Monday, December 18, 2006

The Pigment used for Making Emerald Green Paint

This article looks at how Emerald Green paint used to be made and how dangerous it was to be to be a painter!


Emerald Green

This shade of green is particularly light and bright, with a faint bluish tint. The name is derived from the typical appearance of the Emerald gemstone.

However it is chemically unstable and very poisonous.

The colour of Emerald Green pigment can range from a pale, but vivid, blue green when very finely ground, to a deeper true green when coarsely ground.

A Bit of History

Chemical name: Copper(II)-acetoarsenite

This copper aceto-arsenite pigment was first produced commercially in Germany in 1814.

A quote from the time tells how green paint was made –

"Verdigris (or acetic acid) was dissolved in vinegar and warmed. A watery solution of white arsenic was added to it so that a dirty green solution was formed. To correct the colour, fresh vinegar was added to dissolve the solid particles. The solution was then boiled and bright blue-green sediment was obtained. It was then separated from the liquid, washed and dried on low heat and ground in thirty percent linseed oil. "

The Choice of Famous Artists

Emerald Green was Cezanne's favourite pigment, and it dominates many of his paintings. In his watercolours, the thin washes of this colour have turned brown but thicker applications have remained bright green. Cezanne developed severe diabetes, which is a symptom of chronic arsenic poisoning.

This pigment was also a favoured by other artists of this era, such as Van Gogh. Monet's blindness and Van Gogh's neurological disorders are likely directly related to their use of Emerald Green, as well as lead pigments, mercury-based Vermilion, and solvents such as turpentine.

I bet they wished they only needed to nip out to the store to get some more paint ;-)

Some Green Facts and Meanings

Ireland is sometimes called the Emerald Isle because it rains frequently and the vegetation is a very lush green. Green is the national colour of Ireland.

Libya is the only nation to have a flag that is solid green.

Green means ‘go’.

Jealousy is said to be the ‘green-eyed monster’.

You can also be ‘green with envy’.

If you are ‘green about the gills’ you are looking sickly and pale.

Green is the healing colour, and the colour of nature.

Green is the easiest colour on the eye. So it is a popular decorating colour.

It is a calming and refreshing colour. People waiting to appear on TV wait in the ‘Green Room’. Hospitals often use green (uniforms and walls) to help patients to relax.

In the middle ages brides wore green to symbolise fertility.

In ancient Greece green symbolised victory.

Dark green is said to represent masculinity, conservatism and wealth.


I hope you have a lovely holiday season and that Santa is good to you!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Card Making - How to Paint Your Own Backing Papers - Part 2

Part One described how to use pre-stretched paper and acrylic paints to paint backing paper for card making. This article looks at ways to make your backing papers even more individual.

Use Acrylic Mediums

There are acrylic mediums that can be added to the acrylic paint to extend the range of effects you can achieve. The acrylic mediums can make the paint dry to a glossy or matt finish. Other mediums can give beautiful metallic effects or add textures like sand or small glass beads.

(The metallic mediums are especially effective on dark colours.)

There are a wide range of acrylic mediums that you can use. Be sure to check out the range I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Apply the Paint without a Brush

You could also try applying the paint with crumpled paper towel or thin plastic for a random textured finish.

You can paint your backing paper to co-ordinate with your other card making materials which will save you both -

* time spent looking for just the ‘right’ paper
* money as you can use the paints that you already have.

Rip instead of Cut

Another idea is instead of cutting the backing paper you could rip the background paper for a different look.

You’ll find that ripping towards yourself will give a different effect compared to when you rip away from yourself.

The size and shape of the exposed edge will be different. On dark coloured surfaces exposing the white ‘centre of the paper’ will give a white border that can be very pleasing.

This all adds to the variety of effects you can achieve. This is a great way to make your cards individual and special, so that they stand out from the crowd.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Card Making – How to Paint Your Own Backing Papers - Part 1

Recently there has been a huge interest in card making. Card making is a hobby that can cover a wide range of different crafting techniques.

The use of acrylic paints in card making will add another cost effective and interesting option to the materials you can use in the final card. If you already have a range of acrylic paints you’ll be able to use these paints to enhance your card making materials.

A popular style of card making uses layers of different papers to give the final card more interest and/or extra height.

Paint Your Own for a Perfect Match

You can paint your own backing paper to suit the other materials you wish to use in your card.

The simplest way is to apply a wash of colour or colours to some pre-stretched paper. Let the paper dry, remove the paper from the pad and cut it to the size you want to use for your background paper.

One effective method is to dampen the paper with a spray bottle of water and drip on the colours you wish to use – letting the colours spread and blend together. This can be subtle or dramatic depending on your choice of colours.

Use Salt for a Textured Effect

A variation on this method is to sprinkle on some salt after applying the colours. Leave the paper to dry, and then brush off the salt. The final result will have a lovely speckled, textured effect.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Easy Way to Make a Club Logo

Are you a member of a club or association? Have you ever thought how much better your letterheads would look with your own club logo? How about a sign for your club with your logo and club name on it?

Well, it is really very easy to make up your own logo. It will be unique to your club too.

Use Your Computer

By using your computer and some copyright free clipart you will have a huge range of material to choose from. Here’s how to begin this exciting project.

You are going to select suitable objects from the clipart package and use these to design your logo.

Choose things that relate to your club's activities. For example, cameras, tripod, and film for a photography club. Or perhaps a checked background with a few chess pieces for a chess club.

The easiest way is to open an art/graphics program - most computers come with one. This does not need to be any particular program just whatever you have available.

Clipart for Ideas

Have a look through the clipart. This can be the ones that come with the art/graphics program or one of the many clipart CD that are for sale. Try to use copyright free clipart, most clipart is. You will be combining various clipart objects in your final logo so there shouldn't be any copyright problems anyway.

I like to copy and paste the various clipart objects onto one page in the art program. It saves going back and forth to the clipart. Collect together suitable objects that relate to your club.

Next decide on the shape you would like the logo to be. It could be square, round, arched, even heart shaped.

Assemble the Items

Open a new page then start with the logo shape and fill it in with a suitable color. This will depend on the colors of your other objects. If the objects are dark then a light background will be better, and if the objects are mainly light try using a darker background.

Use copy and paste to move the objects onto the page with the logo background. Place your objects onto the background. Resize them to suit the background if necessary.

I like to have some of them overlapping; I think it looks more interesting. When you do this select the one you want to bring to the front, then click on Arrange, then Layer, and bring forward. Your program may be a bit different but it will let you do this - use the Help menu if you need to.

Adding the Club Name?

If you want to include the club name, leave room for it when you are placing the objects.

To add the club’s name, add a Text Box. Type in the club’s name. You can use any font you like - there is almost too much choice. Move the text box into the correct position.

You could use a banner shape from the options in the program and place the club name on it if that would suit your layout.

Once you have an arrangement you like use the Edit menu to Select All, and then Save it.

You can make several logos with different objects and different layouts. Be sure to Save the ones you like!

Print them out, and take your new logos to the club so that the club members can decide on the best one to use.

It has never been so easy to create your own logo. How about one for yourself or your family?

Add the logo to all your club stationery. Use it on your letterhead, cards, and activity programs. You could even make your own sign.

A good logo will make your club standout from the crowd.

Check out the Acrylic Painting Report "The Easy Way to Brighten Your Community" for more information on this interesting project. Just visit for further details.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Coat of Arms – An Easy Way to Design and Make It

Designing and making your own Coat of Arms is an interesting and enjoyable project. The Coat of Arms could be for your family or as a present. It will make a distinctive and original gift.

You can choose whether it will be funny or more traditional. A Coat of Arms can be an unusual leaving present for a co-worker.

What theme?

The Coat of Arms can be themed to a particular event or hobby –

Hobby or special interest – golf, fishing, cooking
Life event – graduation, winning a particular contest
Humorous – funny episodes in life, the person’s quirks

Begin by choosing a background shape for the Coat of Arms. A shield shape is traditional; however choose a shape that matches the person it is for. You could have a heart shaped one for a young girl or for someone who is getting married.

Then select the items that will be included in the Coat of Arms. This could be very simple - for example a couple of crossed tennis racquets - or fairly elaborate depending on your theme.

The final size of the Coat of Arms will restrict the number of items you can include. A smaller ‘letterhead’ size Coat of Arms may only have one or two things, but one painted onto a canvas could include a lot more items and extra detail.

Placing for a great result

If you’re only using one item it would probably be placed centrally. For two items you could place them side by side or one to the top and the other to the bottom. When a Coat of Arms has four items they are often placed in the four quadrants which have been sectioned off with lines.

Clip art is a handy way to select the different things to include in your Coat of Arms. Copy and Paste a range of suitable items onto one page and then make your final selection from these.

When you are making a Coat of Arms for a particular person you can include the things that they like to do. My husband is a teacher, he likes golf, fishing and does a lot of DIY. A traditional Coat of Arms for him could be a shield shape divided into four quadrants. The sections could have –

A mortar board
Golf clubs
A cross shape made from a hammer and screwdriver

For a smaller, less formal one I could use a golf ball shape background with a diagonal cross made of a fishing rod and a golf club. There could also be a motto like “Life’s too short to work!” or something similar.

A good theme for a funny Coat of Arms would be to choose things that represent silly episodes in their life. You can really get creative with your items!

Making it up

To make up your Coat of Arms draw in the background shape and place your items for a pleasing result. You could add a motto at the bottom as well. Using computer fonts for this will ensure that the lettering, and the spacing between the letters, is perfect.

If you have done this in a computer program you could print it out. Remember that most computer inks will fade over time if left in the sunlight.

Alternatively you could trace and paint the Coat of Arms onto a canvas panel. For a larger one you can print out sections of the Coat of Arms onto several pages of computer paper and join them together. Trace this onto a canvas panel or stretched canvas and paint it – I like to use acrylic paints because they are water based and quick and easy to use.

**A large Coat of Arms on a stretched canvas is an impressive gift.**

If you have made a family Coat of Arms you could add it to your letterhead, or print it onto the front of cards for your own personalized stationery.

This is a great project that you will enjoy doing either by yourself or with others. Be sure to give it a try.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Do You Have A Healthy Brain?

The Secret to Mental Agility

We all know to exercise our bodies to keep fit, but how often do you think about exercising your brain? And what type of exercise does it need anyway? What are the facts? What is the secret to mental agility?

Keeping mentally active will keep your brain in good shape. Getting older does not mean that you have to be forgetful!

Recent research into Alzheimer's disease found that people who were less active between the ages of 20 and 60 years are almost 4 times more likely to develop the disease. The brain, like the rest of the body, needs to be kept active to keep healthy.

You exercise your body to keep it in shape. Now it has been shown that exercising your brain can keep it in shape too.

Brain 'Exercise'

That leaves us with the question of what to do to keep our brains active. The research discovered that how you spend your leisure time can affect the health of your brain.

Leisure activities can be divided into -

Passive activities, which include watching TV, participating in social activities, and listening to music

Intellectual activities are reading, painting, playing a musical instrument, woodworking.

Physical activities, for example, gardening, playing sport, working out at the gym, walking, jogging.

The only 'activity' that the Alzheimer's patients had performed more frequently than the control group was watching TV!

The research team was lead by Robert Friedland, professor of neurology, University Hospitals of Cleveland. He said "A relative increase in the amount of time devoted to intellectual activities from early adulthood (ages 20-39) to mid-adulthood (ages 40-60) was associated with a significant decrease in the probability of having Alzheimer's disease later in life."

An intellectual or physical hobby stimulates the brain and may reduce neurodegeneration as seen in diseases such as Alzheimer's. So sitting watching the TV isn't enough for your brain, you need to keep it active. One way is by learning new things.

Learn to Paint

Many of the finalists in the Learning in Later Life Campaign 2000 to find England's oldest and most inspiring learners had art and painting as their hobby.

England's Oldest Learner was Fred Moore who was then aged 107 years. Fred continued with art classes until he died at the age of 109. The manager of his residential home said "Fred was a remarkable chap. He kept his memory, going back to the death of Queen Victoria, and always retained his great sense of humor."

So it's official then, learning a new hobby is good for you. Fancy learning to paint? Painting can be done indoors and outdoors, as well as by yourself or in a group.

It is never too late to start. Local night classes offer a range of options. Have a look in the painting section at You can see free painting tips, as well as a free preview of step-by-step instructions to completing your first painting.

Remember you can have a healthy brain and enjoy a hobby too.
Don't leave it until tomorrow, begin today!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beginner’s Acrylic Painting - Paper Painting Surfaces

Paper Painting Surfaces – What You Need to Know

Have you ever gone in to buy some paper for painting and been overwhelmed by the choice? You would think it would be a simple thing to buy a sheet of paper, wouldn't you? Well, it can be if you know what the different choices mean and how it can affect your finished painting.

A Beginners Guide on Acrylic Painting Paper Surfaces

Manufacturers have created a whole range of paper products for the artist. So many choices that unless you know what some of the terms mean it can be very confusing.

When you want your painting to last for a long time always go for acid-free. This is the type of paper used in archives.

The next thing is the surface texture of the paper, whether you want a fine texture or rough. You may be asking “How do I know? I’m just beginning with acrylic paints and I want something to paint on!”

The texture you choose will depend on your style of painting and the kinds of paintings you like. If you like to have a lot of detail in your paintings you will need a smooth textured paper - in which case you want one that is ‘Hot Pressed’.

If you use a lot of watercolour (or watercolour style) washes then the paper you should choose will be ‘Not’. That means 'Not hot pressed'. It has a bit more texture than Hot pressed papers.

If you paint a lot of landscapes and/or like granulation (which happens when the colors separate while they dry) you will probably like using Cold pressed papers. These have the roughest texture.

Papers are sold in weights. This affects the thickness of the paper. Papers that are less than 300-lb or 640gsm (grams per square metre) will need to be stretched before painting. If you don’t stretch the paper it will buckle when wet making painting difficult and the paint will dry in the hollows giving a disappointing result.


Painting Tip

Stretching paper needs to be done in advance and the paper allowed to dry before you use it. You will need a clean drawing board, some 1½ inch wide gum strip, and water to soak the paper in (the bath is handy for this).

Soak the paper in the water until it is saturated, this will take less than a minute. Place the paper onto the board and smooth it out from the centre to the edges.

Cut pieces of gum strip to fit the length and the width of the paper, plus a couple of inches. Dampen the gum strip and use it to stick the longer edges of the paper to the board, and then do the shorter edges. Smooth out the paper and the gum strip and leave it to dry naturally and on the horizontal. Do not place it near a heater!


If you just want to paint without needing to prepare the paper, there are pads of ready stretched paper that save you having to do this yourself. These pads have the paper glued around the edges and you paint on the top of the pad. Once you've finished the painting and it is completely dry, a knife is inserted at one of the edges and moved around the sides to cut through the glue and free the top layer.

It is a good investment to buy good quality paper. It is much easier to use which is important when beginning with acrylic paints, and gives a better result.

Next time you need to buy paper think about how you like to paint, and it will be much easier to decide on the type of paper to buy.

Look out for other Beginners Acrylic Painting articles on buying the rest of your painting supplies – palette and brushes, and acrylic paints.

Visit my website to find out How to Acrylic Paint.

The Acrylic Painting Course is the step-by-step way to learn how to paint. Quick and Easy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Easy Way to Make a Special Present

We all know someone who is difficult to buy a present for. Someone who has everything they need and would not appreciate ‘normal’ gifts. Often this will be your parent or an older relative or neighbour, and they can be a problem to buy something for.

Well, this is a simple way to make a unique gift that they will be happy to accept. When you take the time to produce something that relates only to them and their interests it will always be happily received.

Use their Interests as a Theme

The idea is to make a picture that includes something that they are especially interested in. This could be a hobby or any other interest they have.

This is a quick and easy technique. You simply choose your theme (their hobby or interest), paint a silhouette of it onto a coloured background and frame it.

You could paint a coloured background onto a canvas panel or use already coloured paper. I noticed my local art store had coloured card that had a range of colours merging into each other, this would be ideal for this technique.

The theme of your silhouette is really the creative part. The easiest thing would be to use their hobby as the theme.

Look through some copyright free clip art until you find an image that you could use for the outline of the silhouette.

If they like fishing it could be a fisherman/fish/fishing fly. For a golfer it could be a set of clubs/golf hole with flag. For someone who likes to cook it could be related to cooking. If they are keen church-goers a silhouette of their church may be appreciated.

A lot of people like to receive a silhouette of their home. For car enthusiast a silhouette of their car is a good idea. In which case you could use a digital camera and take a picture of their church, home or whatever you have decided to include in the picture.

You really can use your imagination for this. When using clip art you have a huge range of options (probably too many!) to choose from. You don’t have to be great at drawing!

Also, you can use a computer graphics package to blend together two or three images for your final silhouette shape. Be sure to adjust the size of the final image to make it the correct size for the painting surface you have chosen, and print it out. As this is a gift you can make it whatever size you choose.

Once you have painted or found a suitable background, then trace around the outside edge of the image for your silhouette shape. Use carbon paper for this.

Fill it in

The silhouette shape can be painted in using acrylic paints – don’t make the paint too thin though! Another alternative is to use a permanent marker, not a normal marker as it will fade over time, and that would be disappointing for the person receiving the gift.

Silhouettes look very effective and traditional in black. However you could use a darker shade of one of the colours in the background for an alternative look. For example if the background was a pale green the silhouette could be in a dark green. This all adds to the uniqueness of your gift.

If you are using a coloured card it will be better to use a permanent marker as the water in the paint may cause the card surface to buckle.

Fill in the silhouette shape and leave to dry. Then frame the silhouette picture.

**A distinctive gift for a special person**

This type of personalized gift is always appreciated and shows that you have put some thought, time and effort into the present.

Another major benefit is that no one else will be giving exactly the same gift!

What about a card?

This is an excellent technique if you can’t find a suitable card.

You can make your own special card. It is most effective if you choose a very simple shape for the silhouette when using this method in card making. Cards are generally a lot smaller and look best when you use less detailed shapes.

Use this system and say goodbye to gift buying problems for that hard to please someone.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How to Make 3D Artwork

This article is about making a three dimensional piece of art.

I mentioned this to a couple of people in the last month or so.
It is such a good idea that I hope you find it interesting.

How to Make 3D Artwork

Here is a simple way to use old items you have lying around the house to make a stunning piece of art.

When you try this method I am sure you will be amazed by your results. It can be hard to visualize how this will look, but it does turn out really well.

What you do is collect together items that have different textures, spray them all a metallic colour, and then arrange them onto a black velvet background. Layer some of the items for an interesting look.

Does this work?

I first saw this style of artwork at college. All the students arrived with what seemed to me to be a load of junk. At that point they did not know why they needed the items, they had only been told to bring in a range of things with various textures.

Some had plastic fruit, old coins, keys, corrugated paper, patterned wallpaper, nuts, sandpaper, hair clips, silk flowers, anything and everything!

The teacher arrived with a roll of black velvet and several tins of spray paint in gold and silver.

Everyone selected some of their things to spray paint and then choose whether to use either gold or silver paint to spray them. They used just one metallic colour for all the items in the final piece.

There were a couple of large cardboard boxes in the room which were used as spray booths.

While the items were drying, large pieces of thick cardboard were cut for the background. Once the background cardboard was cut it was covered in black velvet which was glued and taped onto the rear of the board.

At this point the whole project still did not look too promising, however once the items started to be arranged on the velvet covered background there was a buzz of excitement.

The whole thing looked great and it was easy!

A lot of time went into placing the things, however even the ones which were thrown together looked really good. Once the layout of the objects was finalized the items were glued to the background.

This is an excellent method of making your own stylish artwork.

You can group items that are all on one theme. For example a music theme could include an old vinyl record, CD, old cassette with some of the tape pulled out, child's musical toy, bells, and anything else that will add texture to the final piece.

Or you could just use a range of items that you have to hand.

Other ideas

This works best with a dark background but it does not have to be black, it could be brown or a dark wine colour. The metallic colour could be pewter or bronze; there are a wide range of metallic colours.

Remember that you want to have some contrast between the background and the metallic colour. It looks best when there is a good contrast between the dark of the background and the light of the painted objects.

This artwork will be three dimensional and that means that it will need to have a box frame (where there is a space between the background and the glass at the front).

Framing it will help to keep the dust from gathering on the items and keep it looking great.

Tip - Most of the items were glued, but heavier things were tied on with thin wire. The wire ran around the object through the velvet and cardboard and tied or twisted on the rear.

As the backing is cardboard you cannot use very heavy things. Objects that are tied with wire had the wire fed through a large, flat button at the back before tying to help spread the load.

Another object was glued on top to hide the wire.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Painting Technique Inspired by Junk Mail

Inspired by junk mail?

The latest thing at the moment is high definition TV. The Sky satellite company is really pushing the advertising.

It is quite an interesting problem for them. How can they convey the wonderful new picture when we only have the old technology to view it on?

The actual TV ads have lovely bright colours moving around in fluid shapes. But they still have the problem with printed ads.

Copy this idea

I received an advert in the mail last week and thought it was inspired.
This was a master class in paint finishes!

They used still photos from the TV ads but the printed version was in a matt finish (and on very thick paper to give a feeling of luxury!). They selected a few sections to highlight using a gloss finish. There were very few of these gloss areas and this helped to maximize the impact.

The contrast between the matt and the gloss was lovely. Very eye catching.

It was what we are all trying to achieve, A Wow Moment!

How to Use This Idea

You could use this with your own artwork, especially if you are painting abstracts using acrylic paints. You can get a free report on how to do this by clicking on the link in this blog!!

To make the final picture matt you could paint it with matt acrylic varnish (I use the kind for painting interior woodwork) or you could cover it with a matt acrylic medium. Then once the matt finish is dried select a few areas to highlight with the gloss (varnish or medium).

If you try this and don’t like the effect you can repaint the glossed sections with the matt varnish and have another try with the gloss, choosing different areas.

The final painting will have a lot of interest when displayed because the different light levels throughout the day will change how it looks. Also the surface will appear to vary depending on the angle you are viewing it from.

This is a simple way to get a very special effect.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Beginners Acrylic Painting - Need to Know What Paint to Buy?

This article looks at buying acrylic paints. Often you need to choose whether you want Standard or Flow Formula paints. This article discusses their properties.

Do not worry about this too much, just buy what you have available locally. There are always acrylic mediums that can be added to make the paint thinner or thicker depending on what you want.

However if you have the choice this is what it means.


Beginners Acrylic Painting

Need to Know What Paint to Buy?

When you go in to buy acrylic paint it is easy to get confused. There is a huge range and knowing which paints to buy can be difficult.

Here are a few tips to make your choice a bit easier.

The key thing with acrylic paint is that it dries very quickly which can a blessing when you are ready to tidy away. Or a curse if you do not know how quickly it dries and it ruins your brush!

Acrylic paints generally come in tubes of either Standard Formula or Flow Formula. The Standard Formula is thicker and more suitable for oil painting techniques and using a painting knife. The thicker paint can be built up for impasto work where very thick layers of paint give a three dimensional result.

Flow Formula is a thinner paint and is more suitable for brush work and watercolor techniques. It takes a little longer to dry, than the Standard Formula.

However if you want a longer drying time you can add a retarder medium to the paint, and this slows down the drying time and allows the paint to be worked, this is handy for complicated areas.

Paint Smart!

Acrylic paints are water soluble but when it dries on your hand you will see that it looks like a thin layer of colored plastic. This means that once the paint is dry it is almost impossible to remove it from clothes or furnishings. I always paint on top of old newspaper.

Be sure to always replace the top back on the tube of paint. Otherwise the paint will dry in the tube; this is annoying and a waste of money! (If this happens you can cut off the bottom of the tube and get some paint out that way, but most of the tube will be dried out.)

Starter Packs

Acrylic paints often come in Starter Packs and these can be very good value. They are usually cheaper than buying the tubes individually.

When you are buying your first set of paints I would recommend buying a starter pack which will give you a range of colors at a good price. If you decide you would rather buy individual colors check out my other articles for tips on the best colors to buy.

Standard or Flow?

Given a choice I would buy Standard Formula ones. If you find you like to paint with a brush then you can add a little water to thin the paint for this purpose. However if you decide you like to paint in a thicker style you have the correct paint already.

But don't worry - with acrylic paints you can add a gel medium to Flow Formula to give it more body. Acrylics really are very versatile!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beginners Acrylic Painting - What Palette Do I Need?

What Palette is the Best Choice?

Have you gone into a store to buy some painting equipment and found that the range is huge?

“I’m just beginning with acrylic paints and I only want to buy something to put the paint on!”

Don't despair ;-) Here's the information you need to make the whole shopping trip easier.

The key thing with acrylic paint is that it dries very quickly which can a blessing when you are ready to tidy away. Or a curse if you don't know how quickly it dries and it ruins your brush!

When the paint dries it is impossible to remove it from clothing, surfaces and brushes. So cover yourself with 'painting clothes' and be sure to clean your brushes before the paint dries on them. Once you have the right equipment this isn’t a problem.

Acrylic Paint Palette

Beginners to acrylic painting should either buy or make a reservoir palette. This is a palette with a damp reservoir with a disposable paper on top of it. You mix the colors on the paper. This means that the paint on the paper remains damp and ready to use.

A 'store-bought' reservoir palette often has a separate section for brushes. Usually the brushes will be placed on their sides with the tips of the brushes in some water to stop the paint drying on the brush. There is a cover for the palette that keeps the moisture in and makes sure that the paint doesn't dry out. It’s all laid out in a nice tidy container.

If you feel that you don’t want to spend money on something when you’re just beginning with acrylic paints there is another choice.

Make your own

You can make up your own version of this using a flat dish or tray with a low edge. Place a few layers of blotting paper or a layer of capillary matting (often used in greenhouses to keep the plants damp) in the bottom for the reservoir.

Cover this reservoir with tracing or greaseproof paper. This paper is used as your palette. This is where you will place the paints when you're using them and mix them on top of this paper too.

Keep the reservoir moist - not too wet - and the paints will not dry out. It is important that in between painting sessions you cover your palette to keep the moisture in. A large plastic bag that is big enough to hold the whole palette is ideal.

The rest of your acrylic painting equipment

The rest of your acrylic painting equipment will be discussed in other Beginners Acrylic Painting articles. Happy painting!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I’m Ready to Paint – Where do I Start?

OK - you have paints, brushes, palette, a painting surface and some water but where do you start?

Every painter has their own process, but I like to start at the back of the picture and work forward. In other words I start by painting the background and things that are furthest away and then work forward from there.

I paint a lot of landscapes and seascapes and it makes sense to start at the farthest away area. Usually this means starting with the sky. Then the distant land areas, middle distance land, and finally the foreground area.

Painting in this order means that the areas that are closer can overlap the further away areas and this helps to ‘push them back’. This helps to give depth to the painting.

In the Acrylic Painting Course we look at all the ways to give depth to a painting, for example having the most detail in the foreground. However working ‘from the back’ is a good method that helps to achieve this too.

Or all at once?

Some painters prefer to work the entire picture at the same time. This helps them to get the balance between the different areas right as the painting progresses.

This ‘all at once’ method is used when painting the portrait in the Acrylic Painting Course. I think it is the best way of working when painting portraits, animal pictures and some still life scenes.

Learning to Paint

However when you are just learning to paint it can be a bit overwhelming to have to think about the whole of the picture. It is easier to just concentrate on the one area you are painting at the time.

Also with acrylic paints it is fairly easy to go back and add some extra color when you want to get the balance of a painting ‘just right’. In watercolors this would be more of a problem.

The best way is probably to try both methods and see which one you prefer!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beginners Guide on Acrylic Painting - Setting Up

How to Set Out Your Equipment for Easy Acrylic Painting

OK you have all the things you need to begin acrylic painting, right? You have acrylic paints, brushes, painting surface, palette, and a container of water. Well, by taking a minute to set out your acrylic painting materials in an organized manner you will enjoy your painting session even more.

Ideally when you begin acrylic painting you will have a work space that is level and in a good light. Artificial light can make the colors look different when compared to natural light. It is a good idea to get full spectrum light bulbs from an art store if you have to paint in artificial light. This is a worthwhile investment.

Lay out you palette, paints, brushes and water to the right hand side if you are right handed – or left if you are left handed. It is handy to have some paper towels too.

Acrylic Painting Tip

Try to get into the habit of placing the paints in the same position on the palette every time you paint. This will save you time – you wouldn’t be searching for a color if you always put it in the same position.

I like to group colors, for example, having all the blues together. It is most important to always put the white in the same place.

Tips on Placing Your Painting Materials

I position the palette next to me – I am right handed so it is to the right. Then the tubes of acrylic paint to the rear of the palette. I use a reservoir palette that has a space for the brushes, but if I didn’t I would have the reservoir for the brushes to the right of the palette.

I store the dry, clean brushes I’m not using in a jam jar – with the brush handle ends down so that the tips do not get bent out of shape. This is to the far right of all the other equipment.

I place the water container(s) to the rear of the painting area but within easy reach. The paper towel is there too.

Be sure to cover the work surface as any acrylic paint that dries on it will be difficult or impossible to remove.

And my Top Tip is to put any drink on the opposite side - away from the palette and paint. Otherwise you will end up cleaning your brush in your drink – and believe me it won’t add to the flavor!

For ideas of things to paint check out The Acrylic Painting Course. The beginners guide on acrylic painting with step-by-step painting instructions and a free preview to completing your first painting just click here

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Pigment used in Blue Paint

I find it really interesting how the different paint colours are made.
Here are also some facts about how blue has been used throughout time.

Blue – The Calming Colour

Blue is the calming and soothing colour of intellect. It is regarded as the symbol of devotion to noble ideas. It is linked to spirituality, contemplation and trust.

The blue pigment in paints was originally made from crushed semi-precious stones and was very expensive. Poorer painters never included blue in their paintings. Blue was only included at the request of people who commissioned special artwork and who were willing to pay for it.

The Dutch merchants used this as a status symbol, owning a painting with expensive blues in it was truly a luxury item.

My favourite blue is Ultramarine Blue which is a warm brilliant deep blue. ‘Ultramarine’ comes from Medieval Latin for ‘beyond the sea’.

The pigment was originally obtained from the powdered semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. In 1824 an imitation of this pigment was made from powdered fired clay, sodium carbonate, sulphur and resin. This has nearly an identical chemical composition to the lapis lazuli.

Suddenly the most expensive artist colour became one of the least expensive and most widely available.

The Science Bit

The colour that an object appears is the result of the different light waves reflected by the object. An object absorbs some the light frequencies and reflects others. It is often said that our choice of colour will depend on our response to the various reflected light frequencies.

A Few Facts about Blue

Blue is the colour of the sky and the seas and it is often quoted as the most popular colour. Blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals.

It is a peaceful and tranquil colour for bedrooms. However it can also look cold and depressing – so it is important to get the balance right.

Blue can make a room appear larger.

Studies show that people are more productive in blue rooms.
Weightlifters were able to handle heavier weights in a blue gym.

Wearing blue to job interviews symbolizes loyalty – a good thing if you want the job! It is the colour of police uniforms. In ancient Rome public servants wore blue.

Blue was used a protection against witches who were said to dislike the colour. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore blue as a protection against evil.

Blue stands for love so brides carry something blue on their wedding day.

However blue is not an appetizing colour. Blue foods are rare in nature and food that is ‘off’ often appears to have a blue look to it. Faced with blue coloured food most people will lose their appetite! This might be handy to know when you're on a diet ;-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Beginners Acrylic Painting

Need to Know What Painting Surface to Buy?

Starting a new hobby can be a bit daunting, don't you think? All the equipment to buy and no previous knowledge – how can I be sure that this is the right thing? Sometimes it's enough to put you off even starting!

You go into a store and the range is huge. Good grief, I only want to buy something to paint on!

Well, when you’re beginning with acrylic paints there are a few things you need to know before you get as far as the store. Also, once you have an idea of what you need to buy it will make the shopping trip a lot easier.

When you are just practicing painting techniques you can use any paper or cardboard you have to hand. Cardboard from packing materials is a good surface for starting. When you paint on cardboard you do not have the problem of the surface stretching when it is wet, this can be a problem with the thinner papers. So cardboard is great for beginners acrylic painting.

All kinds of cardboard are good and the inside of cereal boxes can be very handy too. Painting practice can make good use of your junk mail. You can paint on the thicker pieces of paper before you throw it out.

When you are ready to paint a picture I think the best surface for beginners (and still my favorite) is to use canvas panels. A canvas panel is a thick cardboard that has a painting surface glued to it. It comes ready to paint. You don’t need to do anything else but just start painting. Bliss!

If you paint on paper you will find that many papers need to be stretched before you can paint on them, otherwise the paper buckles while wet and the paint gathers in the hollows. This will give an uneven result to your final painting.

There are pads of pre-stretched paper. The pad has glued edges. The paper has already been stretched – you paint on the top paper and let it dry. Once the painting is finished and it is dry, then you use a knife to slice around the glued edge to release the top piece of paper. These pads are pretty good, but I still prefer the canvas board - it is just so much easier to use and convenient if you want to paint outdoors.

You can use stretched canvases too, although these can be a bit expensive when you are beginning with acrylic paints. You would be better spending the money on buying good quality nylon brushes.

Acrylic Painting Tip

No matter what surface you decide to paint on there is one important point. Acrylic paints will not stick to oily or waxy surfaces. Make sure that the surface you choose is suitable for acrylic paints. Some painting surfaces are made specifically for oil paints and are not suitable for use with acrylics.

Check the details on the painting surface wrapper or pack. It will usually tell you what paints (or ‘mediums’) the surface is suitable for. If you are in any doubt always ask if the painting surface is suitable for use with acrylic paints.

Just Starting to use Acrylic Paints?

Look out for other Beginners Acrylic Painting articles on buying the rest of your painting supplies – palette and brushes, and paints.

For the detailed step-by-step beginners guide on acrylic painting see the Acrylic Painting Course – with a free preview to completing your first painting click here

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Pigment used in Cadmium Red

This article looks at the pigment used in Cadmium Red. It also lists some of the meanings for the colour Red.

All artist paints whether acrylic, oil or watercolour all use the same pigments to produce the colour of the paint.

We are lucky today that we can just go to the store and buy the paint colours we want, without the need to prepare the colour before starting to paint.

A lot of the colours used to come from toxic substances and mixing your own paint was a dangerous business!

Red and Cadmium Red

Artists have always wanted permanent bright reds and often this has meant working with hazardous and expensive materials to get them. The colour Vermilion was originally made from cinnabar which is a mercury based ore. Vermilion was then artificially made from mercury and sulphur.

Red earths were used but were dull in comparison. Other reds made from madder root, crushed insects or pomegranate peel were not lightfast and the colour faded.

The mineral cadmium gives the most valuable pigments of yellow, orange and red. It is the chemical compound that produces the range of colours from cadmium. If there was no selenium in the ‘red pigment’ it would be a yellow!

Cadmium Red was first manufactured at the start of the 20th century. It is much less toxic than Vermilion as well as permanent and lightfast. It comes in a range of reds from orange/red to maroon.

If the artist paint you are buying says ‘Hue’ at the end it means that the paint matches the colour of Cadmium Red but does not contain the expensive cadmium pigment.

The Meaning of Red

Red is said to be the most emotionally intense colour and the symbol of an active mind. It increases you heartbeat and breathing. Perhaps that it why it is ‘the colour of love’?

In the Gothte’s colour system red has the highest energy. Its sound is middle C.

It is bold and easy to see, and so used in stop signs, brake lights and fire equipment.

It represents different things in various countries. In South Africa it is the colour of mourning. In China the colour of good luck and used as a holiday and wedding colour.

It is considered good luck to tie a red bow onto a new car. However red cars are popular targets for car thieves.

Red is the most common colour found in national flags.

To ‘see red’ is to be angry. Back to the fast heart beat and heavy breathing again ;-)

A ‘red herring’ is a distraction, something to take your attention away from the important issue.

A ‘red eye’ is an overnight plane journey.

Red clothing gets noticed and can make you look heavier. It is not the best choice of colour to wear for negotiations or confrontations.

The Aztecs of Mexico showed the Spanish explorers how to make red dye by crushing beetles called cochineals.

In decorating red is usually used as an accent colour. It is considered an appetite stimulant and often used in restaurant colour schemes.


Pale red – or pink is much gentler. It is the most romantic colour and more calming.

This can make you lose energy and sports teams sometimes paint the locker room used by the opposing team bright pink hoping that the opposition with not have the same energy for the match.

Although often considered a ‘girl colour’ before the 1920s it was considered a boy’s colour.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Buying Artist Brushes Information

Artist Brushes come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and materials.

The artist brush is made up of 3 parts.

1. The Tuft which can be natural hair or synthetic fibres.
The tuft holds and applies the paint.

2. The Ferrule which is the metal part that holds the tuft
to the handle.

3. The Handle, a good quality handle is made of hardwood.
Artist brushes can have either short or long handles. Long
handles are for working on a vertical surface when you would
be standing further away from the painting. Short handles
are more suited to close up work.

The tuft can have soft, medium or stiff hairs.

Soft, this is best used with thin paints for blending and
glazing. It gives more control and has a fine point or edge.

Medium, this will hold its shape and usually holds more
paint. It is good for painting with medium to thick paints.

Stiff, or bristle type brushes, that allow you to push and
move thicker paints. These are especially useful when painting
on canvas.

Natural hair brushes are often made from sable. This is a high quality
(and high price) brush that is very good for using with watercolours.
However there are also artist brushes that use other natural hairs like
squirrel hair, ox hair, goat hair and bristle (which is from the ear of a pig).

Synthetic brushes are usually less expensive than natural hair ones.
Synthetic artist brushes are easier to clean as the cell structure of the
hairs is smoother than the natural hair. Synthetic brushes are usually
more durable and can be used with watercolours, acrylics and oils.
Synthetic bristle tends to soften a bit in water.

*Nylon brushes are the best for acrylics. They can be kept constantly
wet so that the paint does not dry in the brush and ruin it.*

The Size System

The number on the brush is determined by the diameter of the tuft
and by the length of the hair. Most manufacturers use the same

For example a size 2 round brush tuft is 3/32 inches in diameter
and has a 7/16 inches hair length.

The size of brush you chose is usually a personal preference that
comes with experience.

Brush shapes

There is also a range of shapes of artists brushes.
The main ones are -

Pointed, round brushes, good for highlights and applying smooth

Flat, square brushes, good for covering large areas and tree trunks
Bright are shorter versions of a flat which gives more control and is
good with thick paints.

Filberts (flat brushes with a curved end), good for hiding brush strokes

Riggers or Liners, round brush with long hair shaped to a square tip,
good for lettering and detail

Fan brush (curved end), good for grass, clouds, foliage and blending

2 Main Brush Types

There are two main brush types and your choice will depend on
the thickness of the paint you are using.

Water absorbing and releasing brushes
including sable and the synthetic equivalents. These absorb the water
(and paint), hold it in the body of the tuft and release it through the
brush tip. This type of brush is good with thin, fluid paint.

Paste brushes
Like hog bristle and the synthetic equivalents. These brushes hold
the paint in the tip. Good with thicker paints.

Buying Brushes

Always buy good quality brushes. Cheap, poor quality brushes lose
their hair and the ferrules will loosen on the handle.

Surprisingly, putting the brush head onto a handle gives a company
the right to say that they made the brush!


I paint pet portraits and doing the fur can be fairly time consuming.
Last May I took an old flat brush and cut out sections of the hair. It
was quite successful for painting in cat and dog fur, especially for
longer fur effects.

Of course you can buy brushes like this. They seem to be called
by a range of names; rake, comb and wispy are ones I have see
recently. I bought a couple while we were on holiday and I have
been experimenting with them.

I bought a couple of different sizes and manufacturers to see what
the differences were. One very fine one (meant for decorative painting)
was only suitable for thin paints. The larger ones are more suited to
my painting style.

These brushes also produce lovely grassy effects but this would need
to be used in the foreground of a painting. Remember, there is less
detail in the distance.

I am very pleased with the results. This might be something you
would like to try too.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Welcome to my Acrylic Painting Course blog.

This is the place to get great information about all aspects of artistic painting.

I share ideas and techniques that I’ve learned in my many years (don’t ask how many years!) of painting. I hope you’ll enjoy the articles and insights you find here.