Posts Tagged ‘D’Arches’

After all these years, I can still make an awful painting

February 23, 2014
Quiet Moments in the Studio

Quiet Moments in the Studio

After seventy-three years, I can still make an awful picture.  After seventy-three years, I am just beginning to learn the rudiments of painting.  I would like to live long enough, but I think it would take till the 21st century to have something of a sense that I know how to paint.

Robert Motherwell

Good evening.  This blog post is in response to Corey Aber, an artist-writer-blogger who commands my highest respect.  You can check out his work at

Corey recently asked me to post information concerning the equipment I use in my art making.  I’m always glad to share this information.

1. My paper is D’Arches cold press.  I buy sheets of 300-lb. to cut to whatever size I choose.  I also buy the blocks in 140 lb. measuring 10 1/4 x 14 1/8″.   I don’t like the price, and also don’t like the way the paper starts pulling away from the block by the time I get to the last five or so sheets.  But it is a convenient tool for packing about when I’m working en plein air.  When I am ambitious, I love to soak 140 lb. sheets and stretch them on canvas stretchers, using a staple gun.  I love the tight drum-like quality of the dried out paper, the springing sensation I get when I brush on the surface, and how fast it dries when I’m working wet-on-wet.  But it is a pretty good chore stretching it, and I have to be in the mood.

2. My pigments are Winsor & Newton.  They are all I use.  And my palette is extremely limited now.  I use three blues–Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Red Shade) and Phthalo Turquoise.  I use only one yellow, Transparent Yellow.  And I use three reds–Winsor Red, Quinachridone Red, and Permanent Rose.   Occasionally I use Winsor Violet, to tone down the Transparent Yellow.  And I use Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson to mix my blacks.  That’s it.  The reason for the colors mentioned above is the transparent, clean quality they have when mixing.  I can get the best greens, oranges and violets from those combinations.  And all my neutrals come from these colors.  I ceased using colors such as Sepia, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, etc. years ago.

3. My favorite all-around brush is a Winsor & Newton size 12 Sable Round.  It holds a great deal of water, and the tip can be made razor sharp for grasses, detail lines, etc., and I don’t have to keep reloading the brush because of the quantity of water it holds.  I also use a couple of flat brushes, sable, Winsor & Newton.  1/4″ and 1/2″.  From Bob Cook, I learned to make an “ugly brush” for foliage and drybrush rendering of weathered wood and tree trunks.  This is a quality 1/2″ flat brush (Winsor & Newton) that I cut diagonally with an X-acto knife, then shredded out plenty of bristles to create a jagged, ragged brush.  This makes very, very fast work of foliage and textures in drybrush fashion.

4. I use a few watercolor pencils that I keep sharpened, and drag a wet brush along them to dissolve the hard line.  These are Albrecht Durer pencils manufacted by Faber-Castell.  I like to use Dark Sepia, Warm Gray VI and Cool Gray VI.  I also keep sharpened HB pencils around, as well as water-soluble graphite pencils in HB and 8B.

That’s about it.  Thanks for reading.  And thank you, Corey, for asking.