Tag Archives: acrylic

Eeeeeeek…….

Eeeeeeekkkk, I accidentally left my brushes soaking in my brush basin overnight.  I was really tired when I finished for the night, had a million more things to do, so I stuck my brushes in my basin………to clean after I did all that other stuff.

This afternoon when I went to my studio to paint, my poor pathetic brushes were looking up at me with soggy faces!  OMG, I couldn’t believe I left them in that condition.  Not only were they waterlogged, but the bristles had a nice, gentle curl on the tips (thanks to the bottom of the basin).  Not only was I aggravated that I had forgotten, but also that it would require considerable work to get them back into shape.

Never fear, I am not the only one that has faced this issue (thank goodness).  I have my backup team ready and waiting for such an emergency.  Enter in the qualified members of my Brush Crisis Team:

  • DS3-9-8ozDecoMagic_1024x1024.jpgFirst and foremost, DecoMagic  Brush and Stencil Cleaner.  This amazing product has many outstanding qualities.  It is gentle enough to use every day, but packs a big punch in removing paint (even dried paint) from brushes, hands, stencils, and fabrics. It leaves brushes soft and pliable!  BONUS:  I can also be used as an jewelry cleaner.  I often scrub up my rings while doing my brushes.  Nice to have sparkling clean brushes, but sparkling rings will catch everyone’s eye!
  • 29-60017-2__29288_1024x1024.jpgI love using my Brush Cleaning Tank.  It is large enough to hold an entire bottle of DecoMagic and has a dome wire brush cleaner positioned about an inch from the bottom.  The screen loosens paint while keeping bristles out of the bottom sediment.  I rarely clean my tank, simply refill with DecoMagic to keep the fluid above the screen.  Not only is it ecconomical, but the tank can be easily transported to any classroom.  I always come home from travel teaching with clean brushes!  One bottle of cleaner usually lasts about 6 months.
  • 29-01200.jpgThe Brush Scrubby Grooming Pad is priceless.  This little gem is probably the best bang for your buck in the entire industry.  Did I say buck?…its only 88¢ (SCORE)!  No matter how well brushes are cleaned, I am always astonished at how much paint comes out when using the scrubby.  After I clean my brushes in the tank, I pick up the scrubby and run my brushes across the pointed nibs.  This is a great way to get paint build up at the ferrule.  The heart shape is adorable, however, fits nicely in the palm of your hand.

05717-1002-1-2ww-m_1024x1024.jpgAnd lastly, if the tips have that stubborn curl, simply use Brush Shaper to restore the shape.  Basically this is a stiffener (sizing) that will return your brushes to their pristine shape.  Apply the shaper to the bristles, then form to desired shape.  They will dry rather stiff, but a quick swim in the brush basin will remove the sizing, resulting in nice chisel edges and pointed tips!  Keeps your brushes looking like new!

Now that I have restored my brushes, I have renewed my resolution to NEVER leave them in water again.  I have promised them that I will take better care of them in the future and reassured them that I will ALWAYS love them.

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Finally…an AWESOME 1/8″ Angle!

I love to paint and am continually on the lookout for brushes that will make my painting life easier and my designs more professional.  Without great brushes, I know I will not have great results.   I don’t like fussy painting, but I like my designs to look like I spent many hours achieving perfect detail.  I use angles of all sizes not only to shade and float, but love the angled toes for sharp details and the width of the bristles to lay in basecoats.

My biggest complaint was finding an 1/8″ angle that would do the work I needed.  I searched high and low, checked out brand after brand, and tested one after another.  I was so frustrated with the shapes, the bristle quality, the performance; none of the brushes lived up to my expectations.

So, I decided to have a brush manufactured to my specifications.  The list was simple:

  1. The brush had to be long enough to allow me to load enough paint to float a significant distance before reloading.
  2. The angle needed to be at least 45 degree to allow easy application in small areas.
  3. The chisel edge needed to stay sharp and not spread out.
  4.  The bristles needed to be strong with good bounce and durability.

As a result, I am proud to announce Chris’s 1/8″ AWESOME Angle.  It checks off my list of wants and has exceeded my expectations.  I have been using the same brush (heavily) for over 6 months and it still looks and performs like new!  I am beyond thrilled as I no longer struggle to add tiny highlights or shading in small areas.  The brush makes the strokes easy to implement and the results are amazing!  This versatile brush not only works well with acrylics, but also is great with watercolors or oils!

Chris’s 1/8″ Awesome Angle is available exclusively at Cupboard Distributing; http://www.cdwood.com;  #03-935-1/8

 

Yes, you can…

I found myself in the middle of a home remodel.  When removing some of the drywall, I was pleasantly surprised to find the old chimney tucked behind the wall.  I loved the colors and the character of the bricks.  After they were cleaned, they were beautiful and would become a nice focal element.  However, this old chimney had been a working chimney.  There was a round patch were the stove pipe was cut into the bricks and huge, black drips of creosote running down the front side.  I was assured that the hole could be patched with matching brick and the creosote could be easily removed.  However, the patched area was bright and “new” looking and the creosote stain could not be diminished!

FullSizeRenderThe men had sealed the bricks with a coat of acrylic matte Seal-Krete.  I chose matte to keep the antique look of age.

I was not discouraged, because I have a secret friend that comes to my aid whenever I run into a problem. I grabbed a selection of DecoArt Americana colors; Terra Cotta, Heritage Brick, Mississippi Mud, Driftwood, Asphaltum, Burnt Umber, Sand, Antique Maroon, and a few others.  I used an old scruffy 1/2″ flat shader, a new brush will be ruined with the rough brick texture.  I studied the bricks and realized using pure color would be too strong and bold.  Each brick was a myriad of color and tones.

FullSizeRender (1)First I painted over the black creosote with Terra Cotta to cover the darkness, feathering out the edges.  When dry, I picked up a touch of the orange and/or brown to drybrush randomly over the brick, making sure to blend the colors so they would not appear spotty.  I didn’t use water or clean the brush between colors.  Wipe the loaded brush over a paper towel before drybrushing and between colors.  If the color was too strong, I picked up Sand or Mississippi Mud.  The key is to evaluate the color of each brick, blending with a continuity of colors.  Look how a single brick can go from a muted tan to a deep, rich rust!  I enjoyed playing with a palette of color to create the tone and flavor of each brick.  Patience is needed as it takes many, many layers to replicate the aged look of the brick.

The best part is the fact that there are no mistakes.  If I didn’t like the look, I would simply drybrush with another layer of color, brighter or quieter, as needed.  I even painted the grout!  The new grout was very clean and gray,  I wanted that dull, smoky color.  First I tried some greys, but, surprisingly, found that Sand and Asphaltum were perfect.  Not a mix, but a touch of both colors on a dirty brush, then a drybrush over the grout until the desired results were achieved.

One of the bricks had been broken and the hole was patched with grout.  Check out the “repair” job I did with paint!  I figured anything would look better that an empty spot.  Again, I started with a drybrush of Terra Cotta, then started toning it down with Mississippi Mud, Espresso, Heritage Brick, following the pattern of the other half of the brick.  I matched up the grout and applied another layer of sealer.

FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRender (3)

I didn’t limit the touch ups to the damaged and repaired areas, there were several bricks that were dull or I just didn’t like the color.  The more I played, the braver I became!  This was a fun project and I love the results!

The next time a project seems beyond hope, just look for alternative solutions.  When I told the guys working on the bricks that I could paint them, the disbelief look on their faces was priceless.  However, the next day when they saw the faux painted bricks, they were beyond amazed.  They couldn’t believe the transformation and wanted to take pictures.

Taking art off the studio table can be rewarding and exciting.  I encourage you to adventure into new areas, be courageous, and reap the benefits of creativity!

So little time…so much to do…

In the last few weeks, I have literally traveled coast to coast.  I stuck my toes in the Pacific Ocean and just a couple weeks later I stuck those same toes in the Atlantic Ocean.  I have traveled by truck and trailer over 8000 miles, taught a 3 day seminar, set up and worked 2 conventions, taught 5 classes and special event all within about 3 weeks.  I can rightfully say that I am bone tired!

However, my schedule is packed so tight and I have so many deadlines that rest is not an option.  So, what is the solution?  I thought I would share my secret to organization and keeping productivity at a max.

The first thing I recommend is making a list.  The list needs to be quite thorough.  I list EVERYTHING that needs to be done from art projects to house cleaning tasks.  Once the list is complete, the next step is to prioritize.

This is my secret, the solution to solving my crazy schedule.  I recommend purchasing a large desktop calendar.  I use the one with each month on an entire page with plenty of room on each day for notes.  I also like the ones with room for notes across the bottom or side margins.Calendar

Now the fun begins!  With a pencil (in case you need to re-arrange), start putting the tasks onto the calendar.  My best advise is to NOT overload each day.  Be practical and give yourself time off.  It is not realistic to pack the days so full that there is no time to enjoy life!  I always keep at least two days open, just in case the grandkids come over or I get an offer to do something fun.  That’s the main reason that I use a pencil!  I can simply erase and re-schedule.  My calendar is ALWAYS visible so I can see it at a glance.

Once I have all my deadlines and tasks listed on my calendar, I no longer stress or worry about trying to get everything done.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have long days, but now I have the comfort of knowing that it is all under control.  I can focus on each project as it is scheduled which allows me to be much more creative.

I absolutely love what I do!  I feel that I have been blessed with a talent and the desire to share.  My head spins with new ideas and designs.  I have stacks and stacks of sketch books, note books and scraps of paper with ideas.  My biggest challenge is not coming up with new designs, it is trying to juggle working full time, being a designer, painter, wife, mom, grandma, and making it all work.

My calendar is my peace of mind.  I know how much I can pack into each day and keep my sanity.  Some days are still long, but when I look at my calendar, I can always see order, which keeps me calm.  Now my focus is on the important tasks at hand, whether designing, painting or (sigh) cleaning house!