Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paint Brush Highlights: Ink, Pastel and Chalk

IPC series
Besides touring the factory and creating some brush videos, I was able to sample loads of brushes at FM when I visited this week.  One of the series I tried for the first time was the IPC, or Ink, Pastel and Chalk series.  This series is unique for many reasons.  

First, there are several types of tufts, hairs, or even sponges in the series, as well as several sizes of those types of tufts.  For your personal preference and style, the brushes can be interchanged for blending, layering, softening or detailing.  Although I'm not normally a pastel artist, I found these blending tools so appealing that I started thinking of working in charcoal again.  The angle bristle fan would also work quite well with oil pastel or oil bar, as well as the fine tipped pointed blenders.  The deer foot blenders are soft mongolian sable hair, working well with the light pigments in soft pastels and the large goat hair could work as an overall mop blender. There are three sizes each of the pointed blenders and the oval blenders, created from a soft blend of synthetic fibers, similar to a fine sable.  Good for removing pigment or creating soft highlights are the foam ovals and small detailers. 

These tools are great for those who want to touch up work and keep their fingers clean, too.  The possibilities for using blending tools are limitless, especially for mixed media work, dry brushing, watercolor pencils or ink pencils.  Pick up a few and share with us how you're using them.  If you need to find a place to purchase near you, check out Where to Buy on our website.

Keep Painting, 

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Look Inside the Factory: Brushmaking

Kolinsky Sable hair, very expensive and high quality
Ferrules, ready and waiting
Pony hair, long and soft
Yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the actual brush making factory in Glendale, New York.  Although I would like to work in the office there, I live in upstate New York and had yet to see where the brushes were made.  Later in the week, I will share more about brushmaking itself, but today, I thought I'd share some closeups of the process and the materials used in making these quality brushes.  

What is amazing about the factory is how many hand made brushes are put out on a daily basis, not just the Dynasty line, but also the cosmetic brushes that FM Brush builds-- think 30,000.  There are stacks of inventoried handles, hair and ferrules, waiting to be built into brushes.  This factory, along with the sister Thailand factory assemble brushes, though the hairs may come from anywhere in the world.  FM uses high quality hair and synthetics in making their brushes, so many of these will be imported from Europe or Asia.  The hair is sold by weight, and distributed in tight round packages.  

Black Goat Hair, sold by weight
Squirrel hair brush heads
Canister of Dynasty Gold Nylon brushes, great for students
Brush makers, some which have been making brushes for over 35 years, create brushes by hand.  They place hairs into the ferrules, mix hairs to get the right blend for a specific type of brush, stamp handles, adhere the ferrules onto the brushes, ship, pack or trim.  In each step, there is quality control to check the last process done on the brush.  There are so many steps to making a high quality hand made brush. 

I was able to sample so many different types of brushes; to play with them and some paint gave me a deeper understanding of how hair types effect the final piece.  I could easily feel the differences between the white bristle brushes, or the synthetic hair brushes for oils.  I look forward to sharing all these details with you in the upcoming weeks, we will compare synthetic hairs and look at the differences in brush shapes and types.

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Frank Serrano

Ledbetter Beach
Morning Shimmer
Summer Cottonwoods
Surf Point Fermi
“Painting on location enriches my life... and the paintings do not exist as mere pictures, but as a journal through which I can express all my senses.” ~Frank Serrano

Early Morning at Abalone Cove
Frank Serrano is a largely self taught landscape and seascape artist, spending his plein air time primarily on the west coast beaches and deserts.  His signature style is retrieving the atmospheric beauty of the landscape and capturing it on canvas.

Someone who has always had a paintbrush in hand, Serrano moved from commercial art into traditional oil painting in the early 90s and has since gained an international following for not only his work, but also his workshops.  Serrano's own self instruction naturally makes him an understanding and easy to follow instructor, both passionate about the work itself and sharing it with others.  I was lucky enough to get to experience his teaching myself a few years back when I worked on a DVD with him in Colorado.  Watching him paint was an experience in itself, but his instruction drew me into the work and landscape even more.  It is a powerful learning experience to watch another artist "see".

Serrano's belief is that constant painting and painting from life will make a person a better artist.  He lives by this, as he is found outdoors most days working on his studies and creating larger pieces in his studio.  Serrano also acutely observes other artists and learns from their choices how to effectively create better art.  In fact, he noticed what other artists chose for their materials early on, whether good or bad.  Seeing this, he recommends that artists use the best materials they can afford. For him, that means linen primed panels and high quality paints and brushes.  

Since Serrano primarily works outdoors, oil paints give him the drying time that works for the weather and heat on the California coast.  He chooses his brushes accordingly, finding flat bristle brushes in #4 or #6 to be his primary tools.  For very large pieces,  he uses house brushes to lay in gesso and block in shapes, since this work is hard on brushes.  There is some scrubbing to work the paint into the rough linen, but once the underpainting is complete, Serrano moves on to work with flat bristle brushes and sometimes a sable for detail.  

As far a special brush technique for Serrano, it all comes back to that constant painting he stresses.  "[It] is a feeling when I paint, painting the landscape, everything from the foliage to the rocks has a different approach," he explains.  Since he is more of a realist than impressionist, he wants something as close as it can be to how it is formed in nature. 

Frank has a published book on plein air in oils, Plein Air Painting in Oils, as well two DVDs on painting landscapes, details on his website:

Keep Painting, 

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dynasty Duets: Fine Art Brush Demonstration

Full Line of Duets
Back in January, Dynasty came out with two new brush lines, available at select Michaels Stores.  I have shared a few posts with you on the Palmer line, a brush that I personally love for its comfort and size.   Today, I wanted to share more about the Duets brushes.  These are incredibly unique, dual ended brushes.

The brushes come in a range of shapes for different uses as you can see here.  Each brush tuft is made from synthetic hairs, sometimes a combination, and each line within the line has been created for specific mediums.  The Tango, with its longer hairs is ideal for watercolor, silk painting or even pastel. 
The Fox Trot works well with heavier bodied paints like oils and acrylics, but can do watercolor, too.  The Salsa is the most versatile with options for patented Dynasty tufts, like the Fountain or the whales' tail. 

Shar Sosh has demonstrated a few projects for Dynasty, and travels often to trade shows to showcase these brushes live.  Here she shares how the Duets can enhance your work as an artist. 

For more information and videos specifically on the Duets line, visit the Dynasty website:

Keep Painting,

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Scott Bennett

Wild Sunflowers, 31" x 41", acrylic on canvas
"At it's best, Art draws us in, holds us in aesthetic arrest, and moves us. We are not always ready for this. Science, Religion and Art are, ultimately, different ways to get to the same place. I believe that all great art speaks past itself and it's superficial appearances, but that it is also the plain and simple appearance that somehow launches it beyond itself. That is part of its mystery." ~Scott Bennett, 2011

Scott Bennett is an artist with a wide spread ability to paint exquisite realist biological specimens and also heavy textured abstract landscapes.  His practice may come from years of working with the variable acrylic medium, yet his abilities with watercolor and numerous subjects keeps his work ever evolving and always enchanting.

Han's Garden, 44.5" x 35" , acrylic on canvas
It was evident from a young age that Scott was an artist, though he didn't know at the time exactly which venue to pursue.  He always had pastels and paper in hand, attended Syracuse University School of Art with an art major in mind, and yet still didn't know which aspect of art intrigued him the most.  He considered illustration, and with his life long love of carnivorous plants, it would make sense to combine the two.  However, he was dabbling in special effects makeup, video and all sorts of painting, but primarily watercolor.  With numerous friends moving into acrylics, Scott found them to be a natural medium and the versatility they gave him has held his interest since. 

Pinguicula Gypsicola, watercolor
As an evolving painter, Scott has not always used traditional brushes or even traditional tools in his painting.  He has been known to use a lot of knives and spreading tools, large sqeegees and even house painting brushes to cover the larger canvases he works on, especially in acrylic pieces.  Yet, when it comes to details, Scott leans to bristle brushes, springy, square flats that hold heavy paint.  He determines his brush choices with acrylics based on the density of the paint itself, finding that the softer brushes work well with lighter paints.  The paint will determine the brush type, giving the artist the most control over the work, the most flow from the tuft without having to bear down.  Even brushes worn down can be useful, though, as they work hard for pushing paint into a thickly woven canvas. 

With the delicate watercolors and biological illustrations, Scott tends to use quality synthetic brushes for his work, finding that springy, flat or round brushes work best for his style.  The thoughtful work requires a steady hand and pointed brush, that holds its shape.  Even if Scott works in acrylics, or creates studies for his landscapes, he uses fine watercolor brushes with acrylic washes.  Soft haired brushes, synthetics like the Faux Kolinsky or Faux Squirrel have tapered bellies made to hold the fluid and give the artist ultimate control over the work. 

Nepenthes x mixta, watercolor
In Scott's work, having both control and selection is important.  To start a piece with a house painting brush and allow it to move in its own direction, finalizing with careful details at the end is what gives Scott's work it's depth, or in the case of of watercolors, it's realism. 

To get to know Scott better or see more of Scott's work, check out his website or his work on

Keep Painting,

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fine Art Books: Brushwork Essentials

Available from North Light
There aren't too many books out there specifically on brushes, though there are multiple great books on art materials with chapters on brushes and even more books on using brushes. This book published by North Light recently came to my attention and I have to say I'm quite impressed.  The artist and author, Mark Christopher Weber, is phenomenally talented as you can see from his art throughout the book, but it is the lessons he shares in the book that highlight his skill as a true master with the brush.

He covers the basics of brush care and quality, noting how to choose high quality brushes for the style and medium.  Since Weber focuses on oil painting, he directs the book in that light, using brushes with stiffer bristles or synthetic hair to hold heavier bodied paint.  However, his lessons would work well for acrylic artists, too.

Weber shares how to load paint, make different strokes with a brush, and create paintings with softer atmospheric effects or heavy emotional movements.  He explains how the brushwork is essentially the heart of the piece, and how using brushes correctly will improve artwork with practice and thoughtfulness.  Weber wraps up the book going through specific projects step by step, outlining all of the materials and showing process photographs.

If you are looking for a user friendly, well illustrated book on how to become a better painter with your brushwork, this is the book for you.

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Matthew Kinsey

Seated Figure with Wine Glass, oil on canvas, 2011
Matthew Kinsey is a realist painter specializing in still lifes and figurative work.  His pieces have graced numerous private collections and shows across the continent, garnering commissions along the way.

With over 20 years of painting, study, and art material research to his credit, Matthew Kinsey became the principle representative behind  the "Ask the Experts" program at Utrecht Art Supplies when it began.  He has been a technical Q&A guru with Utrecht, one of Dynasty's many fabulous dealers, since 2004.  He is continuing to keep his knowledge base deep by studying conservation, paint chemistry, and toxicology reports.  Matthew's work with Utrecht is a broad range of material insight designed to help artists get a grasp on the tools they are using and get to know what other materials could advance their art.

In light of that, Matthew shares his thoughts on brushes.   Since Matthew works in oils, he prefers the stiff bristles of hog hair.  His soft touch in his work comes from using filberts, which tend not to have the hard lines that flats or brights might leave in a painting.  Using a synthetic rigger for details and fluid applications, Matthew controls the paint more carefully to finish a piece.  As Matthew portrays in his own style, he recommends to new artists to use large brushes for good coverage, loading the bristles with color so that there is less wear on the brush and smoother strokes on the painting.  He suggests purchasing the best brushes one can afford and many in each favorite size, and he is a stickler for oil soaps for cleaning.
Still life with Pomegranates, oil on canvas, 2011
With Matthew's extensive work as both an artist and technical expert, he has sage advice for new artists.  "Understand the difference between taking criticism personally and taking it seriously.  It's impossible not to be effected emotionally by rejection and criticism, but don't let disappointment keep you from benefiting from the experience." 

To get to know Matthew's work even better, visit his website:

Keep Painting, 

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

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time to hear from you!

some of my brushes
I've been posting now for four months about brushes, artists and the Dynasty lines.  I have been able to get to know a few of you through comments here and on our social media channels, and I've looked over many of your websites and blogs to get to know you better.  However, I certainly don't know you and your art as well as I'd like.

I would like to open the door for you to post here and link to your site so I can see your work and ask or share your thoughts on brushes, all kinds.  In the upcoming months I will be looking for new artists to feature here, write to me so I know you're out there!

Recently, we've added Artist pages on the Dynasty website, linking to all of the artists currently partnered with Dynasty, using the brushes and teaching others.  I will be featuring some of these artists in upcoming posts and linking to projects that they have created.  I have also added a "Featured Artists" link at the top of the blog so that you can always find a list of those artists that are here on the site and a few upcoming. 

Squared, acrylic 2009, one of my pieces
Am I covering the brush basics for you?  There is a long way to go in talking brushes, Zora Pinney could have attested to that as well as Abe Grossman, who has been in the brush business for 60+ years.  So, I have lots more to share with you about the technical side of brushes.  But is there something in particular you'd like to know?  Send me a comment or question, so I know what is on your mind.

Lastly, you may also be wondering what makes me qualified to write such a blog or how I've met the artists on here that I've interviewed.  Certainly you can read about my start here at Dynasty, but feel free to post questions about me and the artists mentioned here as well.  Many of these artists are easy to reach through their own webpages, but you can certainly write to me if you are looking to touch base with any of them.

Basically --It is time to hear from you!

Keep Painting,