Sorry, But Just Any Old Brush Won't do...


Okay. I mentioned that I would discuss paint brushes today. How many of you have even looked at paint brushes? That's what I thought. I'm not talking about the cheap things you buy for your kids to do the little water paint pictures with, I'm talking quality brushes that are going to last for a long time.

I'm the queen of cheap, honest. It drives my hubby to distraction. He's told me several times in our marriage that one pair of expensive shoes will last three times longer than three pairs of cheap shoes. What he didn't understand is that I like more variety than that -- except when it comes to my painting supplies.

I discovered through bitter experience that cheap paint brushes are just that -- CHEAP. They can say that they are sable, or horsehair or whatever, but they still come off in the paint and on your canvas! So, the first thing you want to do is make sure to find quality brushes. There is a whole selection of them in any craft store worth their salt, and I can spend hours there, believe me. I LOVE the look and feel of brushes and have to remind myself not to touch the bristles...sigh. That's right, the more you touch the bristles, the more oil comes off your skin onto them and make them dirty. Anyway...

Right now we are going to continue with the watercolor theme. In order to paint with watercolors, you need a couple of items. Either a board that isn't too heavy but large enough to hold whatever size paper you want to tape to it, or a pre-glued waterpaper pad or block that acts as if it's taped. Personally, I like the blocks -- much easier to deal with. If you're really into watercolor the way it's supposed to be, you'll probably want the board, unless you like to be portable.

You will also want an easel. I didn't have one for the first 20 years of our marriage, and I did just fine -- but once I got one for Christmas, it's been heaven. There are all sorts, but I like the solid thing I don't have to worry about knocking over should I bump it. (I'm rather clumsy)

You need a box to keep your paint and brushes in. I've used several different sizes and kinds, but a simple little plastic box, like a small tool or fishing tackle box will work. Just make sure it's long enough to hold all your brushes.

You need a pallet or paint tray. When I took watercolor in college, he had us make our own trays. This was basically a shallow 8 x 10 baking tray that we pounded little rounded dents into and he spray painted white. I still have my tray, and it's got lots of years ahead of it. You can usually find similar things in craft stores, and they aren't very expensive.

Paper. There are LOADS of different types of watercolor paper. Thick, (or weight), large sheets that you buy individually, blocks or tear off pads. Unless I have a specific subject in mind and want to paint something huge, I stick with the pre-stuck pads. I don't like messing with tape, and it's simpler for me to carry around. There are lots of different brand names, as well, but I seem to stick with the least expensive brand...grin.

What is really amazing is the amount of information available to those who want to look it up on the internet. There are sites that offer free instruction, sites that sell videos and DVD's, even local artists that hold classes that aren't too expensive. So if your urge to create drives you to search it out in depth, go online. Here are some sites that I found most helpful:

A class at this site:Derek Hegsted
http://www.fountainstudio.com/watercolor_tips.html -- all sorts of stuff here.

Enjoy, and look around -- you'll find lots of ways to improve. Next week we move onto other mediums.

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