A Jerry's Online Street Team Art Project with Vincent Giarrano

Professional oil painter Vincent Giarrano uses Charvin Extra Fine Oil Colors in this impressive project!

In our Artist Spotlight post about Vincent Giarrano, we learned about this award-winning oil painter and his background, and admired a selection of his atmospheric oil paintings of city life.

In this post, Vincent guides us step-by-step through the creation of one of his luminous still life paintings, explaining his process as we go. So settle in, and watch a master oil painter at work!


"Lobster with Bowl of Apples," a Charvin Oil Painting by Vincent Giarrano


  • I start by putting on a ground; paint thinned with turpentine. I use a brush and then wipe it around just lightly. I like a sort of a warm earth tone, usually ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.


  • With the same mixture I sketch out my subject. It's more of a plan than a tight rendering. Through the painting process I know it'll be changed or lost. It's enough of a guide that I can concentrate on my shapes of color instead of the subject as a whole.


  • Depending on my subject, I choose something to start with. In this case the background; that way I have a better sense of relating the rest of the painting to something correctly. It's also the furthest thing back, so I'm getting logical placement of one thing in front of another. For this painting I used a new medium; Charvin Extra Fine Painting Medium.


  • My process for this painting is to finish as I go. I concentrate on painting things only once, however if something is wrong I can always change it. I overpaint shapes slightly so I don't wind up with gaps between color notes.


  • I paint some of the table next so as to take advantage of working wet into wet with the background. Next I move onto the apples for the same reason and also because I'm still working from back to front.


  • I'm concentrating on keeping my color notes clean and also painterly, so I use as few brush strokes as possible; one or two and then back to my paint palette.


  • As I paint, I consider my edges and choose what I feel works best; hard, soft or lost edges.


  • I work on the bowl next and use thicker paint as notes go lighter in value. The basic idea is light advances and shade recedes, so this goes along with thick paint advances or is noticed more and thin paint recedes or stays back.


  • I start painting the lobster next, finishing as I go and moving left to right; the better to see and relate to what I've done, being right handed. I'm going back and forth between the red notes and the dark notes. I focus on keeping my colors clean and painting the color and shapes I see. It's important to ignore what your mind might be telling you about shapes and colors and concentrate more on what your eyes are really seeing. I finish up by painting in the table with the same things in mind.


  • Afterward I look at the piece and decide if there's anything I missed or want to change. The only thing I do is add the shape of a table leg in the background on the bottom.

Vincent Giarrano reviews the products used in this painting:

 "I liked the Raphael Oil-Primed Panel a lot, nice surface, not too rough and I didn't need to prime or sand additional layers. The Charvin Extra Fine Oil Paints were real nice, slightly finer and creamier than my usual; Gamblin, Old Holland or W&N. I liked the Charvin painting medium and noticed a glossier luster/finish than what I usually use; it has a good flow/viscosity to it. The brushes were what I like, Vermeer Classic Mongoose Hair. My favorite are the flats."


 To follow Vincent's process, watch this enlightening time-lapse video of various stages in the painting of Lobster with Bowl of Apples, and let us know what you think of his amazing artwork in the comments below!


Fine Artist Vincent Giarrano in Jerry's Artist Spotlight


Professional artist Vincent Giarrano explores city life in oil paints!

Connecticut artist Vincent Giarrano is a Contemporary Realist painter. His work is focused on creating impressions that are about real life experience. "I like my paintings to resonate as sincere moments of life," says Giarrano. Quality of light is another major aspect in Vincent's paintings. He favors cool, even light, and how it enhances the mood of his subjects, especially in his paintings of city life. Giarrano's New York City Series deals with the dynamic between people and their environment, as well as the interplay of classic and contemporary elements in this setting.

Giarrano earned a BFA from The State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Master of Fine Art from Syracuse University. His work has been show in galleries across the country, including the prestigious National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Giarrano's work has been featured on the cover of The Artist's Magazine (Oct 2011) and Southwest Art magazine (Jan 2012) and he appears regularly in American Art Collector and other art publications.


  • The Artist's Magazine 25th Annual Competition, 2008, finalist
  • Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich, CT, Faces of Winter 2008, Daniel Greene-Judge
  • The Artist's Magazine Competition, 2007
  • Salon International, Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio, TX, 2007
  • RayMar's Online Competition, 2005-2006
  • Salon International, Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio, TX, 2006
  • Salon International, Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio, TX, 2005


  • American Art Collector, City Life, January 2009
  • American Art Collector, Three Takes on Realism, June 2008


To learn more about Vincent Giarrano and his beautiful oil paintings, visit his website at And be sure to check back on our blog later, when Vincent will walk us step-by-step through one of his still life paintings done in Charvin Oil Colors!

This Artist Spotlight is brought to you by the Jerry's Artarama Online Art Team — Promoting Art and Artists in our communities. For possible inclusion or to learn more about this program, please email us at


What Kind of Paint Should I Use - Part 2 - Specialty Paints


Adventures in alternative painting mediums!

Previously, when discussing which paint to use, we dealt with the top three mediums most popular in painting today: oil paints, acrylics, and watercolors. However, there are so many more to choose from! Painting was around for thousands of years before modern paints were, and while the most basic — as on cave walls — is simple pigment mixed with a binder — people were using advanced and beautiful paints long before even oil colors were developed.

Sometimes we forget that today's most popular paints are, comparatively, brand new. Acrylics were only invented in the mid-20th century; modern "moist" watercolors arose in the 19th century; and even oil paints were a new option when Leonardo da Vinci was painting during the Renaissance. What, you ask, were people painting with before?

Well, put on your fedora and pick up your whip, Indiana, because we're about to set off on a crusade through classical paint mediums — and their modern incarnations!



Actress Lucy Liu is also an accomplished painter and holds her own art shows in galleries.

Encaustic paints get their name from the Greek word enkaustikos, meaning "burn with fire," and are, in the most basic definition, paint made of hot, melted wax. Of course, there's more to it than that — you can't just dump a candle on a canvas and come away with an encaustic painting!

The encaustic medium is a special blend of damar resin dissolved in turpentine and blended with pure beeswax. The damar gives the wax strength and permanence — and when mixed with beeswax, smells really good! To paint with encaustic, it must first be melted: in the olden days, this was a difficult and slightly dangerous operation, involving braziers of fire and heating tools in ovens. However, the effort was worth it: encaustic paintings that are thousands of years old are still today vibrant and beautiful. The most famous of these are known as the Fayum portraits: images painted during Egypt's Greek-ruled period that still look fresh today.

Luckily, today we no longer have to sweat and slave surrounded by fire to paint with encaustic: we have electricity! You can use a heated palette with special palette pans to keep your encaustic melted and to heat your tools, or even an old electric pancake griddle and some empty tin cans (though, be sure not to make pancakes on the griddle any more!). Select and melt your colors, and use just about anything to apply them to a firm, rigid surface: brushes, metal tools, and the like work well, as does straight pouring. Each layer of paint should be reheated slightly so that it bonds well with the previous layer; this is called fusing. Encaustic is also great for imbedding objects and images, as well as image transfer. The modern possibilities are limitless! However, for the nervous, a class in beginning encaustics is recommended.

Notable Encaustic Artists: Robert Delauney, Diego Rivera, and Jasper Johns.











Recommended Encaustic Products:




Egg Tempera

Egg tempera is a beautiful and unique painting medium that has been around for centuries or even longer. Now, don't confuse egg tempera with that chalky paint you used to use in elementary school — there is no connection between the two! Egg tempera, in its most basic form, is pure pigment blended (very carefully) with egg yolk and purified water. As such, it is extremely brilliant, extremely fast-drying, and prone to becoming extremely stinky if left out too long.

Before oil paints, egg tempera was the choice of fine artists. Not only were many religious icons painted in these jewel-like colors, famous artists such as Botticelli spent their entire careers painting in little else. Painting with egg tempera is unlike any other medium: because it dries almost immediately after hitting the board, the egg tempera painter must use very small, overlapping hatch marks to build up color in multiple layers. It requires patience and meticulous attention to detail, but because of the composition of the paint and the egg yolk, yields a stunning depth and almost inner glow as light bounces and refracts through the multiple layers of paint.

Back in the day, artists had to mix their egg tempera by hand, every day, since the egg would turn rancid quite quickly and didn't keep well. Nowadays, however, we have pre-mixed egg tempera paints which include preservatives, and are ready to use straight out of the tube! (This is the perfect option for more lazy artists like myself.) However, unlike most other modern paints, we still have to pay very close attention to our painting surfaces, since egg tempera doesn't like to stick to much at all, and is very brittle. This means the ideal painting surface for egg tempera is rigid board or panel, coated in traditional rabbit skin glue size and chalk gesso. But yet again, modernity saves us: Ampersand's Claybord is one of the very few surfaces that are perfect for use with egg tempera and require no preparation whatsoever!

Notable Egg Tempera Artists: Sandro Botticelli, Andrew Wyeth, and Koo Schadler.









Recommended Egg Tempera Products:





Casein paint is, like encaustic and egg tempera, an ancient painting medium made from materials that ancient painters had close at hand: in this case, milk protein (similar to curds) and an alkali (like modern Borax). However, unlike the other two paints on our crusade, casein is a complete shapeshifter as it were, and can be made to mimic other mediums from watercolors to oils.

Casein is water-mixable, and as such, can be thinned down to transparent washes akin to watercolor, or also used in heavier, impasto-like layers that can be mistaken for oils. If you're looking for a versatile, natural paint that also has an easy clean-up, casein is your answer! Its drying time is fairly quick, but casein paintings can take a few months to cure completely: though once they are, they are totally water-resistant and just as permanent as oil colors.

Throughout the centuries, casein has been used in virtually every application from ancient Chinese artifacts, to stage and poster painting, to house paints and advertisment illustrations. In the modern day, casein is seen as a "green," eco-friendly paint that can behave like acrylics or oils, but without any of the plastics or solvents needed in those mediums. And of course, we no longer have to make our own: pre-mixed casein is readily available for experimentation!

Notable Casein Artists: Henri Matisse, Ramon Shiva, and Andy Warhol.









Recommended Casein Products:




So there you go! The world of painting mediums a bit bigger than you previously thought? A lot of artists are moving back towards these more traditional paints, attracted by their history, their eco-friendly qualities, and the ease of use given by modern amenities that was formerly unavailable. As always, the only way to know which of these alternative paints is right for you is to experiment and have fun!

How about you? Have you used any of these specialty paints, or are you now tempted to try some out? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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