Category: Art Supplies

Tips on How to Store an Artist Canvas

A perfectly pre-primed Canvas Lot piece, ready to take paint.
A perfectly pre-primed Canvas Lot piece, ready to take paint.

Canvas is a fabric usually made of cotton, linen, or a combination of both. It is available primed or unprimed, stretched or pre-stretched. You can buy a canvas in art supply stores or online, such as in Canvas Lot. Whatever the type of canvas you are using, you have to protect this essential material in your painting.

Unused canvas fabric
If you bought canvas on wholesale and you have some unused canvas left, here are ways on how to take care of your canvas:

  • Roll the canvas loosely around a firm center and cover it to protect it from collecting dust.
  • Store canvas away from direct sunlight or exposed to moisture or humidity.

Stretched and unused canvas
Here are the ways on how to properly store a stretched and unused canvas:

  • Store canvas vertically, standing along one edge. If you have several canvases, stack it face-to-face or back-to-back. The front side should always touch the front side of another canvas. Don’t stack canvas on top of another since it will lead to warping and cause it to sag.
  • Don’t store it in a garage, attic, or any room where you can’t control the temperature and where there is no good ventilation.

Stretched and used canvas
After you’re finished with your painting, here are tips on how you can store your painting as you await for its buyer:

  • Wrap the finished artwork in clean wrapping paper to protect it from dust and other pollutants.
  • Stack the painted canvas vertically against a wall, facing one direction.
  • Don’t store canvases face-to-face to prevent paints from sticking together.
  • Stack larger canvases near the wall and the smaller ones in front. Alternate the orientation of how the canvases are stacked.
  • Remove any eye screws, nails, or wires at the back of the canvas. If you have to attach hooks, screw the hook at the inner side of the stretcher bar. This avoids the ugly protrusions at the back of the painting and prevents poking, impressions, stains, or accidental tearing another stored canvas.
  • Use storage blocks or foam support to protect the canvas from the wall and neighboring canvas.
  • For oil paintings waiting to fully dry, store them in a room which is lit for a few hours of the day. Allowing the paint to dry in darkness causes the paint to turn yellowish.
  • If you are storing the canvas for a long period of time, place it above a rack to let air circulate underneath the paintings.

5 Tips in Buying an Artist’s Easel

311px-Tripod_easelIn a previous blog post, I explained the different types of easels available to painters. With a wide range of easels out there, how do you choose the easel for you? Here are tips to help you in selecting the perfect easel:

Tip #1. Ask these questions to yourself:

  • What kind of painting do I always do?
  • What medium am I using?
  • What is my budget for an easel?
  • Where will I place and store the easel? Do I have adequate space?
  • Where do I usually do my paintings? Inside a studio or outdoors?

Your answers to these questions will help you decide on which easel is best for you. A tabletop easel is best if you like to paint small-scale paintings or you have very limited space in your room. Different medium require different easels. For example, if you paint with oils, use an A-frame or H-frame easel, or whatever easel that will provide you with a vertical working surface. If you use several medium such as oils and watercolors, a convertible easel is best. Aside from these factors, the budget and space should also be considered.

Tip #2. Check the sturdiness of the easel. The easel should be sturdy enough to hold your canvas, support the painting process, and will not easily topple. The larger the canvas you’re working on, the sturdier the easel should be. You wouldn’t want to work on a shaky surface wherein each brush strokes vibrate because the easel cannot give ample support. Make sure that you’re not buying a display easel which is lightweight and spindly. It is designed for showcasing paintings, and not for working on paintings.

Tip #3. Choose an easel that offers adjustability. Buy an easel which provides the greatest degree of adjustability. When painting, you may want to paint standing up or sitting down, you need to work on top of the canvas as well as at the bottom. You need to have an easel that can be adjusted to give you the right tilt so you can paint on different areas of the canvas.

Tip #4. Look for an easy-to-use easel. This tip is related to Tip #3. Check if you can easily use the screw and bolt mechanism of the easel. See if it tightens properly according to the height and angle you preferred.

Tip #5. Save money for a quality easel. Keep in mind that an easel is one of your biggest expense in painting. You may have to wait for some time and keep saving for a high quality easel rather than buying cheap easels. You will be using an easel for a long time so it’s better to buy an easel that would last.

Beautiful Paintings Using Painting Knives

Tired of using paintbrushes? Want to experiment on using other tools in painting? You can try using a painting knife. People confuse a painting knife with a palette knife, the terms are used interchangeably, but when applying paint on a canvas, painting knife is used. Palette knife is used to mix and blend paint colors.

Using a painting knife produces thick, textured art work which is great for creating impasto. Impasto is a painting technique, using a thick application of paint that makes no attempt to look smooth. Most of the times, oil paint is the medium used in knife painting because of its think consistency but acrylics can also be used.

Knife painting can be a liberating technique. It lets you play with paint using the knife to create different depth and texture to the canvas. You need to load more paint that you normally need to the painting knife. You can then rub, squish, scrape, whip, slice, dab, mix the paint and let it sit there on the canvas. Many abstract and impressionist painters use painting knives in painting such as Vincent van Gogh, Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann, and contemporary artists Frank Auerbach and Leonid Afremov. Most common subjects in knife painting include architectural structures, landscapes, and man-made objects.

If you’re looking at a painting and you’re not sure whether the impasto technique was used, look at the painting from the side. If you see lumps of paint on the canvas, you’ll be sure that impasto was used.

Here are some beautiful paintings which used painting knives:

Wheat Field with Cypresses_Van_Gogh
Wheat Field with Cypresses by Vincent van Gogh, 1889.

Vincent van Gogh created several paintings in his Wheat Fields series. In the painting above, notice the movements of the clouds, trees, and the wheat field. Van Gogh used the impasto technique in this painting, and all the paintings in the series. He used bright, vivid paint colors to convey energy and movement.

Farewell_to_Anger_Afremov
Farewell to Anger by Leonid Afremov

Leonid Afremov is a Russian-Israeli modern impressionistic artist known for his use of painting knives in his artworks. He is also known as a self-promoting artist, using the Internet to promote and sell his paintings and not much relying on art galleries and exhibitions. In his paintings, you will see how he effectively used the knife in applying, mixing, and creating images. He was able to develop a painting style distinctly his own.

Image sources:
www.metmuseum.org
www.afremov.com

Watercolor Painting Supplies for Beginners

Watercolor is one of the most versatile mediums to work with that you can paint your subjects from very controlled and detailed, to very loose and impressionistic. It is exciting and enjoyable but challenging and a bit frustrating at the same time. Now that you’ve decided that you want to try watercolor as a medium, you need to start somewhere and that is to know your materials.

watercolor

Paper
Watercolor paper is essentially blotting paper marketed and sold as an art paper, and the two can be used interchangeably, as watercolor paper is more easily obtainable than blotter and can be used as a substitute for blotter. Lower end watercolor papers can resemble heavy paper more while higher end varieties are usually entirely cotton and more porous like blotter. Watercolor paper is traditionally torn and not cut.

Paint
Watercolor paint consists of four principal ingredients: pigments, gum Arabic, additives and solvent. The term watercolor refers to paints that use water soluble, complex carbohydrates as a binder. Originally (16th to 18th centuries), watercolor binders were sugars and/or hide glues, but since the 19th century the preferred binder is natural gum arabic, with glycerin and/or honey as additives to improve plasticity and dissolvability of the binder, and with other chemicals added to improve product shelf life.

Palette
Cake and Pan watercolor sets usually have built-in fold out palettes that are useable in varying degrees depending on their size and orientation. For your tube watercolors you can use a flat white dinner plate or buy some inexpensive 6 or more welled plastic palettes like the ones you used in grade school for your tempera paints. A covered plastic palette makes for the least waste and most convenience if you are using tube watercolors. If you are getting serious, buy one.

Brushes-water-bent-150258Brush
A #8 round red sable watercolor brush is the best beginner brush to buy most especially when you can afford only one brush. Adding a round #4 and a 1″ flat would come in handy for detail work and large washes. Most manufacturers have starter sets that contain very usable equivalents.

Water
Find a glass or jar, or small bucket to hold fresh, clean water. Use two for rinsing your brush between colors, and for clean water for painting. Avoid hard water for it decreases paint solubility and flow. Tap water is usually fine

Extras
Some minor extra things that you will need in you watercolour kit is a pencil, a kneaded eraser, some tissues, and an old towel or paper towels, and a couple of large metal clips for holding your watercolor paper to a board.

Image source: watercolorpainting.com

Painting Knife vs. Palette Knife: What’s the Difference?

Many people are confused between a painting knife and a palette knife. They look similar and are used in painting on canvas. So, what’s the difference between these two painting tools?

Knife-Painting-shapes2
Different shapes of painting knives

Painting Knife
About.com defines a painting knife as “a springy, shaped, metal spatula used for painting instead of a brush.” A painting knife is a tool used to apply paint which is made of metal with a wooden handle. It has a  crank or a bend on the handle, similar to the shape of a trowel, that helps keep your knuckles from touching the paint you’re applying. Eventhough it’s called a knife, a painting knife has blunt edges and is not used for cutting or slicing. Painting knives are available in different sizes and angular shapes: triangular, pear-shaped, rectangular, or diamond-like.

How to buy a painting knife
When buying a painting knife, choose the one with a flexible blade, one which has a good spring to it. The handle should be smooth, has a nice grip, and comfortable to hold. Make sure that the handle and the blade are firmly attached to avoid wasting paint or accidents.

How to use a painting knife
Using a painting knife is easy, just like spreading butter on sliced bread. Get some paint from your palette and spread the paint on the canvas. You can use both sides of the painting knife.

How to clean a painting knife
After using a painting knife, use a clean cloth to wipe off the paint. Use another cloth to completely clean the tool. If the paint has already dried, scrape off the paint using a blunt knife and a damp cloth. A painting knife with a stainless steel blade is more forgiving if you forgot to clean it immediately after painting. However, if the blade is made of steel, it is prone to rust if neglected.

Palette_knife
Palette knife

Palette Knife
A palette knife is a blunt tool shaped like a spatula which is used in mixing paint colors, mediums, additives, etc. and scraping paint off the palette. It has a longer, straight blade with a rounded tip, unlike a painting knife which has angular shapes. A palette knife is made of metal, plastic, or wood.

How to buy a palette knife
Choose a palette knife with a metal blade and wood handle. As much as possible, avoid a plastic palette knife since it breaks easily. It may be inexpensive than a professional palette knife, but if you are planning to use this tool for a long time, go with the metal one which is sturdier and can effectively do the work.

How to use a palette knife
Put the paint colors or pigments on your palette. With a palette knife, get a little paint from the colors that you want to blend. Dab, flatten, and mix the colors together. If you are adding another color to the blended paints, clean the palette knife first using a cloth before getting the third paint color.

How to clean a palette knife
Cleaning a palette knife is similar to a painting knife. Use a damp cloth to remove the paint from the palette knife.

Image sources:
www.about.com
www.wikipedia.org

Types of Painting Easels: An Introduction

311px-Tripod_easel
A-frame easel

Dictionary.com defines easel as “a stand or frame for supporting or displaying at an angle an artist’s canvas.” Easels are usually made of wood, steel, or aluminum and are available in different designs. Here are the different types of easels in the market:

1. A-frame or Lyre easel. The A-frame easel has a tripod design, meaning, two legs in front and one in the back. It provides a strong base  for your painting and it’s small size makes it easy to move and store in your studio. The legs are collapsible so you can just fold the legs and keep it in your storage when you’re done painting. If you have a small space, an A-frame easel is perfect since it will not crowd your studio. A-frame easels can hold small size canvases up to 75″ canvases.

2. H-frame easel. As the name suggests, an H-frame easel looks like the letter “H.” It has parallel vertical posts and a horizontal crossbar support. It gives sturdier support compared to A-frame easel but it’s quite bulky. An H-frame easel can hold bigger canvases, up to 84″-96″.

3. Single mast easel. The single mast easel is the simplest type of easel. It doesn’t offer the same support as the A-frame and H-frame easels but because of its affordability, many art students and beginners opt to use it. It occupies less space (great for small apartments and school studios), is collapsible, and easy to store.

4. Giant easel. The giant easel is made for artists doing large-scale paintings. It can handle canvases taller than 8 ft so naturally, this easel is stronger and sturdier. Due to its weight, transporting a giant easel is not easy. If you are consistently working on large-scale paintings, use a giant easel but make sure that you have a dedicated studio where you can use and store it.

5. Convertible easel. The convertible easel, also called hybrid easel, is the most versatile among all other easels. You can position your canvas horizontally or vertically, depending on the surface needed by the medium you’re using. This easel can accommodate the needs of painters using oil, acrylics, watercolor, and pastels. If you’re an artist who uses several media, the convertible easel is best for you.

6. Table top easel. The table top easel can be placed on a table and allows the artist to sit while painting. It is great for those who work on small-scale paintings and those who have limited space in their room or studio. It is portable and stores easily.

7. Plein air easel. The plein air easel is the easel that you can use outdoors. It has tripod legs and can have drawers and shelf to hold your painting supplies and materials. It can hold canvases up to 45″-78″ high.

8. Bench easel. The bench easel combines an easel and a bench. The design allows you to sit while painting. It is collapsible so you can bring it anywhere. It is great for plein air artists, art teachers, or for those giving demonstrations.

9. Display easel. The display easel is not for painting, just for displaying paintings only. It is made of lighter material so it cannot hold heavy artworks. Use the display easel when you are having an art show or any event where you need to showcase your work.

10. Children’s easel. The children’s easel is created for kids. It is adjustable and most designs have two sides, allowing a couple of children to work on their paintings.  It offers built-in storage where children can keep their art supplies.

Image source: www.wikipedia.org

How to Use Gesso on a Canvas

acrylic_gesso

Gesso? What is it?

Most beginners in painting may be unfamiliar with the word “gesso.” It’s a highfaluting term that could leave a novice dumbfounded. But, don’t fret. In this post, I’ll try to shed light on this and hopefully, we can understand what gesso is all about.

Encyclopaedia Britannica defines gesso (pronounced ‘jesso’) as:

“a fluid white coating, composed of plaster of paris, chalk, gypsum, or other whiting mixed with glue, applied to smooth surfaces such as wood panels, plaster, stone, or canvas to provide the ground for tempera and oil painting or for gilding and painting carved furniture and picture frames.”

Basically, gesso is a substance used to prepare or prime a canvas before you can use it in painting. It was traditionally used by oil painters so the oil paints would adhere to the canvas. Gesso is used to protect the canvas fibers, smoothen the surface, and give flexibility to the canvas.

Is there a difference between an oil gesso and an acrylic gesso? Yes, their ingredients. Traditional oil gesso, also called glue gesso, contains an animal glue binder (usually rabbit-skin glue), chalk, and white pigment. Acrylic gesso is made of an acrylic polymer medium (binder), Calcium carbonate (chalk), a pigment (Titanium white), and chemicals for flexibility and longer life.

Acrylic gesso doesn’t contain glue since acrylic paints is not corrosive, unlike oils. The glue in the glue gesso is absorbed by the fibers of the canvas which protects it from the corrosive nature of oil paints. Many artists use acrylic gesso because of its versatility, quick drying time, convenience, flexibility, and ease of use. Some artists claim that it can be used as ground when painting in oil but some argue that the flexibility of the acrylic gesso will cause the oil paint to crack over time.

An acrylic painter could choose not to use acrylic gesso if he wants the staining effect of acrylic paints on canvas. For beginners, it’s better to prime the canvas first, or use a pre-primed canvas since you are still practicing your painting skills. CanvasLot offers pre-primed canvas in various sizes so you won’t go into the trouble of priming your canvas.

If you are a beginner in oil painting, you can use acrylic gesso but just make sure that the canvas has been properly sized. If you are creating a portrait, or planning to create a masterpiece or something like an heirloom to your family, it’s better to use the oil gesso since the oil paint will stick better to it than to an acrylic.

You can buy acrylic gesso in most art supplies shops and it is available in artist quality and student quality. As with other art supplies, the artist quality acrylic gesso is more expensive and has higher quality than the student gesso. For priming a canvas, use the artist quality gesso.

Image source: www.wikipedia.org

What are the Solvents Used in Oil Painting?

solvents

“Solvent” is the term most commonly used to identify the liquids that are added to oil paints to temporarily change the way they work when put on canvas. Solvents dilute oil, and dissolve fats and grease from oil paints. Aside from diluting oil paints, artists use solvents to dissolve resins and clean up the work area and paint brushes.

Solvents may have different uses but they have common characteristics:

  • Liquid
  • Volatile
  • Produce vapors
  • Flammable
  • May be hazardous to health

You may think that you should forget using solvents since they are harmful to your health, but with proper precaution and  care of use, you’ll appreciate the benefits solvents bring to a painter’s work. There are many solvents available to an oil painter but you can just select a few for your work.

Turpentine. Turpentine is the traditional solvent used in oil painting and is commonly found in hardware stores. It easily evaporates and gives off harmful vapors which causes skin irritation. When buying, choose artist quality turpentine which is colorless, since the industrial type of turpentine may contain impurities. Turpentine is mostly called as “turps” and can also be called spirit of turpentine, oil of turpentine, genuine turpentine, English turpentine, distilled turpentine, and double rectified turpentine.

Mineral Spirits. Mineral spirits or paint thinner is best used for cleaning paint brushes and thinning paints. It is less expensive and less abrasive compared to turps but it still releases harmful vapors so take precaution when using it. Mineral spirits is also called “white spirits.”

Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS). As the name says, Odorless Mineral Spirits doesn’t have an unpleasant odor which makes it more expensive than ordinary mineral spirits. It is used for thinning paint and cleaning brushes. OMS is available in different grades, depending on the amount of aromatic properties removed from it. The more refined the OMS, the safer it becomes.

Paint thinner. Paint thinners are synthetic-based solvents. Contrary to its name, it is more effective in cleanup than as a diluting substance of oil paints.

Citrus-based thinner. Citrus-based thinner has a pleasant smell and is used to clean brushes and dilute oil paints. It has a yellowish color and a citrusy smell. Use it with oil paints to dry the painting faster. It is a more environmentally-friendly solvent than turps.

Turpenoid. Turpenoid is a popular synthetic solvent that is odorless and colorless which is used as a substitute for turps.  It is great for diluting oil paints as well as cleaning brushes.

Image source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

How to Repair a Damaged Canvas

You’ve finally finished your masterpiece. After hours and days laboring on your painting, carefully putting your inspiration on canvas, you’re excited to display it. Unfortunately, you or someone else accidentally ripped a small area on your painting. What do you do?

Don’t panic. There are two ways to repair a torn, ripped, punctured, or damaged canvas: patching or lining. Before fixing your canvas, you have to consider some factors that would affect the end result of your repair. If the damage is small, patching would be a good remedy. Patching is a quick and easy solution to tiny punctures, L-shaped tears, and small tears. For damages affecting a large area or if the small tears are located in several areas, lining is the best way to fix the canvas. For old oil paintings, professional art restorers prefer to do lining since most aged canvas are brittle, fragile, and more susceptible to damage when not reinforced.

tear-canvas-repair

Patching
Here are the steps for patching a canvas:

1. Smooth out the area where the tear is located. Clean up any fibers that may have unraveled.

2. Cut a piece of canvas with at least an inch wider than the tear. If you have a lighter weight canvas than the one you’re repairing is best to use.

3. Glue the patch at the back of the tear. Use acrylic-gesso or an acid-free glue in patching. Apply a thin layer of glue to the patch. If you use too much glue, it will only squeeze out of the patch and get on the front of the canvas which will leave an unnecessary stain.

4. While the glue is still wet, check the tear at the front of the canvas. Use a pair of tweezers to put back loose threads in place. Carefully arrange the threads to fill the damage.

5. Inpaint the patched area, if needed. If it’s your own work, it would be easier to repaint the repaired area.

Tips:

  • Work with patience and care.
  • Hire a professional art conservator or restorer for fixing valuable and antique paintings. They can do a more refined repair of an old painting.
  • Patching done in a busy area of the painting is less noticeable than a patch in a solid area.
  • Just because the patch is located behind the canvas, doesn’t mean you will do a sloppy repair. Make the patch neat and professional-looking so if someone sees the repair, they won’t be dismayed with the whole painting.

Image source: http://painting.about.com

Checklist For a Plein Air Art Trip

Packing for a Plein Air art trip varies depending on where you’re going and the elements that you will be dealing with. There are variety of things that you must consider since you will be working outdoors. Here’s a list of the basic things you need to have on your trip.

plein-air-class3-fig-mendo-166kb

ART MATERIALS
Since you’re going to travel, take note to have your art materials complete. It’s better if you keep things compact and organized to avoid confusion and you might forget some of your essential materials. A good idea is to invest a good art traveling bag which has multiple pockets and organizers to keep your materials intact while you’re traveling.

easelEASELS
Support is needed for any surface you plan to work on. And since you are traveling, a portable easel is a very good choice. Special easels comes with storage such as drawers and compartments for carrying paints and brushes within the easel. Table easels are also available if you prefer to sit while painting.

UMBRELLA and HAT
You can always find a shady area to paint but sometimes you’ll have to set up in the sun. The hat is for your protection but the umbrella is to keep the sun off your canvas and palette. A white or gray umbrella so the reflection doesn’t affect your color judgement. Try to keep both palate and canvas in the shade.

CAMERA
You can capture the initial scene with a camera. Positions of clouds and direction of the wind can constantly change outdoors so you can use this trick to make your artwork more consistent. Another advantage of the still shot is that you can use it just in case the weather turns bad and you have to finish your painting indoors.

EXTRA CLOTHING
Bring extra clothes just in case you so you can change just in case things get messy. Or you can dress in layers that you can easily take off as you get hot and put on when it gets colder. Wear neutral colored clothing to avoid too much light reflections onto your painting. Bright colors can also reflect some of their color onto your painting so stick with beige and khakis.

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Now that you have your basics, here are some of the things you might want to have with you on your trip to make it more comfortable.
• Water to drink
• Light snacks
• Paper towels
• Insect repellent
• Garbage bags
• Soap and water to clean your brushes

Image source: www.judithgreenleaf.com