Sunday, April 12, 2009

Studio Tip for April

home-made brush washer

I'm probably the only person I know who can get excited about punching holes in the bottom of an empty butter tub, but I've always wanted a brush washer and finally made my own.

I use an empty coffee can for OMS to clean my brushes. The gunk in the bottom adds up and it was always hard for me to get the bristles really clean. So, being the *thrifty* artist I am (meaning I prefer to put my money into really good paints and canvases) I was quite happy when I came up with this idea. The best part - it works!

Take one empty, large butter container. Punch holes in the bottom. Take a utility knife and cut the /\ slots. Fold those pieces up - they are perfect for sliding between the bristles of your brushes for a good cleaning. Put the container upside down in your turp can. Works like a charm. When the turps get too dirty, I pour them off into decanting jars and clean out the sludge for disposal. With my decanting jars, I let the remaining solids settle out of the liquid, then pour off the clear part into a second jar. If necessary, I repeat this process two or three times before the liquid is clean enough to use again in my brush washer.

Note: I have been learning more about wiping my brushes rather than swishing them, and using one brush for each color/value. I've read where other artists are using baby oil for cleaning and then washing with dish washing soap. There are many ways to care for your brushes and I have noticed I rely less and less on the OMS to clean between color changes. The additional tip about cleaning with baby oil (which I do use to clean paint from my skin) is to dip the brush into the oil, then push it down on the palette several times, working the excess paint out of the brush.

Please share your own tips on what works best for you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spanish Rose

Spanish Rose
6 x 6, original oil on gessoed hardwood panel
At Auction - you can bid here

I really love to paint from life, taking time to set up a still life that reflects the emotional experience, looking at textures, colors, and the suggestion of a place and time. I was drawn to the light - as always, and the way the cool morning affected the warmth of the flower and reflected on the hand-thrown pot.

Whenever possible, I find my still life props from the work of other artists. I think we have lost touch with something very elemental through our reliance on machine made reproductions. I find great pleasure in running my fingers over a hand-crafted surface, feeling the grooves that the artist made, connecting in a physical, mystical way. This pot was thrown by an artist who lives about 15 miles
from my studio. I use it often as one of the subjects in my paintings.