Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Paint Brush Highlights: Black Gold or Dynasty?

the Fandango
If you're new to Dynasty brushes, made by FM Brush, you might be overwhelmed with the selection they have to offer, wondering how to choose what brushes will work for your medium and style.   Although digital media has brought us a long way from catalogues, it is quite hard to get the feel for a brush browsing online.  So, I thought I'd give you the low down on the Dynasty brush series as best I can in just one post.

There are two parent lines:  Black Gold and Dynasty. 

Black Gold, is a name that brings to mind high quality, the best quality actually.  The Black Gold line is the professional brush line from Dynasty for all mediums.  The brushes are specifically created with a combination of synthetic hairs for the finest precision, fluid well and medium control.  They come in flats, rounds, brights, filbers and shaders for the fine artist and a range of speciality shapes for decorative arts, hobbyists or even fine artists who want a change.  These specialty shapes include the Butterfly brush, which I've mentioned before, the wave brush, the wave angle and the wave filbert, the Whale's tail, the Fandango and the Fountain.  These unique shapes are patented by Dynasty, and can be found in the Black Gold line and now some in the Palmer and Duet lines. 
Watercolor Medley

The Dynasty lines of brushes range from professional to student grade.  Some are natural bristle or hair and others are synthetics.  Each brush series is made for a particular medium or use, taking into consideration the light weight of watercolor or the heavy bodied oils and acrylics.  There is even a particular line just for inks, chalks and pastels, including foam heads or angled tufts.  

Besides the natural hair of Mongolian or Kolinsky sable, there is also a faux sable, a faux Kolinsky, the only one of its kind on the market, and the faux squirrel, a delightfully soft, supple brush with an amazing ability to hold its shape.  Each synthetic brush created by Dynasty has been designed with the natural hair in mind, replicating the best features of each type of hair, protecting animals and the environment in the design.

Dynasty also creates a range of synthetics like the Orange Ice--large rounds, or the Watercolor Medley just for watercolorists.  Black Silver is another line that would work for watercolorists and then the Micron line for fine detail work.

Chunking Bristle
There are also several types of white Chunking bristle, Interboro or Beau Blanc to choose from for heavy bodied mediums. Interlock Bronze and Golden Stag would also be excellent synthetic choices for heavy bodied paints, both coming in a range of tuft shapes and sizes.

I cannot forge to mention that Dynasty has a range of Educational brushes and sets for teachers, too, including Taklon brushes, bristle brushes for tempera and camel hair brushes for lacquer work.

As you can see, the Dynasty line is vast, covering the needs and desires of any artist.  If you have questions on the lines above, please ask!  I'll share what I know and find out the answers if I don't.

You can see images and information on the whole Dynasty brush line at the website:  Dynastybrush.com

Keep Painting,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Franco Colavecchia

Backdrop for "Toad Hall", Toronto, acrylic and gouache on paper
Act III "Werther", Philadelphia Opera, acrylic and gouache on paper
Franco Colavecchia has had a career spanning over fifty five years as a designer for Opera and theatre.  His interest in painting led him to art school at Lincoln College of Art and St. Martins College of Art before he began pursing stage design at Wimbledon College of Art in the UK.

Franco began his career back stage as part of the crew and moved quickly to becoming a designer for American national opera houses and a highly sought university instructor.  Throughout his teaching and designing, Franco painted portraits, interiors and scenes from his life as much as he could. Even now, in his 70's Franco says he is still learning so much as a painter.

Many of his pieces for theatre were painted in acrylics, inks and gouache as those dry quickly for fast rendering.  For the portraits he does currently, however, Franco leans towards the water soluble oils, which lend themselves well to oil painting techniques without the fuss of solvents.  Franco's style is to draw with the paint, so there is not much underpainting. . . He just dives into the figure.  This also means that his primary tool, the brush, becomes his drawing tool as well as his painting tool.

Franco at work in his Providence Studio, 2012, photography by Raber Umphenhour
There are hundreds of brushes in all shapes and sizes in Franco's studio loft-- large bristle brushes and round sables, fan brushes for hair and small brights for details.  He keeps a large polyester brush on hand for priming surfaces or laying in backgrounds, and keeps all brushes beyond the normal wear and tear.  He has had some brushes since the 70's, taking care to wash them regularly, several times during a painting session, actually with water and mild soap.    "Sometimes those stiff bristle brushes that are worn down do well for painting hair, sometimes even an old toothbrush will work," says Franco.  He knows that every brush has its place in a studio, new ones for fine work and older ones for underpainting or rough textures.

Franco's most current portrait series, photography by Raber Umphenhour
For painting portraits, he likes to use small brights, angulars, and flats as they create the shadows and face shapes in his signature style.  These brushes tend to be either synthetic or sable as it is important they hold their shape and keep their sharp edge to give the detail and line that Franco needs in his work.  He chooses his brushes visually, by the length of the handle primarily, to give him the distance he needs from his work.  Stepping back from a large painting is a necessity to get the perspective he wants.  Franco believes in purchasing quality brushes handfuls at a time; he keeps his studio well stocked so that he always has what he needs on hand.  Even though Franco's work calls for specific brushes at certain times, he isn't afraid to try something new in his work and allow the tools to lead the way.

To see more of Franco's work or to keep up with the archiving of his renderings, you can "like" him on Facebook:  Colavecchia Studios or MOSDO: The Museu of Scenographic Design Online

Keep Painting,

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fine Art Brush Tips: The Ferrule

Interlock Bronze Series
We have discussed the brush handle, so lets move up to the ferrule. . . likely the second part of the brush that an artist checks when purchasing. 

Many of us tug or twist the ferrule in the store to see if it is tightly clamped onto the handle.  Over time, using a brush, washing it, and leaving it in water or solvent can loosen the ferrule's grip on the handle, or loosen the hairs in the ferrule.  So, it is an automatic maneuver to look for tightly clamped ferrules.

Like handles or the hairs used in making a brush, there is a hierarchy of brush ferrule quality.  Cheaper brushes will have ferrules made of tin or aluminum.  Better quality ferrules are brass or copper alloy ferrules that are nickel or chrome plated.  These ferrules have the best adhesion to wooden handles, and you can note, too, if that adhesion is double or triple crimped to the wooden handle providing even more sturdiness.  

To keep your ferrules in good condition, wash brushes properly after use and dry thoroughly, preferably hanging upside down so that water does not sit down in the hairs against the ferrule.  This will keep the tuft solidly in the ferrule and the ferrule solidly attached to the handle.  To read more about cleaning brushes properly, you can find my take in this previous post:  Cleaning Fine Art Brushes.

Take note that Dynasty's Black Gold series uses the highest quality ferrules for this fine line, providing the artist with durability at a fair price.  To see the ferrules for yourself, visit a store near you.

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Andrea Pramuk

Tree of Life
Andrea Pramuk started painting at the early age of 2.  As the child of an art professor father, she was absorbed into art openings, slide lectures, studios, and life drawing classes.  To keep her occupied so that he could paint, Andrea's father gave her a brush, paint and paper at an easel.  She went on to study art in high school before receiving her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and then MFA from University of Texas at Austin.

Now, Andrea is a full time artist working in a range of media, but she is also a full time marketing director for Ampersand Art Supply, a company that produces wood panels for artists.  Considering that Andrea is fully submersed in the art materials world, working with artists and creating her own work, she knows a bit about brushes and which ones are suitable for each medium.  

Andrea, age 2 at the easel
Andrea's work is mixed media, she says it is out of necessity because one kind of paint can not always express her ideas because she works in such ethereal subject matter.  She blends watercolors, alcohol inks, oil paint and encaustic wax as well as cold wax on Claybord™.  Sometimes in her process, in fact quite often, her brush never touches the surface, but still, Andrea says that quality brushes can make or break a painting.  In her work, she needs brushes that hold a lot of water, since her paintings start with puddles of floating pigment.  "Having a tight point helps to disperse the paint in swirls into the water drops,"  she explains. "There is no excuse to use a brush whose hair is not properly secured inside the ferrule, as stray hairs falling into the painting can ruin a work in progress."  As well when using oils, it is important to have a brush with the right shape so that brushstrokes either appear or disappear as the work requires. 

Call me Baby
Currently, Andrea is using synthetic watercolor brushes, mostly large rounds.  For her oil work, she leans towards natural bristle brushes in flats or extra fine sables for detail work.  She says that a mop brush is necessary for a watercolor artist and natural bristles will give an oil painter more control releasing paint.  Andrea shares, "Buy quality when it comes to the tools for your art.  A properly cared for brush will last a lifetime and easily make you a better painter."  I couldn't have said it better myself. 

To see more of Andrea's work, visit her website, www.andreapramuk.com or her shop on Etsy.

Keep Painting, 

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fine Art Brush Tips: Synthetic or Natural?

Faux Squirrel Series
It is a long time debate whether or not synthetic brushes or natural hair brushes are better to use.  If you're a traditionalist, you likely lean towards only the best natural hairs as that is what the masters used in ages past.  However, with nylon technology as advanced as it is, there is likely a synthetic brush that will compare to the natural hairs out there and meet the expectations of vegans everywhere.

Natural hairs are known for their capacity to hold a lot of fluid, due to the flags on the hairs, the taper, the length of the taper and the type of animal. Replicating these hairs has become an art in itself.  Synthetic hairs are made from nylon that has been etched by acid. High quality synthetics are created consistently, but not every manufacturer of synthetics creates equally.  In order to get the best quality synthetics, Dynasty has been doing business with some of its nylon vendors since 1935.  

A good synthetic brush is made from several types of synthetic nylon fibers to replicate the attributes of natural hairs -- specifically natural hairs of one animal at a time.  For example, the Faux Squirrel line that Dynasty creates holds the color and fluid that squirrel hair is known for and yet still holds its shape over time. A brush built like this can last for years if care is taken to clean it well after each use. 

To see more of Dynasty's synthetic lines, visit their website Brush Wizard or take a look at these previous blog posts:  Faux Kolinsky, Faux Squirrel.

Keep Painting,

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

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Lori McNee

Days End, Encaustic, 4" x 6"
Lori McNee has been named "Twitter Powerhouse" by the Huffington Post, she is ranked as one of the Top 100 most powerful women on Twitter, and her presence on social media sites and the blogosphere is astounding so it is a wonder that Lori has not only time to paint, but has an active career selling her work through several galleries.  The social media interest and popularity came along quite by accident explains Lori, but the painting has been around since she was a child. 

Lori has always been painting, trying to capture nature on paper since she couldn't actually catch the birds that flew into her yard as a little girl.  Her drawing developed more with some guidance in high school and college, but painting was frustrating as academia pushed her towards abstraction as her preference was always traditional realism.  So, Lori pursued her interest in realism on her own, looking for artists whose work she admired and following their workshops.  Over the years, along with cultivating her studies through books and DVDs, Lori has developed her own style and following as an artist, and she still works nature as her primary subject.

Silver Creek Sunrise, Oil Panel 36" x 36"
Lori has explored many mediums over the years, working in acrylics for a while, oil painting for years and just beginning to explore encaustics.  Much of her work is nature and still life, inspired by the Dutch Masters and Tonalists, as well as many other impressionist and contemporary artists.  Her work reflects her love of nature, calm peaceful settings with small animals, and her experienced hand brings the draws the viewer into her world.

Three Wishes, encaustic, 16" x 10"
Her work requires good tools, good brushes, which she has spent quite a bit of money on over the years.  For the most part, Lori says that the natural bristle brushes, in brights, rounds and flats are the workhorses of her studio.  Even working in oils, she uses the rounds for details at the end and sometimes switches to Kolinsky sable for this work.  Lori finds that long handled brushes give her bigger strokes during the main painting and the short handled brushes are better for the fine details.  Of course, Lori recommends keeping the brushes used for one medium separate from the others, as oils and acrylics work the brushes differently, so they need different cleaning and could taint the paint if moved from one to the other.  She also recommends purchasing good tools, checking to make sure that the ferrule is secure to the handle.  "Take proper care and they will last," she explains.  Investing in good tools for the long run will mean less frustration in the painting process, having brushes that hold and move the paint as your style allows.   

To learn more about Lori and her social media tips, log on to her blog, where you can also see her links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Google Plus.  To see more of Lori's artwork or to purchase, find out more on her website

Keep Painting,

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Art Material Conventions

This winter Dynasty went to a few trade shows, among them Creativeworld, formerly known as Paperworld in Frankfurt, Germany.
Creativeworld booth in Frankfurt, Germany
Creativeworld is held for four days in Germany every year and largely attended by industry professionals from all over the world.  To give you an idea of the scale of the show, think ten exhibition halls!  Distributors and retailers "shop" the exhibition looking for products to sell.  The booths are all kinds of paper, craft and fine art products as well as office supplies.  FM Brush has been attending now for 14 years. 

Dynasty's leaders attended Creativeworld, you can learn more about the family and their roles on the Leadership page.  And, I'll share a bit more about them in the upcoming months, a family oriented business, truly. 

Sitting in the back of this photo below is Abe Grossman, the managing director of FM Brush, Thailand, and he has an amazing resume of brush experience spanning over 60 years. 
Black Silver Assortments, the 4900a, which is a new decorative painting line, and the Faux Kolinsky display in front.
At this show in particular, Dynasty shared its new brush, the Faux Kolinsky as well as a new line added to the Black Silver series, the 4900a.  The Faux Kolinsky has completed the series of synthetic hair brushes, being the final brush that replicates all of the major fine hairs used in painting.

Dynasty's participation at these shows keeps the company current on what artists are using, what they need and what other companies are putting out there so they can collaborate and expand. It also gives Dynasty the chance to get more brushes into the stores that are selling to you, the fine artist. 

If you have a question about where to purchase Dynasty Brushes, please ask or check out the Purchasing page on our website:  Where to Buy

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Artist Spotlight: John Ross Palmer

Piece from the Escapism Series
"Art, for me, is a healing process.  Just as the healing process is not easy, neither is true appreciation of abstract art.  I call my style of work Escapism.  It is created and seeks to assist both me and the collector to leave behind life’s challenges, to enjoy the now and rejoice in the blessings you have.   I want the viewer to get lost in my art—just as I do.  Escapism is not only my art style, it is also the name given to my life mission of destroying the stereotype of the struggling artist.  Through talent and hard work, artists can thrive and achieve financial success."  ~John Ross Palmer

John Ross Palmer, a Houston artist with his own gallery, and an uncanny knack for business is thriving to say the least.  He is thriving as an artist, author, mentor and founder of the Escapism movement in art.  John began painting to work through the grieving process of losing his father suddenly in 1998.  At that time, he had no idea that he would be so successful and have such a full career.  
John originally began working in acrylics, but has incorporated everything into his art, from enamel, wood, metal and neon.  He also uses egg tempera, which is rare as an abstract artist.  But, it is apparent that John believes in creating art based on the need of the venue and his need of expression, so the right materials for each project will differ from the last.

His work requires high quality tools, too, not only for the size that John works in, but also for the pressure he puts on his equipment.  "I put a tremendous amount of pressure on the base (canvas or wood).  I cannot paint on pre-stretched canvas because of the strength behind each brushstroke might bust the canvas.  My brushstrokes, in their strength, reveal the confidence I have in creating each of my pieces,"  explains John.  It is clear that he requires tough brushes, made for expressing his powerful strokes.

He says that having a first class brush is paramount to the success of the project.  For new artists, John recommends trying out a range of brushes, and not fearing changing brushes depending on the project or scale.  He also recommends consulting other artists and mentors and ask for their advice on materials.  

Mural work in progress
To see more of John's work, his videos, and to learn about the Escapist Mentor-ship program, log on to his website at www.johnpalmerart.com

Keep Painting, 

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