Supplies For Artists    

Supplies For Artists

In 1949 I was six, or seven years old, once a week, on our back and white television Jon Nagy would teacch how to draw, using charcoal, blending stubs and fixative, dispensed through a ‘mouth blower’.  I don’t believe airosole spray cans were commonly available, then.  Click in the MENU, “Fast, Fun & Effective Ways To Paint & Draw” to see Jon Nagy.

Hi, I’m the blogger. Marvin L. Piller

                                                                  I was enrolled in an oil painting class for children at “Brooklyn College” age 8 or 9. 

Brooklyn College Campus library, the subject of many paintings.

At Brooklyn College,  I asked my teacher if a paintings produced on ‘stretched canvas’, would be more valuable than if painted on a less expensive ground – like a canvas panel?  Of course the answer is ‘NO’.

Munk’s “The Scream” was painted on paper/cardboard. I’ve painted on ‘gessoed burlap’, it cost much less than canvas and it was good.

Munch’s first of four paintings dubbed “The Scream” was created at a time when the Norwegian painter was broke, fresh off a failed love affair, and fearful of developing the mental illness that ran in his family.  To scholars, it’s no coincidence that the bridge depicted in The Scream” was a popular spot for jumpers. Tellingly, it sat within earshot of a slaughterhouse and an insane asylum where Munch’s schizophrenic sister resided.


Brooklyn College Campus library, the subject of many paintings.Brooklyn College Campus library, the subject of many paintings. Most Famous Paintings is painted with oil pastels and tempera on paper/cardboard.  About four years ago Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” bought $107 million from an unknown buyer at “Sotheby’s”.
Edvard Munch in 1905, creator of “The Scream”.
Munch’s Quotations:
“Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”
“No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.”

There are is hog bristol, synthetic bristol, sable/kolinshy, and cheap squirrel brushes.  The best bristol came from China. 

Bristol and sable brushes. Flats, brights, rounds, and a flare brush for blending.Throughout the 50s’ and till June of 1971, 21 years later, ‘Chinese Bristol’ along with everything else from ‘Red China’ was banned in the United States. In June 1971, President Richard Nixon visited China and lifted the US embargo on ‘Red’ Chinese bristol and everything else – except for a small number of military related items.

Visa vi quality and price, buy the brushes you ‘need’ and can ‘keep clean’.  I knew one gentleman who utilizes the sharp point certain sable brushes provide for commercial work and to this end he only bought the best, “Windsor and Newton series 7” sable brushes. Furthermore he used each brush only once for this purpose.  Most of us can use good brushes for years and years and years, if we clean them and take care of them, but if you NEED the sharpest of sharp points you’ll also REQUIRE a parade of new brushes.  

Pallet knives may be used like brushes and as a tool to scrape, mix and create unique spontaneous effects, not easily achieved with a brush. Pallet knives also offer outstanding ‘brush’ economy, because they’re durable and may be easily wiped clean.

Pallet knives.

Bob Davies • Basic Knife Use

The Series 7, discover perfection.

When painting with water based paints I set up three containers / jars of water, into which I sequentially swish my brushes.  When the first container become muddy I rotate and move the second to replace of the first and so on. This way the water in my first rinse ‘jar’ remains relatively ‘clean’.  For oil based paints I use turpentine or a safe brush cleaner, in a ‘double can’.  The first can needs to be a clean medium size can and the second can (like a tuna fish can) needs to be smaller, so it can slide to the bottom of the larger can ‘upside down’.  Both cans need to be initially clean and with a nail I drive holes into the bottom of the smaller can.  Subsequently I add turpentine or a safe brush cleaner, cover the smaller can with two or three inches of fluid.  If a brush is rubbed over the holes, paint particles drop to the bottom as you swish the brush. This procedure allows you to always clean your oil paint brushes in adequatly clean fluid. When finished, dispose of the ‘mud’ on the bottom.  Commercially, a similar setup may be purchased, inexpensively.

Reshape your brush before it dries.

NEVER stand a brush of any kind on its bristols, or hairs. Never, never, never, never. 

“Beater Rack, part of the Bob Ross Complete Brush Cleaning System” available from “Blick Art Supplies”.

Bob Ross Complete Brush Cleaning System — This system includes the cleaning screen, the beater rack, and odorless thinner, which all come pre-packaged in a shrink-wrapped container.

Finish up by rubbing the hairs or bristols of your brush on a mild soap bar, using warm water and finally rinse till the water runs clear.  Stay away from detergent and paint strippers, as they can damage individual hairs and bristles. Finally, be sure to reshape your brush’s bristol or hairb before setting them out to dry.

The following copy was appropriated from Windsor & Newton…

Water Color and Acrylic Color Brush Care

With water color and acrylic brushes, it is important to remove excess water, dry ferrules and handles, reshape brush heads and rest them with the bristles facing upwards to dry off. If you notice a stain in your bristles, don’t worry, as this has no effect on the performance or life of the bristles. When it comes to storage, you should place the brushes in a pot or jar with the bristles facing upward, only storing them when they are completely dry.

Oil Color Brush Care

Follow the same detailed process as you would as when caring for a water color and / or acrylic brush. If you store hog brushes for any length of time, make sure they are clean and completely dry. A box with a tight fitting lid is ideal and will prevent moth damage. Brushes that are not dry may develop mildew.

Types of paint brushes.  These are shapes that may be made of bristle, hair or artificial materials like nylon.

Acrylic brush – synthetic brushes, the mix of man made hair is specially made for use with acrylic color.

Everything for artists.

Balance – the correct weight and shape of a handle in relationship to the weight of the brush head.

Belly – the mid-section and thickest part of the brush head, or the individual hair filament itself.  Sable filaments have excellent bellies, which result in well shaped round brushes.

Bright – flat brushes with oval shaped heads, available in both bristle and soft hair.

Bristle – hog hair.  Coarse, strong hair, suited to thick brushwork in oil, alkyd and acrylic painting.  Different qualities of hog brushes are available, the most expensive ones carry the most colour and retain their shape best when wet.

Camel – is a pseudonym for a mixture of miscellaneous hairs of low quality.

Crimp – the compressed section of the ferrule which holds the handle to the brush head.

Designers’ – an elongated round sable, most common for illustration work.

Egbert –  an extra long filbert.

Fan – a flat fan, used for ‘blending’, available in both bristle and soft hair.

Ferrule – the metal tube which supports the hair and joins it to the handle.  Eventually, the ferrule on a cheap brush, will loosen up. 

Filbert – Long handles. Natural hair that holds together when wet. With its soft rounded edges, the filbert is suitable for blending.

Flag – the natural, ‘split tip’ of each bristle.  Flags carry more color and are evident on the highest quality hog brushes.

Flat – usually Long flat; flat hog brushes with a chisel end.

Goat – makes good mop wash brushes.

Gummed – newly made brushes are pointed with gum in order to protect them in transit.

Interlocked / bright – bristle brushes whose hairs curve inward towards the centre of the brush.

Kolinsky / sable – the highest quality sable hair.

Length out – the length of hair exposed from ferrule, to tip.

Paint with…  Pastels, Water Colors, Tempera Paints, Casein, Oil Paint, Alkyd Paint, Acrylic Paint, Water Mixable Oils and Sprayed Colors, Air Brush and Arosol Cans.  Great, respected and valued works have been created with each and ‘every’ media.

Pastels, Dry Pastels, Oil Pastels, Pastel Pencils, Casine Paints, Water Colors, Tempera Paints, Alkyd and Oil Paint.

Pastel Color.

Pastels Are Versatile:

I’ve never met a subject, style or mood that can’t be portrayed ‘beautifully’ in pastel.  As I apply my colors, I vary the amount of pressure on the sticks or pencils to simultaneously control ‘value’ and ‘color’.   

Pastels are a unique medium, because they require absolutely NO drying time and offer a full range of colors. In addition, pastels, tempera paint and water colors may be used on the same ground, to the good. Pastels may be applied successfully to a host of grounds, canvas, cardboard, hand made and machine made papers.

With pastels, you are only limited by your imagination.

Soft, oil pastels, sticks and or pencils may be used ‘solo’ on almost any ground, paper or canvas, solo or with tempera or water color paint.

Pastels allow artists to create paintings that vary in style from rich and vibrant to soft and subdued. Pastels sticks may be used in different positions to create a myriad of strokes and colors may be layered as well as blended. And ‘BRAVO’, with this media there is no waiting for pastels to dry and in addition, pastel colors never fade, crack or yellow.

Pastels are available in various forms, including oil pastels sticks, soft round pastel sticks and pastel pencils. This medium is easy to use and may produce hard lines, velvety textures and smooth blends when  blended with fingers, blending stumps, bristol of synthetic paint brushes and or a piece of cloth.

Remove color you don’t want initially with a dry bristol brush and then lift off more with a ‘kneaded eraser’.

Finish by brushing or blowing off excess chalk and finally applying a layer of spray fixative and or sealer, to prevent smudging. Fixative may be applied as you go, to isolate layers.

Acrylic & Casein Paint

Acrylic Paint In Tubes.  Acrylics are also available as liquids, in jars.







Casein Paint (up from pre-history).

When I began studying at “Pratt Institute” in 1960, we all used ‘casein’ paint, primarily because caseins are water soluble, dry quickly and become indelible and permanent when dry. Casein paints came in and are still are sold in tubes just like oil paint, but they dry quickly to a dead matt finish. Dried casein paint is waterproof and if desired, a satin or glossy varnish may be applied after the paint dries.

Casein paints, are made from milk, casein (milk protein), are fast-drying, initially water-soluble till dry. 

Casein can be used on canvas panels, illustration boards, paper, wood and masonite…  because dried paint paint is inflexible and brittle, is NOT appropriate in heavy impastos on flexible supports such as canvas, or paper. Canvas laminated to board is OK. Casein paint is rework-able and excellent when applied as a thin underpainting, as raw, it dries to a lean matte finish.

History Of Casein
Casein dates all the way back to cave painting when artists used milk (possibly human milk) in their cave-painting. Presently, both illustrators and fine art painters still use casein. Its use dwindled after the popularization (70’s) of artificial polymers, such as acrylics. But, it never disappeared entirely and now, like so many other “obsolete” mediums, casein is making a comeback.

Using Casein As An Underpainting For Oils. 
Casein is a beautiful medium and many artists produce entire paintings with casein, however because it dries fast, lean and flat, it makes an excellent underpainting for oil paint, as it’s easy, wise and expedient to initially paint a casein layer.

“Dawn on the farm, rice harvest.” Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton used egg tempera and applied oil paint over casein, as an underpainting in some of his works.

Tip – I shared space with Cliff Young an experienced capitol mural painter.  One day while working on a painting that didn’t look right to me, I asked Cliff, ‘what do you think needs to be added?  He replied… “often paintings IMPROVE after non-essential items are deleted”.  Editing your own work in progress is often impossible.  Hours later, or tomorrow you’ll probably see what needs to ‘go’ or be redone.  If your remedy isn’t simple, it will be best to begin again on a blank surface (maybe hide it with Gesso), because overworking art, always creates a ‘sore thumb’.   

Acrylic paints in tubes were first marketed in 1955. In “Pratt Institute” 1960, neither I nor my teachers knew about acrylics.  This ‘new’ medium was based on acrylic emulsions and was readily adopted by the elite ‘Whose Who’ of American art in the late ’50s, throughout the ‘60s and today.  Acrylic pioneers included Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, Barrett Newman, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell, Larry Poons, and more. 

The speed and flexibility ‘Acrylics’ provide are the reason they became and are my ‘favorite’ media and are universally popular.  Different textures and consistencies may easily be achieved with acrylics, by mixing sand, water, or other elements into the paint. Colors can be rendered transparent or opaque and artists can, if they desire make acrylic paint dry more slowly by adding glycerine or an acrylic medium retarder. In essence, the arrival of acrylic paints opened a whole new wave of creativity and possibility – that continues at a gallop, today.

“Amazing Things
Too Add To Acrylic Paint”

Acrylic Mediums   

Acrylic retarder / slow drying mediums.  My favorite retarder is ‘glycerin’ which can also be spelled ‘glycerine’, acts like an emulsifier (sort of makes water wetter) and for artists it enables paint to flow smoothly. See “Amazing Things To Add To Acrylic Paint, the video above.

Crystal Gel Medium — Perfect for glazing, this self-leveling gel increases flow and imparts a high gloss finish to acrylic paints.

Gel Medium — This transparent, 100% acrylic gel is like acrylic paint without pigment and is used to extend acrylic colors. It makes the pile of paint bigger and dries to a durable, flexible, waterproof finish. Its ideal for use with pallet knives.

Hard Gel Medium — This gel may be applied directly to your painting surface or mixed with acrylics. When dry, the resulting surface film is hard enough to draw on.

Heavy Body Gel Medium — Thicken acrylic paints, increase their gloss level, and make them more transparent.  Heavy Body Gel Medium holds high peaks and brushstrokes or texture made with a pallet knife. 

High Solid Gel Medium — Mix this gel with acrylic paint and it will hold brushstrokes, knife marks, peaks, and valleys in your paint surface.

Matte Gel Medium — If you’d like to tamp down the glossiness of your acrylic colors, add Matte Gel Medium in small increments until you achieve the level of sheen you desire.

Soft Body Gel Medium This medium imparts a soft, cream-like consistency to acrylic paints and improves their flow. It’s great for pouring, puddling, and spattering techniques.

All Gel Mediums are used to alter the viscosity of acrylic paint, extend color, increase translucency, and enhance or reduce gloss. Gels range in consistency from soft body to extra heavy body giving artists a wide range of options – from minimal texture to dramatic impasto techniques. They are great for creating gel transfers and can be used as an adhesive. Gel mediums are milky white when wet, but dry to a clear, flexible film.

Painting Surfaces For Acrylics.

Acrylic paints lend themselves well to mixed media applications, which further broadens the possibilities of painting with acrylics. The most popular surfaces for painting with acrylics are canvas, wood, or paper.  Once primed with gesso, acrylics can be painted on almost any surface, such as fabric, clay, or even your old vinyl records! If you get bored with the brush, you can use a variety of other tools, such as scrapers, toothpicks, sponges, Q-tips, etc to create various effects.

The final finish of the painting can be altered with gloss, matte, or satin varnish. When properly varnished, acrylic paintings do not need to be framed behind glass. They can be hung directly on the wall. You can even paint the edges of the canvas to match the front, for a cool contemporary aesthetic. If they collect dust, simply wipe the surface gently with a damp cloth.

Acrylics that ‘mimic oil paint’, clean-up with water, thinned with a variety of Acrylic mediums and worked with ‘computer’ creations.

Tempra, Gouache (pronounced ‘g-wash’) & Water Color Paint.

I was recently asked, what’s the difference between tempera and watercolor paint.  Both are water soluble, however, both ‘Tempera’ and ‘Gouache’ are opaque mediums, while ‘Watercolors’ are meant to be used as transparent media where the white ground becomes the painting’s ‘source’ of light.   ‘Gouache’, ‘Tempera’ and “Poster Paints” employ pigment mixed with glue, egg (traditional) or milk. These paints are often sold in jars, provide economy and easily clean-up with soap and water and for pedagogical safety, are usually non toxic. ‘Gouache’ is similar to ‘Tempera’ and ‘Poster Paints’ but usually sold in tubes, contain more pigment and consequently is more expensive than ‘Temper’ and ‘Poster Paints’.  Artists often use ‘Watercolor’ and ‘Tempera’ in the same painting. Watercolor to under paint, then ‘Gouache’ above.  It works fine, however purists frown at this often very effective mixed protocol.

Tempra, Gouache and Poster Paints, may be varnished with an acrylic gloss, or satin finish varnish or preservation and watercolor paintings should be framed under glass.  I prefer glass, with a matt finished surface.

Oil and Alkyd Paint

What colors should I buy?

As artists we DON’T NEED every color made to be effective and for simplicity and economy using a limited  pallets is recommended by most practitioners.   When painting, I think more of ‘value’ than of ‘color’ (but thats me and I’m sort of a fauve). Picasso said “If I don’t have blue, I use green”. Neither, are all of the additives I listed imperative, however, knowing about them is a good thing.  So, for a while I advise, stick to a limited pallet and buy only a few mediums to mix with your paints.

Recommended Colors:

1.- Titanium White, large

2.- Ivory Black, large

3.- Yellow Ochre, large

4.- Cadmium Yellow Light 

5.- Cadmium Red Light

6.- Cadmium Red Medium

7.- Burnt Umber

8.- Burnt Sienna

9.- Alizarin Crimson

10.-Viridian Green and or Sap Green

11.- Cerulean Blue

12.- Ultramarine Blue

13.- Purple (Violet and or Magenta).

14.- Cadmium Red Orange

Alkyd Oils Paints are fast drying oil colors for the 21st century.

Controlled serendipity.

Suggestion – Try experimenting with just a ‘few’ colors and use those colors not as hughes, but as ‘light’, ‘medium’ and ‘dark values’.  I’ve created many painting using purple as my dark value and orange as my light value.  Those paintings worked and my sensibilities evolved.  Perhaps some of you will instead choose red and blue and or burnt umber and yellow oche, or lemon yellow and green, or whatever?  I strongly suggest try simplicity, you’ll make discoveries and inevitably become GREAT.  A few options are empowering, too many are confusing.  If I mess up at least I’ll know what not to do next time. The worst thing is overworking any piece of art!

Because Alkyd Colors dry ‘much’ quicker than traditional oil paints (within 20 hours), artists can complete oil paintings in a fraction of the time it would take to complete an ‘unadulterated’ oil painting.  Quick drying times, also allow creative freedom for artists who travel, paint plein-air, or work in layers.

The binder used in Alkyd Oil Colors is a sunflower oil and alkyd resin, as opposed to linseed oil. This means Alkyd Colors won’t yellow, crack, or dull over time. As in ‘quality’ oil paints,‘quality’ Alkyd colors offers a high pigment concentration, plus a buttery consistency. Brands that offer high pigment concentration deliver colors that are pure and paint that stretches further – ensuring superior value for the artist.

Alkyd Oil Colors are compatible with traditional oils, mediums, mineral spirits, turpentine and odorless paint thinners, as well as with all other Alkyd paint brands. Alkyds can also be used to ‘speed’ the drying time of oil paints. Quality Alkyds contain no fillers, adulterants, or opacifiers.

Quality Alkyd Oil Colors dry to a brilliant, flexible finish and retain their color intensity after drying.

Alkyd Oil Colors are compatible with traditional oils paints, mediums, mineral spirits, turpentine and odorless thinners. They also may be used to speed the drying time of oil paint. Quality Alkyds contains no fillers, adulterants, or opacifiers.

Paint thinner

Turpentine can both clean brushes and thin paint.

Sunny-side Odorless Paint Thinner,

This product performs similarly to turpentine
, but is ‘completely’ odorless, and offers ‘Low Toxicity’.

An Amazing Product Testimonial…                                       Sunnyside Odorless Paint Thinner” really is odorless. It has allowed me to resume what had been a lifelong hobby. Along with low odor mediums this product makes oil painting for those of us with sensitivities to fumes possible. I would buy Sunnyside no matter what it cost”.

Perfect for anyone who needs to keep odor levels low when using thinner for Alkyd or Oil-based paints. Odorless thinner is designed to evaporates cleanly and with no residual odor or residue.

Artists and fishermen ‘NEED’ tackle boxes or backpacks that accommodate divided plastic containers to store, order and transport art supplies and tools.

Super Art, Or Fishing Supply Totes.

The versatile “Artbin Tote Express” is designed for maximum rolling storage. Fill the large top and then the roomy compartment bottom compartment on the bottom.

The versatile “Artbin Tote Express” is designed for maximum rolling storage. Fill the large interior compartment of the top unit with piles of papers, books, and other materials measuring up to 12″ × 12″.

Ready to roll, or simply keep all your essential supplies handy in your “ArtBin Tote Express”.

Adjustable straps keep everything in place and hold the top flap open for display, while 26 individual loops make a secure home for markers, pens, or other art materials.

Sturdy buckles attach the top securely to the base unit, which contains plenty of room for Solutions’ Boxes, supplies, or even a sewing machine. Side handles add support for lifting, while solid wall inserts in both units cushion and protect everything inside.

Roll it smoothly on the attached roller skate wheels using the locking handle, or sling it over your shoulder with the padded shoulder strap.

Guerrilla Wet Painting Carrier. These carriers offer the perfect way to transport artwork. Rugged yet lightweight, they are constructed with strong plywood that won’t crack or split.
Adjustable dividers keep up to 12 wet panels or up to 4 wet stretched canvases completely enclosed. Stainless steel screws and exterior glue prevent rusting. The handle is made of harness leather.
Nylon Utility Strap — Made of lightweight nylon with plastic clips, this 1″ wide utility strap is compatible with all Guerrilla Painter Pochades and Wet Painting Carriers.
Roll away container for fishing gear and ART SUPPLIES with removable trays. This 5 Tray Tackle Bag size includes five 360 size tackle boxes. It includes features such as: a phone storage pocket, a sunglass storage pocket, a license storage pocket, and side storage pockets for additional tools.There is room to store larger items in the top compartment. Also, the bag has a telescopic handle and wheels for ease of mobility.
Stylish black case featuring Calcutta logo
Includes five removable 360 size tackle boxes
Easy to access external side pockets for extra storage
Top storage area and zip-up pockets provides plenty of space for reels, paint tubes, jars, mediums, knives, brushes and more. 
Pull-out telescopic handle with wheels for easy transportation.



also excellent to tote and store art supplies. Back packs made for anglers are ideally made to hold art supplies store and transport them.

The “ArtBin Tote Folio” is the ultimate art supply transport case. It’s perfect for storage in the studio, as well as for transporting your sketch pads, clipboards, and measuring supplies. Constructed in durable black nylon.
Tote Folio, 24″ × 36″ — The front of the folio has one large pocket measuring 17″ × 14″ and two smaller 6½ × 11″ pockets. There is also a 34″ × 6″ front horizontal compartment with hook and loop fasteners. A 33″ × 3½” horizontal sleeve on the back has bungee loops to hold T-squares securely in place.


“ArtBin Tote Folio”

This 18″ x 10″ x 10″ “ArtBin” is one of the largest three tray art supply supply boxes,  for maximum storage plus and efficient organization of materials artists need.








Plano 797 FTO Extreme Angled System, the ultimate convenient receptacle  for ‘all’ your art supplies.


Some artists opt for gloves to prevent contact with paint and solvent.  Nitrile gloves provide a better barrier to chemicals than latex.  A box of 100 about $11.00.

Artists Apron.

Blick Artists Apron.

Blick Artist’s Apron.

These polyester/cotton twill aprons help keep clothes clean. The adult apron has a tie closure and three pockets. It is screenprinted with the “Blick Art Materials” logo. Adult aprons measure 26″ × 26″.

Rags, take more than you anticipate needing.

Also – paper towels.

Carriers: For wet canvases. A clean pizza box can be rigged do the job of protecting a wet painting while in transit.

Guerrilla Wet Painting Carrier.

A number of carriers for sale offer the perfect way to transport artwork. Rugged yet lightweight, they are constructed with strong plywood that won’t crack or split.

Adjustable dividers keep up to 12 wet panels or up to 4 wet stretched canvases completely enclosed. Stainless steel screws and exterior glue prevent rusting. The handle is made of harness leather.

Nylon Utility Strap — Made of lightweight nylon with plastic clips, this 1″ wide utility strap is compatible with all Guerrilla Painter Wet Painting Carriers.

Adjustable Brush Carriers.

This translucent plastic tube, 1¼” diameter, telescopes from 8½” to 13″ (22 cm to 33 cm) long to accommodate short or long handles.

Comments about Holbein Adjustable Brush Holder:           I’ve made a significant investment in my brushes, and wanted something foolproof to protect them when I travel. This holder is perfect!

You’ll want masking ‘tape’, ‘carton tape’ and ‘strapping tape’ because ‘sometimes’ having them is a true G-d send. 

Oil & Alkyd Medium Cups. 

Aluminum palette cups are for holding turpentine, linseed oil, or other mediums. The bottom of these cups has a clip which slides over the edge of a flat oil color palette.