I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Fragile" Painting Tips

Illustrationfriday.com didn't give me a word this week so I'll keep writing about the painting I'm working on, and very happily too despite feeling like a mason.  I keep repainting bricks when things don't work out.  This painting might've been easier if I'd a clear plan in the first place, but I'm enjoying the discovery.

Once in a while I notice how I paint, and wonder if other people know stuff I learned from long-gone old guys.  For instance, to paint fine, straight, parallel lines, thin the paint so it's fluid, then hold a ruler so 1 side rests on the painting and hold the other side up at a 45° angle.  Run the ferule of a brush (metal part holding the bristles) along the ruler.  Presto!  Straight line.  I won't kid you, this technique takes practice, but it's handy.

I'm lazy about changing my paint water, but I think that's good.  Mucked up paint water tints the other colors in a painting, which makes the end result more harmonious.

I wash my palette with hot water.  For acrylics, let the paint dry first then pull off rubbery lumps of yesterday's paint before hitting it with hot water.  Remaining paint floats off a ceramic or glass palette.  None of this is good in the drain, especially turpentine and oils.

Take care of your brushes.  Never leave them face down in solvent or water.  Make sure they're clean and use soap if necessary, and repoint brushes before letting them dry.  Some of my brushes are more than 30 years old and I grieve when I have to give one up because each brush knows me and how I want to paint.  I'm a fan of Winsor-Newton red sable brushes.  I'll paint with anything, but those are best (and more expensive).

Don't aim for perfection in everything.  I've found out the hard way that people really hate that.  Now I start out loose, then find things within the painting to perfect.

Sometimes using a wet brush is a good thing, but sometimes so is a dry brush.  I like dry brush to make things feel softer.  Mix up the techniques and the results can be better.

Don't do what I do unless you're a glutton for punishment.  I'm painting a 2' x 4' canvas with mostly #2 and #5 brushes.  I did the undercoat of the whole thing with a house brush, and I use that 1/2" brush once in a while, but even non-artists can tell you it takes a long time to cover 8 sq ft of canvas with the pointed tip of an 1/8" brush.

Glutton for punishment -- and loving it.  Painting is a meditation I've missed more than I realized.  I used to happily spend my days painting surrounded by other creative people.  We got into our own flows and spent our days alone together.  It was wonderful.  When computers took over, no time to peacefully meditate my days away.

Now I'm fundraising for a living and my days are filled with people and numbers and problems to solve.  Painting what I feel like painting in my spare time, intending to give it away, makes my heart happy and helps me figure out all sorts of things about myself even though the painting is for someone else.

In case you didn't read last week's post, I've been dropping hints about it to the eventual recipient so no overviews until the painting is finished and delivered, but this week's clues are above.


  1. I loved reading about your painting tips Linda it's so interesting to see someone's creative process. It sounds as though you are finding some quality time with your painting...enjoy! I hope the recipient appreciates this labour of love ;0) x

  2. Big canvas and small brushes...that's what I'd call Zen painting. Will you be moving on to the ultimate tiny paint strokes method--egg tempera--next?? I am NOT envious of your process at all, my dear...but I am certain it will be gorgeous when it's done! :-)

  3. No egg tempera. Even I know some limits :) I hope the painting gets loved when it goes to its home, but that part is out of my hands. That's one of the things I've been thinking about that I greatly dislike about being an artist. Some of my paintings have gone to bad foster homes, but I've also been thinking that I can't let that stop me from doing what brings me happiness to do. Thanks for the comments!

    1. I enjoyed your tips as well - will have to try the strait line trick and see how it goes. I do suggest you try egg tempera - nevermind the tiny strokes, experiment and enjoy! I use it with watercolour paint pads, heavy paint on the brush, then dip in egg tempera to thin to the amount desired - takes a little while to dry between layers, but the handfeel while painting is like no other, results feel luminous. Small is good, though.

  4. Can't wait to see the final product! Thanks for sharing some tips. :)

  5. I totally agree that painting is meditation. I often try to "meditate" and then realize that what I do all day is kind of meditation anyway. I can't wait to see the final product! X Jane

  6. Nice tips! I'm looking forward to the final "discovery"!

  7. So many great painting tips! Wow! I will get back to painting one of these days. And I will take better care of my brushes!

  8. Thanks everybody! The world will be a better place if more people paint, meditate, and take care of their brushes! :)

  9. Great post Linda, looking forward to seeing your finished painting.

  10. A mystery! It sounds like you're having fun again.

  11. I'm close to finishing it (maybe) except I have a corner that I haven't decided what to do with. I'm looking forward to sharing it with everyone. Thanks for the comments!

  12. Linda, I've enjoyed reading your post about the long-gone old guys method of painting. It is simply the best, uh? I love building the layers and see how things turn out.
    I've been away to the countryside and had hardly any internet. It is great to catch up with your blog and see this lovely post. Wishing you a wonderful time painting.

  13. I like building layers too. Glad to see you back Paula! I hope you had a wonderful time in the country!

  14. Love the tips, especially how to do a straight line. Thank you!

  15. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!