For higher end “Artist” grade paint at a very reasonable price, check out BlueRidgeArtist.  Many oil paint aficionados rank this small paintmaker’s paint as almost as good as the super-pricey stuff, but at almost student-grade prices! You can’t go wrong with Blue Ridge Artist.

CANVAS

For practice, studies, and nice affordable paintings to sell at places like DailyPaintworks, check out Art Alternatives 6×6″ 12-pack. I like the canvas texture that is “canvasy” but not too rough. Plus the price is low enough that I don’t worry about “wasting” a canvas. Worrying about wasting money is one of the greatest inhibitors of creativity. We are too afraid to dive in and experiment and work!

That’s enough for now. Until next time. And, please leave comments, questions, and suggestions. Also, consider signing up for blog updates (see sign-up box at the top right of this page). Thanks!

 

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