My Art Making Weapons of Choice for 2020

I’m sure there’s more I can’t think of, but these are some of my favorite products for working in oil paint. 

Gloves in a bottle. I have a tendency to blend oil paint with my fingers at times. Now that I’ve had cancer I better cut that crap out! Well, this stuff makes it so I still can. I tried wearing gloves that I stole from my surgeon’s office — and wow — I don’t know how so many people work with them on. The sweaty nastiness of it all? No thanks!

bottlegloves

I’ve used Old Holland since high school and could always tell the difference between it, and others. It is expensive, so I only use it for certain colors and odd mixes. I’ve been told it is cheap crap marketed to Americans as being fancy, but I find the mix of pigment and oil to be a good balance. Winsor & Newton is always dependable  — not to oily or too solid. My other favorite jam is Williamsburg who I am mildly addicted to. And last but not least, the newer Gambin radiants. 

 

Williamsburg_tube

Princeton! I beat the crap out of these brushes and normally deal with fraying and splitting when it comes to fine detailed work. These are holding up better than I expected! I found out a lot of other painters I admire use them, too. They are inexpensive enough that you don’t feel bad about beating them to death and throwing them away. I also enjoy Robert Simmons brushes.

Hog bristle filberts. They are good for large areas — especially large works — because hog holds the paint better. I’m not too particular about the brand. For real, most artists are shocked by how few brushes I actually use. I look at their studios vs. mine and they have multiple jars full in every shape and form and size — while I have maybe 20, and most are never used.

Ampersand gessobord. No complaints here. Then again I work pretty small. Might not be good for really big stuff though, depending on how deep it is.

Centrurion Linen canvas. As far as anything else goes for larger commissions, I have been using a lot of linen mounted on gatorfoam from New Traditions (thanks to Stanka Kordic for hipping me to them).

Linen is something I only started working on in 2012 and I rarely go back to canvas as a result. I know quite a few people who work at The Cleveland Museum of Art rolled their eyes when I told them I was going for the linen mounted on gatorfoam, but it seems like it can’t be any less archival than other nonsense I’ve seen. I guess I won’t be around 150 years from now to know how they held up! For the times when I can’t afford the New Traditions gatorfoam because I’m doing a show and need it in bulk, I turn to Centurion.

For works on paper, artist Christian van Minnen hipped me to the Arches oil paper. I love it, I’ve only done smaller work with it but am curious to see where it would take me on a larger scale.

ArchesOilPaperSheets

Since I no longer have a studio and work from home with two spazzy cats, my glass palettes were not going to work anymore. Thankfully I found the Grey Matter paper palette! I like that is has a grey tone for when I mix colors against it, and I don’t have to deal with the task of cleaning it over and over and over. I can even fold it and tuck it away in my paint case for when my cats decide to go snooping. Thanks cats!

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I love my blue shop towels. Less lint and crap than regular paper towels, and more absorbent. One sheet just to clean off brushes can go on for several sessions. It is the Quilted Northern toilet paper of towels!

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If you don’t have a Silicoil jar to clean your brushes, I don’t know what you are using. They made us buy these back in high school! In fact, I think mine is from when I was 16.

Gamvar Varnish. Accept no substitute! Gamblin were nice enough to send me a sample and I was hooked, especially for work done on canvas or linen. It is so wonderful.

MGBV118

Baby table top easel. People kind of laugh when they see it, you probably expect a monster one when you walk into an artist’s studio (I have one but have used it maybe twice) and not this wee thing. My baby easel can fit things up to 18×24″ just fine.

Lukas Oil Mediums. They are so fancy, and they’ve been a really great line from what I have tried so far. 

A great website AMIEN with all sorts of information about varnishing, materials, and all the jazz they probably should teach you in art school in your first year — and don’t. Check it out!

What products are you using that you like? I always want to know.

Canvas or Panel? Panel

I have a love hate relationship with both canvas and panel/wood surfaces. For years now, I have been working on panel, I like how flat it is, easy to transport, and looks mighty nice when varnished. There is a problem though — dust, fuzz, hairs, dirt. It shows up and is more obvious on panel than canvas. I went from working in at home, where my cat would shed and sometimes jump up and rub his fuzzy ass on my wet artwork. Going through with tweezers and such never got everything out, and after a coat of varnish, the spots I missed became more pronounced. Then I moved into my studio last May, but, I moved in with a fiber artist into a 100 year old former car factory…yeah, lint, grime and fuzz, it happens.

In taking steps to get rid of as much crap on surfaces as I could before varnishing, I’ve found that fine sandpaper with a bit of turp or linseed works great and doesn’t take off the layer of paint. I also followed advice I found online about using shop towels instead of paper towels for wiping off my brushes etc…

It works great, and does not contain as much lint and fibers as a cloth or paper towels. I actually used it to dry wipe a painting done 10 months ago and was shocked at how much dirt came off of it! Shop towels are oh-so handy!

So canvas. I love it, the skin tones are easier to work with, I like the feel of rubbing paint deep into the nooks and crannies of the canvas. Plus, it seems to age better and the paint can breathe in a way. I just hate it when it gets droopy or warps with the weather changes (although it isn’t an issue if they are thick). My newest series I’ve been doing on canvas, and I was thinking of going back to it for good — that is, until this large painting came home to me looking like this…..

And this is only the main damage, there’s more bizarre indentations near the bottom.  I’m running over in my head how this could have happened, all the scenarios, and how this obviously wasn’t damage caused by shipping alone since the other painting — done on panel — in the same box was unharmed as well as the packing material in tact. She traveled to Art Basel, DC, and more. No problems, until she finally came home. Thank you Mercury Retrograde!!!

I think this is the universe telling me that canvas is too delicate and I should stick with the panel despite the dust, fuzz, and hairs that drive me crazy. I’m currently weighing my options as far as having this painting repaired (a pro job is just too expensive), it looks like I will be doing it myself even though I’m totally inexperienced at it, but I guess it is good to know these things. I know it will never be restored to the same glory as it once was, but I’m so thankful to have enough friends who are art handlers and work in restoration who have advised me the past 2 days during this crisis. I actually cried for several hours after staring at this damage. I didn’t know I could care so much; besides the fact I never cry about anything!