Monthly Archives: January 2012

Oil Painting for Beginners: Supplies

I’m going to start a 3 or 4 part series on oil painting, sharing tips & techniques that I’ve learned along the way. A common misconception with oil painting is that you have to use dangerous solvents and thinners that are very toxic. That is simply not true. It is possible to be completely safe while painting with this beautiful medium. In this part I will cover the basic supplies you need to get started. Shall we?

1. Paint

You get what you pay for in this department. I use a mid-level brand (Grumbacher) that I’ve been pretty happy with, but I do find that I need to add more medium to get them to flow properly. With a 40% coupon at Michael’s I got a set of 10 for $35 in the basic colors. Then I purchased a few Winton color tubes separately for about $8 each.

2. Brushes

It’s nice to have a broad range of brushes for oils, and great to have a few with a longer handle for painting with your whole arm, which is very important. Synthetic or natural fiber brushes will do just fine.

I use mostly round and filbert brushes, and I like to have two of the same size of my favorites – one for painting and another to keep clean for blending or picking up paint.

Bright and flat brushes are also good to have – I’ve never used a fan brush so you might be able to skip that one. I also have one or two really tiny brushes for detailing.

3. Oil Medium

This is your replacement for turps and thinners. I use Refined Linseed Oil, but you could use Walnut oil, or really any type of oil medium. You will use this to thin your paint, prep your canvas, and clean your brushes.

4. Palette

A glass palette is my favorite because it’s clear and flat and super easy to mix colors on and even easier to clean – just use some pages from a phone book to wipe it clean! You could also use a disposable palette for convenience.

5. Rag

You will need a rag to wipe your brushes while painting, and you can also use it to clean your brushes of excess paint. An old cotton t-shirt works well for this.

6. Bar of Soap

A bar of soap with olive oil in it works best, which can be found at health food stores. This will be used to clean your brushes. Works like a charm and it’s completely safe!

7. Easel (Optional)

You don’t have to have this, but it does make painting so much easier than having to hunch over a desk. Not to mention dealing with glare from painting on a flat plane.

That’s it! The the next part I’ll go into the basics of toning/priming your canvas and sketching out your subject. I hope if you’ve been intimidated by oils in the past, you will give it a try. Oils have become my absolute favorite medium. Until then! Have a great weekend.

Interview & Giveaway: Nancy Straughan

It’s been a while since I posted an artist interview, but when Nancy, a textile designer based in London contacted me, I just knew I had to have her thoughts on art. She recently graduated from art school and has launched a beautiful line of printed textiles that are so alluring in their simplicity. Check out her blog, website, and shop for more on this lovely lady.

Also, make sure you don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post to win a risograph printed notebook specially made for our winner with one of Nancy’s designs. Enjoy!

1. What does art mean to you? Art means a few things to me but I think the most important is that art should stir something up inside you. I think good art and design should make you think, feel, ask questions, or solve problems. I’m a big fan of the aesthetic movement and in my slightly vain outlook art means the most to me when I consider it beautiful, I find beautiful art very peaceful. I remember seeing the Monet exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland when I was still in school. I was blown away at how beautiful his paintings were, that was enough for me!

2. What is one challenge you’ve overcome as an artist? I suppose being the sort of person that I am means I come across daily challenges. I try to have a good work ethic, and set my self lots of tasks. I do think however most of the time I end up giving my self too much work, but those manic moments make the little successes feel so much better! If I have to pin point the biggest challenge I have had to face, it would be the moment after I graduated art school, realising that you have to face the world with just you and your skills is a very scary concept. However there is something magical about being a creative, the fact that I am a textile designer is a wonderful thing and doing what I do feels very natural for me.

3. Describe one thing or person that has influenced your art the most. This is an easy one! Without a moments doubt I have to say its my Father. He was a wonderfully talented artist, photographer, designer, in fact everything. Not only was he incredibly creative but he was also a wonderful person. I doubt I’ll ever meet anyone else like him. I think he has influenced pretty much every thing I do, the good and the bad! Him and my Mother made the greatest power couple ever, and I think my brother and I owe them a lot for how they brought us up.

4. Name three artists that inspire you. This is a really tough one and I think I may have to cheat a little! The two main influences with regard to textiles would be Lotta Jansdotter and Lena Corwin. Both of these ladies are very talented textile designers, their books have been invaluable to my textile education. My talented creative friends are also very important to me, somehow I have managed to surround myself over the years with a great collection of extremely hard working and talented designers and I am very lucky to have them as my friends.


Thank you Nancy! Now it’s giveaway time. To win this beautiful notebook, perfect for storing your thoughts for the new year, just leave a comment below on what kinds of amazing things you might record in these blank pages. A comment will be randomly selected one week from now. Good luck!

UPDATE: A winner has been randomly chosen…congratulations ESTHER comment #23! You will be a proud owner of a NS notebook. Thanks everyone for entering!

Wearable Art from Pasta

OK, before you laugh, let me just say that I waited and waited to post this because I vascillated back and forth between whether it was really really dumb or really cool. Then, I saw this post about Dolce & Gabbana using bowtie pasta for earrings on the runway, and well, that was all the encouragement I needed! If D & G can do it, then so can I. :) I give you, Chevron from pasta…

Who knew that penne pasta was the perfect shape for making chevron patterns? Now, I experimented with different necklace bases – I used jersey fabric pretty successfully, but I settled on a knit i-cord for the strap, which let me control much better how they hang. I’m sure if used an actual necklace chain, you could also get pretty good results.

Simply paint the pasta with acrylic craft paint and string onto whatever you’d like to use as your necklace strap. If you have four rows like the photo above, you will need four lengths of fabric/chain/i-cord to attach onto the necklace base.

Large ditaloni pasta makes for great bracelet beads. Just string a few painted pieces of pasta on a strip of jersey and tie around your wrist.

When I was having doubts about using pasta, I tried to recreate the shape using fabric, stiffened with glue and rolled into a bead. Then I cut the bead at an angle to achieve the same look. I’ll probably explore fabric beads a little more, it was a fun experiment.

So what do you all think? Is this something you’ll try?

Working Hard

I’ve been painting more. Painting is scary for me. Graphic arts are so much more safe and forgiving, and easy. After all I’ve been doing it for about 13 years and for the most part, it comes naturally.

I first discovered my love for drawing in the 5th grade. I always just assumed I wasn’t good at it before then, and had other interests, so I hadn’t even tried. To my surprise, I wasn’t too bad. But after those classes – for some reason or another – I abandoned drawing, only to take it up sporadically in the years following.

So fast forward to last year, and I’ve been having the most unshakeable urge to paint and draw. After my drawing challenge last fall, I rediscovered my passion for it and have been shaking the dust off my rusty skills to see where it goes.

There is a local painter here in Oklahoma City, whose work captured me immediately when I saw it on display in a local art gallery. I recently met with her, and she told me the 5 words that gave me the push I needed – “you need to work hard.”

Understanding that I have to be willing to fail and create bad art while I learn, I’ve been painting with abandon. So I got out my oils the other day while the husband took the boys to the zoo. I created a decent painting, but I could not get her second eye right. So right now the painting looks like this:

And of course my dear husband (ever the comic) had to completely deface it by cutting an eye patch for her out of paper. Haha, honey. :)

I’m not sure where my art will take me in 2012, and I think I will always have a love for the craft arts and DIY projects I’ve done through the years, but be prepared to see more art related posts, as I pursue this passion that I just can’t ignore.