Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Keith Sluder

The Black Lagoon
California artist Keith Sluder began his artist training in an intense illustration education in the early 60's through Boeing, Inc., who screened young artists to enter their program for advertising and marketing.  Through the company's training, he was able to study everything from isometric drawing to airbrush photo retouching, and since everything was done by hand, Keith perfected realism.  When Boeing's contract ran out, General Dynamics in San Diego brought in the artists as their illustrators.  Keith's realism training continued as he learned the skills to create realistic images, like glass, rubber, and metal.  

With a love of realism and the skills to match in his pocket, Keith developed his own portfolio and opened a gallery in La Mesa in 1977.  Working with Bernard Fiello, an agent, he quickly gained international recognition and opened another successful gallery in Orange County.  After building up a reputable collector base, Keith moved out on his own, to test his marketing skills and experiment with more media.  He gained an audience in Hollywood, with a show at Westbrook Gallery and has continued relationships with collectors from that show since.
The Power of the Surf

During the successful gallery sales, Keith began experimenting with other media besides the oils and watercolors he had worked in.  He wanted to take his realism further and get more translucency in his work by painting with egg tempera.  He added acrylics, matte acrylic, ink, casein and gouache to his repertoire.  Along with the oils and water media, Keith also enjoys pastels and graphite.  Now, with a Design degree from ITT, he is applying not only the technical practice he learned at Boeing, but also the Principles and Elements of Design to create better work.

Keith came to his current style, Magic Realism, after studying work by some of his own favorite artists, Andrew Wyeth, Rudy Devina and Robert Vickery.  They were all incredible technical artists but they also brought deep emotion into their work.  Keith was drawn to experimenting even more with his materials and realism.  He wanted to show a touch of fantasy with his realism, to make the work stand out as a painting rather than a photograph.  Keith shares that he wanted to reach the emotional part of the painting and have the subject relate to an experience for the viewer.  He would spend hours experimenting with the right view and right materials to achieve that goal.
Timeless Beauty
White Magic

In all of Keith's experimentation, he works with different lines of quality materials, including Black Gold brushes for his work, primarily, the 206 series rounds and the small flats for details.  Since Keith works mostly in water media, he likes that the brushes hold up well, keep their edge or point and the flat wash is great for skies.  Currently, he is also working with the wave brush to instruct his students in painting fur and hair, as well as grass or distant trees.  

Besides giving lecturers and demonstrations regularly, Keith also teaches around the country at several large expos and conventions each year.  This coming year, he will be at the Society of Decorative Painters Conference in May and at the Annual Artist Expo in Houston in July.  To find out more about Keith's work and workshops, check out his site, chock- full of info at:

Keep Painting, 

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baby Elephant paints a self portrait

Jeff Mink with Jan Chai in November
In November 2013, FM Brush Thailand went to the Maetaman Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand and met Jan Chai ( Shining Moon), a four year old Asian female elephant. Her Mahout (caregiver), Mr. Noi Rakehang told us she loves to paint. We created a brush that Shining Moon can use to create a self portrait. Art in it's purist form.

See the teaser of this event below.  We will be releasing more details and full footage soon!

Keep Painting, 

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Hanukkah & Thanksgiving!

Keep yourself grounded during all the bustle this week and paint a little, but enjoy the holiday season with your families and friends.

Have a wonderful and safe Hanukkah and Thanksgiving week from all of us at Dynasty Brush.

Keep Painting, 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Free Arts NYC

It is encouraging to know where your money goes when you purchase a product, and doubly great when you know it goes to charity.  Free Arts NYC is an organization that FM Brush, Inc. supports with in-kind donations.  Your brush purchases make it possible for us to continue to give to art programs for under served children.  Thank you for your patronage. 

Free Arts NYC provides under-served children and families with a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programs that help them to foster the self-confidence and resiliency needed to realize their fullest potential.

Free Arts NYC was founded in 1997 by Executive Director Liz Hopfan and is modeled after the original Los Angeles-based Free Arts, which Liz volunteered for while living in California and working as a teacher. The Los Angeles organization was founded 25 years ago by Art Therapist, Elda Unger, who initially worked with children from group homes at her home studio. She encouraged other artists to offer similar programs, which eventually led to the recruitment and training of volunteers to lead ongoing art-making groups.

The high quality of programming is defined by the focus on the human relationship as primary change agent. There are over 2,000 volunteers recruited annually to ensure that the mentor-to-child ratio never exceeds 1:3. This is because they know the difference a supportive adult makes in the development of a child.

Across schools, homeless shelters and social service agencies, the 5 core arts education and mentoring programs are brought free of cost directly to participants. All programs focus on developing specific social, emotional and creative problem-solving skills that combat the intrinsic challenges found living below the poverty line.

To catch a glimpse of the volunteer work and projects, please enjoy a video from this year's events below.

Free Arts NYC 2013 from Free Arts NYC on Vimeo.

For more information on how to give, fundraise or volunteer, refer to the Free Arts NYC newly redesigned website:

Keep Painting, 

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Mary Beth Kushner

Urban Landscape, 24" x 48"
Believe the Impossible, 12" x 36"
"I tend to use a lot of fan brushes; however, I often use palette knives,recycled canvas, and sponges to apply paint, various texturing and gel or gloss mediums.  I have found that fan brushes allow me to control the mediums I use a bit better.  I really go with how the paints flows in the moment – I may try 4-5 different types of brushes in a span of 5 minutes if things just don’t feel right." ~Mary Beth Kushner

Needle in the Haystack, 24" x 48"
Self taught Rochester artist, Mary Beth Kushner works from a place of the here and now, feeling her way through the art work and letting the materials give her inspiration.  She began her career in art on the road to recovery from a serious illness, that left her unable to participate in the sports she normally enjoyed.  After a suggestion from her mom, Mary Beth naturally fell into painting, finding that the process allowed her to move in a whole new way.  

With a childhood near Rochester, New York and living over a decade in Baltimore, Maryland, Mary Beth's work reflects the gritty architecture and textural feel of the places she has experienced, not to mention the flow of the sports she grew up playing.  "The most recent series I am knee deep in is inspired by everyday buildings, the feel of cities, it is allowing me to further experiment with mixed media and perspective when drawing or painting a building or cityscape," she explains.  

Where Dreams Are Made, 24" x 48"
"Because I have no formal training, I really go by feel.  Specifically, how do I feel in that moment; how will a particular type of material impact the feeling of the piece.  I really just follow my gut in hopes of creating a sense of movement or freedom while at the same time a calmness and effortless flow in each piece.  The materials allow me a great deal of experimentation and happy accidents.  I have found I gravitate towards texture, whether it be a texturing medium or recycling/found objects, such as nails, torn canvas, tissue paper, street signs, broken glass tiles, etc.  This texture allows me to create depth in each piece; it allows the piece to literally create itself right in front of me.  Again, the materials allow me to enjoy the process of creation and experimentation, but my goal is that each time a person views one of my pieces, they will notice something different depending on the angle or lighting." 

Besides her work as an artist, Mary Beth is a full time Occupational Therapist at a local hospital in Rochester.  Along with her surroundings in urban life and the flowing movement of being an athlete, her career as a therapist and healer also influences her work.  Much of her work has words of inspiration sprinkled in, for those she encourages daily.  "I think the passion I have as a therapist shines through in the pieces I create; much like painting, occupational therapy is all about the process -- there is always an end goal, but you have to get through the 'weeds' to get there."

Mary Beth is also a Manhattan Arts International Artist, where you can see more of her work:  To keep up with Mary Beth's work and gallery openings, you can also find her online at

Keep Painting,

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Paint Brush Highlights: the Smartbrush™

The Smartbrush™ is a pull apart brush that works with touchscreen devices, tablets and smart phones.  It is created with special fibers that are conductive, making them recognizable by capacitive screens.  Smooth metal handle and casing makes it light and comfortable to hold, yet sturdy.  The tuft is a soft round that easily moves on the surface of a tablet.  

This brush is meant for drawing and painting digitally, to work without the stickiness or drag of finger tips.  Even when using apps that aren't specifically drawing, the brush works as a stylus to keep your device clean.  Using a Smartbrush is the best way to paint and sketch on an iPad.  

You can find the Smartbrush™ now online at Amazon sold by Artist Brushstrokes or through Alvin & Company.  It would be a perfect stocking stuffer for the upcoming holiday season.  

There are hundreds of drawing and sketching applications to scratch your digital itch.  I enjoy ArtStudio, Brushes, Touch Paint and Inkflow, which is more of a notebook application.  Let us know which ones are your favorites.  Post a comment below with your favorite drawing or painting app and a link to some of your work.

Keep Painting,

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Elynne Rosenfeld

Spirit Abundance, 30" x 40",
acrylic and glass beads
"My work exists to connect with others in contemplation, affirmation, peace and spirit. It is there to help any and all who wish to engage in its energy. It is not static, but invites interaction. Changing with the light, it moves through various conditions imparting different messages at different times. It's purpose is to remind us of what is too huge to fathom and too miniscule to see." ~Elynne Rosenfeld
Closeup of Spirit Abundance

Pennsylvania artist, Elynne Rosenfeld, creates majestic mixed media paintings, with a very unique combination of materials.  From her own artistic journey and personal experience, Elynne came to jewelry making and took her love of beads into her paintings.  With her natural affinity for detail, Elynne's works invite the viewer into the painting field to experience the piece from different vantage points, up close, and also far away.  Each piece is intricately woven with layers of color and glass, designed precisely to create a subject that flows effortlessly on the canvas.

Elynne began her art studies at Rice, when the fine art program was just beginning.  She had encouraging professors backing her style and talent, and she realized at that young age that she could pursue art as a life calling.  

At the time, she found her niche in acrylics being that they were the primary medium used in undergrad.  Even after some experimentation in oils during and after grad school, she found her way back to acrylics because of their diversity and ever changing technology.  "The medium has come a very long way, with all kinds of gels that produce effects once only possible with oils, and even effects beyond what oil allowed.  I like to build up a surface in my painting, and find it interesting to experiment with the technology as it evolves," she explains.  "Also, the gels facilitate adhestion to canvas," which Elynne uses faithfully adding her glass and bead work.   She also uses interference paint, which changes colors when viewing the work from a different angle.  "The advantage of this is that the resulting pieces are quite interactive in person."  
Bridge, 30" x 40", acrylic and beach glass

Elynne's underpaintings call for larger flats, rounds and filbert brush shapes, which shows as the larger subject seen from a distance.  However, when up close and personal with the work, it is evident that the paintings have incredible detail, layers of tiny spirals.  For this work, Elynne is using small script brushes, sometimes as small as a 10/0.  

Closeup of Bridge
Although Elynne's primary focus is now on abstraction, she has moved throughout the range of subject matter in her career, taking the time to work figuratively and at various levels of abstraction.  "I believe in the essence of things as opposed to the thing itself.  By that I mean that the inherent message in a well done artwork transcends its subject matter.  At times, I am able to express better through abandoning the obvious image," she says.

The advantage to viewing Elynne's work in person is to catch the pieces' movement and interaction, the detail, and the reflective color.  It means to see her talent for the subject matter captured exquisitely in brilliant acrylic and glass.  Right now her work is on exhibit at the Clubhouse at Regatta in Norristown, PA up through November 3rd.  On November 15, for one night only her work will be featured in a fundraising event, "Looking Out For Kids",  at Salus University, Elkins Park, PA to benefit children with eyecare needs.  

To follow Elynne's work online, you can visit her website for current works and news or find her on the Manhattan Arts International website:

Keep Painting, 

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Artist Resources: Ink

Ink has been around as a tool for artists and writers since before 2000 BC, a material that scientists have been able to evaluate because of its permanence and one of the reasons artists are drawn to it today.

Carbon and Iron Gall ink are two of the earliest known inks with recipes deriving from natural plant and animal life.  Carbon ink is created from burnt wood or bones, mixed with animal glue.  Carbon doesn't fade over time and isn't harmful to the paper, however it might smudge in humid environments, even if it is on an old document.  Iron Gall ink is created from iron salts and the oak galls found on many species of oak trees.  It goes on blue-black and dries to a brown. Because of its acidity, iron gall ink can damage paper long term.  Conservators have different methods of handling the problems each type of ancient ink brings to the field.   

Today, fine art ink can be made from many different ingredients, the goal of which is to create a liquid or paste substance with brilliant color, rapid drying, water resistance and permanence. Inks are either pigment or dye based for their color.  Pigments are solid, opaque or transparent particles suspended or dispersed in a liquid; whereas, dyes dissolve in the liquid vehicle.

IPC line
Inks are also manufactured in various liquid vehicles, like acrylic resins, shellac or alcohol.  Each manufacturing company also adds ingredients such as waxes and driers to augment the ink's properties even further.  Acrylic inks have wonderful permanence and lightfastness and they mix well with water.  Shellac based inks can be either pigment or dye based and may or may not be mixable with water, but they have brilliant color and some water resistance.  Alcohol inks are dye based inks, and are often used in markers for their fluidity.

Dynasty offers artists a line of brushes created specifically for ink artists, the IPC line, with several shapes and tufts that are unusual, unique for the medium.  The IPC line can be used for application, blending or texturing.  However, if you're using inks to color your drawings or scratchboard art or as part of mixed media work, you will likely prefer a soft brush line, like the Faux Kolinsky or the speciality brushes in Black Gold.  

Shadows and Tall Trees, 5" x 3.5",
Alcohol ink on Claybord by
Andrea Pramuk
Featured Artist Andrea Pramuk uses inks quite frequently in her work.  Much of her work is a mix of alcohol inks and cold wax.  She has been using the larger Black Gold rounds for years because of their ability to hold a lot of fluid for her soft abstract pieces.

If you're interested in working with ink, choose the type of ink you'd like to try before choosing a brush.  Whether the ink is pigment or dye based, shellac or acrylic based will alter the brush you choose.  How you decide to apply the ink will also help you find the correct brush.

If you already work in inks and would like to share your art with us, please do so!  We always love hearing from our artists.

Keep Painting,

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Art that Lifts our Spirits Winner: Anne Schwartz

Vesuvius Erupted 216, 33" x 33", oil on canvas
Manhattan Arts International is one of several art organizations that Dynasty Brush, Inc. supports and sponsors.  In their latest online art competition, Manhattan Arts called for works that are uplifting.  "The Art that Lifts our Spirits" online gallery is now on view with the winners exhibited at the top of the webpage.  As a sponsor of the competition, Dynasty had the honor of choosing a winner from the selection of finalists for a brush prize package, and we chose Anne Schwartz's work, Vesuvius Erupted 216.

Manhattan Arts International is an organization created to provide resources for artists, exhibition opportunities and information about the international art community.  Each year they present juried exhibitions in order to provide all artists with career opportunities and advancement. As a result, thousands of artists from around the world have received exposure, publicity, and awards for their art work.  You can read more about their organization through their website or blog.

Tyrhennian Sea 200, 40" x 36", oil
When the exhibition opened for Dynasty to choose a winner, Anne's work stood out amongst the rest.  It was clearly an uplifting work, designed with thought and skill and a powerful use of color.  Not only was I thrilled to send Anne her $200 prize package of brushes, including Interboros, Interlock Bronze and Faux Squirrel, but I wanted to interview her to ask about her work and process.
Capri's Faraglioni 219, 33" x 36", oil on canvas

Anne found out about the competition through Renee Philips and her eNewsletter on Manhattan Arts International.  Anne doesn't normally enter competitions but felt that her work clearly exuded the principle points that the contest required.  

Anne started her formal work as an artist doing jewelry design, with a successful international business.  After taking some time out of work for family, she felt that painting would be a better calling when she returned.  With her background in design, her current works show an exceptional understanding of both design and color as well as texture.  The above work, Vesuvius Erupted 216, is part of a larger series entitled "Ricordi D'Italia" because of Anne's love for Italy.  Throughout the series, Anne works from photographs she has taken, doing realistic underpaintings in acrylics.  When she is pleased with the "drawing", she abstracts the work in oils on top, leaving bits and pieces showing of the original work underneath.  She finds the challenge to be in the abstraction rather than capturing the landscape in a representational painting.  Most of Anne's brushwork then is in the underpainting, though often she'll use whatever tool is necessary for the oil painting portion on top.  She primarily uses a lot of angle brushes, large flats, in natural bristle.  However, Anne was thrilled to find a Dynasty Wave Brush in the package she received for her award because she is looking forward to trying a new shape.  
Approaching Murano 220, 31" x 35", oil on canvas

If you'd like to see Anne's work in person, she will be part of a show, Geometric Horizons at Artspace Warehouse in Los Angeles this October.  To see Anne's full Ricordi D'Italia series, check out her work on her website:

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Painting Tutorial: Watercolor Painting with Annie Strack

Annie Strack is still one of the busiest artists I have ever met, and yet she has taken some time out to share with us some helpful tips on watercolor painting. 

Here’s a little beach painting that I did today, using only one brush – my #20 Faux Squirrel from Dynasty. That might sound like a big brush to use on a painting that is only 8x10, but this brush holds a fine point which enables me to paint small details while it holds lots of water and pigment.

The first step of this painting was to sketch in the horizon line and the water lines, and apply masking fluid to the area that I wanted to preserve white for the surf. Then I painted the sky wet into wet, using indigo and Payne’s grey to depict a stormy sky.
While it was still wet, I used a paper towel to blot out some clouds and then used my finger to drag some of the paint between the horizon and the clouds at a slight angle, to give the impression of wind-blown rain.

After the sky is dry, I began to paint the water using the same colors as I used for the sky. To help give it the look of stormy weather, I apply the paint unevenly to give the water a choppy effect.

In some areas I added even more indigo, especially around the masking fluid so that I would have strong contrasts of values that would direct the focus of the composition through the painting.

While the water area is still damp, I paint the beach area with sepia and yellow ochre, and distant hill with hookers green, ochre, sepia, and indigo. I let the colors mix and mingle on the wet paper to create the grayed-down impression of a distant green hill, and let a little of the color run and blend into the water and sand area to soften the edges.

When the entire painting has dried I removed the masking fluid to reveal the white surf of the waves, and I use a little indigo to soften and break up a few of the spots that are too starkly white.

And finally, here is my finished painting of a beach in the rain. Any day at the beach is a good day. Even if it’s raining.

To learn more about watercolor painting, you can take a workshop with Annie or find her teaching online classes with Artists Network.  Here is just a sample of Annie's teaching, from her most recent DVD, "Painting Seascapes in Watercolor".

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

Friday, September 13, 2013

Manufacturing Paint Brushes in Asia

FM Brush Thailand, Jeff Mink in yellow

FM Brush, Inc. is the parent company of Dynasty, and the manufacturer of the artist brushes I've been discussing here on the blog over the past few years.  Early last year, I took you on a brush factory tour of the facility in Glendale, NY.  However, there is a second facility for FM Brush in northern Thailand near Chiang Mai, about an hour away from the Elephant Hospital.  Here, FM Brush creates brushes and brush parts for exporting internationally, everything from formulating the brush tufts to crafting and painting the handles.  The northern part of Thailand has seen much economic growth since the mid 1980's and it is here that FM Brush, Inc. decided to land and build, for both the personality of the people and the benefit to having a second manufacturer internationally.

The Kingdom of Thailand, previously known as Siam, is located in Southeast Asia and is the second oldest monarchy in the world, ruled by King Rama IX.  It is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the monarch acts as head of state within a constitution.  Thailand is known as the "land of smiles" and according to Jeff Mink, VP at FM Brush and chief innovator, this is exceptionally true.  He says that "the people are wonderful", it is what one walks away knowing.  

The northern region, where FM Thailand is located has long been known for the citizens' crafting ability.  The Thai people here are skilled in working with their hands, an essential element in building brushes.  FM Brush found a home here where the Thai government has supported, endorsed and promoted the business because of its exceptional standards of labor.  In return, the Thai people that come to work at FM Brush come to stay, some have been with us for more than 25 years.  

Black Silver by Dynasty
In order to have quality control over the entire manufacturing process of our brushes, Thailand was an ideal choice for a second factory.  FM Brush owns the land, the building and the business in Thailand, so they have been able to make the manufacturing a "western factory" with air conditioning and a full cafeteria for the employees.  Not only are the labor standards high, but the brush quality in Thailand is high, too, competing with the best brushes that we produce here in America.  For example, the Black Silver line is completely built in Thailand along with many of the canister brushes in our stock.  

Thanks to our work in Thailand, FM Brush, Inc. has the ability to control more of our own manufacturing, export more brushes and fuel more conventions with an international presence.

For more information and product details about FM Brush Thailand, you can visit their website at:

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Karen Vernon

The Collection, watercolor,  22" x 30"
Back Porch Treasures, 20" x 16", watercolor
Texas artist, Karen Vernon, is well known internationally for her watercolors, oils, acrylics and pastels.  Her work hangs in museum, private and corporate collections around the world.  Though Karen works in several mediums, she teaches mostly in watercolors with a deep understanding of how the medium works, how the pigments react with one another and how different brands interact.  To study watercolor under Karen Vernon is to get to know watercolor intimately, but also to get to know one's drive as an artist intimately.  Karen believes it is essential for those who create to do so and those who don't create to have art in their lives.  This philosophy is reflected in her work and in the gallery she owns with artist husband, Ken Muenzenmayer.  Part of the gallery's mission is to give viewers a chance to get away and enjoy the work.  "Relax and take in the colors and textures of masterfully executed artwork.  The Gallery at Round Top offers you the opportunity to experience the journey that art brings to the soul."

Karen began teaching watercolor because she was intrigued with the pigment's luminosity and exploring her own process in finding the hues' intensity.  She has also found in her own work and in teaching that moving from watercolor to another medium is a natural process; whereas, starting in something else and moving to watercolor is much more difficult.  Watercolor gives Karen the transparent effects to reproduce light, the essence of her work.  She manipulates the pigments the way light works and honors what the pigments do on the surface of her paintings.  

Along the Trail, 20" x 16", oil
In choosing her pigments, as in choosing all of her materials, Karen believes that skimping can cause problems and frustration.  "Good materials enable you to learn more quickly and struggle less, " she explains.  Karen paints on Aquabord™, a wood panel with a textured clay surface, intended for watermedia.  She chooses her brushes with just as much thought as she picks her pigments, looking for ones that won't compete with her surface. Working primarily with synthetic and natural blends, Karen uses a range of shapes, from rounds, to small flats to cat's tongue.  She uses Kolinsky sable quite a bit for her own work due to it's softness, but teaches students with less expensive brushes so they can learn the medium before investing in natural hair brushes.  Her brushes need to have balance in the handle, bounce in the hair and something with a good ferrule, something like a Faux Squirrel.  They need to work with her, so she can pull out color, scumble and move the pigment and get into the painting "zone."  

Hidden Gifts, 40"x60", watercolor
Karen started studying art in the 2nd grade, and with an artistic family on her father's side, she was supported in studying art in college, earning a BFA.  But it was in her thirties when she decided to stop painting as a hobby and make it a career.  She filled out her learning with business and marketing classes, and has found herself not only a successfully selling artist and often sold out art instructor, but the owner of a busy gallery as well.

Karen teaches workshops regularly across the country and will be at the Art of the Carolinas in November.  You can find a detailed schedule on her website or follow her gallery at The Gallery at Round Top.  

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Survey on your Paint Brushes

Do you have a few moments to tell us about your current paint brushes?  We are always striving to make better products.  This very short survey will give you an anonymous chance to share your opinions with us.  

Please feel free to share with other artists as well.  We would love to have a range of feedback and understanding about brushes in the art community and what is needed to improve them or to create new ones.

Thank you for your time.

Brush Survey

Keep Painting, 

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Nilda Rodriguez

"The Rose"
Nilda Rosa Rodriguez has always been interested in painting and drawing, making her family sit for portraits when she was young.  Her favorite gift as a child was a new box of crayons.  When her family was stationed in Columbus, Georgia, a friend invited Nilda to a Tole painting class and she never looked back.

Since then, Nilda has tried her hand at oils and colored pencil, as well as continuing to work in acrylics.  She also teaches her own workshops in her home studio and online in addition to traveling with and teaching for the Society of Decorative Painters.  Nilda makes painting attainable for anyone, as you can see in this sample video of her work below.  In her classes, Nilda instructs students on the challenges of painting glass, fabric, metal and florals.  She uses a range of detail brushes, including the Dynasty Black Gold line, in particular the chisel blender seen below.  

To see more of Nilda's own work and check out her workshop schedule, log on to her website:

Keep Painting,

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Paint Brush Highlights: Black Gold Hat Trick

There are several brush shapes that Dynasty holds the patent for, including the versatile wave brush.  Most of these shapes lie within the Black Gold line, our premier brushes created with a synthetic tuft.  The Hat Trick shape grew out of the wave, having three points in each brush.  Within the Hat Trick shape, there are three versions:  three equally level points, one with the middle point lower than the outer two, and one with the middle point higher than the outer two.  The brush was named to pay homage to the hockey enthusiasts' of Canada: when a player scores three goals in a one game, it's referred to as a Hat Trick.  

These brushes make it easy to load multiple colors, or to create texture and movement in a painting.   They would also be ideal for pointillism artists, working in either fluid acrylics, gouache or ink.  With the Black Gold line, any of the shapes work great removing color in watercolor work as they are full of spring and hold their shape incredibly well.  Can you imagine the water reflections that could be created with this brush?  

Take a look at the work of Irena Mehldau from her Facebook Page.  She was sampling the Hat Trick line to create these florals.  Irena is a wonderful instructor of One Stroke and often features Dynasty Brushes in her videos and on her Facebook Page, not to mention selling them in Germany.  Thank you Irena for all of your Dynasty support!

Keep Painting, 

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paint Brush Highlights: Mastadon

For a whole different set of reasons, the Mastadon line is my new favorite.  

The Mastodon line was named for the elephant to pay tribute to the animal that has such importance in Northern Thailand where FM Thailand is located.  That's also why we are donating part of the profits from this brush to the Friends of the Asian Elephant, an organization dedicated to promoting conservation for elephants and providing treatments, rehabilitation and rescue for sick, injured and maltreated elephants.  Led by Soraida Salwala, the organization's mission is to help and cure elephants which are injured or suffering from disease and illness.  At the FAE hospital they receive the most professional and dignified treatment.  Since its inception, they have treated over 2000 cases. 

The Mastodon brush line is made from a strong extra durable blend of synthetic, unique to Dynasty/FM and blended by us in our FM Thailand factory.  The feel and and strength is most similar to the Interlock Bronze line, but it is a different blend.  The brush features matte gold seamless ferrules and clear acrylic short handles.  It works quite well with fluid acrylics and tempera and would be an ideal classroom brush.  These brushes are made to take abuse and still perform as needed as they hold their shape incredibly well.  If you're the type of artist who is wanting to branch out and try other brush shapes, this is the ideal way to start.  These brushes come in a huge range of shapes, many that are patented to FM Brush alone.  Take some out for a test drive and supper the Friends of the Asian Elephant while you're at it.

Take a glimpse below at the work FAE accomplishes helping elephant victims of land mines.

Keep Painting,

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

Artist Resources: Paint Types

Artists paint is a multi-part system made up of pigment, binder, solvent and additives. In some instances, this is a simple mixture with few ingredients and with other paints, it is incredibly more complicated with many ingredients. Many paints also have fillers to add bulk and reduce the pigment load thus reducing cost and sometimes quality.  Many different additives may be used to encourage specific working properties or performance attributes of the paint.  Each type of paint, manufactured by many companies all over the world, will  have features that differentiate it from one brand to the next.  Although it is usually safe to mix brands of the same types of paints when painting, sometimes it isn't recommended depending on the application or technique.

Most paints are colored with pigments, but not all pigments are created equal.  Pigments range in chemistry, particle size, transparency, lightfastness and stability, therefore each type of paint has to be formulated to suit the unique properties of a pigment in order to be compatible with other paints of that medium and remain stable.  
Each type of paint is different enough to require different needs from a brush.  Some mediums can benefit from the same brush however. An example is that often a watercolor brush will work quite well for egg tempera or casein. However, an artist's application and technique with a medium will alter what brush works best for their style.

Acrylic paint is one of the more complicated paints to manufacture.  It is created with pigment and a water-bourne acrylic binder (water-bourne is the technical term for what we more often refer to as “water based”) (Most often acrylics remain the same hue going from wet to dry, unlike other paints this is not true). Acrylics offer more options than any other paint medium with a great variety of additives, extenders and mediums that the artist can use to alter the attributes of the paint. Acrylics also allow the greatest range of applications from very thick impastos to very watery washes and stains on just about any substrate.  Acrylics might just be the only paint that works well with both natural bristle brushes like Inteboro and with synthetics, like Interlock Bronze.  However, since acrylics range in their viscosity from fluid to heavy body, it is up to the artist to choose what works best.

Oil paint 
in its purest form is simply pigment with linseed oil. Many modern oils include additives like dryers, resins and waxes.  Oil paints tend to have a smooth, buttery working consistency and they take a long time to dry, giving an artist long working time with blending or painting in the studio or outside, (in plein air).  Linseed oil can be used to make glazes with the oil paints to paint in transparent layers.  Solvents, like mineral spirits or turpentine must be used to clean brushes.  Oil painters usually prefer to work with natural bristle brushes for laying in color or working impasto (wet in wet), however, small, very soft Mongolian sable brushes work quite well for blending.  

Water miscible (soluble) oils are a newer paint to the market.  Although they are also made with pigment and linseed oil or alkyd binder, they can be thinned with water and cleaned up with water.  Different brands of water miscible oils vary greatly in formulation, so be cautious when combining brands. 

Watercolor is generally made with pigment and gum arabic. Some water colors include dyes as colorants which may be less lightfast than pure pigmented colors.  Fine watercolor is translucent, each pigment chosen is picked for its ability to transmit brilliant color, yet remain transparent when dry.    Watercolorists use brushes that hold a lot of fluid when painting, like the Faux Squirrel series.  

Gouache is similar to watercolor in chemistry, but the pigments are opaque.  Some gouache also include a secondary binder such as an acrylic. Gouache has been most often used in commercial art and illustration for its brilliance.  Some brands also add chalk and other fillers to the formula to reduce cost, and this will affect the product's look and feel.  Gouache that have no secondary binders are reworkable on the painting surface while wet and when just dry to the touch.

Alkyd is most similar to oil paint in working properties and chemistry, however, it dries much faster than traditional oil paints.  Some alkyds also dry with a matte finish. They generally clean up with mineral spirits much like oil paints.

Casein is made with pigment and milk protein and dries to a durable matte finish.  Like gouache, casein is re-workable on the surface, and great for illustration.  Casein is also compatible with oils, acrylics and shellac for under paintings and use on furniture. Casien tends to remain brittle so use caution on flexible substrates such as paper or canvas.

Egg Tempera uses egg protein to bind the pigment to the substrate.  It is one of the oldest known paints still in common use today, because of its permanency and brilliance.  Egg tempera is not found in tubes in the art store, but rather, artists make it in their studios daily before use with egg yolk and pigment.  

Ink can come in several forms; there are acrylic, alcohol and shellac based inks.  The color in some inks are often soluble dyes, rather than pigments, and therefore not as permanent or lightfast.  Acrylic inks are more often pigmented and waterborne, a safer choice for long lasting fine art.  Alcohol inks are pigments in alcohol and quite versatile with other mediums.  

Encaustic is composed of pigment, damar resin and beeswax.  It is painted on while warm and cools to a soft glossy, yet durable finish.  It can be reworked by reheating the surface at any time.  Easily buffed to a shine, encaustic does not need to be varnished, and it is compatible with many other mediums.  

To learn more about each type of paint, it is best to read the material and MSDS sheets on the manufacturer's website of the brand you are using.   The brands linked in this post have some excellent resources on their websites, but they are not the only brands manufacturing these types of paints.  Look around for the varieties of paints available.  

This is just the wet paint media.  Pastels, both soft and oil are also painting media.  We'll talk about those in upcoming posts.  

Keep Painting

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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Glenn Brill

"Once you are committed to making the best image you can make, using the best art materials is the only choice you have. It is no different than other professions. In order to get the best results you need the best materials." --Glenn Brill

International painter and art material technical expert, Glenn Brill grew up knowing he wanted to be an artist.  He was the chosen one in elementary school to paint posters for "safety week" and opted to work visually versus textually when it came to school assignments in junior high.  But, it was college, working on his BFA after already receiving a degree in psychology that Glenn started considering himself an artist.  

Glenn notes that while in art school, both undergraduate and graduate, there was no serious discussion about art materials from his professors.  Upon entering the workforce at Landfall Press in Chicago as an assistant printer in lithography, Glenn had his first experience with professional artists and print shops commitment to materials.  "Indeed, I remember Claus Oldenburg going around the print shop with a light meter to determine the exact area he would set up to draw on the stones. Later when I worked at Tamarind Institute I was able to collaborate with many artists as their printer. I was fortunate to work with Francoise Gilot, who was Picasso's last mistress. We had many discussions of color and materials. Discussions of materials were common place at Tamarind. Indeed, it was expected to only use the best materials," Glenn explains.

Around 1992 I began to work with art material companies, first in education, then in product testing and development. It was then that I truly began my education, investigation and understanding of the best art materials and how they are made. Since then I have been able work directly with the manufacturers of paint, paper, brushes, drawing materials, and canvas."

With Glenn's passion for good materials, and a deeper understanding than most artists of what he is using by way of materials, Glenn has chosen to primarily work in oils, acrylic and printmaking, producing a range of artwork from three dimensional abstract work, to monotypes, to sequential landscapes.  When he is choosing to work with a brush, Glenn prefers the natural bristle for most techniques, the Mongoose (similar to the Mongolian Sable) when the natural bristle is too stiff and the sable (like the Faux Kolinsky) for fine detail.  He shares that the stiffness and spring are important to his work, and the size of the brush is primarily dependent on the size of the painting itself as well as where he is in the process of the piece.  

Glenn's style and technique are quite unique and beautifully noteworthy, something he attributes to his surroundings and his own "art making personality".  "I am not quite sure how I have come to my personal style.  I believe your style finds you, you do not find your style.  In other words, we all see space, color, form, a certain way.  I look back at my images over the past 40 years and while the imagery might change, my use of color and space is still the same," he says.  Glenn tends to look to other artists work as a way to see how they solved problems he is going through, but also how to develop his work in new mediums.  As with many other artists, Glenn's surroundings give him the subject matter, which he might focus on for a few years or several decades.  Most recently, his work has been the landscape imagery he experiences living part-time in Brittany, France.

Besides his work as a full time artist and technical art material consultant, Glenn teaches workshops and manages the educational programs for both Gamblin Artist Colors and Strathmore Artist Papers.  To catch one of the workshops, you can find out more information by emailing him through his website:

Keep Painting, 

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