The Price of Art Supplies!

I won’t publish the photo of the painting panels that cost $134 for a pack of 10, 8×10 in., panels, it might not set well with the store or the brand.  The panels were double sided which, since they were marketed as handy for outdoor painting, could be ok. But what if both sides ended up being something you would sell? If they were only for studies, then there are much cheaper panels made of paper, or heck, why not repurpose something like cardboard coated with gesso? For keepers, two sided does not make sense. For disposables, expensive does not make sense. Nonetheless, it speaks to the fact we can’t sell our work for peanuts!

The other panels I looked at had suddenly jumped in price since I last bought a few for work I did this year. Small uncradled panels that used to cost me two-six dollars were now more like six to ten dollars. Cradled ones were insane! One brand of cradled panels in 8×8 in was about $25 and that was the “sale” price! I looked at the labels of at least three or four brands. One that had formerly been all American made now had  “Made in China” on it. So there goes any advantage to paying more for American made.

brushclean

My favorite brush cleaner, 24 oz tub, lasts me at least a year!

Usually, I wait until I get a coupon or there is a sale, to buy the large size or really expensive items. Michaels seems to be the only store that carries the large tub of my favorite brush cleaner. Even at half off with a coupon it’s not cheap, but it lasts a long time so over time it’s still economical. Last time I bought a tub, about a year ago, it was in the 20’s or 30s, now it is over $40. It’ll make me consider switching to a liquid that I bought some small bottles of to try, to see whether they are more economical, but I doubt they will be. The solid cake as in the picture has virtually no waste, an important factor in how economical it is to use. Also never evaporates or dries up and can’t spill!

Brushes have always been costly for good ones. Lately, the good ones seem to be of less quality though, making me consider cheaper ones. A number of ‘good’ brushes are also made in countries known for cheap junk. The heads wobble in the store; you know they won’t stay on long at home! Before quality and prices took their last jumps up/down, I had gotten a good varnishing brush. I can tell the construction is kind of shoddy but I’ll glue its head back on if it comes off. The brush itself is really nice, though.

Some of my brushes are from the 1980s! Some of those are still in great shape. I’ve taken good care of them. Any time I think I can’t get all the paint out, I leave the brush cleaning lather in it, shape the tip, and just leave it that way until I use it again. That seems to keep paint from drying permanently in the bristles if you have a tough one. Just rinse it out before you paint with it!

brushes

Some of my brushes drying.

Other brushes, especially round ones that are supposed to have a nice sharp point, may not last long as the intended shape. I just go ahead and use them for scumbling or other rough uses. When they splay really badly, they make great ‘grass’ and ‘hair’ brushes, more random and natural looking IMO than the special effects brushes cut to do the same thing. (Top brush in photo above.)

The cheap replacement for it, (middle), has bristles that aren’t packed very tight, so paint can still be up in there no matter how carefully it’s cleaned. I leave the lather in it to try to keep it from becoming splayed.

Bottom brush is a favorite for applying isolation coats and top coats of acrylic medium, as its fine, soft bristles don’t leave marks and it holds a lot. The head is cheaply attached, but I’ve had good luck simply gorilla-gluing heads back on to brushes, so will do that if/when I have to.

brushgreen

Green!

GREEN!

A women painters group I recently joined decided we all needed to challenge ourselves with the color green, since so many of us said it was our least favorite color. That prompted me to start something I’ve been putting off; making a sketchbook into a color mixing chart like I did years ago and foolishly threw away in one of my many moves. Just started today, with swatches of all the greens I had on hand. Next, I’ll do some mixing samples with other colors to make my own greens. And so on.

The little painting isn’t done yet, and not sure it’ll end up being my “Green Challenge” piece.

What are YOUR favorite or least favorite colors? Are there any premade greens you like or dislike? My favorite ready made green is Golden’s Green Gold. I have others on hand but that is one I would have a hard time living without. It’s quite transparent. Even though I don’t much like green, I like Green Gold. Sap Green is another I kind of like. And, to do the challenge, I made myself buy a small tube of Chrome Green, a color I haven’t bought since I did oils back in the 80s. I kind of like it, so far, but most of it has been covered up in the little painting.

Review: GAC 200 and Jerry’s new medium/varnish

GAC200_schnackel

A new love in the studio

Nope, I’m not being compensated to say this.

GAC (GOLDEN ACRYLIC PAINT CO) FORMULAS 100, 200

I love Golden Paint Company’s GAC 100 as an all purpose medium, sealer, and adhesive, but I had read that GAC 200 was specifically for rigid surfaces and was less sticky, (a harder finish). Since I’m working more on panels and wood scraps, I decided to give 200 a try.

The first thing I used GAC 200 for was as an isolation coat and/or top coat on pieces done on panels. It leveled nice, dried very fast, and was almost immediately non-tacky. I loved that! It’s glossy like 100.

I’ll continue to use GAC 100 on canvases, as well as a good painting medium and adhesive, too. It’s very flexible when dry so it is really better suited to flexible surfaces like canvas. I used a lot of gel medium, GAC 100, and really any acrylic mediums I had on hand, to provide bonding strength in my sculpture materials.

Read more about Golden’s formulas here: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/medium-gels-pastes/special-purpose-mediums

Read MSDS info on Golden Products: http://www.goldenpaints.com/combinedmsdspage

 

JerrysMedVar_schnackel

Satin and Matte formulas

JERRY’S STUDIO ACRYLIC MEDIUM & VARNISH

Another product I’ve used a little now is Jerry’s Medium and Varnish, which comes in Gloss, Satin, and Matte. I’ve only used the Satin and Matte since most other acrylic mediums I have are already glossy. This is new to me. They were demonstrating it in Jerry’s store a couple months ago and I liked it. It’s thin, so I didn’t need to water it down for use as a “varnish” even in our hot dry air.

This is a similar concept to Liquitex’s Medium/Varnish (which as far as I know only comes in gloss, a nice product, too).  Tri Art used to make a varnish/medium if I recall but I haven’t seen it offered in the Dick Blick catalog lately. I don’t always want a true varnish, and to just use matte medium or mix my own and hope it’s the right ratio, isn’t really ideal. Matte mediums are not recommended by the makers as a final finish, though I, and I suspect many artists, end up using it that way sometimes!

Well, now there’s a Medium/Varnish that comes in all 3 gloss levels. The finish of the Jerry’s Satin and Matte is really nice. It’s interesting to play around with it and see how just changing the gloss on something can change or enhance it. Since some of my pieces have a deliberate combination of gloss and matte areas, this has been very useful. When I do collage or work on paper, I often want to retain the matte look of paper, so this will be a nice addition. On paintings, I don’t want it too shiny, so the satin is just right.

Unlike true varnishes, you can continue to work over and change things with a Medium/Varnish. Or just paint the hell over it entirely if you want. That may not work out so well if you’ve put an actual varnish on the piece and then later change your mind! So far, it has been a good performer.

The only unusual thing I noticed with Jerry’s Medium/Varnish is that the odor while drying is “solvent-y,” as best I can describe it. I looked for Material Safety Data Sheets on the Jerry’s products but didn’t immediately find them.

[UPDATE, edited to add that I heard back from Jerry’s when I asked them about MSDS sheets and they said they don’t have them at this time. According to OSHA, MSDS sheets are not required on non hazardous materials for ’employees’ but I didn’t look further. If someone wants to research it please comment here with your findings, we’d all appreciate it! OSHA ] 

If you read the Golden MSDS sheets, you can see ammonia is a component of GAC formulas. I am not sure I’d describe the Jerry’s odor as ammonia but if that’s commonly in products like this, that’s what it could be.

I put things outside to dry a lot no matter what, because even if things don’t have much odor, they can be bad for you and your pets, especially in large amounts.

Read about Jerry’s Artarama’s Medium: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/jerry-s-studio-acrylic-mediums

 

© 2016 Cindy Schnackel

Economizing on Art Supplies?

Whether you want to make your money go further, or you are into recycling, what are your methods of stretching your art material dollars?

Below are some of mine:

Sales and use coupons. Obvious, but if you’re not a natural born shopper, (I’m not!), you need to remind yourself. Stock up on things that won’t go bad before you can use them up, especially if you have the space. Use sales and coupons on the good stuff!

Avoid “False Economy.”  A $40 jar of specialty paint that dried up, waiting for you to think of “something special” to use it on, is a sad thing. Special is Right Now.

Also, expensive paints, mediums, brushes, and canvases, are often easier to work with, more archival, and in the case of paints, more richly pigmented. So it can actually cost as much or more to use cheap stuff.  Time is a factor that should be considered in economy. A material that slows you down isn’t economical.

Not everything needs to be archival to the point where it’s still pristine 500 years from now. As long as things are priced right, the art is good, and the buyers know what they’re getting, make use of recycled materials. Sometimes you can find masonite and playwood scraps, or second hand store items, that make perfectly good art and sculpture materials. Do seal wood before painting, it helps paint adhere and helps keep the resins in the wood from discoloring the paint. I like GAC 100, made by Golden, as a sealer. It’s what Ampersand who makes artists panels recommends for their bare masonite (hardbord).

Use acrylic mediums to extend expensive paints, especially to build texture, if possible.

Have a set of cheaper, or older worn brushes, for work that’s hard on tools. Save your best precision tools for when they are really needed.

Buy some good brush cleaner with one of those half off coupons. Most any soap will do in a pinch, but my favorite is the tub of Masters brush cleaner, and some airbrush cleaners for dissolving acrylics are nice, too. With a good coupon I can get a tub of Masters that lasts me a long time, and not feel like I have to be stingy with it. Some of my favorite good brushes are over 20 yrs old.

Save short stumps of colored pencils, etc, for a travel sketch kit.  You can use a pencil holder if they are too short to hold. They travel well, don’t break usually, and if you use them up or lose them it’s no big deal.

Capture your work with a digital camera or scan it.  Even if your recycled, unconventional art begins to fall apart, you can sell reprints indefinitely with a good high resolution digital image.

Reuse your own art.  Paint over things!  The old masters did it, and gessos and primers do a good job of hiding and sealing off old work, so you can repurpose the canvas or board.  Use broken ceramics to make mosaics.  Cut up old drawings you were going to trash, and make collages. Make sculptures out of found objects including some of your work that you were going to discard.

Buy what you will use up before it goes bad. I’ts false economy to buy large containers if they dry up on you.

Keep supplies organized and visible. When you can see what you have, you tend to use it up, and not buy stuff you didn’t need yet.