Getting Started: Throw Away Your Small Brushes

Getting Started: Throw Away Your Small Brushes
Start with a broom and end with a needle.

It’s an exaggerated way of saying start with big brushes then end with a small one.

When starting painting, choosing brushes in this way can really help because it stops you focusing on the ‘interesting detail’.

Using large brushes to lay down bold and decisive strokes, helps to alleviate self-inflicted pressure to make the painting look finished too early on, in reality this never happens it’s like trying to re-landscape your garden without digging up the soil, you have to make the mess first to finish with the flowers.

How big is big?

If you use large brushes to begin your painting, you’ll develop brush handling skills, techniques and a huge variety of marks that can be achieved with one brush rather than relying on another specialist brush to fix the problem.
For example, if I was painting a 30 x 40cm canvas, I would start with a brush 2-4 cm wide.

What type of brush should I use?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks is indecision, if you only have one brush and two colours you’ve got no option, you just have to start.

I love filbert brushes, they are so flexible to use the hairs are quite long, arranged as a flat head and tapered to a rounded tip see: A quick way to understand brushes.

It’s always better to start with fewer brushes than to amass a whole drawer full and not start at all! 

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Getting Started: A Quick Way to Understand Brushes (video)

Getting Started: A Quick Way to Understand Brushes (video)Mink, Squirrel and Pig

This may sound like the beginnings of a fairy-tale but it’s a quick and easy way to think about brushes. Most traditional brushes are made from animal hair and the quality of the brush – its bounce and feel, is dependent on the quality of the hair used.

Mink hair makes ‘Sable’ brushes and pig hair makes ‘Hog’ brushes…

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Getting Started: Choosing a Painting Surface for Acrylics – Getting your Absorbency Right

Getting Started: Choosing a Painting Surface for Acrylics - Getting your Absorbency Right

“A great artist can paint a great picture on a small canvas.”
Charles Dudley Warner

Your choice of what to paint on can alter the working properties of the paint and give you a different painting experience but it needn’t be a mystery, if you follow a few simple rules.

1.  Acrylics straight from the tube are the most flexible medium, so can be painted on anything – paper, canvas, cardboard, metal…literally anything.

2. Oils are more tricky, so have to be painted onto a properly prepared surface (see: The Trouble with Oil) I recommend a prepared canvas or prepared board.

3. Watercolours work best on paper, I recommend Cold Pressed paper (confusingly also referred to as NOT paper meaning ‘Not’ Hot Pressed). It’s ideal for less experienced painters as it’s more forgiving. (There is a huge range of Watercolour papers see: How to choose Watercolour Paper).

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8 Tips to Help You Make a Killer Bespoke Canvas

bespokecanvas

Off the peg or bespoke? The dilemmas of a modern man.
Choosing a canvas is much like deciding between Savile Row, the high street or knitting your own!

With Bespoke you get:

Neat edges on the back, staple free sides, a choice of fabric, a choice of finish (unprimed, sized, oil-primed) an exact choice of size, a choice of stretcher bar thickness and a skilled craftsman making it for you, all coming with a premium price tag.

High street you get:

Neat edges on the back, less robust stretcher bars, not as heavyweight canvas, machine-made but a very reasonable bill.

Knitting your own:

Can be a bit of a headache! But you do get a choice of fabric, choice of size, choice of stretcher bar and it’s a very economical way to achieve what you want, if working on a lot of canvases the same size. Huge flexibility in finish mixed with the glow of satisfaction when stretching your own canvas…

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How to Choose Watercolour Paper

How to Choose Watercolour Paper

“First of all respect your paper!”
J.M.W.Turner

Ever walked into an art shop and felt daunted by the sheer volume of paper choices with confusing names, got flustered and just walk out?!

You are not alone!

Choosing the correct watercolour paper doesn’t have to be as complicated as Manufacturers seem to make it…

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The Trouble with Oil – Preparing a Canvas for Oil Painting

The Trouble with Oil - Preparing a Canvas for Oil Painting

Oil paint can be an amazing substance to work with, from creating quick sketches outside to photo-realistic portraits. Because oil paints take a long time to dry, they give you the flexibility to be able to tweak, alter, soften and blend resulting in lovely muted, smokey subtle paintings.

If you decide that you’d like to give oils a go, then my recommendation would be to start with a pre-sized, pre-primed ready-made canvas to paint on.

Why?

Well, the “oil”  in the paint can create a few issues over time you should be aware of.

We’ve all heard of “fat over lean” and paintings cracking but don’t be scared…

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Getting Started: What are Different Types of Paints made From?

Getting Started: What are Different Types of Paints made From?

From Oil to Egg Yolks

Same pigment, different binder.

In a nutshell, most paints are made by mixing dry paint pigment together with a wet binder.

The difference between the type of paints, for example, oil paint, acrylic paint or watercolour is simply due to the different type of binder used.

So the binder could be oil, acrylic polymer or even egg yolk and it’s this – that gives each paint its characteristics…

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