Thursday, December 27, 2012

Artist Spotlight: 2012 in Review

It has been a full year of sharing artists, brush techniques, brush facts and ideas with you.  On the note of leaving 2012 behind and looking to the future, I wanted to share a brief catch up with you of "where are they now" on some of the artists we spotlighted this year.

Park and Main, in oil by Scott Gellatly
Scott Gellatly featured in Outdoor Painter magazine and several shows this past fall in Portland, OR. 

John Ross Palmer is now taking applications for the 2013 Escapist Mentorship program to take your art career to the next level. 

Hello Goodbye by William Rose
Lori McNee is teaching Still Life Painting in oils in Sun Valley, Idaho at the end of January. 

Annie Strack will be teaching a beach painting workshop in Panama City Beach, FL in January.

William Rose finished a recent commission for the William Jewell Home in Liberty, MO.

Matthew Kinsey as "Ask the Expert" from Utrecht shares wonderful painting advice on Facebook along with his own oil paintings.

Jivan Lee recently interviewed in Art Business News about working on commissions. 

To keep up with these artists and others we've featured in Artist Spotlight, you can tune into our Twitter list:

Have a wonderful New Year and we'll see you in 2013!

Keep Painting, 

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays from FM Brush

Have a Black Gold Holiday Season

However or wherever you spend your Holiday Season, have a blessed and peaceful time.   

From all of us at FM Brush

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Michael Ireland

St. Joseph Hospital, Mt. Sterling, KY
Michael Ireland, highly sought watercolorist and landscape artist, shares that when he finds a material he likes, he sticks to it.  And, so it is true with his brush collection, some of which are over 30 years old.  

Michael has found the same to be true in all of his tools, and he chooses those which serve his style, art and habits the best, in paints, surfaces, and brushes.  But, Michael also believes that the tools can only do so much, it is the passion and emotion behind them that create the art.

3 panels each 4' x 7' in process
Michael has been an artist his entire life, studying painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago under Irving Shapiro.  When he found watercolor that first year, he explains that it just overtook him, and he never looked back.  Both the dynamic and delicate nature of watercolor proves it to be tough to master, but it continues to enamor Michael and push his work to levels other watercolorists have not considered.
single panel 4'x 7' in process

His large scale works and grids of many small paintings together are unusual from a watercolorist, drawing commissions from across the nation.

It was his desire to go larger and larger as a watercolorist that led him to finding a niche in selling to hospital waiting rooms, a place that needs the transcendence his art provides.  This transcendence is not only felt when Michael's art is approached, but it is also the place he goes as an artist in the creation process:  "those moments when you don't realize you're painting anymore and something just takes over, and over time you can recognize it. . . not force it but let it in," he explains.  His art provides that hope, beauty and transcendence to something better, but also stays quiet -- waiting for the viewer, something needed in hospital waiting rooms. 

Mayo Clinic Installation
In Michael's work, he uses a variety of brushes to work quickly in washes and remove color if needed.  One of his favorites is a 3" flat sable, which is needed on his 4' x 8' panels.  The smaller 1" number 12 brushes, both flats and rounds are for the details and pulling up color if desired. 

Michael will have a show opening in May 2013 at Robert Morris University's State Street Gallery in Chicago, IL.  A large 30,000 square foot gallery to fill himself, it is sure to be a wonderful opening, showing completely new work.  To keep up with his shows and to see more of Michael's work, visit his website:  

Keep Painting, 

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

History of the Artist Brush

Handful of Black Gold brushes from Dynasty
We have very little of recorded history of the paint brush, considering that we know paintings existed from prehistoric era on the walls of caves, but we don't know exactly what tools were used to apply the paint.  It could have been twigs, feathers, fingers or human hair. 

We are, however, able to piece together a few pieces of brush history as early as the Egyptians using reeds with crushed ends.  We know, too, that by the fifteenth century, paint brushes were made with quills, using either soft hairs or bristles as Cennini describes how to make them in his book, "Il Libro dell' Arte".  Quills were used for several centuries for brushes, meaning the brushes could only be round.  Once metal ferrules were introduced, around the industrial age, brushes could take on flat and filbert shapes.  Impressionist painters were fond of the flat shape, allowing a new method of picking up and placing color on the canvas.  

At one time, too, artists hand made their own brushes, just as they ground their own pigments.  But as apothecaries took on supplying pigments, broom and other brush makers took on creating artist brushes.  Some of the first written documents of brush-makers as a trade appeared in 1785.  We know that the brush-making trade was a highly regarded vocation, with apprenticeships and unions.  Brush apprentices and brush masters are still titles in the industry, with the highest quality brushes still being made by hand.

Dynasty Brush factory
Master Brushmaker measuring for accuracy
Once small companies began to produce brushes for artists, there was a growth in the brush performance and brush quality.  European brush makers were known for creating some of the best natural brushes, with high quality bristles coming from Russia.  It has been much more recent that bristles from China are of the highest caliber.  

With the progression of technology, and concerns for the environment, synthetic hairs and the development of better synthetics has come into play in the brush making world.  These synthetics have opened the door for more affordable brushes as well as qualities in the hair that natural brushes couldn't provide.  Even the synthetics, though, are measured and placed by hand.  

For more information on the Brush Making process, you can check out this earlier post:  Look Inside the Factory

Keep Painting,

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


✦ Smith, Ray.  "The Artist's Handbook." Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York, 1987.
✦ Thompson, Daniel V. [Translation] "The Craftsman's Handbook 'Il Libro dell' Arte' Cennino d'Andrea Cennini".  Dover Publications, New York, New York, 1954.
Deutches Pinsel Und B├╝rstenmuseum (German Brush Museum)