Monday, March 30, 2009

My materials - paint, mediums, gesso, brushes

I've been getting some questions about what materials I use, so I thought I'd write a post about it so all my answers are in one place.

I love love love Robert Simmons brushes. They are amazingly good quality and amazingly cheap. They are so cheap that when a brush loses it's springiness or it frays, I just toss it and grab a new brush. I use the 785 series white sable round, mostly sizes 4, 1, and 8/0. I also make my own smaller brush with an x-acto knife, by trimming off half the hairs of an 8/0 size brush.

Use good quality brands. Cheap oil paints are just less pigment and more oil, so you use more anyway. A tube of cheap paint actually feels lighter in the hand than the same color tube of a higher quality paint! I like Sennelier brand. I've never used Old Holland but I've heard those are the best and plan to try them out as I need to replace my tubes. I was taught by Kirstine Reiner to grind my own paints, which is really the best way to paint, and not as difficult as it might seem. I'm starting to be annoyed by the "graniness" of prepackaged paints, so maybe I'll get around to mixing my own again someday.

I use a small brown wooden handheld palette. I've tried white palettes, glass palettes, and huge oversized wooden handheld palettes, but I always go back to the little brown one. And I often clamp it to the easel just below my painting so I don't have to hold it.

I mix my mediums in a clear, straight-edged jar, and I make a few evenly spaced marks up the side with a small sharpie for measuring by "parts".

Underpainting medium (for thin, transparent layers)
2 parts linseed oil
1 part turp

Painting medium (for heavier oil, later layers)
1 part linseed oil
1 part stand oil

Art Board

I mix my own, but it's a big project, so for smaller/faster paintings I use a Art Board brand gesso.

Brush cleaner
Turpenoid Natural in the green can is great for cleaning brushes, I swish my brushes in it to clean them in a "Silicoil" jar. I like that it leaves the bristles pliable and conditioned and never dries them. I don't use Turpenoid Natural in my paints or mediums though, it seems to dry sticky and I'd be afraid of what that would do to a finished painting over time.