Thursday, December 29, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Christine Mercer-Vernon

Skull: horse, 19" x 25" charcoal on mounted paper
Christine Mercer-Vernon works in several mediums and has over the years evolved her process and her materials due to her subject matter.  Currently she works in oils, but also draws quite a bit with charcoal.  She finds oils to meet the depth and level of realism she likes to attain in her pieces, especially as they are a forgiving medium allowing the artist to rework the paint. 

For many artists, their brush collections are endless, they choose the right brush for the right moment on the canvas.  Christine feels similar about her collection, which are stored in a glass vase near her work space for ease.  She primarily uses soft red sables over bristles, because of the feel against the panels she uses.  Sometimes the underpainting is done with a bristle and then the sable is turned to for the control it offers in her technique.  Christine says that in this year, however, she has begun to try other animal hair brushes.
Bone, 16" x 20" oil on panel mounted on birch
"Each brush has something to offer an artist, as even those that seem worn out can be frayed to smooth out strokes or blend egdes," Christine says.  She keeps the worn down brushes to work small or large areas in this manner of blending so that her work stays soft. 

Christine's advice for brush buyers is to experiment with a variety of brush types and hairs that are less expensive to determine the style that handles well for that medium.  Then, invest in more pricey brushes that will perform better.  Ask other artists about their working methods and brush techniques as well. 

Christine's partial brush collection
You can find Christine online quite a bit as she works in the wee hours as a graphic designer, but to get to know her work better, visit her website or her blog

Keep Painting!

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cleaning artist brushes: How to clean paint brushes so they will last

Thoughtful brush care will keep your brushes in good condition for years.  I’ve written out a few tips on cleaning brushes that have kept my most precious brushes in shape for over twenty years. 
First rule and the most important:  Cleanse brushes immediately after use and keep acrylic brushes moist when using them.
Cleaning brushes ultimately depends on what medium one is using.  With water based paints, cleaning is more simple.  Rinsing well with luke warm or cool water first, to remove as much paint as possible.  Then, use a light cleanser, even dish washing liquid or shampoo will work.  I even use Murphy's Oil soap on occasion.  It conditions the brush a bit and the oil coats the brush so that it doesn’t retain the pigment the next time it is used.  There are many other options for manufactured brush cleaners as well and some of these even will work to remove built up, dried on acrylic paint.  Once the brush has been cleansed and rinsed well again, reshape the bristles with your fingers and dry laying down flat or hanging upside down if possible.   Standing on end is okay, but water sitting down in the ferrule isn't ideal.
To remove oil paints, rinse well in the solvent used for thinning, such as turpentine or mineral spirits.  Then dry as much as possible with a paper towel to remove the solvent before using a cleanser.  Once again, use a light cleanser with water to finish removing all of the solvent.  If you are adverse to using a solvent for rinsing, try removing the pigment with a vegetable oil first.  (Don’t wash it down the drain of your sink, however.)  Once the oil has removed the oil color in your brush, then use a cleanser to remove the oil.
Some inks can dry in the brush and be resolved the next time the brush is used in the ink, if the ink is a shellac-based product.  Water based inks should be treated like water media in cleaning the brush.
From time to time you may also use hair conditioner in your brush to keep it supple and to prevent paint from sticking to the bristles.  It is possible to reshape a brush if the tuft has been bent by washing and drying carefully.  Rinse well, use a light cleanser and reshape the brush by hand.  Then use newspaper wrapped around the tuft in the shape you want the brush to hold and keep in place with a rubber band.  Allow the brush to dry completely before removing the newspaper.
There will come a time to purchase new brushes because the bristles have worn down or because paint has built up in the old brushes; and an artist can really never have enough brushes anyway.  But keeping your brush supply in good, clean condition will make for better painting results.

To shop for some new brushes, check out the Dynasty Purchasing Page.

Keep Painting,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays from Dynasty

As the New Year opens, we look forward to sharing more artist techniques and highlights for you as well as hearing from you about your own artwork.  Join us here on our blog, on our Facebook Page, on our Twitter profile and for our monthly newsletters for lots of Dynasty news.

However you celebrate, whether with family and friends around food filled table or working hard in your studio, wherever you are, Dynasty Brush wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What is a Sable Brush?

Kolonok exhibit in the Musuem of Zoology, St. Petersburg

      The sable brushes we know and use today are actually made from a breed of weasel, found in cold weather climates, where the hair grows thick and long, about 3-4 cm in length. The Kolinsky sable is named for the area Kola in Russia where they are found. The Kolinsky in particular animal is reddish in color, hence “red sable” being another common name for the brush type.  Long hair from the animal’s tail, due to long hard winters in the Siberian climate create the finest watercolor brushes available.    Because the hair is hard to obtain, it is incredibly expensive, and not all sable brushes are created equally.  Some are a combination of sables, and others might contain another type of animal hair, like squirrel or badger. 
      What makes the sable hair so perfect for the painter is that the hairs are shaped like a barrel with a wide belly and they taper to a fine point.  When put together in a ferrule and wetted out, they come together in a point that holds water and pigment beautifully.  The sable brush is perfect for watercolor artists for this reason, but can also be used by other water media, like acrylic detail or even egg tempera.  Sable brushes are not ideal for heavy bodied paints because they are soft and sensitive to solvents, which can dry them out.
      Dynasty has a true Kolinsky sable, a Mongolian Sable and a new brush released earlier this year, the faux Kolinsky watercolor brush.  This faux brush has taken over a year to develop, to get the right blend of proper synthetics.  It is not available anywhere else and its performance is very close to a real sable.  The brush is made with the Kolinsky brush sizing and a seamless nickel ferrule as well as a traditional satin black Albata handle.  Dynasty has a committment to produce products that are ecologically responsible and this brush is a fine example.
     To read more about these brushes specifically, you can view the Dynasty Website or check out earlier blog posts.

Keep Painting,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Lori Woodward Simmons

View from the Trail, 12" x 12"
     Lori Woodward Simmons, a published author and watercolorist splits her time between the coasts, painting plein air, writing and teaching workshops.  She works in watercolor because of their ease for plein air and their drying time.  A palette filled with pigment, half a dozen sheets of cold press paper, water and her two brushes all fit snuggly in a backpack for a trek out to the desserts of Arizona or the hillsides of New Hampshire.

Peonies, 18" x 14"
     Lori’s choice in brushes stems from the qualities that she needs as a watercolorist.  She uses only two brushes, a round number six Kolinsky sable and a synthetic number 2.  She says that with a Kolinsky sable, the brush will hold water and pigment better than a synthetic.  Applying the brush to the paper, the paint will be released in a stream; the more pressure applied, the more paint is released from the hairs.  The Kolinsky also holds a fine point so Lori can use the round for a range of textures and washes in her work.  The smaller synthetic number 2 is used for fine lines and details, giving Lori’s work the depth and realism many artists long for. 

     Besides working in her own studio and plein air, she is a published author for several national art magazines as well as co-authored the book “Watercolor Step by Step”.

Cathedral Peak, 8" x 10"
     She paints with the Putney Painters, mentored by Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik and teaches her own workshops.

      To find out more about Lori and her work, you may visit her website:

Keep Painting, Karyn 

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