Mar
9
2013

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!

 


Encaustic

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:

PAINTS

TOOLS

SURFACES


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:

PAINTS

TOOLS

SURFACES


Casein

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:

PAINTS

TOOLS

SURFACES


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!

Mar
7
2013

Top 20 Celebrity Painters

 

Celebrities who create art as well as sing, act and more!

In researching for our previous post on celebrity art investors, we came across an amazing array of celebrities who not only collect art, but create it as well! We couldn't resist, and had to dedicate a post to some of these multi-faceted artists.

Amongst celebrities, painting seems to be the preferred form of visual art, whether in oils, acrylics or watercolors. Certainly there seem to be more celebrity painters out there than sculptors or even photographers. What is it that is so attractive about painting, that these already-acclaimed artists should feel so drawn to it?

As with all artists, the talent and skill of celebrity painters varies from person to person. In no particular order, here are twenty of our favorite celebrity painters: judge their gifts for yourself!

Please Note: All artwork shown herein is copyright its respective artist.


Lucy Liu

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

Perhaps best known for her roles in the movies Kill Bill and Charlie's Angels, as well as the TV show Elementary, actress Lucy Liu is also a very talented abstract artist. She has painted for years, under the pseudonym Yu Ling, but has recently been exhibiting at art galleries and finally claiming credit for her impressive work.

See more of Liu's art at her website, www.liuart.com.


Dennis Hopper

Late actor and director Dennis Hopper was also an incredibly gifted painter.

Legendary wild man Dennis Hopper, in addition to acting in such iconic films as Easy Rider, Rebel Without a Cause, and Speed, was also a gifted painter with a unique vision. His time spent with artists like Andy Warhol also gave him an unrivalled view into the art world of the 1960's.


David Bowie

Avant garde musician David Bowie went to art school before becoming famous, and is recognized as a talented painter.

Before becoming the face of glam rock, musician David Bowie studied art and design, and has been painting ever since. His art evokes a depth and surrealism unsurprising from this avant-garde shapeshifter.

See more of Bowie's artwork at his website, www.bowieart.com.


Johnny Depp

Actor Johnny Depp is multi-talented, and his paintings show just one side of his multi-faceted talents.

Not only is Johnny Depp a talented actor and musician, he is a gifted painter as well. Depp's style is malleable, but he seems to relish painting unique and yet strangely moving portraits of people ranging from Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando.

See more of Depp's artwork at www.deppimpact.com.


Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell considers herself a painter first and a musician second, and her artwork has been featured on the covers of her albums.

Singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell is not only famous for her heart-wrenching voice and lyrics, but her absolutely stunning paintings as well — many of which are featured as her album covers. In fact, though she dropped out of art school at age 19, Mitchell has always considered herself a painter first and a musician second.

See more of Mitchell's artwork at her site, www.jonimitchell.com.


Jim Carrey

Comedian Jim Carrey expresses himself through painting as well as acting.

Always recognized for his comedy, as well as more dramatic roles such as in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, actor Jim Carrey is also an accomplished artist. Last year, he had a solo exhibition, Jim Carrey: Nothing To See Here, in Palm Springs.

See more of Carrey's artwork at his website, www.jimcarreytrulife.com.


Johnny Cash

Even the Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash, put brush to paper from time to time.

Legendary musician Johnny Cash sketched and painted for years, but never thought his work would appeal to the art world. Nevertheless, his work — exemplified by this painting called Flight — was very much in demand. However, Johnny's heart was always in music, and his touring and recording schedule left little time for painting.


Bob Dylan

Musician Bob Dylan also paints a wide variety of subjects.

Poet and songwriter Bob Dylan's painting style can be described as "freewheelin'", as it were — certainly his artwork has a very impressionistic feel to it. Since 1994, Dylan has published 3 books of his Matisse-influenced artwork.

See more of Dylan's art at his website, www.bobdylan.com.


Stevie Nicks

Songstress Stevie Nicks creates dreamlike paintings full of color and detail.

Musician Stevie Nicks was brought to the world of art by a dear friend ill with leukemia, and dedicates her vibrant, ethereal paintings and drawings to her friend who lost her battle.

See more of Nicks' artwork at the website www.inherownwords.com.


James Franco

Modern Renaissance man James Franco paints as well as acts and directs.

Actor James Franco — soon to be back on the silver screen in Oz: The Great and Powerful — is a regular modern Renaissance man. In addition to acting, he also does performance art as well as painting.

See more of Franco's artwork at his website, www.james-franco.com.


Rosie O'Donnell

Comedienne and TV show hostess Rosie O'Donnell creates complex mixed media paintings.

Comedienne and TV hostess Rosie O'Donnell has long been known both for her colorful mixed media paintings as well as her charity work. At one time she even had a shop on Etsy, with art sales going to benefit charity.

Learn more about O'Donnell's art and charity works at her website, www.rosie.com.


Anthony Hopkins

It's no surprise that when Anthony Hopkins turns his hand to painting, he produces superb and slightly disturbing artwork.

It it at all surprising that actor Anthony Hopkins is amazing at anything he puts his mind to? Once having played Pablo Picasso on screen, Hopkins' paintings are clearly influenced by the famous artist, but have a darkness and slightly disturbing feel that one would expect from the man behind Hannibal Lecter.

See more of Hopkins' artwork at his website, www.anthony-hopkins.net.


Janis Joplin

Had she had more time, perhaps musician Janis Joplin's paintings would have become as famous as her songwriting.

Music queen Janis Joplin tragically passed away at a young age, and left behind not only a catalog of legendary music, but a portfolio of impressive paintings as well. Perhaps with more time, her painting would have become as famous as her music.


Frank Sinatra

Even Frank Sinatra tried his hand at painting, though nothing rivals his crooning voice.

Even the Chairman of the Board, the leader of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra himself has picked up a paintbrush in his day. While not a poor hand at painting, we think we prefer his dulcet singing voice.


Sylvester Stallone

Actor Sylvester Stallone has been known to pick up a paintbrush as well.

Sylvester "Sly" Stallone has been an icon in the film world for decades, but few know that he has been painting for almost as long as he's been acting. His colorful, abstract pieces are both whimsical and imposing — perhaps not unlike the man himself?

See more of Stallone's artwork at his website, www.sylvesterstallone.com.


Michael Jackson

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, displayed incredible talent with this painting of Charlie Chaplin, done when Michael was only 9 years old.

We all know that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, was a man of many talents and unrivaled in his time. However, few know that when he was just a child, Jackson was already an extremely gifted painter. This portrait of Charlie Chaplin — a big influence of Jackson's — was painted when the singer was only 9 years old!


Marilyn Monroe

Actress Marilyn Monroe created paintings as lovely as she was.

Stunning actress Marilyn Monroe has been the subject of many artworks -- most notably that by Andy Warhol -- but she also dabbled in painting herself. This delicate watercolor of a rose was inscribed by Monroe to President John F. Kennedy.


Ronnie Wood

Musician Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones is also an exceptionally talented and prolific painter.

Musician Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones is a surprisingly talented painter in his own right, and his unique and changing style often shows viewers a "behind the scenes" look at the brilliant and bruised world of rock and roll.

See more of Wood's artwork at his website, www.ronniewood.com.


Yoko Ono

In addition to music and performance art, Yoko Ono is a gifted visual artist and painter.

Many people know icon Yoko Ono for her music, performance art and film work, but she is also a skilled painter and philanthropist. A recent auction of her puzzle pieces work went to benefit the study of autism.

Learn more about Ono's art and philanthropy at www.imaginepeace.com.


Prince Charles

Even royalty admires the arts, as evidenced by Prince Charles of England's attraction to painting landscapes.

Surprising though it may be, even Prince Charles of the Royal House of Windsor is himself a painter. Working from many rural and village landscapes in his native Great Britain, the Prince's muted watercolors hearken back to the beginnings of the plein air movement in England.

See more of Prince Charles' artwork at the Belgravia Gallery.


Whew! That was a lot of celebrity painters — and we've only scratched the surface! There are countless others, including Bono of U2, actress Jane Seymour, Viggo Mortenson, and even Beyonce Knowles — all of whom have been known to pick up a paintbrush from time to time. Some of these paintings I wouldn't mind hanging on my wall, that's for sure. Others, well... to each his own, yes?

What do you think? Can you think of other celebrity painters? What's your opinion of the ones we've shown here? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Mar
5
2013

What Kind of Paint Should I Use

 

Which paint is right for you? Comparing watercolor, oil, and acrylic

How to Decide What Paint to Use

difference between oil, acrylic paint and watercolrio paint

People often ask: What's the "best" or "most popular" type of paint to use? This is a question that virtually has no definitive answer. Not what you wanted to hear? Don't worry; we're here to give you some pointers!

The fact is that the "best" paint to use depends on the skill and patience of the painter, and also the type of "look" desired. Different paints will give a different type of character to the subject of the painting, and evoke different types of emotions from an audience. For example, watercolor often lends to a more muted, somewhat clouded image. While colorful, it also has a more softened look. The subject can look runny or malleable. Oil paint is very rich and vibrant. Oil paintings usually have a sharper image, but it's also good for colorful pieces that feature a layering of paint. Acrylic is generally always going to give you something in between. Depending on the technique used by the artist, acrylic can look very much like oil or watercolor, and the meshing of the two lends to a style that is uniquely its own. These are generalities; of course, the result depends on the technique and style of the artist.

Aside from the more abstract features of the products, there are fundamental differences between watercolor, oil, and acrylic paint that should be taken into consideration before choosing which medium is best for you.


 

Watercolor

Pros: Generally the least expensive of the three paints, watercolor makes it easier to paint large areas, or spaces that do not need to be completely filled in (like a painted face on a white background). A small tube of watercolor, mixed with water, can provide yards and yards of coverage. Watercolor offers nice color saturation, and dries pretty quickly.

Cons: While the techniques for using watercolor are fairly simple in theory, they are difficult to master. It takes a special talent and lots of practice. It is more difficult to cover a mistake. It is also a more fragile method in two ways: the paper surface and the fact that one drop of water can ruin details which took hours to create.

Notable Watercolor Artists: Winslow Homer, J.M.W. Turner, and John Singer Sargent.


Recommended Watercolors:

GOOD

BETTER

BEST


Oil

Pros: Oil paints are associated with permanence. They are best to use for demonstrating great detail and the contrast between light and dark. Light refracts through layers of oil paint, creating a luminous appearance of depth. Oil paints are durable and will stay solid over time — many famous masterpieces dating from the Renaissance onward are painted in oils.

Cons: Oil takes a very long time to dry — between 6 months to a whole year. This increases your chances of making a mess or a foreign object (dust, bugs, etc.) getting stuck in the paint. It is the most expensive on the market, and, well, it's also pretty permanent. Oil must be removed from brushes with turpentine, and it is very easy to stain your clothing and other surfaces. Additionally, most oil paint thinners and turpentines are toxic and not particularly safe for prolonged contact.

Notable Oil Artists: Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Claude Monet.


Recommended Oil Colors:

GOOD

BETTER

BEST


Acrylics

Pros: Acrylic is the happy hybrid of the bunch. Like oil, it is well-suited for detail, but it is also easy to use. Artists have classified it as the most "forgiving" of the paints and best for novices. Acrylics are also water-based which means they can be cleaned from brushes more easily.

Cons: On the other hand, acrylics can contain various toxins within their pigments. Acrylic paint dries very quickly and is not easily blended. We're also not quite sure how long they will last. Unlike the other paints, they have only existed for about 50 years.

Notable Acrylic Artists: Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Roy Lichtenstein.


Recommended Acrylic Colors:

GOOD

BETTER

BEST


If you are still undecided about which paint is right for you, you can better familiarize yourself with the artists and paintings from each category. This may give you some insight on which paint is best for your style and subject. If research fails, you can always just get right to it: Pick up a brush and experiment!

So what's your favorite medium, and why? Are you tempted to try out a new paint? Let us know about it in the comments below! Share your thoughts and experiences as well with which paint you use

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