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Water mixable, water miscible or water soluble? Whatever you want to call this unique oil paint, it is worth experimenting with. First developed in the 1980s, it is interchangeably called “water mixable,” “water miscible,” and “water soluble.” For the sake of consistency, we will refer to this special oil paint as “water mixable” throughout the following post, but you can call it what you want!

Oil Painting and Solvent Use

Oil painting has been around for centuries. Traditional oil paints first appeared in Europe in the 12th century and became very popular in the early 15th century. Oil paint is traditionally made with only linseed oil and pigment, and can be thinned with turpentine or mineral spirits, which are solvents. Unlike watercolors, acrylics and other water-based paints, which can be thinned with water, traditional oil paint must be thinned with solvents. The oil molecules in the paint can only be broken down by solvent chemicals; mixing traditional oils with water does not work because water and oil do not mix. Turpentine or odorless mineral spirits (also called white spirits) are the two solvents typical­­ly used to thin oil paint.

Turpentine is plant-based and typically de...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

Chalk Pastels vs. Oil Pastels

Nov 5, 2015 10:18:22 AM


Pastels are a great medium to explore—all you need to get started are the pastels themselves and a piece of paper. You can make beautiful scenes with pastels alone or use them to add color and detail to mixed media work. If you’ve never used pastels before, it may be hard to decide which to try first. Traditional soft pastels are dry and chalky; oil pastels are a much newer medium and act similar to oil paints.

In this post, we will look at the history and physical differences between the two pastels and highlight tips for using each type of pastel to its best advantage. Pastel artwork can be interchangeably referred to as “pastel painting” or pastel drawing. The pastel landscape pictured above is "Folly Farm" by Carolyn Wilkinson. It was made using Rembrandt Pastels on sanded pastel paper—a great example of landscape painting using soft pastels.

Soft Pastels (a.k.a Chalk Pastels)

Soft or “French” pastels are much chalkier in consistency than oil pastels.  They are made by combining dry pigments with binders and setting the formula into sticks. Kaolin clay is a popular binder for high quality artists’ pastels. When working with these pastels, it is necessary for your surface to have a...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

Choosing the Right Canvas

Dec 7, 2015 7:50:00 AM

quick guide to canvas

What is Canvas?

Canvas is fabric woven from natural or synthetic fibers. Linen and cotton are the most common materials for canvas, but technically any type of fiber can be used to create canvas. Canvas is typically stretched on a wooden frame called a stretcher and the surface of the fabric may be primed with gesso before paint is applied. Canvases became popular in 16th and 17th century Europe and slowly replaced wooden paneling as a preferred method for creating paintings. Much like choosing suitable paints, finding the proper type of canvas for your project is important!

Canvas cloth can be purchased in rolls and stretched to custom specifications, or it can be bought pre-stretched on frames of varying sizes. Most pre-stretched canvases are already primed with gesso and ready to be painted. Gesso is made with gypsum, chalk and binder. The purpose of gesso is to fill the tiny holes in the weave of the canvas and create a smooth, even surface for applying paint.

Which Canvas Should I Use?

Before selecting a canvas, you should think about what your intentions are in your painting. Pricier canvases tend to last longer because the fabric is typically higher quality and more tightly wove...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

Gouache differs from watercolor

(1.) Gouache is Thicker

Gouache has a higher ratio of pigment to binder than watercolor does. The white of the paper or other substrate will not show through the paint and change the appearance of the finished color like transparent watercolors will. Water is added to gouache to lower the viscosity and make application smoother, much like watercolor.

(2.) You Can’t Water it Down to Go Lighter

Gouache colors must be lightened by adding white gouache or pigment to lighten the hue, sort of like oil paints. Diluting gouache with water does not lighten it and make translucent in the way that regular watercolors can be lightened.

(3.) It’s Not for Tinting and Glazing

Gouache does not need to be applied in multiple layers to build up colors like with watercolor. Gouache is very opaque and flat. Watercolor can easily granulate, blossom in uneven washes and take on the textures of toothy papers. Gouache dries very evenly and cracks when applied too thickly, so most textures must be implied.

 (4.) Gouache is Flawless

Well, maybe not totally flawless. If it’s applied too thickly, the paint can crack while drying. Gouache does have a flawless color laydown. Colors look dense and true and even when th...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

"Sactuary" by Bridgette Guerzon Mills

What is Encaustic?

Encaustic is the art of painting with molten wax. This style of painting has been around for centuries and was first used to create portraits. In the 20th Century, encaustic painting regained popularity because of its vibrant colors, transparent qualities and durability. Today, encaustic artists use the medium to achieve an incredible range of mixed media effects. Encaustic is generally applied with a brush. It can be scored, molded with tools as it cools, dripped on, or fused with a blowtorch. Artists can also hide objects within the medium by using different melting and layering techniques. It is especially common to embed photos, drawings and writing between layers of encaustic.

In “Sanctuary,” the encaustic painting above, Bridgette Guerzon Mills, a Towson, Maryland artist, has fused several layers of encaustic on the left, creating a beautiful texture. On the right, she has embedded an image of birds within the layers of the wax paint. Another piece of hers, "Landscape Triptych," is pictured below. You may find more of her work at

What is the History of Encaustic Painting?

Encaustic painting first appeared in ancient Greece and the oldest s...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott
Items 6 to 10 of 14 total