Tools of the Trade

Have you ever noticed that your hand writing improves if you use a better pen? Same principle applies to fine art. Find out what’s in my tool box and why. Aside from coffee here are the 3 things I can't start my day without.

To start drawing you don't really need much, using your finger on a send will due, however if you are working improving your art and perhaps taking it to the next level, the choice of your tools and mediums can make a difference.

Let’s start with the most important tool: brushes! If you are going to invest in one thing, let it be a good brush. Great brushes are crucial to the overall success of your art work because they groom your paint material and help to transcend your original intension. An energetic brush stroke is everything, and a good brush can help alot. Here are a few brands that I work with and recommend to try:

1. Winsor Newton’s Artist Oil Brushes  are great brushes that come in various sizes and cuts. I love Hog bristle brushes, which are the “everyday work brush” so to speak. The hog bristles have a great grip and can hold a lot of paint, so that your strokes turn out nice and juicy! I use the long chizeled bristle in sizes from 3 until 12.

2. If you can afford to splurge a little I would invest in a few Rosemary Brushes.  They are handmade, classic looking and very durable. I use their  Eclipse Long Filbert  when I need to render details. Just a great finishing brush.

3. HomeDepo flat ship hog brushes are a great budget addition/alternative, which I truly love and recommend all the way. They run down faster then the brands mentioned above, but the benefit of these rundown fellas is awesome as you can create variety of textures with them. The more run down they are the more variation you get.  Another reason to work with these industrial brushes is that they don't let you doodle around too much. I work alla prima and I’m always in a hurry to finish before the light is gone. A large brush allows you to cover an area with just a few decisive energetic strokes.

4. Another great tool which is not exactly a brush but does a great job as an extension of our fingers the; the Rubber kidney. It is basically a squeegee tool, which help to draw shapes, remove access paint and achieve interesting transparencies.

Next item in my paint box are the paints. One thing about paints and painting in general, it is an expensive pursuit, adding to that i have to say from experience your painting is as good at the paints you've used to create it. Unfortunately student grade won't due. Next time you sting on squeezing that expensive tube out, just keep in mind that no one became an artist to save on paint :)

I am looking into starting to make my own paints from natural pigments (that will be fun) but until then I actively use and recommend the following brands:

My all time favourite the Gamblin oil paints. They are inexpensive and they got lots and lots of pigment in them. The down side is that they are a little oozy for me and run out fast. But at the same time they come in beautifully transparent clean colours and work great in all kinds of mixtures. Try their “Indian Yellow”.

Williamsburg Oil Paints are also in my paint box, although they are on the pricy side they are irresistible..hoping to replenish my supply very soon. Try their “Ultramarine Blue".

Another great brand , which is less known in north America but is gaining popularity the Russian Master Klass . The hues of these paints are on the cooler side and hence they are great for painting the figure. They are also bait more thick so they last longer and if you need to dilute them you just ass a little lensed oil. This brand also has quite eclectic names for their readymade premixed tubes.  One of my favourite is the “Saint Petersburg Grey”, which is a very rich mix of a neutral grey that came in handy in all of my recent works.

Old Holland paints are a beautiful choice as well. Their pigment count is the very very high so the colour is really saturated and juicy.  Try their “Alizarine Crimson”

Last but not least, the surface. When painting I work on primed linen. I order a roll of linen and prime it myself using Gesso. Same gesso can go on Cotton, or Wood. If you don’t have the time to prime a surface yourself try RayMar, they make quality linen panels.  If you don’t want to go the linen route, I’d suggest ordering the smooth cotton panels from RayMar.  Another great brand is Fredrix.  Small advise; don’t buy value packs.  They are a waist of money and your time. Working on these  can be exhausting as the surface either has no grip, or sucks all the paint in.

If you work on paper, something I am very much into in the last year or so, I recommend using  archival paper. Sommerset or Stonehange are fantastic for mixed media & printmaking. So is Arches paper is amazing for direct oil painting, and mixed media mark making, and is great if you need to travel or ship light.

So these were the BIG THREE most important tools! In my upcoming posts ill tell you more about all the must haves, why and how to apply them, so stay tuned...

What art supplies can’t you live without? Any brands you have tried and fell in love with?