All you need to know about PAINTBRUSHES

Paintbrushes are very important to an artist just as much as paint or canvas. You can’t paint without one. When I first started painting, I just had 2 brushes. Size 4 and size 8 flat brush. It was so difficult to get work done with just two. I then bought a set of round and a set of flat brushes. Things improved. I could get a lot more done with so many brushes.

Paint brushes to me are like little magic wands. I’ve bought so many, that now I’ve lost count of how many I have. With every new kind of brush you use, it is like you’ve learnt a new spell. As you paint you’ll become familiar with the way each brush handles paint and what it can create if you guide it.

The photo below shows you the different kinds of brushes that you can choose to work with.


You can see I’ve labeled each kind of brush in the image above. They have different purposes. I have to also mention that a particular kind of brush may do a kind of paint stroke, like the fan brush is very useful in landscapes when you’re painting trees or waterfalls. A wash brush can help you spread a lot of paint on the canvas. These are very helpful especially when I’m working with acrylic because acrylic dries fast and the brush helps in spreading paint faster. But as you continue working with these different brushes, you’ll find your own way of using them.

The brushes I commonly use are ‘The Filbert’ for almost everything, ‘The Wash brush’ for backgrounds mostly and ‘The liner brush’ which I use for most of my fur paintings and tiny detailing.

You don’t need a whole lot of brushes to be a good artist. You can manage fine with just a few. Although when you are working towards a deadline you may want to have a few extra to save you cleaning time while you’re painting. For example, say you’re painting a tiger and working with liner brushes for fur. Now if you’re painting white fur and suddenly have to switch to say yellow ochre, you have to keep a spare liner brush because getting the white paint off the one you’re holding is time consuming. So if you have say, two or three liner brushes, you can just switch back and forth and it’ll be a whole lot easier.

I just want to mention a few more things that you need to know about paintbrushes. The image below is labeled for better understanding of the parts of a brush.



The kinds available are Synthetic hair (taklon, nylon, etc) and Natural hair (Hog, Sable, etc). I prefer using the Taklon brushes as I feel they hold more paint and are less prone to damage as compared to the natural hair (plus they’re cheaper).


There is just one thing you need to know about the ferrule; when you’ve washed your brushes and they’re still wet, don’t place them straight up in a stand which will cause water to collect in the ferrule resulting in shedding of the hair/bristles, instead place them flat on a surface until they’re dry.

Also when you don’t wash your brushes properly, the paint may get collected in the ferrule causing your bristles to fan out and lose its shape.


The handle is usually made of wood or fiber. All you need to know is ‘the lighter the handle, the better’.

Few more things to remember:

  • Never let paint dry out on the brush.
  • Don’t pull the bristles.
  • Don’t get paint on the ferrule.
  • Don’t rest your paint brushes bristles-down.

Tip: Don’t hesitate to buy extra paintbrushes when they’re available cheap especially if you’re seriously considering being a professional artist. The prices of paintbrushes only keep increasing.

I think that is loads of information to begin with. I hope it helps.

P. S: Brushes are available cheap on eBay.

More knowledge and tips to share in the next blog post. Don’t forget to subscribe. Desktop users will find the subscribe button on the sidebar and cell phone users will find it if you scroll down a little further.

My crazy collection of paintbrushes…


Buying art supplies in India

We enthusiastic artists find joy in using any art/craft materials in our work, since mixed media became widely recognized and accepted.  But being an army wife, it definitely wasn’t easy buying art supplies from the remote locations I lived in. I had to figure out a way besides the only option I’d tried so far of getting someone to buy them for me and bring along when they were visiting.  I discovered online shopping and it wasn’t easy but over the years I have a list of places I buy art supplies from and I’m sharing it with you.

The places I’ve bought art supplies from are

G. C. Laha, Kolkata

Reliance stores, Commercial street Bangalore.

Bhaskar and Bhaskar, Avenue road Bangalore.

Bhaskar and sons, Avenue Road and Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath Campus Bangalore.

Sapna book house, Elements Mall Bangalore.

Itsy Bitsy, Bangalore.

Himalaya Fine Art, Mumbai.

Now that reminds me of the online shopping sites.

I bought my airbrush supplies from

Despite this being a ‘Shopping in India’ options, I still feel I have to mention which is an excellent website. If you know anyone living in the U. S who can ship the stuff to you then this is a great website for you.

I also buy a lot of paint supplies, especially paintbrushes from and even Also try

I have also found some new sellers from ChitraSanthe that I participated in Jan 2016. You should definitely go there on the first Sunday of the year at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath every year where you will find great deals on canvas, easels, paints and other paint supplies on that day, almost 25-30% off. You will also find new sellers advertising there so you can get their contacts and later visit their stores.

There are a lot more places you can shop from but the above mentioned are the ones I’m familiar with and I do not want to recommend those that I don’t know of.

Well then, Happy Shopping.

Beware: You may burn a hole in your pockets.

If you would like to add any other art supplies shopping stores/sites to this list, then you may leave it in the comments below.

Watch out for the next blog post about Paintbrushes.

All About CANVAS

There are so many kinds of surfaces you can paint on; Hardboard, stretched canvas, canvas board and so on. I commonly use stretched canvas.

I lived in a place where none of these were readily available. The market in that village was literally only 200 meters long and forget about even buying paints. So I had to buy canvas when I was on holiday. One of the best things in the army is that you usually know someone who is in a place where he/she can buy canvas and there is usually someone passing by your town. So that’s how I managed to get my shipment. Of course now there is online shopping but you will be charged for shipping especially if you are ordering large size canvas.

As I was just a beginner I didn’t want to spend much on canvas. So I bought stretched canvas which was locally made by a store. They made their own frames in bulk and the canvas that came in bulk was hand stretched and nailed (not stapled) by some locally employed people who of course didn’t know much about how it was to be done.

I got these canvases very cheap and then after I removed them from the packaging one by one I noticed that these were flawed. The grain of the canvas was not parallel to the frame.

A canvas has grains like any cloth. This has to be parallel to the frame.

Linen Canvas Coarse Vignette Crumpled Grunge Texture Sample

Instead I saw a few which were mounted diagonally.


It is unsightly and I don’t recommend painting on it

I also feel stapling is more effective than nailing a canvas to the frame to stretch it.

 A canvas is primed with Gesso which was traditionally used to prepare or prime a surface so Oil paint would adhere to it. Gesso is the same as a primer. It is made from a combination of paint pigment, chalk and binder.

The priming done on these cheap canvas that I bought was very uneven and has air gaps which looked bad and eventually opened up. The corners were not neatly folded either.

So remember there are lot of things you need to check while buying canvas

You also get fine grain, medium grain and coarse grain canvas. Buy fine grain for realistic art or airbrushing especially if you’re planning on doing a lot of detailing.


Medium grain is versatile. I usually buy these so I don’t have to decide what to paint in advance

The coarse grain takes up lot of paint. It is great for heavy textured paintings and knife painting.

The stretcher bars on which the canvas is stretched also comes in different types. I buy the standard 1 inch thick ones. The thicker ones are better if you can afford it and great if you don’t plan on framing your painting

You also get side stapled and back stapled. There is a bit of a cost difference. I buy the back stapled because I prefer not framing my paintings.

Well well, that is definitely a lot of information on canvas. I bet there is a lot more but this is all that I’ve encountered so far. Happy shopping.

Watch out for some awesome art shopping options also including online art shopping destinations in the next blog post. Don’t forget to subscribe. you can find social media links below and also checkout my videos on YouTube.

Mixing Paints and Color Theory

One painting at a time, I got better with every new painting I made. I was so excited with my work. I decided to splurge. I went ahead and bought a whole bunch of oil paints. I was like a kid in a candy store. I went crazy and bought the 120 ml tubes of oil paints because I thought they were economical. Hmm, not such a good idea.

Well, given the way oil paints work, even a peanut size bit is enough to finish a small painting but in my excitement I bought a whole lot which I haven’t used. So, I’m going to help aspiring young artists with this problem. You can create different shades with just a few basic colors.

I had the idea of making a whole collection of underwater themed paintings so I bought a large tube of turquoise colored paint. Turns out I didn’t really need that much. Now I have a big tube of paint which I don’t use much and just so you now, you can mix Viridian Hue, Cobalt Blue and White to get Turquoise.

Here is what will make the learning process easier, Color Theory. Of course you can experiment and learn by mixing colors, but learning color theory makes the task easier and speeds up your learning process. I found some videos online which really helped me. You can also download a color wheel and print it and hang it on your wall where you paint which will help you with mixing colors.

Here is a picture of the color wheel.


The primary colors are Red, Yellow and Blue. There are three secondary colors, Green, Orange and Purple. You can create six tertiary colors by mixing primary and secondary colors.

You can divide the circle into warm and cool colors.


The painting below shows cool colors. You see that cool tones are soothing.


The painting below shows warm colors. You see that warm tones are vivid and energetic.


More things you should know are Tints, Shades and Tones.

Tints are created by adding white to a pure hue.


Shades are created by adding black to a pure hue.


Tones are created by adding gray to a pure hue.


Below you can see a painting that is only in gray scale, made using only black and white.


I think that’s enough information to help you get started. Don’t go too much into the theory. This is just to help you mix colors. Use your judgment on what color goes well with what and you’ll create beautiful art.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as best as I can. Don’t forget to subscribe. Have fun painting.

How to get Started with Painting

I got a lot of requests from friends who want to learn painting and do not know the a, b, c of painting, for help. I’m going to help you get started.

First you need a surface to paint on. Canvas is the easiest to start with. Now the basic kinds of canvas you need to know about to get started are

  1. A canvas Board and
  2. A stretched canvas

for beginners. I recommend starting with a canvas board. Buy a small size canvas board to begin with, maybe a size 10×12 inches.

A canvas board is canvas stuck on a hardboard base.

Canvas Board

A Stretched canvas is canvas stretched over a frame and stapled at the back or side of the frame.

Stretched Canvas


Next you need paints. I recommend buying a set of 12 Camel Students Acrylics 20ml tubes and the same in Oil.(this is for Indians, others can buy any basic set of student grade paints available)


You will also need a paint palette and a palette knife for mixing paints.


You will need brushes so I recommend buying a set of round and a set of flat brushes. A set usually includes sizes 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Make sure you buy taklon bristle brushes. You will need rags or a soft cotton cloth to wipe paint off your brushes before you wash them. You could also use kitchen paper towels.

Some turpentine to wash the brushes is the next thing on the list if you’re working with oil paint. I also used kerosene in place of turpentine only because I had some at home. Don’t forget to wash the brushes with soap after turpentine.  Water is enough to wash the paintbrushes if you’re working with acrylic paints and then a little soap too.

One last thing, don’t bring your worries to your canvas. Bring a lot of patience and just have fun.

TIP: Don’t eat while you’re painting especially when you’re working with oil paints.

So, there you are all ready to get started.

If you have any queries or any other topic you would like to know, please mention it in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe, you’ll find the subscribe button on the sidebar and the social media links below.

Until next time….

Painting in Acrylic

Last post I mentioned about how we should keep exploring options and learning new things. Here is a bit of exploration I did.

I saw a lot of acrylic paintings online. They looked just as beautiful as oil paintings and I also read that it was easier working with acrylic because it dries so fast. I had been working with oil paints for too long and I decided to go for a change. I didn’t anticipate how fast it dries.

I bought a small set of 12 Camel Students Acrylics. I started off with a very small painting of a flower and it really didn’t go well. It kept drying so fast. Oil paint took days to dry and acrylic only took minutes. It kept drying while I was still painting.


Trust me I just hated it. Perhaps it might’ve been easier if I had started off with acrylic before oil.

Acrylic paints are water based. It can be thinned with water and cleaned with water. These paints are non toxic. Acrylics can be used on wood, canvas or paper.

So keep going. Try Acrylic and don’t give up. I eventually gave in and I love working with acrylics now. See what happened when I tried acrylics the next time.

Acrylic Painting- Thunderhead

Pretty Amazing, don’t you think?

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Watch out for the next post because it is a lesson to help you get started with painting.

How I got to making the Zodiac collection

“Hey, what are you doing”, he asked as he saw me sitting on the sofa completely blank with my hands over my head.

“Nothing”, I said.

“Come on you look weird. Are you sad? Are you going to cry?”, he asked fearfully.

“No, I’m just wondering what to paint next”

“Just pick a nice painting from Google and paint”

“No, that wouldn’t be original”

“Who cares?”

“I care. After making one awesome original painting and selling it I don’t think I should make a copied painting, besides WHO’LL BUY IT? WHICH GALLERY WILL DISPLAY A COPIED PAINTING?”

That statement right there in capitals, that was what was holding me back.

I think most new artists hit this block after their first original or their first sale.

Worrying too much about who’ll buy, Trust me , you don’t want to do that. It will only hold you back. Your main goal must be to excel at what you do. Set goals. But don’t set big goals too quickly. Pick a photograph of anything; a bird, a lion, a beautiful landscape and just paint. See what you don’t know how to paint and paint that. I hadn’t really painted that many paintings. I was just six paintings old and I was worried about making money, whereas I should’ve been worried about improving my skill. After the amazing Lion painting I thought I was ready to start selling. Big mistake!

“Why don’t you paint zodiacs, it will definitely sell”, my husband said.

“You really think people will hang paintings of zodiacs on their wall? They might read their horoscopes every morning but buy zodiac paintings? I don’t know”

“What have you got to lose? Just paint them”

I wasn’t so sure but either way I took his advice. I still didn’t want to copy paintings so I started researching on different ideas. I was inspired by the various tattoos on zodiacs that came up on Google image search. So I took the idea of implementing that in my paintings.

I first made the Scorpio painting. It was a big favorite with so many of my friends. I’ve got lots of Scorpio friends. I wanted to incorporate the symbol too in the painting and so I did. I read somewhere that red favors the Scorpio sign and so I used the color Red. The scorpion was inspired by a tattoo.


This is how I made most of my zodiac collection paintings. I used tattoos and the colors that favored the different signs. I even designed some tattoos.

My friends who saw the lion painting from my previous post said it looked like an improvised version of a glass painting and hence I used that as an inspiration for my Virgo painting.


I made most of my zodiac paintings like this and I sold most of them. My husband was right. People like hanging paintings of their sun signs. Well, I got enough to buy more paint supplies by selling a few of my zodiacs.

I also got a painting commission from a lovely couple for a couple zodiac painting Leo-Scorpio. It was a great experience. I enjoyed making this painting.


So come up with an idea or just paint what you love, what you dream about and you’ll keep learning. You’ve got nothing to lose.

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Just leave me a message for any painting inquiries.

Things you don’t want to tell an Artist

As a self taught artist, there have been too many unknown things I’ve had to deal with. The biggest among these is what people think about me.

Now personally I don’t care what people think about me but the annoying things people say to my face does matter. So here are a few funny things I’ve heard over the years. You will find the things you don’t want to tell an Artist in bold letters and my thoughts in italicized letters.

Conversation 1:

“Hi, I’m Sylvia.”

“Hi, What do you do Sylvia?”

“I’m an Artist”

“Oh, I paint too. But what do you really do? For a living, I mean.”

Really? Profession: Artist. Don’t you get it? I’m not an idiot to tell you my hobby when you ask me what I do.

“May I see some photos of your paintings?”

“Sure, here.”

“Oh wow, these are really good. Mine aren’t.”

Conversation 2:


“Do you sell your paintings Sylvia?

“Yeah, I do””

“Are they original?”

“Yeah they are.”

“Wow! Give me the soft copies of your painting photos.”


“So I can print them and hang it on my wall”

“Oh. I sell prints too. Just tell me which one you want and I’ll have it printed for you.”

Oh no… I don’t want to buy. Just give me the soft copies. I’ll print them myself.”

Conversation 3:

“How much does this painting cost?”

“Rs. 15000”

Ans 1: “Wow! That’s expensive, not for the poor, eh?”

Ans 2: Really!! Don’t you think that’s expensive? What is your cost of material?

Sure! Just pay me the cost of canvas and paint. My original idea or design has no value, nor does the amount of time and energy spent on making something so beautiful on canvas or the years I’ve spent learning the skill.

Conversation 4:

“Oh wow! You’re an artist? Did you design that tattoo which is on your wrist?”my tattoo1

“Yeah I did!”

“Can you design one for me, for free?”

Yeah, I do that only for friends who genuinely appreciate what I do.

One minute you’re appreciating what I do and the next you’re telling me that my art isn’t worth paying for?

Conversation 5:

This is an incident that happened when we just moved to a new place; A conversation between my husband and his superiors wife.

“So, what does your wife do?”

“She is an Artist.”

“What is her medium of painting?”

“Oil on Canvas.”

“That’s perfect. There is an old painting in our guest room covered in mold. You can tell your wife to restore it. ”

“Sorry, she doesn’t do restorations and I don’t tell her what to do.”

Conversation 6:

“Hey, I love your paintings, maybe you can teach me sometime?”

“Sure, come over to my place for coffee and we’ll make an evening of it and make a small painting too”

After the lovely evening,

“You teach well too. Why don’t I send my daughter to your place twice a week, she can learn a lot from you.”

“I’ll let you know when I can move things around my schedule and make time for the class. We’ll discuss fees later.”

“Oh, no. Not for class or anything. Just for fun. To pass time.”

Sure. I’ll make time in my busy schedule twice a week(that’s two hours) for fun. To pass time!

There are so many hilarious things I’ve heard from people, I just wonder if they think before they speak. Do you ask a plumber if he’ll fix your tap for free? Or an electrician if he’ll light a bulb for you so you’ll tell all your neighbors about him. Word of mouth you see…

Then why do you ask an artist if he/she will work for free?

P.S:  The conversations above really did happen.

Go on and read a few more things people tell artists that he/she doesn’t really want to hear.

“If I had time and patience like you, I would paint too.”

Precisely why I’m an artist, I got patience and passion for art.

“I can paint that too”

Then go do it.

“It must be nice to have so much time so you can paint”

Yeah I don’t know how my day is magically 30hrs long.

“You should paint this, this, and that”

Maybe you should.

“A sea horse is not so big that a mermaid can sit on it!”mer2

Really dude, have you seen a mermaid?

“Do you know artist XYZ? Can you make a painting for me which looks more like his work?”

No. Go buy his art.

“Oh what is abstract art? You artists throw some paint around on a canvas and call it abstract art.”

Have you heard of something called Color Theory?

“Can I take a photo of that? I want to post it on my Facebook page. Maybe I’ll paint one when I find time”

I don’t know what to say.

Here is one question that a lot of people have asked me but it is not an annoying one and I’d like to answer it. Actually a genuine question.

“Why do you paint horses? Do you like horses? What is the meaning behind the horse painting?”

The truth is, a painting doesn’t always have to mean something. Sometimes it is just about how beautiful it looks on a wall. Horses are very good subjects to paint and I think they’re majestic. A painting can mean different things to different people. Art is Subjective. Just enjoy it.

Also, when an artist wants to exhibit her art she cannot display a landscape, a horse portrait, a mermaid and a portrait of a lady together because they don’t always go well together. It helps to stick to a specific topic like birds, pet portraits, zodiacs, jungle cats, fantasy, underwater world etc. when you’re exhibiting your art.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I deviated from the flow of my journey but I think this blog was very important.

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Step by Step Progress of my Lion Painting and a bit more….

I made a few more paintings.


This one I did while I was attending the one week oil painting class that I mentioned in the previous blog post. Anyway, for those of you who didn’t read it, I was actually looking to do something different from the others. So I applied my new found knowledge in this painting. I was very happy with the outcome. It was a copied painting anyway with a few modifications. Nevertheless I thought it turned out good. But I won’t forget to mention, I was still in the guest room at that time and I didn’t have an easel. I was using a chair to place the canvas board. But the true challenge was the cotton trees. We had lots of cotton flower trees outside the guest room and it was the perfect climate for them to shed the cotton. Oh how nightmarish. The flowers everywhere, plus the wind; the strands of cotton got everywhere. I don’t know how they got into the room but I had to pick at my painting with a clean brush every now and then to remove these strands which would stick to the oil paint and refuse to come out.

Luckily a house was available to us soon enough. And I had a new dog now with me; my furry little Foxy. Once I had unpacked and settled down, I made the painting I had mentioned in the previous post. Here are the step by step photos of the abstract Lion painting.

1 2 3 copy4 copy5 copy6Leo

I know that the pictures 4, 5 and 6 look the same but if you take a closer look at it you will know the difference.

Well, not much writing this time. There is a lot one can learn from progress photos and I hope these photos help.

Until next time…. 🙂