I am proud to announce that I am now represented on the west coast by Strawberry Rock Gallery, located just up the road from me in Trinidad, California. They’ll be showing a complete selection of my work, including my Mongolia subjects like the painting above. Strawberry Rock is a full-service, locally-owned gallery. They just picked up the first round of my art yesterday, so I’m not on their website yet, but I’ll post the link when it is.
Artists are always on the lookout for the best places to buy supplies and equipment. I thought I’d share some of my favorites which have proved themselves over the years. None of the companies know I’m posting this so this list represents my honest opinions.
1. Hughes Easels– I’ve had mine for over ten years now and have never for a moment regretted spending the money for what is the best easel available. I bought the Model #4000 with two masts and highly recommend that choice since it holds large and/or long pieces more securely than one mast and lets me put diptych or triptych pieces next to each other or two smaller pieces side by side. Hughes Easels
2. Silver Brush Grand Prix- Like most painters I’ve tried a variety of brushes over the years and these are the ones I keep coming back to. I wear them down to half their length before they finally stop working and they hold a decent tip to the end. They have just the amount of spring and flexibility I like, having worked as a sign painter at the beginning of my art career. I’m ambivalent about using natural bristle brushes from an animal welfare standpoint, but have been unable to find a substitute, although the Silver Brush Bristlon comes close. Silver Brush Grand Prix
3. Winsor & Newton oil and watercolors– I do use specific oil colors from a couple of other brands, but good old WN has been my choice since I started painting in oils in 1997. Not sexy or expensive compared to many brands, but reliable and a pleasure to paint with. Also a good choice for someone starting out because painting is hard enough as it is without handicapping yourself by using cheap student-grade paint with low pigment/high filler content. I’ve used their watercolors since art school and after a long hiatus am using them again for location painting. Winsor & Newton
4. Strathmore Series 300 Bristol, Vellum Surface– My basic “good” drawing paper. It has just the amount of tooth that I like for drawing with pencils, Wolff’s Carbon pencils and General’s charcoal pencils. I keep pads of it in various sizes. I’ve tried the higher end Series 400, but don’t like the way it feels under the pencil. So the takeaway for this is that you need to try different papers until you find one you personally like (and, with luck, it won’t be the most expensive one). Canson makes an inexpensive recycled paper that I like for preliminary drawings. Strathmore
5. RayMar Canvas Panels– I switched to these years ago and have never looked back. Panels, as opposed to the traditional stretched canvas, became popular when plein air painting took off and, in fact, I first encountered them a a plein air workshop. I love RayMar’s cotton canvas panels which have just the right amount of tooth for me. Two major advantages of panels are that they take up a lot less linear shelf space than stretched canvas and the hard back means not having to worry about the canvas being dinged or a hole poked in it, so transporting paintings is a lot less stressful. They sell packs of standard sizes, but will happily do custom cuts up to 48″. Their quality has been absolutely consistent over the years and they’re a family-owned business. RayMar Art
Finally, something new (at least to me) that I’m just trying out but am very excited about. Forget Renaissance-era grid transfers, graphite transfers and oil transfers…
6. Optima Digital Projector– I have tried so many ways over the years to get a preliminary drawing done on paper onto the canvas, the grid being the main one. I’ve also tried doing the drawing at the final size and using a graphite transfer sheet. I recently learned about oil transfers from a great art site called “Underpaintings” (I’ve subscribed). But those methods I found time-consuming and imprecise, which just made for more work to get the drawing correct on the canvas. However, suddenly one fine day my subconscious must have finished its work because this idea popped into my head….why not do my drawings at whatever size and in whatever media I want? Then, depending on size, either scan or photograph them and dump them into Aperture, the image management software on my iMac. Plug the digital projector into the computer and project the drawing onto the canvas, then simply and precisely sketch it in. And, yes, I know I can do the same with the photos and will probably do that in the future for some simple subjects since I know how to draw, but what I love is being able to work from my drawings which is how I learn “what my subject looks like” in a way that I never could from just tracing a photo. So let me flatly say- THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LEARNING HOW TO DRAW. I’ll probably do a future post about this transfer method as I move into my winter “painting season” and can document the process.