Art Tools of Adam Clague

For this installment of Art Tools and Gears, we have guest artist Adam Clague with us. He's a painter from USA who paint daily and is versatile with portraits, still life and landscape. He also teaches drawing and painting classes.

Originally from Royal Oak, Michigan, Adam is now currently based in Kansas City, Missouri. Adam is a Fine Art Painter who does oil painting full time, and teaches art as well. Adam was trained at Pensacola Christian College from 2006 -2009, where he eventually graduated with a Masters degree in Fine Arts. While pursuing his degree, Adam taught drawing and painting classes at the college.

We have invited Adam to share with us the art tools that he uses, as well as offer some tips for aspiring artists.

Qn: Would you be able to give our readers an introduction to what you do for a living?
I am a full-time oil painter and art educator. I paint in an impressionistic style and seek to faithfully capture the beauty of Creation. My subjects include the clothed figure, landscape, and still life. I participate in national and international events and exhibitions and teach regular painting workshops.

Qn: Could you share with us how you discovered your passion and flair for art? How/where do you get your inspirations to paint from?
I have had a love for drawing since childhood. I started out drawing cartoons and comic heroes, and later became interested in more realistic art. I became hooked on oils while taking my first painting course as an art student at Pensacola Christian College.

My inspiration almost always comes from light—the patterns it creates, the colors it relates, the truth it reveals. I strive to capture these beautiful effects on my canvas, so others can see and celebrate Creation’s beauty and our great God who made it beautiful in the first place.

Qn: In your previous email to us, you have shared a picture of the brushes, palette box and Odorless Mineral Spirit you use as illustrated below - would you be able to tell us more about these brushes, palette box and Odorless Mineral Spirit?

I use Rosemary & Co. brushes almost exclusively because of their superior hand-made quality and the control they provide to manipulate paint. I use a variety of sizes in each of these series:

  • Classic Long Flats (blend of bristle and synthetic)
  • Ivory Long Flats, Long Filberts, and Riggers (synthetic bristle)
  • Series 278: Masters Choice Long Filberts (soft hair)
  • Series 279: Masters Choice Long Flats (soft hair)
  • Series 7320: Pure Sable One Stroke

My wife and fellow painter, Andrea Orr Clague, built my palette box as a gift for me. She modeled it after artist James Coulter’s design.

The box’s lid is in two parts, which are hinged on either side of the box. When opened, the lids provide trays that can hold my brushes, brush washing container and paper towels. The angled brackets on the back of the box fit neatly over the legs of my tripod easel, holding the box in place (more on my tripod easel later). Inside the box, a plexiglass palette rests on top of storage compartments that store my brushes and paint tubes. The underside of my palette is painted with a middle-gray acrylic paint, which makes it easier to compare values (darks and lights) when mixing color. In the studio, I use a glass palette, but when I’m on the go, nothing beats the lightweight plexiglass.

I use Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits by Gamblin. It is a mild solvent that is 100% pure. It is great for rinsing brushes. I occasionally use it to thin my paint when I desire a more fluid effect (when doing this, I use only the tiniest bit of Gamsol). I use Gamsol as my exclusive solvent, because it doesn’t give me headaches like the more industrial types I was using previously. The sealable brush washing container pictured is perfect for travel.

Qn: What are the other brands/types of brushes that you have used in the past? Do you recommend them?

I have also used Robert Simmons bristle brushes, which are good.

Qn: I see that most of the paintings on your blog are painted with oil paints - What are the colors and brands of oil paints you use?
I paint almost exclusively in oil, though I occasionally experiment with other media. Here is my current oil paint palette:

  • Cadmium (or Permanent) Lemon (Rembrandt brand)
  • Cadmium (or Permanent) Yellow Medium (Rembrandt brand)
  • Yellow Ochre (Rembrandt brand)
  • Cadmium (or Permanent) Orange (Rembrandt brand)
  • Cadmium (or Permanent) Red Medium (Rembrandt brand)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Gamblin brand)
  • Transparent Orange (Gamblin brand)
  • Transparent Oxide Red (Rembrandt brand)
  • Cerulean (Utrecht brand)
  • Ultramarine Blue Deep (Rembrandt brand)
  • Viridian (Rembrandt brand)
  • Titanium Zinc White (Gamblin brand)

Jerry's Artarama (cheaper): Rembrandt oil | Gamblin
Amazon: Rembrandt | Gamblin

Qn: In one of the pictures you have emailed us, as shown below, you apparently have a few other art tools in your collection, such as the Palette Knives, Brush Shaper, Scraper and Tube-Wringer (which is a really innovative way to maximize use of paint) - Could you share with us more about these Palette Knives, Brush Shaper, Scraper and Tube-Wringer?

At the beginning of a painting session, I like to mix large batches of the basic colors I know I’m going to need. Having plenty of paint helps me paint more loosely and minimizes the breaks I have to take to mix more paint. To efficiently mix these big piles of paint, I need a palette knife that is durable yet flexible. Sometimes, I use the palette knife to apply paint directly to my artwork. The tool is great for creating textures and can be used to draw perfectly straight lines.

Brush shapers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I use a simple chisel-shaped one. Its rubber tip works almost like an eraser, lifting off paint right down to the bare canvas. The shaper provides much more precision than my finger wrapped in paper towel.

My glass scraper has a retractable razor blade and cleanly removes excess paint from my palette. If I’m using my plexiglass palette, I’m cautious to scrape off the excess paint before it dries. Otherwise, I risk gouging this softer palette.

The metal tube wringer squeezes every very last bit of paint out of a tube. I recommend the metal types because they are more durable than their plastic counterparts.

Qn: How do you clean up after using the oil paints?

After each session of painting, I thoroughly rinse my brushes in Gamsol. Periodically, I wash my brushes with Murphy Oil Soap.

Qn: What type of canvas and easel do you currently use and have used previously for your oil paintings? Which would you recommend to fellow artists?

When I paint on canvas, it’s usually double oil-primed Claessens linen #13 (very fine, smooth weave). When traveling or painting en plein air, I prefer Gatorfoam panels primed with Gamblin Oil Ground. These are lightweight and don’t take up as much room as stretched canvases. The most economical source for Gatorfoam I know of is

I use a Jack Richeson & Co. Italian Steel Tripod Easel for plein air painting and smaller studio works. This easel is very sturdy and hasn’t broken like past easels I’ve used. It also comes in fun colors. For larger studio works, I use a wooden easel from Winsor & Newton.

I would recommend these materials and tools, as well as the high-quality linen panels by New Traditions.

Qn: I read from your blog that you paint daily. How fast do you use up the oil paint tubes?
Some colors, like white, I use much faster than others, but I probably order a full set of paint three times a year or so.

Qn: Can you give some tips to beginners who want to start painting with oil?

Don’t be intimidated. Oils stay workable much longer than watercolor and acrylic. This makes oil a very forgiving medium.

Qn: Have you read any art books or instructional book/material related to art, which you think you could recommend to fellow art- lovers?

In addition, I've learned greatly from studying the paintings in my non-instructional books on John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell,
Cecilia Beaux and others. I have also learned much from Daniel Gerhartz's book Not Far From Home and Susan Lyon's book Visions & Voyages.

I would also recommend the instructional DVD's by Richard Schmid, Morgan Weistling, Daniel Gerhartz and Jeffrey Watts.

Qn: Lastly, which other artist/s do you think should be featured next?

Maybe Jonathan Stasko, Christian Hemme, Amy Karnes, John P. Lasater IV, Jason Sacran or James Gurney.

We thank Adam Clague for this very insightful interview and his generous spirit to share. See more of Adam's artworks on his website or his blog.

Adam also has a Facebook Page and Twitter Account that are dedicated for art-lovers -

Check out other artist interviewees at


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