Saturday, October 4, 2008

Useful Painting Tips

I love to share good ideas and sometimes those ideas deserve an entire article of their own. Then there are those little gems of information that are helpful but not worth going on and on about. Here are a few short tips you’ll find useful.

1. Use hair styling gel to reshape your paintbrushes after cleaning. There’s more about this in the article on brush care but it bears repeating.
2. Keep wet wipes in your paint box for those emergency cleanups and to remove paint from your hands. These are wonderful to have on hand when you are painting on location.
3. Use rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to clean acrylic paint out of brushes. The hand sanitizer suggestion was from my student Carolyn. Keep some in your painting kit.
4. Squeeze top water bottles are handy to have in your acrylic, watercolor and water miscible oil paint boxes. If you are out and decide to paint on the spur of the moment you are always ready even if there is no other source of water available.
5. If you have a wooden standing easel with a chain holding the back leg you have a paper towel holder. Just run the chain through the cardboard tube in the middle of the roll.
6. Always arrange your palette the same way. You can put them in the order of the spectrum or group warm colors together and cool colors with other cool colors. You won’t waste time looking for the specific hue you need.
7. About palettes: Line up your paints around the edges of the palette to allow maximum mixing area in the middle.
8. Styrofoam plates make good disposable palettes for acrylic or watercolor paints. I suppose you could use them for water miscible oils also if you aren’t using solvents. I like the rectangular sectional plates. The sections make great paint wells if you are painting with thin washes of color.
9. Keep pliers in you paint box for those stubborn tubes of paint that just won’t let go of their lids. Sometimes you may need pliers to loosen tight bolts or screws on your equipment too.
10. Use liquid dish soap to clean your oil painting brushes. It contains a degreaser that helps dissolve the oils and is gentle to your hands.
11 Hang a plastic shopping bag on the ledge of your easel for trash.
12. If you use a wooden palette, oil or varnish it to protect it and make it easier to clean.
13. Stubborn brushes that refuse to be reshaped can be given a new life by dipping them in boiling water for a minute or two. Careful with synthetic brushes or plastic handles as they can melt if heated too long.
14. Save those old scruffy brushes. They paint great foliage.
15. Trim random gaps into a cheap fan brush. Use to paint trees, grass, bushes and fur.
16. Use a strip of thin cardboard dipped edgewise in paint to draw thin lines for power lines and rigging on ships. Bend the cardboard to make curved lines.
17. For perfect placement when drawing your preliminary sketch onto your canvas, draw a mark at the place where you want the top of your subject. Draw marks at the bottom and at each side. Then fit your subject into the marks you’ve just made. This positions your subject perfectly. You’ll never draw too close to the edge or misplace the subject in relation to other objects in your composition again.
18. Keep a small level in your paint box. Check your canvas to make sure it is level on your easel. This is especially useful when painting buildings.
19. Outfit a toolbox with everything you need to hang paintings. This is invaluable for art shows. You’ll need a small level, hooks to hang artwork on your display screens, a ruler, picture wire, screw eyes, saw tooth hangers, a level, hammer, nails, pencil and screws. I also keep black wax shoe polish, gold, silver, and white painter’s pens and gold, copper and silver “Rub n Buff” to touch up frames. Furniture touch-up pens are handy too. Put some extra cards, labels and price tags in there too.

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