How to clean Paintbrushes and their maintenance

We all value things that we’re passionate about. For an artist, it is paint supplies. Of all my paint supplies, I value paintbrushes the most. My magic wand as I call it…. So, I’m going to address a very important issue- Paintbrushes and their maintenance.

It is very important that you learn how to clean your paintbrushes. I spent months painting in oil paint, not knowing how to clean my paintbrushes, resulting in dirty hands and clothes too. I had no idea how to get rid of the paint from my brushes. Honestly I tried washing it with warm water and soap and as a result had destroyed too many of them. Mind you, paintbrushes are expensive. So, lets start with the first.

  1. Oil Paint – First wipe off any excess paint left on the brush with a paper towel or a rag. There are a couple of options to clean oil paint off your brushes.
  •  Paint thinner/ Turpentine: You may also get this as distilled turpentine which is less harsh on the paintbrushes
  • Kerosene: This is less expensive. I used this when I didn’t have enough money to buy the good stuff.

You should know that both the turpentine and kerosene have a really strong smell. So to those of you who cannot stand that smell or are allergic to the same, I recommend buying odorless paint thinner. This is slightly more expensive compared to the usual turpentine.

Once you wash your brushes in turpentine, you wash them again in a clean separate  container full of turpentine and then wash it with warm soap water.

2. Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is water based and can easily be washed off with water but you need to make sure you don’t let the paint dry on the brush completely. Once you let the paint dry on the brush completely, getting the paint off the brush is a difficult task. I use turpentine if the paint has completely dried but I try to make sure that such a situation doesn’t arise. In any normal circumstance I wash the brushes once with soap and warm water in the end.

3. Watercolor

Wipe it off on a paper towel. Just wash it in water once and then dip it in another container containing clean water.

Well, now that you know how to wash them, you also need to know how to dry and store them.

  • Dab the paintbrush with a tissue or an absorbent cloth.
  • Rest them on a flat surface over the tissue/absorbent cloth until they dry.

Note: Do not place your paintbrushes standing in a paintbrush holder before they dry or else water will seep through the ferrule and the bristles will fan out or shed as the glue holding them together will peel off. Do not rest your brushes standing bristles-down ever(wet or dry).

Follow these simple methods and you will have no more issues with paintbrushes.

Do come back and read my blog next week. I upload one blog post every week now. My next blog post will not be art related, it will be about some of my crazy travel experience. You can find the subscribe button on the top right sidebar of my website/blog. No spam, I promise. You will only get an update when I publish my next blog post.

If you have any questions/suggestions, mention it in the comments below.

Have a good weekend.

Charcoal Sketch

I can’t paint.
I can’t draw.
I cannot do anything other than abstracts.
Realism? No way!!! Its too difficult.
Well, well, well. If I start listing out the excuses, this blog post will never end. The key is to practice. We’re not born with a paintbrush in our hand. We have to learn. Learning, and a desire to learn is the first step towards being an artist. There are numerous sources online that you can learn from. Just look for them. YouTube videos – my biggest learning source.

I had a busy day, I cannot paint. That’s another excuse we’ve all heard before. Well if you really want to, you can learn. Start with something very small. Sketch a cherry with a graphite pencil. Learn how to shade it. Even something so small is a step forward. The next day, sketch the same cherry on another piece of paper with charcoal or a charcoal pencil.

I have mentioned before that I want to paint/ draw/ sketch new things this year. Here’s what I did last night. My very first sketch with charcoal pencil. I thought I’ll learn how to do the Iris. I was so excited when I saw how it turned out, I sketched the entire eye. and then I was so interested, I did the eyebrow too. And then I stopped myself because I had to sleep.

Not bad for a first one, don’t you think?

Well, I’m looking forward to trying something new in painting. Are you?

Materials Used:

A sketchbook I bought from Reliance Art store on Commercial Street, Bangalore.

Camlin Charcoal Pencils (Hard, Soft and Neutral)

 

 

 

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.

brush-blog-photo

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.

paintbrush

Bristles:

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).

Ferrule:

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.

Handle:

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…

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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.

himalayafineart.com

itsybitsy.in

creativehands.in

craftadda.com

I bought my airbrush supplies from papupainter.com

Despite this being a ‘Shopping in India’ options, I still feel I have to mention dickblick.com 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 ebay.in and even ebay.com. Also try geb.ebay.in

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.

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.

color-wheel-300

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.

warm-cool

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

SD_Coralia

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

SD_ThunderheadWM

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

Tints are created by adding white to a pure hue.

Tints

Shades are created by adding black to a pure hue.

Shades

Tones are created by adding gray to a pure hue.

Tones

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

1q

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.

My experience with working with textures

One thing artists always do is to look at other artists work. My advice for budding young artists is to browse frequently, learn something new from what other artists are doing and try to implement things that you like. As an artist you have to always make sure that you don’t stick to one particular way of painting and say ‘That’s my style’. No, it’s not.  If you don’t experiment new techniques and try out new subjects, how will you know what your style is?

I made the very same mistake when I started. I decided I don’t like realistic art and I knew my drawing was poor , so I told myself and anybody who’d listen that Abstract is my style. ‘I don’t like very realistic paintings you know, I don’t like painting animals, I don’t like making portraits’. Excuses, excuses. That was all it was.

After I was done with the zodiac collection, I was in a dilemma. I didn’t know what to paint next. Sure the zodiacs sold well and it was a good way to make money, but that’s not what being an artist is about. It is not just about making money and selling your paintings. You need to explore. I was advised to make more zodiacs and I didn’t really like making more because I wanted to do something new. So I went to my old advisor back again. Google.

I found some really amazing paintings and I was interested by textures. You’ll see them in the pictures below.

textureblog2 textureblog3 textureblog41a

I was intrigued. But I didn’t know how to make it. I kept searching for ‘How to make textured paintings? What to mix with oil paint to get thick textures?’, but it is not as easy as you think. I dint get the answers I wanted to online.I found this medium called Texture White from Camel. But it could only be used with acrylic paint and I was not used to painting in acrylic. So I mixed a bit of acrylic paint with texture white and made thick flowers directly onto an empty canvas. Once the flowers dried I painted the background in oil and waited a couple of days for it to dry and then painted over the acrylic flowers with oil paint. Phew! A lot of work. Here is the first textured painting I made.

SD_Enchanted

It wasn’t until I got my ‘Oil painting for Dummies’ copy that I found the thing that you mix oil paint with to get thick textures. LIQUIN IMPASTO. It is amazing.

Art Tip: You can paint Oil over Acrylic but you cannot paint acrylic over oil because the acrylic would just peel off over time.

So enjoy, keep exploring and have fun!!

 

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.

SDZ_ScorpioWM

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.

SDZ_VirgoWM

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.

LeoScorpioWM

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.

You can now subscribe to blog updates in the sidebar by just submitting your email id.

Just leave me a message for any painting inquiries.

My learning sources

After dealing with all my health issues, yet again I was in a new place. Yeah I’ve got to move so very often; woes of being an army wife. This new place in West Bengal was unlike any other place I’d lived in so far. Surrounded by tea plantations and forest and it rained most of the time. But I reached there in the beginning of summer. I stayed in the guest room only for a month here because a house was available soon after we reached there.

Meanwhile when we were still living in the guest room, I heard about a one week oil painting class in the vocational training center conducted by an army wife. I decided to go. It was one of those typical classes where you have to paint what the teacher tells you to. She made us paint a Ganesha painting. Well, I asked her if I can paint anything else but she didn’t agree. She didn’t even let us choose our own colors. We had to paint the same image and she even told us what colors to mix. It wasn’t a total waste though.  There I learnt about mixing colors and working in layers and the basics which I didn’t really know. And yes, I finally learnt how to wash my paintbrushes. Can you believe it? After 4 paintings! We were also given reading material on a few oil painting tips. It was pretty helpful.

I then went online and downloaded ‘Oil Painting for Dummies’. This book is The Art Bible. I learnt loads from it. If you don’t mind reading, then I recommend it to everyone who wants to paint in oil. I don’t know what I would do without it.

The painting that I made after the one week class is my all time favourite. I sold it to my senior from school who now lives in the U.S. It took me about 4 weeks to complete it since I painted it in layers. And each layer took about a week to dry. But it was all totally worth it.

Leo

Mom and Dad encouraged me to pursue an art career after they saw this painting. And my friends loved it too. I got lots of likes on Facebook. I loved the encouragement.

My second big source of learning is YouTube. You find so many painting videos on YouTube; you don’t really need to go to a class if you live in a place where there are no painting classes. You can learn from the comfort of your own home anytime if you have a good internet connection.

They say ‘Practice makes a man perfect’. Well they are right. Time is your biggest teacher. The more the number of paintings you make, the better an artist you will be.

Do come back next week to see the progressive photos of the lion painting.

MY PAINTING TRAGEDIES – The many mistakes I made when I was teaching myself to Paint.

Besides smudging oil paint everywhere and getting it all over my clothes and stuff, I had a lot of other issues with oil painting. I couldn’t really paint much since I spent a month in Bangalore, back at my parents place. And then came leave. Pascal and I spent a while in Bangalore and then in Goa.

You would think I should be happy about marrying a Goan because of the holiday prospects. My friends so often kindly remind me ‘oooh, you’re so lucky; you’re married to a Goan which means every holiday you’re in Goa.’ Well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It is just like dessert, you eat too much and you get sick of it or get zits all over your face. I wouldn’t say I’m sick of Goa, but the novelty has worn off. At least once a year I go there, spend all day everyday on Calangute beach; my in-laws own a business there. I go to Goa now only to visit my in-laws and to see the pure joy on Pascal’s face when he sits on a chair in front of D’Silva’s Shack facing the sea and enjoying his time away from all his work and of course I love listening to the waves.

Back again from leave I was in a new place now in J&K, the winter was unbelievably brutal. I made a heart painting. This one I made for myself. I wanted to hang it in my living room. I kept the painting in my spare bedroom to dry. A week passed and it wasn’t dry yet. I didn’t think that weather would have anything to do with the drying of oil paint. Two days later I checked again and I saw a thin layer of fungus over the surface of the painting. It was the end of winter and it was starting to get warmer, so I treated the painting like anything else that would get fungus. I put it out in the sun. The fungus disappeared after a day. I decided to put it out in the sun in my balcony every day until the painting dried. What I didn’t realize was that our quarter’s outer walls were being painted or whitewashed. Bam! Whitewash all over my beautiful heart.

SD_Love

I was so heartbroken. My first destroyed painting!

Just so you know, Oil Paint dries through the chemical process of curing and not through evaporation like most things do. The paint develops a skin of dry surface initially but the paint itself takes weeks or months to dry completely. I would also suggest painting in layers and not all at once when you are working with oil paint.

We took leave for a couple of days and visited the saffron fields in Kashmir; the only place in India where saffron grows. The saffron flower is beautiful. Fact: You only get three strands of saffron from a single flower.

307815_2527878123454_667560586_n

I finally painted this saffron flower over the whitewashed heart. Unfortunately I do not have the photo of the painting.

My next blog post will be about the worst part of my life and the challenges I’ve had to face.