Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Geeky Painting Product Review Chat!

...Ready for a (LONG) Paint Chat today with me?

Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite painting products! I often do digital art and I LOVE it but I'm still analog to the core as well. Drawing of the pencil, paper, and pen and ink variety has always been my be-all, end-all. Hey, I was a Fine Arts major in college, after all! So, no matter how much I love doing art on the computer, "analog art" will always be an integral part of my life and my artwork.

I've been an artist for a long time and have tried many products on the market in the realms of my favorite media. There are some brands and products that haven't failed me yet and I have stuck by through the years. I also have a new favorite or two, down the page. Since I enjoy both acrylic and watercolor painting, I have my favorite in each category.

 For watercolor, I love Holbein tube paints the best. I have a little Daler-Rowney mixed in there as well, which I have found to be generally solid in terms of overall quality.

For acrylic painting, I use lighter-bodied paint for most of the detailed painting work. For this, I love the Golden Fluid Acrylics, which offers an excellent variety of dense, saturated colors in a lighter consistency of paint. A close second is the Liquitex Soft Body line, which is a little thicker than the Golden. I sometimes need to thin them a bit. However, with these richly pigmented colors and superior consistency, they are easily thinned without any pigment separation or over-wateryness of the paint. For grounds and covering larger areas, I use a heavy body paint, and Liquitex brand Heavy Body paint is easily my "go to".
This Liquitex Gloss Varnish (above left) is truly excellent. Used for the final glazing step for acrylic paintings, this is not a workable medium. I recently tried it for the first time, and I'm extremely happy with the results. 
A Dick Blick store recently opened near me, so I had to try their line of acrylic matte thin body paint (above right). I always think twice before buying a store brand—the quality is just not always there. It typically varies greatly, depending on the art store chain, and simply on the nature of the product itself, I find. But the variety of hues was so enticing and the paint was so reasonably priced, I simply had to give it a shot. Guess what? So far, so good!

Wood Box Panels
I've been painting on the Ampersand Gessobord line of wood box panels. These are the finest overall quality that I've tried of the wood box panels. I have recently tried the Dick Blick version as well. It's not quite as Rolls Royce-ish as the Ampersand. But still, it is solid —like maybe it's the Volkswagen. It's nicely made, and on the flat, non-boxed variety of panels, there is even a notch drilled out of the back for you to hang the art easily. Nice touch.

To give you a complete picture of my experience with wood box panels, I should mention that I have also tried the Elephant brand wood boxed panels (which you can purchase at Artist and Craftsman). I've only tried their bare, ungessoed ones. I've since started using pre-gessoed panel and I cannot offer an opinion on the elephant pre-gessoed panels since I have not tried them. But I can speak for the bare wood panels. As far as box panels go, they are well-made. But, as far as the finer details are concerned, these are a bit more splintery and rough around the sides* than any of the other brands I tried. I've discovered I don't like this unfinished feel in my box panels. It's worth it to me that they are finely sanded and primed before they arrive on my table. So I probably will not be buying more of these. Still, they are sturdy and very well-made and they are a good economy choice if you are williong to do the pre-painting finishing work yourself and save a few pennies. But the slightly more burly grain and lack of finishing is something to keep in mind so maybe the pre-painting finishing is a part of the craftsmanship of the entire piece for you. I found the price point of the Elephant vs. Dick Blick's panels sort of negligible—Blick's prices go up with the depth of the cradle (they come in several). But the Ampersands on the whole, cost reasonably more. If you can pick them up on sale, that is the way to go. (I got in on a GREAT Ampersand sale at Utrecht the other week!)

*None of the gessoed wood box panels I tried are gessoed on the sides, only the front.

Foam Brush Is Awesome
Look at the foam brush above! That thing is a miracle worker. It's the perfect tool for layering your gloss medium, or for mounting a print to a wood panel. (If you are curious about how to do that, I'd be happy to show you! I have a Demo blog post in thee works on this very subject, so check back soon.) You can get this foam brush at any old hardware or art supply store for just some some change or around a dollar, depending on the size of brush. If you take good care of it, you can get some decent use from one brush!

Acrylic Paints
These are a few of my fa-vor-ite things... Some of my favorite acrylic paints! Liquitex brand. (The Blick's are new, but so far I am liking them. I would not rely on them for anything but detail work, but they fit the bill for that.). Golden Fluid Acrylics not pictured but I can't forget to mention them as they are huge favorites of mine. (Ok so I already mentioned them once before... hey, they're good!)
You know what I often use? Wax paper!

Well, that's it for today!
Hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment (I love to hear what you have to say!)  or to tweet it out if you would like to share it. I always greatly appreciate it! :) Happy painting!

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