Tag Archives: learn art

Artist Mops and More

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that mops are treated differently than other artist  paintbrushes. First of all mops, with a few exceptions, are not meant to apply paint to a surface but to smooth and soften what you’ve already applied. They also can be used to blend the line of separation between one color and another. They come in several sizes and shapes. Their hairs may be synthetic, camel, squirrel, hog , goat or a synthetic blend. Most are soft, but some are purposely stiff.

When you use a mop you will not wet it with water or extender first. Usually you will want to make light crisscross strokes over the wet paint. But there are times the smaller mops can be stroked or pounced, always lightly. The mop is going to move the paint around and pick up some of it. If you are too heavy handed you may create holes in your work, taking off more than you intended.

I never clean a mop while I am using it. Instead I vigorously stroke it on a shop towel to get most of the paint out of it before using with a different color.  When I am totally done for the day I can clean it. For the large fluffy mops, I prefer not to use water for cleaning. I rub hand sanitizer in the hairs that still hold paint. It evaporates quickly, leaving the mop still soft and floppy. I’ve tried washing my earlier mops with hand soap and water, but they were never the same afterwards. They lost their softness.

Hand sanitizer works well for all mops and is the best option. If you are concerned about drying out the hairs you can use soap and water but the lather can get out of control. Cut the soap down to a minimum and  be sure to rinse thoroughly.

Hopefully, I’ll have some demonstrations on how to use mops, as well as others down the road.

Photo of tornado damage to home

Gone With the Wind

A couple days ago I promised a blog about paintbrush care. Unfortunately, I had to take a few days off because of unforeseen circumstances. As you can see from the photo, we encountered a slight bump in the road. We are all safe. The rest is all stuff. It can be replaced. Most of the art was saved. I’m banged up a bit but nothing serious. I’ll be typing with one hand and hobbling around for awhile but each day is getting a little better.

Now for some brushcare tips that I promised. First, lets look at the parts of a brush. The hairs or bristles are called the head of the brush. The very tip/edge of the head is called the chisel. With an angle brush, the long tip is called the toe and the short side, the heel. The hairs are glued to the handle or shaft and are kept in place by a metal piece called the ferrule. So now that we have the terms, it will be easier to discuss care.

When you first buy a brush, run your finger along the chisel to break up the sizing, and then wet the hairs with water and soap or brush cleaner. If using soap, go for a mild bar or liquid and avoid harsh detergents. There are some fantastic brush cleaners out there, too.  Personally, I use liquid hand soap. Squirt a small amount into the palm of my hand and stroke the brush back and forth in it to get it worked into the hairs, rinse thoroughly. Reshape the head and dry flat.

If there had been paint in my brush, I would repeat the soap and rinse steps until all color is out of the brush. Then continue with the drying. Once dry, dressing the brush head in extender or retarder will keep the hairs from becoming brittle. I use DecoArt Extender Medium.  I put a few drops of it onto a waxed palette, dip my brush into it and stroke back and forth on a clean spot of the palette. Then I pinch wipe out the excess with a folded paper towel,

Acrylic paint, no matter what brand, is very hard on the bristles. The extender will act as a barrier, protecting the bristles. You can use it in place of water to help the paint to flow through the hairs. And, having extender on your brush will help the paint to release during cleaning.

When I paint I usually do not clean my brush between colors. I simply pinch wipe and pick up the next pigment.  The extra bits of color will add harmony throughout the painting. But, there are times when you’ll want to clean paint build up out of the brush before continuing. When this happens, do not set the brush in a water pail or scape it across a ridged pail bottom. Keep the brush shallow and swish it around in the water. Pinch wipe between paper towels and redress in extender, pinch wipe again and you are ready to go.

Try to avoid getting water or paint into the ferule, which could loosen the glue and flay the hairs, so the head will no longer have a sharp chisel.

Mops are a different beast altogether. I’ll try to get back on tomorrow to cover them.

If you find this post helpful, please share with your friends. And, if you have any questions about care and use of brushes, please comment and I will get back with you.

 

Value Study painting by Lynnette Horn

Paintbrushes for the Acrylic Artist

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning artists make is to short change themselves when it comes to supplies. They go on the cheap, buying a packet of assorted craft brushes and buying student grade paints. And then, they wonder why their paintings are not as they should be. Well, duh.

First of all, let me state that there are no magic brushes that will make your brushstrokes a thing of perfection. But, a good quality set of brushes will help you along your journey and won’t wear out nearly as fast. My rule of thumb has always been to buy as much quality as you can afford.

Just a side note about student grade paints–they contain more solids and filler than artist grade paints. If you are following a dvd or a painting pattern, and using student grade paints you will not be able to achieve the same look as the instructor’s. It will appear duller. If you don’t realize it is the paints, you may get discouraged and give up. Always use a good quality artist paint.

The next issue is deciding what type of quality brushes to buy. There’s so many to choose from–hog bristle, squirrel, synthetic, synthetic mix and nylon. No matter what they are made of, what is most important is the degree of softness. In the store, brushes will always feel a little stiff. they have sizing in them to help them keep their shape in shipping. brush your fingers along the chisel (which is the edge of the bristles) to break up the sizing, before you check for stiffness.

Oil painters usually choose the stiffest brushes that will allow their brushstrokes to be seen. Acrylic artists generally want softer brushes that will paint flat, yet have enough resilience to bounce back to their chisel point. Watercolorists use the softest brushes of them all. Personally, I use DecoArt Traditions Brushes, which are high quality brushes specifically made for acrylics. The Traditions line of brushes fill all my needs with a wide variety of liners, rounds, filberts, flats, angles, mops and blenders. If you are interested, they can be purchased from http://www.artapprenticeonline.com. By the way, I don’t receive a penny for endorsing them.

Not matter which manufacturer you go with, the cost may be prohibitive to buy the whole line. So the beginning artist should concentrate on buying the workhorses that will form the foundation for future purchases. Here is my list–stripped down to the bone essentials:

  • •big fluffy mop
  • •3/4″ or 1″ oval brush
  • •#3 round
  • •#4 filbert
  • •#6 filbert
  • •1/4″ angle
  • •1/2″ angle
  • •#10 dome blender
  • •3/0 liner or 0 liner
  • One step beyond bare bones is a #1 mini mop–I just love this brush and couldn’t leave it off, but absolutely necessary, well…

If I had to, I could get by with only these brushes, yet I rarely paint larger than 16″ x 20″ canvases. If you plan on painting mostly larger canvases, you might want to up the sizes a bit. As you learn different techniques from various instructors, you will want to add to this list. I recommend that you just go slow and only buy as needed. If you take care of them, they will last your a very long time. Tomorrow I will cover taking care of your brushes.

Do you have a favorite brush that would be on your bare bones list?

Painting of a lotus by Lynnette Horn

Following the Light

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. I haven’t been able to get out much, with all the Easter brunch preparations, but the windows are open, the sun is shining and a lovely breeze is flowing through the house.  I’m sitting here, watching the light dance across the carpet in rhythm with the curtains as them billow in the breeze.

It got me thinking about light in terms of art. In my painting it seems I am always following the light.  Of course, the brightest light and the darkest shadows will be the main interest in any painting. This is the money spot where I want my audience to linger. It’s call the point of focus and can be within a larger focus area. But, I don’t want my viewer to only see the point of focus, or why would I bother painting the rest of the canvas. I can use the path of the light to lead the viewer’s eye around the painting.

Besides a direct main light source, another light to take into consideration is ambient light. It bounces off of everything, creating light even in the shadows. That’s why shadows are not totally black. Think of a cloudy day when the sun is blocked by the clouds. There is still like but it isn’t coming directly from the sun, but bouncing off the clouds. Then there is reflective light.  This can seem confusing to the novice artist. Picture an apple on a counter and the sun shining in from the window on it. Light bounces off its shadow , creating a reflective light on the apple. The light appears on the shadowed side. How cool is that?

If I’m painting a realistic apple I need to give it a reflective light on it’s darker side, or it won’t look real. As you practice with your artist’s eye, follow the light and see where it takes you. Take a look at my painting above. Where is the light coming from? Do you see any reflective light? What about ambient light? Let me know if you found this blog helpful or if you have any suggestions for future blogs.

Clouds photo by Lynnette Horn

Are Clouds Really White?

I can’t believe the beautiful day we are having.  The sun is shining, birds are singing and the trees are blossoming. It’s a perfect day to go outside and put on my artist’s eye. Yep, you heard me right. Artist’s see things differently from the average person. It’s a way of seeing beyond our color biases.

In art, color bias usually means how a pigment leans toward another pigment. For example one red might lean more towards blues, while another red might lean towards yellows, like Naphthol Red and Naphthol Red Light. Both are red, but one is better for mixing purples and the other is better for making oranges. But this is not the color bias I am referring to.

Color bias can also mean the influences that affect how we see objects. It is a hindrance to observation. We are taught in school that trees are green, mountains are purple and clouds are white. But if we painted them as such they would look flat and not realistic at all. Take clouds, for example. We’ve been taught that clouds are white so when we look at a cloud we see white. But is it really? If we take the time to push through our bias and really observe, we’ll see  many possible colors in the clouds–pink, orange, blue, grey, purple and yellow.

Pushing past our color bias, for white in this case, is called seeing with our artist’s eye. It takes practice until it becomes second nature. So while you are outside this spring and summer, get your artist eye on and really observe what’s around you. Before long you’ll be making wonderful discoveries and blowing away those color biases for good.

 

Beachy_Shell_Collection

Beachy Collection

I’m so excited about my latest downloadable painting patterns being released today. I really didn’t expect them to be available until next week. I put a lot of thought into their creation, so that even someone who has never picked up a paintbrush can paint these. They can be found at http://www.artapprenticeonline.com.

One of the many tools of the learning artist is painting patterns. The trick is to find patterns from artists who do more than teach disco painting, “”Dis go here and ‘dis go there.” A painting pattern should give you something that will progress your journey as an artist not just a pretty design. With it you will expand your arsenal of skills and broaden your knowledge, as well.

Many artists only paint patterns. There is nothing wrong with this if that’s what they want to do. But for me painting patterns is a means to an end, a method of learning, along with DVD’s, streaming videos, seminars and classes, that can advance you towards whatever goal you have with your art. It doesn’t matter if you choose a path to decorative painting or fine art, availing yourself to painting patterns can lead you to become an independent artist. I know that is what I wanted when I first started this journey. Luckily, I found  wonderful mentors at Art Apprentice Online, which provides many resources including painting patterns that actually teach.

You can imagine my excitement when I reached the point where I could create on my own patterns with which others could learn. So the cycle continues. The student becoming the teacher.

 

Painting of a lotus by Lynnette Horn

Art is for Everyone–Talent is Optional

I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me they can’t paint, that they can’t even draw stick figures. It seems the general consensus of those around me has been that if you aren’t born with artistic talent you can’t be an artist. In reality, there are very few born artists. The rest of us become artists the hard way, through learning and practice and practice and practice.

The only true prerequisite is a hunger or passion for art. The rest can all be learned. Through this site I hope to nurture your hunger and help you along the road to becoming an artist. There may be a hint or two along the way for those who are already on their way, also.

So I hope you will join me through this blogging adventure and maybe grow your artist wings in the process. Stay tuned…