Painting a Masterpiece by Eric Armusik

eric armusikPainting on AlumaComp Panels by Professional Artist Eric Armusik

Products used:
AlumaComp Aluminum Panels
Chelsea Classical Studio Mediums Set
Hamburg Premier Professional Brushes

For over 15 years I’ve painted on wood panels that I prepared by myself.  I’ve made the cuts, built the cradles and frames by hand.  Everything I’ve done over the years has been done with the utmost care so I get the perfect smooth surface to paint on.  I abandoned working on canvas years ago in favor of panel painting and the type of work I create on these smooth panels is a testament to what is possible when you have a polished surface to paint on.  I love painting on wood however, some of the issues I’ve encountered have been troublesome and aggravating. At times, some of the larger pieces have warped due to the inconsistency of the product.  My work requires the highest standards and after 15 years of painting on wood I’m ready to abandon it forever after painting on AlumaComp.

Since I’ve posted my finished painting I’ve been getting tons of emails from people asking, “What is AlumaComp?”

What is AlumaComp Painting PanelPeel off the protective layer and gesso.  It’s as easy as that!

AlumaComp is 5/32” thick panel (.4mm) – essentially two aluminum surfaces (one brushed and one smooth) with a sandwiched 1/8 in polyethylene core.  They are lightweight yet very rigid surfaces.  Unlike wood, it is an incredibly smooth surface to start with.  Jerry’s Artarama thought ahead when creating this product. The smooth side is suited for mounting photos or canvas or for painting.

Applying the first layer of gesso on AlumaComp panels.

Gessoing AlumacompThe brushed aluminum surface side is ready, right out of the packaging, to receive gesso to create a perfect bond.  You don’t even have to sand it before gessoing which saves time and creative energy. For me, this is a huge plus because my work schedule is so demanding. I apply any where from 3-5 layers of gesso and I then sand it to a perfect smooth surface.

Chelsea Mediums SetClassical Studio Sampler Set The second product I was able to demo this month is another product that has me wondering, “Where have you been all my life?”- the Chelsea Classical Studio Sampler Set. Lavender spirits, mediums, and lavender brush cleaning soap – everything in this box not only smells good but the products in it work extremely well.  Gone is the need for turpentine, ventilation or the worry about it getting on your skin.

As an added testimonial to the strength of this product, my wife was painting with Rust-Oleum the other day and easily removed a rather large spot on her arm with ease. I was shocked since I usually have to rub several times when using turpentine to remove the bond.

A toxicological report and safety data sheet was created by Duke University for their lavender brush cleaner and spike oil essence.  The result?  No acute health affects expected!  This includes respiratory protection, gloves, and work/hygiene practices – no precautions are required!  Truthfully, I’m guilty of being skeptical of alternative solutions to painting materials – I always assume they must be subservient to the “real” products.  This is NOT the case.  Actually, the recipes used to create these products aren’t new at all.  They are based on historical formulas that have been used for centuries.

Frankly, I like the way these spirits perform even more than turpentine based products.  When I was painting my grisaille, early on, the surface was more lubricated and dried more gradually.  It didn’t have the washy, watercolor feeling you get when you do a grisaille with turpentine. And unlike the harsh, chemical aroma of turpentine, these spirits smell wonderful. My studio now smells like a New Age shop rather than a garage.

You can also see that when it did dry it allowed me to build up layers on the painting faster than turpentine usually does.  For only a few hours of work I was able to incorporate elements I wouldn’t normally paint until day 2. I’m extremely impressed with these products and continue to have continued success using them. I’ve since tossed out my toxic turpentine – these gems will forever have a permanent spot in my studio.

Day 1: Grisaille and first initial rough in of the face.


Day 1: End of session.  Approximately 2 hours of work.  I especially like that the Lavender Spike Oil allows you to build up opaque areas and high contrast areas like the background. Again, this product is far superior to turpentine.

Day 2: End of session. I started using some of the Lean Medium today.  Traditionally you are supposed to paint “fat over lean” in order to create an archival painting like the old masters.  The Lean Medium is more fluid and was very nice to work with.  I tend to use a combination of spreading some on the surface I’m about to work on prior to my next session and some in combination with the paint I’m applying to help with the fluidity.  I would recommend brushing it on a small area because it will dry up about the same as any turpentine based medium.


Day 3

Today I was using some of the Fat medium and combining it with some of the linseed oil and walnut oil that was provided.  Both were cold pressed, clear and of the highest quality.  If I wanted certain areas to show their depth more, I simply used more oil – one example of this would be the background and certain areas of the hair.  When painting a face, I like to find the subtlest details and to render them in the same subtle manner.  I sincerely enjoyed the experience and the amount of options you have with this sampler pack.  If you’re looking to raise the standards of painting as a realist painter and you want to provide a healthy environment for your studio you have to order from this product line.


Day 4 Finished Painting

I did a number of glazes on the face and hair to add some of the warm and cool tones to his face and to push back parts of his hair.  The combination of AlumaComp Panels and Chelsea Classical Studio Oil Painting Mediums is one that I will be using going forward.

Hamburg Premier Brushes I tried three different brushes from this exciting new line from Jerry’s, a flat, filbert and a round.


Hamburg Premier Professional BrushesI initially used the brushes while painting on the smooth surface of the AlumaComp and later on a commissioned canvas piece I was painting.  I found it to be quite a versatile brush for both.  It has precisely the right amount of softness to be effective on a smooth surface yet the stiffness to push paint around on canvas.  Badger hairs are traditionally used in more high-end shaving brushes.  The bristle is more of a coarse hair but on the smoother side of the spectrum.  I found that using them for my blending work on canvas was a completely different experience.  Hamburg Premier Professional Brushes carry the paint as well as a hog hairbrush but they have the subtlety of a soft brush when doing blending work.  It’s a go-to brush for anyone painting on canvas or linen looking for a brush that does it all.  I normally like to paint with a lot of brushes in my hand (most times 10-20).   I found myself using only these brushes during my session because they are so versatile.

About Eric Armusik

Eric Armusik, (b. 1973) paints classical figurative art that fuses his life experiences with art history.  His paintings are a declaration to the dramatic power of representational art.  The origin of his inspiration does not lie in academia, but rather his childhood, surrounded by the vivid paintings he saw in Gothic cathedrals as a child.  Eric doesn’t aspire to simply paint a figure; he paints a moment, a human experience, and an emotional dialogue that transcends culture, religion and time itself. He’s been known to push his models until he gets the precise expression or gesture that best represents the moment. To him, painting a figure is easy but painting human emotion is tedious and taxing and to Eric, that is where his heart is. He thrives on being able to tell a story – to visually express the pain or ecstasy of two lovers or the madness of a villain.

All of Armusik’s painting are on large wood panels he builds, primes and sands to an extra smooth finish for fine detail work.  He uses the finest quality paints and mediums to create museum quality work in the manner of the old masters. He is also a gifted carpenter and chooses to custom build all his tabernacle frames to give his work a timeless and elegant appearance.

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