Search This Blog


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Artist Resources: Pigments in Art Materials

"Indian pigments" by Dan Brady -
Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 
Pigments are small particles used to color and tint materials such as paint, cosmetics or textiles.  They can be created from organic materials, such as  minerals like iron oxides.  These were some of the first pigments used in the earliest cave paintings, and they are still used today.  Pigments are also now synthetically made to give us more brilliant colors, like Prussian blue, which was discovered by accident in 1704.  The industrial revolution brought about many more developments in synthetic pigments, for both manufacturing and art.  There are too many wonderful stories about the history of pigments for me to write about here, but if you're interested, I have listed books about them below.

Pigments are usually chosen for their high tinting strength relative to the material they are coloring.  Pigments differ from dyes in that they are insoluble in the vehicle they are coloring, whereas dyes are soluble, or they dissolve in the vehicle.  For art and many commercial applications such as fabric coloration and car manufacturing, it is ideal for pigments to be permanent.  Pigments that are not permanent are called fugitive.  

In paint-making, pigments are combined with a binder and a vehicle to create a medium.  Before the invention of paint tubes, artists used to always make their own paint, purchasing pigments and supplies from local alchemists.  These days, pigments can be purchased individually for artists that want to make their own paint or pastels, at the sellers listed below.  
"From prehistory through to the present, paint has been defined simply as pigment -- a range of colors in a finely powdered state (from inorganic, natural organic, and synthetic sources) -- in conjunction with a binding medium (such as wax, egg, casein, oil, acrylic resin, or gum arabic) to hold the pigment and fix it to a support.  The binding media affect the paints' handling and provide diverse effects.  For instance, oil, acylic, and wax bring out the depth and intensity of the pigments, imparting them with a different color quality than they have in the dry state, whereas casein and gum arabic have little visual effect on the pigment colors." pg. 102, Krug.
Chrome Orange
Pigments are identified on tubes of paint or individual pastels by their ID numbers, such as PO: 21.  The "P" meaning Pigment, the "O" meaning Orange and the 21 is the number of the pigment in the international database.  PO21 is Chrome Orange, which can be used on it's own to make a single pigment paint or it can be combined with other pigments to form variations on the hue.

There are so many fine art resources to find out more technical information about pigments and how they are used in paint and pastel making; I've listed many below, but feel free to share other links in the comments for me to add.

Technical and Chemical Information:
Pigment Sellers
Books & Videos
How It's Made did a feature on Pigments a few years back:

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.


  • Krug, Margaret.  An Artist's Handbook:  Materials and Techniques.  Laurence King Publishing, London. 2007.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

New Storefront for Artist Brushstrokes

Long handled Black Gold line
One of the most frequently asked questions we get, both nationally and internationally is "Where can I buy these?"  

Well, the answer is here:  Artist Brushstrokes.

You can find a lot of our brushes in retailers across the United States and Canada, in Europe and Australia, both in brick and mortar stores and online.  The full listing is in this blog post:  Where to Buy.  

However, sometimes, you just want to glance through the full line and pick and choose which brushes you need.  F.M. Brush doesn't sell directly to the artist, but shopping through Artist Brushstrokes is a close second as they carry almost the full line of Dynasty brushes and a huge selection of shapes and sizes. 

Golden Stag
Recently, they updated their website and have a beautiful new storefront for your perusal, making it easy to see the full line and select what you need.

Some of the side benefits of the new site are paying with Amazon or Paypal, gift registry and wishlist, ease of shipping with UPS, FedEx or USPS, free shipping on orders over $75 AND. . . they ship globally!!!

So, if you're wondering where to purchase Dynasty Brushes, Artist Brushstrokes is a great place to look.  Take a peek and let us know what you're painting with our brushes!

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Melynda Van Zee

"About 10 years ago when I was writing my first art book, Tammy Browning-Smith connected me with Dynasty during CHA and Dynasty graciously sent me some brushes to experiment with. I've been using those brushes ever since." ~Melynda Van Zee

Melynda Van Zee
Resonance, 40" X 30"

Iowa artist, Melynda Van Zee knew she was an artist at a very young age.  Like many professional artists, she has fond memories of her first times at the easel.  "I do remember my love of painting in Kindergarten. . . the excitement I felt when my name finally appeared on the black chalkboard written under the heading of "ART", meaning I could spend recess at the art easel," she shares.  It was this excitement for art that pushed Melynda to continue drawing and painting throughout school and into adulthood.

Germination 48" x 36"
Throughout her art journey, Melynda has taken the time to get to know art materials and various mediums, and with teaching art, she has learned and experimented with a multitude of paints, drawing materials and craft supplies.  The experience has given her a deep understanding of the range of quality in materials and the need to use the best quality for the best results, as well as an appreciation for which materials would suit her fine art. Melynda explains further, "The thing is with having taught art for so many years in so many different contexts, I've experimented and used art supplies at all ranges of the quality and price spectrum.  I know the challenges and the limitations of materials that are not of the highest quality.  When I do my own work, I want the piece to sing.  I want it to flow out of me.  I want the experience to be pleasurable.  I want to see colors and lines that sparkle with life so choice of materials is an important part of my process of creating.  I am a firm believer in using the highest quality art materials in my personal work.  Professional quality artist paints have rich pigment loads resulting in the vibrant colors I love.  I think investing in quality brushes is money well spent -- your strokes are strong and crisp when you have a good brush and the brushes last for such a long time, even with hard use.  Most of the Dynasty Black Gold brushes I currently use, I have had for over ten years."  

Portal, 20"x 20"
As an art teacher, Melynda has enjoyed everything in art from scrapbooking, stenciling and mural work to fine art.  In the process, she wrote a book, "Painted Scrapbook Pages" which was the very beginning of Melynda's colorful technique of blending and expression.  As she experimented, her work gradually became larger, and she moved to acrylics for their versatility and brilliance.  "I believe in the process of experimenting and playing with paint, texture, line, movement and color.  Setting aside specific time slots and giving myself permission to experiment and play helped me to grow into my style and develop a body of my own fine art work," she explains.

Melinda regularly shows her work at art fairs and group shows.  You can keep up with her exhibition schedule by following her website and Facebook Page, or find her on Twitter.  

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.