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!

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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. 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

New Painting: Libertine Axon

“Libertine Axon” 16×16 inches, oil on panel. (Sold) Click to view in full.

This is on view at The Gathering Place at both their locations starting Friday and going through the winter.

New Painting: Maria and Her Beasts

I was asked to do a portrait of my friend’s daughter and their two cats, one of whom, was nicknamed “baby horse” because he was so huge! Well, Wally died of old age shortly after I took photos of him for this painting, so I’m glad we got the ball rolling in-time to have this done. I decided to give him a fancy saddle, and placed him where he seemed to enjoy himself, outside in the garden. I wanted to go for a princess and her beasts vibe in this, which I hope I did!

This measures 11×14″ inches and is oil on panel.

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This is one of those pieces that has been really difficult to photograph because of the small size and detail; I think I got the colors as close as I ever will to seeing it in person. Might be time for me to step it up and get a large format scanner.

New Painting: Snow Dove

A little 5×7″ painting I did using the left over globs of paint from a larger commission I’ve been working on. I’ve had a bad habit since an instructor at Art Center College of Design told me to always squeeze out more than I need. Well, that gets expensive with oil paint, and wasteful in my case, since I always have tons leftover no matter the situation. It seemed silly to waste anymore.

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“Snow Dove” oil on panel. $350.00

Process of a Double Portrait

Lately, I’ve been doing commissions with symbolism that had to be hinted at, but not in a heavy way. I’ve been working on this double portrait for a couple celebrating their ten year anniversary — and it was a surprise for the husband! It’s so difficult trying to guess about a person through secretly snapped photos, but thankfully, the likeness turned out very well.

This couple also had something terrible happen that they have overcome together. I found a few ways commemorate that without it being too “Captain Bringdown” or anything like that. We agreed it was supposed to be more on the lighter side, but with that hint of subversive whatnot that I tend to paint in my personal work as it is. This was a really special piece for me and I’m happy with the result.

I don’t normally like showing too much process with my work, but I decided to do photos from start to finish this time around. I never know if people see the stuff I do, or things that needed fixing. I must have gone over that background in various shades of grey and green for a week before I stopped messing around with it!

What you don’t see, is “Judge Judy” on in the background, and me yelling “STOP THAT” at my cats every 30 seconds. Working from home hasn’t been totally easy.

This was oil on linen.

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and varnished…

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click to enlarge if you want to see all the little detail (like every eyebrow hair etc.)