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.