Authentically Human! Not Written by AI!
All Content Copyright © Michael Chesley Johnson AIS PSA MPAC

Sunday, December 10, 2023

For the Painter

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**Authentically Human! Not Written by AI**

Since giving seems to be on everyone's mind right now, I thought I'd jump in with my own "Top Ten" list of suggestions.   These are things I've found useful in my own painting practice in the past year, so maybe you'll find them useful, too.  In no particular order:

Tempered Glass Cutting Board.  Sure, you could chop onions on this, but I find it better to use as a painting palette.  They come in different sizes, and they are easy to clean, either with a quick scrape of a blade or a wipe of a paper towel.  The one I have has little plastic feet so it doesn't slip.  Although I use a large, homemade glass palette at my easel, I've found that having one or two of the smaller cutting boards is handy for any small project that doesn't require a big mixing area.  

Bluetooth Headband.  I listen to music when I'm in the studio, whether at the easel, bench or desk.  Because I tend to wander a bit, and also to flail my hands about when painting, I find cables a hazard, so wired headphones aren't an option.  What's more, my music often doesn't suit the other inhabitants of the house, so speakers don't work for me, either.  Sure, I could wear wireless headphones, but I find them a bit clunky.  My solution:  a Bluetooth headband.  The tiny speakers are fine—I can almost feel the bass—and the band itself is made of a material that keeps my head warm.  There are many brands out there, but mine is a MusiCozy.

Wacom Intuos Tablet.  I'm not a digital artist, but I've found that digital art can be handy in improving my paintings made with traditional media.  To do this, I take a photo of my work-in-progress, pull it into my favorite image editing software, and then experiment with the image using my graphics tablet.  I can simulate many of the tools I use in traditional painting – brush and knife, in many sizes and shapes – and play with different ideas in color and value.  Once I've come up with something that looks good, I return to my easel and make it real.

Rosemary Brushes.  I'm hard on my brushes, and it's disappointing to have an expensive brush wear down in no time.  I'd heard a lot about Rosemary Brushes, so hoping for a more durable product, I ordered the Michael Richardson Plein Air Master Brush Set.  (Most of the brushes it has are the sizes and shapes I typically use.)  Despite my scrubbing, grinding and general mistreatment, these brushes are still in great shape.

Gamblin's Gesso and Ground Blades.  These plastic scrapers I've found perfect not just for spreading gesso or oil ground on panels but also for painting with.  They're flexible and easy to clean.  Scraping down, spreading paint, making fine lines—all great uses for these.  I find them a great supplement to Gamblin's painting knives.

Gamblin's Painting Knives. These came out last year, but I've been using them this year on projects. The big handles make them easy on the grip, the one-piece stamped metal has no weld to break, and they clean with just a wipe. They're a bit big to take plein air painting, but they are great in the studio.

Mako Panels.  I started painting with these for a recent project, and I love them.  Well-crafted with good edges, plus a superior surface to paint on.  They come on ACM (aluminum composite material) panels or Gatorboard.  You can get them unprimed or primed with acrylic gesso or oil ground, or mounted with Claessen's linen. By the way, if you're a first-time buyer, you can get 10% off the order with the code FIRSTMAKO10.

And now it's time for some self-promotion!  Here are some other things you might enjoy:

My Calendar.  Twelves images of some of my favorite paintings from this past year.  Images are seasonally appropriate and feature Southwest landscapes and the Maine coast and Canadian Maritimes.

My Paintings.  In case you missed it, the studio clearance still goes on!  Get 50% off any Southwest painting over $300 with FREE shipping to the continental US.

My Books.  Each of these books contains useful demonstrations, tips and more for both the beginning plein air painter and the seasoned pro.  The most recent one is Beautiful Landscape Painting Outdoors: Mastering Plein Air, which features a dozen master artists offering demonstrations and instruction.