Sunday, February 19, 2012

Materials Questions and Acquisitions

OK, so I have spent far more time than I would have liked researching the materials needed and intended. Part of this problem has consisted of not ever really having KNOWN some technical aspects of the trade, such as the technical names of brushes, primers, gessos, etc. I have used either default materials or intuited a lot when it came time to acquire supplies - I never undertook a systematized study of the whole thing. At some level I realize I need to just base what I am to do on what I already know, but I feel that, since I am already making an investment in purchasing new supplies, I need to know what I am getting and why.

So, the first part of my process has involved brushes. Through catalog consultation and web research, I have found out the names, sizes, and functions of various brushes.

Sizes: As above illustrated, sizes range from less -than - zero to 24. The typical brush range I use (since I tend to work small) is less - than -zero to 4 or 6. However, having a few larger ones at hand facilitates many things - especially when it comes to glazing.

Types: for a good primer, here's a very basic site. I will review what has affected me most directly.

Round brushes come to a point, are round, and are the most traditional shape associated with painting. They hold a lot of fluid, but can be too soft for some work. They are also not particularly good for filling in large swaths of space, flat or bright brushes are better for that. These two also allow one to cover wide space while still maintaining a sharp outline edge. Bright brushes have shorter, often stiffer bristles, which make it difficult for them to hold paint, they can be great for texturing, however. Filberts are similar to flats and brights, but have an oval shape at the top which will soften the edge and makes for a less 'square' painting experience. Rigger brushes are great for detail and long, thin lines such as tree branches, though I find them hard to work with due to being difficult to control. Fan brushes can be fun - their unusual shape allows one to do unusual things or blend colours in a gradient. Specific detail work is also possible, though generally the shape makes it a fairly inflexible brush to use all the time. The mop has become one of my favorite kinds, especially when doing any glazing - obviously fatal for any detail work, they however have the magical ability to apply a uniform layer of paint without leaving a single brush mark.

Some new brushes I am excited to learn about are the rake, the deerfoot stippler, the dagger, the spotter, and the angular shader. In particular these last 3 are indispensable to fine detail work - that which I anticipate most doing.

The second phase has involved - of course - the paints. This has meant cataloguing every single tube of paint I have (comes to 78), checking which are viable, which are almost expired, which are duplicates, and, in general, which hues or pigments am I really lacking. This has taken the better part of a day - as did the brushes study the better part of a morning.

It allowed me to make a mini-painting on which to try.

The main thing I want to discuss re. paints is the concepts of hue, saturation, and value. Here's a short & sweet video explaining the issue, and here a more involved glossary tutorial.

In a nutshell, hue is that which we call the colour. Blue, red, etc. In its purest state - unmixed with black or white, a colour's chromacity is at its highest. Saturation is a similar idea - does the colour appear weak or strong? A highly saturated colour will look stronger, an unsaturated colour will look weak or washed out. We can think about magenta vs. pale pink to get an idea of what that means. Value relates to a hue's lightness or darkness - a lighter colour has a higher value.

Tint, tone, and shade are additionally useful concepts. A tint is a colour of lower saturation due to the addition of white. Tone is a colour modified by gray, and shade is a colour darkened by black, thus lessening its value.

My next challenge will be to ascertain which is the best sort of gesso or primer to use. I have used the standard white acrylic gesso by default- occasionally using a grey or transparent gesso for effects. However, I have found out about other primers and painting grounds which, though more expensive, seem to offer something closer to what artists have traditionally used - in addition, these grounds promise colorfastness and better permanence.

I may spend some time looking at this, though, since I do not have unlimited time or means, I may end up just using the same gesso I have for a while.

Hoping that by next writing I will have gotten around to submitting a final materials list to the supplier. Even if delayed, I have enough with me to begin on schedule, on Feb 24th.


  1. This is a great tutorial for the novice artist. I love the detailed explanations here! You're on track. Congrats! :D

  2. ha ha!!! great tutorial for me!!!!!! thanks for reading -- look again and see added pics!!!!


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