Shop Talk

Discuss the nuts and bolts of creating art

Sketchbooks

I keep sketchbooks and doddle-books. Sketchbooks are for quick sketches where freshness and directness are important. Sketches can be simple or elaborate. Aaron Blaise is a good artists who has some YouTube videos about his sketchbooks and why he keeps them. If you are an artist or art student, keep a sketchbook. I also keep…

New series–4th Street

The two series that have preoccupied me over the past several years are still moving along. One of them, Playhouse Square, I started deliberately. After launching the series, I continued to take photographs in the target area for some time. The other series, Along Main Street, just happened. Many paintings in both series are finished,…

Doak’s canvas

Doak sells a linen-cotton blended canvas. A 10-yard roll is $440. It’s a good deal if it’s any good. Has anyone used Doak’s blended canvas? If so, can you share your evaluation? Doak sent me the sample that you see in this photo. The ground on it seems OK, but when I talked to him…

How to–grounds

Most artists do not know how to prepare grounds for oil painting. I know this is true because none of my teachers were able to prepare acceptable grounds, and none of the commercially-prepared canvases that I’ve used have been acceptable. This is even true for vendors who claim the highest expertise. A bold statement maybe…

RGH vs Utrecht

A reader asks wether I prefer Utrecht flake white or RGH’s. To answer the question directly: I prefer Utrecht (barely). Utrecht covers better and has more body. To demonstrate this, I share a simple side-by-side comparison. (Note: I currently have some of RGH’s extra fine white. The extra-fine paint is ground in safflower oil, which…

Backslide

I know me. When I finish a painting, if I don’t put it away I’ll find something to fix or improve. Paintings never get finished that way. It’s the deepest and rabbit-ity of all rabbit holes. I finished this painting, Phone Call on Main Street, some time ago, but every time I look at it,…

Glowing lights

I have several themes in mind for today’s post. One theme is about varnish–intermediate varnish. An intermediate varnish is used to seal the surface and prevent subsequent paint layers from sinking into the earlier layers. This “sinking in” robs the colors of their light and life. Since I paint in layers, I use intermediate varnishes…

Those who live in glass houses…

…or use glass palettes. I get a lot of questions about my homemade palette. I’ve been using this palette for several years and by now it’s pretty beat-up. In fact, I attempted to replace it recently but the replacement’s glass cracked before I could use it. What is it? It was a glass-framed reproduction that…