Note: I'm a qualified Amazon Associate and receive a small commission for linking my favorite art supplies, tools and products to their website so artists can easily find them. When our home burned down, we replaced almost everything using Amazon Prime. I wanted to spend time in my studio rather than shop for all the things we needed to replace when we started over. So, I am happy to recommend Amazon and use Amazon Prime as shipping is free and fast.
VokeTab: Thanks to my two creative sons who invented this product, Kalen and Evan Caughey, I'm able to find the energy I need all day while in the studio - painting, video taping, editing, and running Art and Success! I started using VokeTab when I was in grad school in my mid 40s. Since I had a 1 hour commute to attend classes at the University of Montana School of Art, I relied heavily on VokeTab to not only get me through long days of classes, but to help me stay awake while driving home. I can pretty much say I'm able to do all the things I do today due to this amazing product. Thanks, boys! (Use coupon code ARTANDSUCCESS for 25% off your first order!)
ART SUPPLIES AND TOOLS (used in all mediums)
Here are some of my favorite Mark Making tools:
STABILO Woody 3-in-1 Cayons: I have been using these Stabilo "Woody" pencils for at least 10 years. They are useful in every medium I use, including encaustic (I can get fine lines!), acrylic, cold wax/oil and encaustic monotype. They are water soluble, so great effects could be obtained on watercolor paper as well, but usually I use them on top of dry acrylic surfaces or wet or dry cold wax/oil. They are thick pencils and in the set I have (like the one pictured), a nice pencil sharpener is included. Since I sometimes use up my black and white Stabilo pencils faster than the others, I have sometimes ordered more of just those when what I have gets short and stubby!
Sakura Expressionist Cray-Pas Oil Pastels: I love these inexpensive high quality oil pastels and use them in almost every medium I paint in. Here is Sakura's description: "The craypas family is ideally suited to compliment technique and expression development from childhood through high school, college, and into the professional level. Extremely smooth to apply, high school students, hobbyists and artists can express their spirit with broad strokes, blending colors, to build texture and depth. From dramatic to muted, flamboyant to quiet, the color range allows users to convey any inspired feeling or imaginative image."
Sakura Solidified Paint Solid Marker: I think these Markers are about to become my favorite mark making tool. I've used Sakura products before, but these are really amazing. The paint is opaque and quick drying - within just a few minutes. I will be using these in my acrylic and oil/cwm paintings for sure. They come in a wide variety of colors but I do love the black and white!
Winsor and Newton Oilbar, Lamp Black: This is an oil based rich black - wonderful for mark making and fun to smear as well.
Caran d'Ache Classic Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastels. I've used this quite a bit in encaustic monotype as well as encaustic and cold wax/oil painting. They are versatile.
Art Graf water-soluble graphite blocks come in monochromatic colors like the ones pictured and other colors like red, blue and yellow. I find these to be another wonderful mark making tool because they work in several mediums, such as encaustic, cold wax/oil and acrylic. They are much like the tailor's chalk I remember my mom using when she worked as a pattern designer (as far as the shape is concerned). The edges create a thinner line which can be shaved off with a razor blade to make an even finer line, whereas you can also get very thick lines. My favorites are the black and white.
Marabu Mixed Media Art Crayons come in many color sets. These are also water soluble wax crayons which produce lovely, juicy thick lines. I've used these quite a bit in my cold wax/oil paintings and when put down on Arches Oil paper, the cold wax medium glides over the top without much smearing. I find that pretty amazing, since the lines are so thick. Of all my mark making tools I would say these create the darkest darks. Therefore, I must have these to get the richest blacks!
Uni-posca Paint Marker Pen - Set of 12 These are pretty great for those who love to make marks because they are lightfast, water-based pigment ink that is non-toxic and waterproof. Unlike alcohol-based marker in, the ink will not bleed. I use them with my cold wax medium and encaustic work - they are awesome!
Derwent Inktense Blocks are water soluble and highly saturated, which means they are highly pigmented and create very vivid marks. I was first introduced to these during a workshop and have found all of the Inktense products (including their pencil sets) quite fun and useful in all mediums. When I need a pop of saturation toward the end of a painting, I can usually find the right color in this set as there is quite a variety within each color range.
Derwent Watercolor Pencils. Unlike the blocks above, these are pencils and I love that these are water soluble as well. I use them in both my encaustic, encaustic monotype and cold wax/oil work. They are highly saturated colored pencils.
I highly recommend this product. I first discovered these while working in encaustic. I wanted subtle shifts in color without having to make up a new encaustic glaze and these work perfectly and can be fused right into the encaustic surface. The pastels are highly pigmented so a little goes a long way. I now also use them in my cold wax/oil paintings; I put a thin layer of cold wax medium over areas that I've used the pastels. There are many different sets to choose from but the complete set has all the tints, tones and shades for subtle nuances.
Stabilo 8046 Aquarellable Black Pencil. My favorite pencil of all time. It has a rich, rich black and is also water soluble. I buy these in packs of 12 and use them in all four mediums I work in.
Lyra Graphitkreide. I use these water soluble crayons on every painting. They have a nice thick line.
Lyra Rembrandt Carbon Black Pencil, Medium HB, Black. This is another favorite; very dark lines.
Palomino Blackwing Pencils with cool erasers (12 count box): These are a "Kathryn Yamartino" favorite (Kathryn is a Flagship Ambassador Member (FAM) of ARTandSUCCESS.com). I shall have to try these! Here is a cool description from Amazon.com about these pencils:
General's Graphite Powder. You may recognize this as one of my 5 favorite tools! Yes - it will always be. I use it to obtain amorphic shapes or use it with stencils. (Don't forget the cosmetic puffs to move it around!).
Notched tool: You can find this at any hardware store in the tile section! There are a few different styles I've been able to find and these are great for working with cold wax oil and paint.
Mighty Board for making Four-Square Mats (6 pack, 18x24in): This is the same plastic poster-like board I use to cut out the mats for the four-square sheets of Arches we are using in the PDPC online course! It took me a while to find an online source, but here it is! Use the same outer dimensions as your four-square papers; some of you may have cut custom sizes – then cut the same outer dimensions and make measurements to match whatever sizes of openings you need to create a cool mat to cover up messy painted tape for works in progress. I use a very sharp exacto knife to cut out the four windows – it’s very easy – just measure carefully! The plastic is easy to clean and reusable – use cooking or baby oil to clean oil paints off, or if dried on, try a bit of gamsol. If you are using over acrylic paintings, you can use hand sanitizer to clean off the might board, but you’ll probably have less messy paint since the acrylics dry quickly.
RF Pigment Sticks: RF Pigment sticks are wonderful when working with the cold wax medium because, being in stick form, they provide a way for gestural marks. Being a mark maker, I love the thick, juicy lines you can get with these sticks, and also love to make lots of monoprints with them. They come in a wide array of colors.
R&F Paints Website: For all things R&F makes, including encaustics, RF Pigment Sticks, and all the other items they offer, please check out their expansive and informational website!
MY FAVORITE ERASERS
I also love to use erasers in my mark making - they remove paint - so this is part of the subtractive process of mark making!
Tombow Sand Eraser: This eraser is one of my favorites because it has a bit of silica grit in it so it allows you to remove stubborn dried paint or smudges from either paper or wood. Use a somewhat gentle touch as this eraser is a bit like a fine grade of sandpaper - you can make your borders clean again, or remove marks from a cradled panel. I first learned about this eraser when I did printmaking and it was very useful in removing dried, oil-based ink from printmaking paper. Be sure your paint is dry before trying to erase it - otherwise it will only make it worse!
General's Kneaded Eraser: I think every studio artist should have several kneaded erasers - no matter how dirty they get, you just knesad it and the dirt goes away. I have no idea how or why this works, but I'm glad I can always rely on these erasers to remove pencil marks AND they are also great for subtractive painting. You can find this in any art store.
Pink Pearl Eraser: You probably already have one of these - but I thought I'd list it anyways because it is also one I use a lot for subtractive painting because it is firm. You can find this anywhere - probably even the grocery store!
OTHER USEFUL STUDIO TOOLS
Value finder - This is a very useful tool in my studio and I always encourage my students to have these when taking a workshop from me. The notches allow you to hold this value scale over your painting and see what value the color is that you are trying to see. I highly recommend this tool!
Large Color Wheel: I have one of these 19x19" color wheels on my studio wall. Of course you don't have to buy one, you can make one, but I take smaller versions to workshops and like to have the Jack Richeson Color Wheel because it has clear labels and great graphics. This is another tool I highly recommend in every studio!
Red and Green Filters - use these if you don't have access to a smart phone to convert your paintings to bxw. The Color Evaluator II is a value finder, helping you evaluate values from light to dark in your paintings. Contains a red and a green viewing filter. Use the red filter with warm colors and the green filter for cool colors. Look through each filter so you can see your lights, darks and midtone values.
Richeson Gray Paper Palette: I use this palette paper frequently because the neutral gray paper allows me to see the values of my color mixtures. On the backside of the cover, there are some very helpful color wheels and information about complimentary colors.
Cafeteria Tray (14x17in, for mixing drippy paint OR for using as a "wet palette" in acrylics
(see YouTube Video): When I work with drippy paint (cold wax/oils) or when I need a great palette for working with acrylics, I use this particular size of cafeteria tray. It is a very nice size, and accommodates the 14x17 tracing paper (see below) I use to line the tray when using it as a palette for acrylics!
Canson 14x17" Tracing Paper (fits the cafeteria trays above): I like this size tracing paper since it fits in the 14x17in cafeteria trays just perfectly. There are difference sizes of tracing paper, but it's mportant you match the size of tracing paper to your cafeteria tray as closely as possible.
Masterson Sta-Wet Palette 16 x 12 in. I use this Sta-Wet Palette to keep my leftover oil paints nice and fresh. I insert a sheet of glass cut to the size of this box and put my leftover paint on the glass. Then, I cover the paint with plastic wrap. Lastly, I wet the yellow sponge that accompanies this palette with Gamblin's gamsol til it is damp, and place this over the plastic wrap. The oil paints will stay nice and fresh for days.
X-Acto Self healing cutting mat (18x24in, other sizes available): These come in lots of sizes and colors but I got my first one about 30 years ago. I have a few different sizes - the largest one is about 6 ft long, but for most artists, a nice mid size one like this is a good place to start. You'll notice if you click on this link, there are a few available sizes. This is a good brand as well - not all cutting mats are created equal and since I use mine all the time, it's worth it to get a good one.
Ateco 1385 Offset 4.5in Spatula:This is my favorite spatula and I have collected several. They are relatively inexpensive and so handy. I like the offset handle because you can lay the spatula down and the paint on the end does not touch the surface, keeping your work are much cleaner.
Creative Mark Metal Tube Wringer: These are very useful in the studio and help me squeeze out every last bit of oil or acrylic paint out of tubes. Don't get the plastic ones though; the first one I ordered was plastic and it is sitting in a landfill somewhere. The tube wringer that I now have is metal, sturdy and has a "gripping" textured clamp that can really grab the end of a metal (or plastic) tube of paint.
Nitrile Gloves: These are must haves - any brand will really do - just make sure you get the right size! I also have baby powder on hand for days when it's hot outside and it makes it easier to slip the gloves on and off!
Microflex Safegrip SG-375 Latex Gloves - Disposable, Extended Cuff, Blue Gloves Size Medium - these are very strong, reusable gloves that last a long, long time. While they are a little thicker than the black nitrile gloves I can get locally at the hardware store, they are great for working in all mediums - especially when I paint with my hands!
White Artist Tape, 1" x 60 yd: I use the 1" white artist tape almost exclusively now (instead of blue painter's tape) to create the four quadrants on my Arches Oil Paper. You can find blue Painter's tape in any local hardware store, but the white painter's tape can be found in some art stores; I purchase it online.
White Artist Tape, 1/4" x 60 yd, Pro Art - Here is the same artist tape in 1/4" width - useful for creating slightly curved lines, stripes - works as a great resist! When you paint over the lines, then lift the tape, you get a nice, crisp line (just be sure to burnish the edges for a tight seal between the tape and surface!).
12 in Painter's Guard: This is a great tool for getting straight lines in all mediums. Place this tool against your surface and you can scrape, paint or gouge nice straight lines.
Warner Carbide Wallpaper Scraper: This is a useful tool if you are working on panel as it can be an aggressive tool for scraping away dry paint to reveal layers beneath. The blades are very easy to replace and the knob on the top allows a good grip.
Ryobi 2.6 Amp Orbital Sander: This is very useful when you want to sand away layers to reveal underlying passages of your painting.
MAKE YOUR OWN TOOLS
Primode Adhesive neoprene - 1/8 Thick X 14 Wide X 58 Long. This is the brand I used and I think the 1/8 or 1/16" will work just fine. I've used the 1/16" in the past but it is not always available. Please see my video in the Videos and Tutorials block to learn how to "Make Your Own Tools" using this product! Instructions and a materials list are provided.
Double Ended Pastry Roller - This is a great item to use with the neoprene above to "Make Your Own Tools" as shown in the "Make Your Own Tools" Video Tutorial.
COLD WAX MEDIUM, OIL PAINTS AND SOLVENTS
Gamblin Cold Wax Medium (16 oz): There are a few brands out there if cold wax medium, but I like this brand because of the smooth consistency, simple ingredients, and whenever I have a question regarding any Gamblin product, I have experienced top notch support and expertise.
Gamblin Galkyd Gel: I add this product to my cold wax medium for four reasons - 1) added strength of adhesion 2) added flexibilty of paint film 3) faster drying time 4) slight satin finish.
Gamblin Gamsol: This is the safest, effective odorless mineral spirit on the market (according to Gamblin Colors). I highly recommend this product and use this if you have access to it. If not, you can use other odorless mineral spirits or turpentine. If you'd like to make your own cold wax medium, you will need a product like this.
Gamblin Galkyd: Made from alkyd resin; speeds drying and adds to strength and flexibility of paint layer. This product can also be used to make cold wax medium; 8.5 oz. You only need about 1.2 oz per quart of home made cold wax medium so this little bottle can go a long way.
Gamblin PVA Size: I’m often asked if you need to use PVA size on collage material that is used on cold wax/oil paintings. It is optional, according to Gamblin Colors.
Here are questions I ask myself to determine whether or not a collaged paper element should be pre-treated with PVA Size or not:
Is the paper integral to the structural integrity of the painting? If “yes”, apply PVA Size first. This is always the case when the paper is the primary support on which the Cold Wax/Oil Color and other collage elements is applied.
Will it be undesirable if the collaged paper changes in appearance or deteriorates over time from the acidity of the Cold Wax/Oil painting? If “yes”, apply PVA Size. Examples might be a decorative paper that is not intended to “disappear” into the painting or maybe a photograph that needs to appear as unchanged over time as possible.
In most other cases, we want the paper to absorb the wax and oil so it becomes less visible and establishes a continuity of material between layers. Whatever imagery or material is applied to the collage paper comes forward while the paper itself takes on diminished importance.
RF Damar Resin Crystals: You can always trust R&F to make extremely high quality products. This is the product I use to make encaustic medium and you can also use it to make your own cold wax medium. This is a 1 lb bag.
Beeswax Pellets (Triple Filtered), 2 lb bag - If you are going to make your own cold wax medium or encaustic medium, and if you want it to be as pure and colorless as possible, you will want to chose a filtered beeswax (not bleached) and pharmaceutical grade if at all possible. If you can't get filtered, pharmaceutical grade beeswax, you can use the more yellow beeswax you get from hives - it will just have more yellowish color. This 2 lb bag will allow you to make over 2 quarts of cold wax medium (you will need gamsol and either damar resin crystals (NOT varnish) OR Gamblin's Galkyd (liquid).
Infrared Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer: This is one of my other favorite supplies in the studio because I when I make my own encaustic medium or cold wax medium, I get accurate temperatures – which is very important to avoid toxic fumes which result from temperatures that are to high! It is rather inexpensive for how high tech it is – I just love this product!! (Temperature Gun -58°F to 1022°F)
Digital Food Scale: Use a digital kitchen scale for the most accurate measuring – using weight, vs volume.
Gamblin Oil Paint Set - Professional Grade: I highly recommend an introductory oil paint set like this if you are taking my "Powerful Design and Personal Color" Online or LIVE Cold Wax and Oil workshop.
Gamblin Oil Paint Set - 1980 Student Grade: I highly recommend an introductory oil paint set like this if you are taking my "Powerful Design and Personal Color" Online or LIVE Cold Wax and Oil workshop. The 1980 Gamblin Paints are the student grade line and will work just fine. They differ from the professional grade in that there is less pigment in the composition of each color but they are certainly suitable for a beginning artist.
Gamblin 150ml Quick Dry Titanium White: I use a lot of titanium white oil paint and this a great quick dry version I like since regular white oil paint seems to dry more slowly.
In my videos, I use these applicators filled with Gamblin's gamsol to apply thin lines and drops onto wet layers (over dry layers of paint) which allows me to create interesting subtractive techniques in the cold wax medium. Many cold wax artists enjoy this product - it can be used with acrylic paint thinned with Golden Airbrush medium and watercolor as well.
PAINTING TOOLS: For Cold Wax Medium/Oil Painting
Messermeister Silicone Bowl Scraper. I couldn't work in cold wax without this tool!
Zoie Multi-Purpose Silicone Bowl Scraper: Less expensive than the Messermeister Silicone Bowl Scraper. (I have not used these, however this brand was recommended to me by Kathryn Yamartino. Thanks, Kathryn!)
Royal Sovereign One inch Color Shaper. Beware of cheaper brands; the silicone is flimsy and doesn't last long. The silicone in this one is firm and is secure in the ferrule. I like to have the 1in, 2in and 3in for different size paintings.
Liquitex Free-Style 4 in brush. I use these when using the drippy paint in cold wax/oils.
Princeton Redline Artist Brush for Acrylics and Oils: Long handle, synthetic brush - these are quickly becoming my favorites as they are high quality, have long handles which encourage freedom while painting - especially large-scale, and come in many different sizes.
Jewel Plein Aire Bristle Paint Brush: Extra long handles and very high quality. I love to use this brush when painting expressively. Size 6, Bright.
Speedball Rubber Brayer (Available in many sizes): I use these soft speedball brayers quite a lot - especially the smaller size if teaching a workshop - students should purchase this smaller size if taking one of my LIVE workshops since we work on 16 paintings, each 5x7in (approximately).
Inovart Brayer: Inovart is a very popular brayer with cold wax artists - the rubber is softer than speedball brayers.
I use these large gallon jugs, which are very sturdy and airtight, to transfer gallon tubs of acrylic paint from Novocolors, which only come in the gallon tubs with flat lids. I've found that opening and closing these large gallon tubs from Novocolors leaves room for dried paint to fall into the large tub, so I prefer the smaller opening of the gallon jugs since the paint has little to no chance of drying out! I also use these to store contents from any large gallon tubs I purchase - like Liquitext pouring medium. I prefer to transfer to these gallon jugs. These are a staple in my studio and are great for artists who use large quantities of paint!
There are so many uses for these bottles in my studio. They come in different sizes (see links below) but these are the largest squeeze bottles I use and I like this brand because they really keep paints fresh (some other brands have flimsy plastic or loose lids/caps. I use these for both fluid oils mixed with 50:50 gamsol:galkyd and my acrylic painting.
There are so many uses for these bottles in my studio. They come in different sizes (see links in this section) but these are the mid size bottles I use and I like this brand because they really keep paints fresh (some other brands have flimsy plastic or loose lids/caps. I use these for both storing gamsol, galkyd:gamsol mixtures, and my acrylic paints.
There are so many uses for these bottles in my studio. They come in different sizes (see links in this section) but these are the smaller size bottles I use and I like this brand because they really keep paints fresh (some other brands have flimsy plastic or loose lids/caps. I use these for both storing gamsol, galkyd:gamsol mixtures, and my acrylic paints.
Tins with lids for storing my Cold wax medium mixed with Galkyd Gel:
I love these tins because they keep my cold wax medium (mixed with Galkyd Gel) fresh for weeks. Covering with saran wrap only works for a very short amount of time (1-2 days). I originally discovered these tins when making my own encaustic waxes and typically keep both 8 and 16 oz sizes on hand.
When visiting my sister, who lives in Richland, Michigan, I was able to visit www.Hollanders.com in Ann Arbor, Michigan - a large bookbinding supplier and paper store that has hundreds of beautiful papers that can be used in collage. It was a real treat to visit this store in person. I now order paper from them and it comes nicely rolled in a tube. They have excellent customer service.
Papers for collage in a cold wax/oil painting (THIN papers work best!):
MAKING YOUR OWN COLLAGE PAPERS
Gelli Plate - You can easily make your own personal collection of collage papers using a multitude of papers and mediums.
American Easel Wooden Cradled Panels (Lots of sizes; thank you, Kathryn Yamartino for this resource!)
Note: If you live near a woodworking shop or cabinet maker, you might consider stopping in and asking whether they can make baltic birch cradled panels for you. If they are cradled, you won't need a frame for presentation (unless you want to, of course). If you just want flat panels cut for you, this should be a snap. I've also ordered baltic birch cradled panels from Dick Blick, and they offer lots of sizes up to about 36x36in and up, but I tend to really favor the 48x48in size and have not been able to find them there. Panels ordered from Dick Blick came damaged one time, but they happily replaced them, so I have no complaints. You may also want to check with a local university book store if you live close to one. I order lots of panels from them and can order custom sizes, and typically they take me about 2 weeks to arrive. They waive the shipping and give me a discount!
Arches Oil Paper in a Pad (12x16in): This pad has paper which is easy to divide each sheet into 4 quadrants, but your quadrants will be smaller than the 5x7" quadrants I demonstrate in my youtube video and diagram I will provide you with. If you wish to have the 5x7" quadrants, which are slightly bigger and a more standard frame size, then cut sheets out of larger, 22x30in Arches oil paper to get the exact measurements I show.
Strathmore Mixed Media Paper on a Roll, 400 series, 42" x 8 yds: I use this paper a lot and love how heavy duty it is. I use it with water based mediums and if I want to transition into cold wax/oils over an acrylic painting, I mount the paper onto wooden panels and proceed after applying Liquitex clear gesso over the acrylic underpainting. In this YouTube video I am painting on this large-scale paper in acrylics.
Arches Oil paper - Rolls: This paper is a favorite of mine. I use it for working both small and large. The works on paper can be mounted on panel or framed behind glass, and there is no need to gesso the surface first. When you purchase the paper in the large roll (51" x 10yd), it will be hard to unroll at first. If you go to a home store and purchase a very inexpensive cardboard tube (the kind made for pouring cement columns - I don't know what they're called but hopefully the folks working there will) - you can cut it down to size and you can use this to help you reverse roll the large Arches paper so it will relax. (Thanks, Jane Kenyon for this suggestion - it works!). Here is a YouTube Video I made to show you how I unroll all paper that comes in a roll! This YouTube Video shows how I mount works on paper on wooden panel.
Arches Oil Paper – 22x30in, 10 Sheets: Since I love working on
this oil paper, I order several sheets at a time and just cut them down to what ever
size I like to work on – whether small or large. I’ve even taped 6 sheets
together to make a 6’x6’ painting, and then mounted on a large panel. You never
have to gesso this paper and it is very sturdy, a 140lb weight with a slight
See how I mount oil/cwm works on paper on to wooden panel in
I love these boards as they are portable and come in lots of sizes. Like the Arches oil paper, there is no need to gesso the boards if you are working in cold wax medium. However, you can also work in inks, watercolor, acrylic, collage, gouache, etc. These are perfect for travel. When your painting is finished, you can either frame behind glass or mount on to a cradled panel or flat panel.
Ampersand panels are wonderful to work on whether you are a cold wax, acrylic or encaustic artist. They offer many types of boards, including Encaustibord, Gessobord and Claybord. You can review their website above for lots of detailed information.
Stretcher Bars (recommended by Nicholas Wilton though I have not tried these myself). If you are working with oils/cwm on stretched canvas, be sure to keep the percentage of cwm to oils at less than 25% or you may experience cracking of your paint surface when the canvas flexes (ie, if you roll it or if the canvas flexes on the stretcher bars).
FINAL PRESENTATION AND FRAMING:
Adhering Works on Paper to Panel
Lineco pH Neutral Adhesive (You can also use a polymer Gel Medium)
I've used this company for over 10 years and have found a great selection of modern frames, from traditional mouldings to floater frames for works on panel. There are always great discounts offered during the holidays, and the frames can be shipped assembled or you can assemble them yourself for cost savings. Ask for Roger, he'll be very happy to help you with any questions you have.
Ampersand, a company which makes the pre-gessoed Encaustibord, Gessobord and Claybord, now offers frames for their cradled and flat panels. Click the link above for more information and to find a local retailer.
D Rings - light duty - 100 pack- will support 10 pounds
D Rings - heavy duty - I use the heavier D rings for large wooden panels over 24x24in in size.
Supersoft Strand, Size 2: Plastic coated picture framing wire - I used to use regular hanging wire, but when you cut and twist the ends, the sharp wires can puncture your fingers so I only use the plastic coated wire now. This is a great brand and I have 3 sizes in my studio since each "No." is rated for a different weight. Here is the guide for which wire is suitable for which weight of painting you wish to hang:
(The larger sizes are thicker and therefore harder to work with so don't choose them unless you have a really heavy picture. You can weigh your picture on bathroom scales. Go one size larger if in doubt.)
Size 2 for maximum picture weight of 15 pounds or 7 Kg
Size 3 for maximum picture weight of 20 pounds or 9 Kg
Size 4 for maximum picture weight of 25 pounds or 11 Kg
Size 5 for maximum picture weight of 43 pounds or 20 Kg
Size 6 for maximum picture weight of 60 pounds or 27 Kg
Size 8 for maximum picture weight of 100 pounds or 45 Kg
If you like the idea of being able to slip unframed artwork on paper into nice, clear archival sleeves with adhesive enclosures, this is the company I go to as they have a large selection of sizes from very small to very large. Many times, I like to leave works of art unframed to allow collectors to purchase work they can then frame themselves. As long as the paint is completely dry, I slip the art into the sleeve and usually include a backing board.
While I used to do all my own framing, including cutting mats, assembling, cleaning glass, placing the artwork in the frame, making sure no cat hairs got in, securing with brads (nails), and putting on the backing, I have found that buying mats in quantity from this company has been a huge time saver. Since I usually opt for the white or just off white mats, and because I work in standard sizes of artwork when working small (ie, 5x7, 8x10, etc), this company can provide you with precut mats in bulk and at very good prices. They ship the mats in fabulous containers that protect the delicate corners and they also offer archival backing boards for your artwork so there is a little more stability when slipping everything into the clearbags from above! I highly recommend this company.
ARTWORK STORAGE/MOBILITY/PRESENTATION SOLUTIONS
I really can't say enough about the vertical storage this company makes. I lost all of my storage (flat files and vertical storage unit) during the fire and when it came time to replace them, I was so happy to discover this company. Their units are modular, so you can add more units in time and everything goes together very easily (even I could do it by myself!). All you need is a rubber mallet; everything is provided with clear instructions and what I also love about these units as they are on movable, lockable wheels. The company will ask you what height your ceiling is and then create the modular unit for you so it clears your ceiling. The customer service is top notch!
Gramercy Rolling Cart: I LOVE this cart because it has so many different ways to store things - with hooks, trays and even ways to store rolls of tape, paper towels, brushes, tools, palettes, you name it. I was so impressed when I first saw this I had to have one and it is one of my happiest pieces of equipment because it is very easy to put together, very lightweight, and very versatile. Here is more info on specs and the dimensions if you want them:
Seville Classics Industrial All-Purpose Utility Cart on Wheels I have a few of these in my studio - and they are lifesavers as far as efficiency goes. One is dedicated to holding mark-making material, and one for my tools, like sand paper, painting guides, rulers, etc. There is something to be said about portability when working in multiple mediums that share many of the same materials!
www.kjmagnetics.com I use KJ Magnetics as my source for super strong neodymium magnets that come in all sizes - cylindrical, flat circles, etc. They are the strongest magnets I've ever been able to find, and originally discovered them when needing strong magnets for my MFA thesis exhibition, where I used these magnets to hold TSA confiscated pocket knives and scissors to various steel nails. They did the trick and held each implement very well. I now use them to hold web works on paper on nails so they can dry, and have even used them to hold encaustic tins to a large steel sheet. I love these magnets!
In my older studio, I relied on an open window with a box fan mounted to help remove fumes from my encaustic working area. This worked great, but in the winter, since this area was an uninsulated are of our garage, the bottles of water I had on the window sill froze. On the positive side, the encaustic wax cooled fast. I know some of you are encaustic artists, but even those of us who work in other mediums, like cold wax/oils and encaustic monotype, even acrylic painting, can benefit from a portable solution for ventilation if you work in a closed room or basement with little to no ventilation. When I mentored with Nicholas Wilton for 7 months, he shared with me the portable unit on wheels that scoots around his studio and can sit where it is needed. It can even be elevated on tables to be really close to paints, solvents, etc. I called the company, explained I was an artist handling organic solvents and I ended up purchasing this one which held a bit more carbon than the one Nick uses, made specifically for chemicals VOCs.
This is the respirator I have in my studio which I always use when handling any dry pigment powders or if I have a high level of solvents in the air. It may not be comfortable, but at least it keeps me safe! This respirator and cartridges which are included provide at least 95% filter efficiency against solid and liquid aerosols as well as certain organic vapors.
Justrite Galvanized Safety Can: According to Gamblin Colors, this item may or may not be necessary in your studio, but I consider having some type of galvanized safety can very helpful in my studio. When I was doing the video on safety, I reached out to Gamblin to have them review the video in which I showed using both a Galvanized large Trash can with lid and an additional Galvanized Safety Cabinet (as in the link below this one). They told me this really wasn’t necessary; rather, you can soak oily rags in water, store in plastic bags, and then dispose of them. So, I removed this portion out of my video because I didn’t want people to worry needlessly. However, given our home did burn down, I feel it is definitely worthwhile to err on the side of caution, and thus when I moved into my rented space, I purchased the large galvanized trash can for oily rags and also got the yellow safety cabinet to store all of my solvents – just to be safe – even though Gamblin Colors assured me this really wasn’t necessary if I soaked oily, waxy rags in water and stored them in plastic outside before disposing of them.
Justrite 890200 Sure-Grip EX Galvanized Steel 2 FDoor Manual Flammables Mini Safety Storage Cabinet: As mentioned above, I also have one of these yellow galvanized safety cabinets to store all of my solvents. Even though it may not be necessary, I have erred on the side of caution just to be safe.
I have used dry pigments from several different companies over the last 10 years. I mainly use them to make my own encaustic waxes and encaustic monotype waxes. Here are some great sources to find a wide array of pigments.
www.Artstuf.com (Douglas and Sturgess Dry Pigments and Colorants)
ACRYLIC PAINTS and Favorite Mediums
www.Novacolorpaint.com: I purchase all of my liquid acrylics from this company and then transfer the quarts or gallons into 16 oz squeeze bottles as needed. (See links above)
Golden Airbrush Medium: This is acrylic medium I use for thinning my Acrylic paints in order to get the "drippy" effect. The consistency is much like skim milk.
Liquitex Clear Gesso: I use this product over acrylic underpaintings before I start applying cold wax/oils. The surface is very absorbent and because the gesso is clear, the underpainting shows.
Liquitex Pouring Medium: If you like the look of encaustic, try using this product over your acrylic paintings. After it dries, use 0000 steel wool with a little bit of water to dull the surface. Then, apply a very thin coat of cold wax medium over the surface of your painting with a blue shop towel. When dry (in about 20 minutes), buff with a cloth rag and it will look much like an encaustic surface.
Powertex (Powerwax): Water based cold wax, non-toxic, ready to use liquid, hardens natural fibers, use indoors or outdoors. This product was brought to my attention by PDPC artist Marion Linnenbank and I interviewed her about this product to get lots of great information! This interview is available in the members only section of WATCH-LEARN-GROW, coming in June, 2019.
COMFORT IN YOUR STUDIO
Bed Risers - set of 4: These are actually called "bed risers" if you happen to do a search for them and they come in different heights. I used them under the legs of my folding tables. Some artists like to use white PVC pipe and that can work just fine as long as all of your legs of your tables bend in the same way. Some folding tables have straight legs, so just take a look at what will be your best solution for raising your table and decreasing fatigue!
Interlocking foam mat: These will help you work longer hours in your studio, especially if you have a hard, concrete or tile floor.
ADVERTISING and MARKETING
Many thanks to Deborah Bowen, who did a private mentorship in my Hamilton, MT studio, who sent me a beautiful thank you post card that was really touching. I asked her how she was able to create such a beautiful card and she told me about this app: INK CARD. You can download it on your smart phone and send the cards very easily, customizing with images and a personal note. The cards are sent out directly from the app.
Weebly.com I use this company for my regular website, www.PamelaCaughey.com. I have found this platform to be exceptionally easy to use - and what I love the most is their live customer support. This is very hard to come by these days but the support team is exceptional!
Other Art and Success Members have used and recommend the following website platforms but I have not used them myself:
PACKING YOUR ART MATERIALS FOR A TRIP
Whether you are flying or driving with your art materials, here are a few tips that might be helpful!
I recommend all of your art materials are packed in a checked bag WITH pertinent MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) whenever available. This goes for paints, cold wax medium, gels, etc. Most times, the MSDS are available right on the website of the company that makes your art supplies. Use zip loc or zipped bags to pack like supplies, ie, put your oil paints in one bag, your brushes in another, dry mark making tools in another, etc. This will keep your supplies neat and separated in case there is leakage of an item in one particular category (such as your paints!). Use "Art Supplies" as your label rather than "paint" or "pigment" which are red flags for TSA. Please find below links to Gamblin's MSDS for the items they carry:
GAMBLIN COLORS MSDS (click here for a comprehensive list of their products and their MSDS information)
Here is a complete list of Gamblin materials eligible for air transport in checked baggage with accompanying Safety Data Sheets:
Artists Oil Colors
Fastmatte Alkyd Oil Colors
Gamvar Picture Varnish (Gloss, Satin & Matte)
Cold Wax Medium
All Drying Oils- Refined Linseed, Stand, Safflower, Poppy
MY FAVORITE BOOK IN 2D COLOR AND DESIGN
Mastering Color and Design in Watercolor, by Christopher Schink. Long ago, I took a watercolor workshop from Christopher Schink. The principles he teaches in this book apply to any medium, and this has forever been a favorite book of mine. He explains three different classes of pigments: Opaque, Stains, and Non-Staining Transparents. These classes of pigments are pretty much the same regardless of whether you are using watercolor, acrylics or oils. He talks about design in a way that allows one to understand better the idea of abstraction by using different points of view, or vantage points. This book is out of print, unfortunately, so you can usually only ever find it used.
ATTENDING LIVE CONFERENCE CALLS - What time is it in your part of the world? Just click the link below to access this TIME ZONE CONVERTER! (Thank you for this link, Jola Soares!)
Welcome to the world of videos; there is a pretty extraordinary learning curve for those who wish to create videos that are beyond what you can do with a cell phone, but I decided to take the plunge and improve my camera, sound and lighting equipment, as well as learn Adobe Premiere for video editing. I took an online course (Ivy Newport's Lights, Camera, Art) a while ago and there was a lot of useful information there. But, for those of you who wish to "wing it", you mainly need to have a good camera, a good microphone, and adequate lighting which is usually enhanced with soft lights. Here are the items I currently use:
Panasonic Lumix FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera: Features 12.1 Megapixel, 1/2.3-inch Sensor, 4K Video, WiFi, Leica DC 24X F2.8 Zoom Lens, DMC-FZ300K
LimoStudio 700W Photo Video Studio Soft Box Lighting Kit, 24 x 24 Inch Dimension Softbox Light Reflector with Photo Bulb, Photography Studio, AGG814. I have tried a few different brands of these soft box lighting kits, and though the quality is not the greatest, I found the Limo Studio lights to be the easiest to put together and seem more stable than other brands.