For this installment of Art Tools and Gears, we have guest artist Carol Marine from USA.
She's the artist behind the very insightful book Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist, a book that we have featured (and highly recommend) on the blog before. She paints daily on her blog, sells her art there as well, and we've invited her to share with us the tools that she uses and some tips.
Qn: Would you be able to give our readers an introduction to what you do for a living?
Since 2006 I’ve been doing one (mostly small) painting every day (or as often as I can) and selling them online. I use www.dailypaintworks.com to auction my paintings, starting at $100 each. I spent many years in galleries, but I end up making a lot more this way. I also have been teaching workshops about what I do since 2007.
Qn: In one of your previous emails to me, you have mentioned that you use Silver Bristlon brights? Do you have a preference for them? From the picture above, I see you have a lot of brushes. How are the red, blue and green ones different?
Silver Bristlon brights are my main brush. I have them in most sizes, and use a small filbert of the same brand for drawing out my compositions. I am often trying other brushes, so the other colors are different brands that have a similar but slightly different feel. I like to visit art supply stores and feel all the brushes until I feel one I like. For my needs It should to be firm enough, with a flat edge, but also soft enough for the smooth surface I use to paint on. I think it is important to try lots of things until you find something that works for you.
I’m not sure what the difference is between Utrecht and Gamblin, in terms of manufacturing. I have been using Utrecht for years, but lately I’ve gotten a few tubes that weren’t mixed well. So I bought a few other brands, including Gamblin, and found I kept coming back to it (Gamblin). So I am slowly phasing out the Utrecht colors I have left and replacing them with Gamblin.
Qn: You also mentioned briefly that you use Gamsol and mix your own medium - does it produce a better result than pre-mixed painting mediums?
I use Gamsol because it is pure odorless mineral spirits (as opposed to the cheaper versions you can buy) and contains less of the harmful stuff that is bad to breath. I use a medium recipe that was perhaps the one useful thing I learned in college: 2 parts linseed oil | 1 part stand oil | 1 part gamsol. I’ve tried other (commercial) mediums along the way but always come back to this one. I like the consistency of it, and the fact that my paintings are dry to the touch in just a few days. This especially makes travelling easier, but is also good since I am shipping my paintings out to buyers after week-long auctions. I suppose I probably save a little bit of money by mixing my own medium, but that’s not the motivating factor.
Qn: How do you clean up after using the oil paints?
I wash my brushes with Murphy’s Oil Soap. I love this stuff because it leaves my brushes soft and conditioned. It’s also great if I accidentally leave my brushes out overnight and the paint dries on them. In that case I put them in a jar of Murphy’s for 24 hours and then wash them like normal. All the paint comes right out like magic. I am told this also works for acrylic paint!
I use a paper palette pad for my paint. At the end of the day I simply leave it as is. The next day, I carefully peel off the top sheet of paper, transfer all my big piles of paint to the next sheet, and throw the top sheet away.
Qn: I read the FAQ on your blog and you said you use Ampersand Gessoboard? How good are they?
I love Ampersand Gessobord, but it took me a while to get used to them. Before this I was using canvas panels from Raymar. Then a friend gave me a few Ampersand panels. I tried them and didn’t like them at first. But then I tried them again a few months later and just fell in love. What I found was that, because they are much smoother than canvas, a stiff brush takes off more paint than it puts on. So I started looking for softer brushes, and this is when I found the Silver Bristlons. They are the perfect brush for these panels.
Here is a picture of my Sorg easel. It may seem overkill for this small panel, but it’s perfect when I want to paint larger. In this photo you can see the little panel holder my husband invented for me. It has a very simple way of holding the panel using friction so that I can paint off of every edge with nothing in the way. We have a friend who makes and sells them here.
Qn: On your FAQ page, you mentioned you have an plein air painting box from Art Box & Panel Co. Is it a good box for painting outdoors?
I love my plein air painting box! It is perfect for painting outside, and I have done that a lot. It’s quick to set up and take down, and very lightweight. Here are a few pictures I put together a while ago.
Qn: I see that you paint daily. How fast do you use up the oil paint tubes?
That is a really good question. I buy new tubes when I need them, so I’m not sure exactly how long each lasts. I do know I seem to buy some colors more often than others. Titanium white is always at the top of my list. I use a limited palette:
- Titanium White
- Cadmium Yellow
- Cadmium Red
- Alizarin Crimson
- Ultramarine Blue
- Phthalo Blue
- Burnt Umber
I order new paint several times a year, but not the full palette. There are probably some tubes I have been using for over a year now. For example, Alizarin and Phthalo go a long way.
Qn: Can you give some tips to beginners who want to start painting with oil?
I recommend painting small and as often as possible. Choose a simple subject that you are excited about, and paint it a few times, trying small changes each time. Then choose a new subject and do it again. Along the way, try lots of different brushes, panels, paint, etc., so you can find the combination that works for you. Experiment. Have fun!
Qn: Lastly, which other artist/s do you think should be featured next?