Monday, June 24, 2019

Tools of the Trade

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a demo at the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club in Maine. I thought as well as doing some painting, I would  go through a few of the basics and tools we use to paint, especially outside. The gang loved it, and wanted a list of the gadgets and tools I showed them. Here it is.

Paint Boxes and Tripods

Open Box M paintbox and Manfrotto 5 section leg tripod (3 sections in use)

 EasyL paintbox on a heavier Bogen tripod

I brought two paintboxes. The smaller one (top above), which I use for travel, is by Open Box M, and the larger heavier box is an EasyL by Artwork Essentials. The former is very lightweight and fits into the laptop sleeve of my backpack. The later can open flat for use with a Gloucester easel.


The tripod I use with my large box, is a Bogen that my Mom used with her camera years ago, with a Manfrotto MA496RC2 ball head. The tripod I use for travel is a Manfrotto available on amazon. The Manfrotto tripod has 5 sections on each leg and folds up small enough to fit in my backpack. When you are buying a tripod to go with your paintbox, remember that the weight rating given for the tripod is for a camera, which is much smaller on each side than the width of your paintbox. Don't buy one with a maximum camera weight the same as your paintbox, it won't be stable when you try to mix paint near the edges.

Brush and Knife Holder

I use a Hershey's candy container with a chips clip to hold my brushes and knives out of the way when not in use. I got the idea from Carol L. Douglas, who uses a Pringles can for the same purpose.

Guerrilla 10 oz Stainless Steel Brush Washer

The brush washer is used to clean your brush when moving from one color family to another. You can usually thoroughly wipe off a brush and continue to use it when moving from one value to another in the same color family. I hang the brush washer off the edge of my paint box on a hook. The thing to look for when buying a brush washer is three clamps to hold the lid on. If you get one with only two clamps, it will leak. This one is available on amazon here.

Gamsol solvent
Gamsol, by Gamlin, is the best solvent to use with oil paint. It is much cleaner and safer than other odorless mineral spirits, because it is made with processes from the cosmetics industry rather than the industrial paint industry. With any solvent, when working inside, make sure your room is well ventilated. I turn on the nearby bathroom fan or open the windows when I use it inside. I take a small container of clean Gamsol with me as well as the dirty Gamsol in the brush washer. It's available on amazon and in most art supply stores.

Kemper Wipe Out Tool

This is great little tool for taking off oil paint. You can buy it on amazon here.

Baby Wipes

It's amazing what good quality baby wipes can remove from your hands and clothing.

Artwork Essentials ValueComp

From Artwork Essentials, this is a useful gray scale and filtered viewer that removes color so that you can see values. You can buy it here. Note that if you are buying more than one thing from Artwork Essentials, you will save on shipping if you place your order by phone. They have numerous other tools that are very useful, in addition to the paintboxes.

Hog Bristle Brushes

Hog bristle brushes work very well for oil paint, because they hold lots of paint, but don't use them for acrylics. Synthetic brushes are best for acrylic. I don't have a recommendation for the former because my favorite Robert Simmons Signets have just been discontinued. I like Robert Simmons Titanium brushes for acrylics. I use mostly flats, with a few rounds in the small sizes.

Canvas Panels

I demo'd on a canvas panel from Ocean State Job Lot, a great value at less than a dollar each for the 8"x10" size in a pack of 5.

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