If you have comments on classes that you have taken with me that you would like posted here, or info such as art materials websites that you have found useful and that you would like to share, please send them to me via the contact page and I will put them on this page.
I DO NOT receive any compensation for the sites and products I recommend, i just really like them and want to pass that knowledge on. If you are just looking for the links to the Art Suppliers that I recommend click here. For Blurb discount codes, click here.
How to stretch a Canvas
I have changed completely my method of stretching canvases after working in a conservation studio (see my news page) and reading more about what causes cracking to occur. I will be posting more on this.
Here is the method that I am currently using to achieve an evenly stretched canvas. It certainly takes longer but I believe its worth the extra effort.
I have been listening lately to these great interviews with various artists. Artists Tony Curanaj and Edward Minoff have a terrific way of making their guests feel casual and open in discussing their work and working methods, as if they were sitting around your kitchen table, drinking tea. It is always interesting to hear how other artists view what it is that we spend our lives engaged in and addicted to.
If you are feeling isolated as a painter (aren't we all?) and interested in figurative and realist painting, I strongly recommend you check out the online magazine Underpaintings.com .
Lovingly maintained and started by painter Mathew Innis, it has all sorts of really interesting articles on 19thC and contemporary artists, biographies, tips and discussions on painting materials and techniques, reviews of current shows and auctions and information about current workshops across the country. Although there is some free content on the site, it is definitely worthwhile signing up for a subscription - its only $24 a year. Less than a meal out and far more satisfying!
If you are looking for anatomical reference for your studio, these extremely detailed and lifelike ecorches are wonderful.
I'm sure there are figure sculptors out there (I won't name them!) that will find faults but for general use in the studio, to glance over at when you trying to paint a limb etc., I think they would be very helpful to most.
Available in male and female versions, painted and unpainted, 1/3 life size - aproximately 23"X10"X5".
There are also 2.5" skulls that are extremely lifelike. These are the best miniature skull models I have seen so far, using the newest digital techology to copy the original data from real skulls.
I am saving up now, to buy one of the figures, if not both - they are not cheap but definitely worth it.
I have mentioned Tom Schnabel's programs before. I had been tuning into his brilliant weekly Saturday program on Radio KCRW when I was living in New York and it was first available via the internet. He plays a very personal mix of music which varies from week to week, some times a rock'n'roll track, sometimes jazz or salsa or classical. You never know with him what's coming next. Now he has changed his format to a weekly show which is archived so you can access any of them at any time. Here is a taste of one of them...
You can also listen to the shows any time on your iphone or ipad by navigating to his Rythm Planet show using the KCRW phone app available here from the app store:
My latest love affair is with these brushes.They have the right kind of 'snap' and I love both the Hogs and Sables. As my students know, I only use filberts and rounds for the most part in my paintings and these brushes just make the strokes feel right plus the prices are very good. I generally don't use synthetics and I have only used their bristle and red sable brushes so far but I'm sure the rest of their product line is great too if that's what you are into.
Located in Hesperia, California, they produce every brush by hand and have been at it for over 20 years. Because the brushes are crafted on-site, they don’t deal with a "middle man" so they are direct mailorder only. Visit their website to order.
Daleeeeee! One of the last 'old masters' and a great showman. This 1950's highly amusing interview with Mike Wallace has Dali running rings around him. Whatever you think of Dali's paintings, he was utterly original and way more interesting ( in my opinion) than the clowns of today like Damien Hurst.
I often get asked by students about where they should go to get advanced training in using the figure in their work, whether they are painters, sculptors or printmakers. I don't think there is a finer place in the USA than my alma mater, the graduate school of figurative art in New York City. Located down in Tribeca on Franklin Street in Manhatten, its a hive of buzzing creative energy that continues to grow and change.
Visit their website and watch some of their podcasts to get a feel of the place.
There are many sites now that show artists' work but this one strikes me as one of the most tasteful to look at. Started in 2007, they have had over 25 million visitors to their site so far. They allow you to submit your work for consideration and viewers can comment on and rate the works. A link to their submission page is here. Check it out...
If you are interested in having your work available as a printed book, the best company I have found so far is Blurb. It may not be the cheapest but it is certainly the best, Modern printing means that you can print one book at time or in quantity and the quality is very high. You can choose from various sizes and on different papers and the whole process is done online. I printed my 'Holocaust Series' book with Blurb and am very pleased with it. I used Adobe Indesign, for which they have dedicated templates available. For those who are less computer savvy, they also have their own book design program which is simpler to use if you don't know Indesign, plus they have video tutorials to help you.
They have templates to make other things from your own images like notebooks, diaries and calendars and ebooks.They have also recently added a service that lets you take photos from your Facebook wall direct to a photo book template. Read about it here for more info.
I will do my best to put their promotional offers here, so If you are thinking of trying it:
I have talked often in my classes about the need to use a final varnish on paintings to protect them from the ravishes of future life they may undergo. Final varnishing also helps to bring the tones back up and remove sunken areas. Final varnishing should be done only after a painting has had sufficient time to dry, usually at least 6-12 months after completion. I try and wait at least a year and offer collectors the option of returning the work to me after a year for that purpose if I have sold a work before its dry enough.
The Windsor & Newton site has instructional videos and this one is very simple in its explanation. I like the way the instructor taps his sheet of acrylic, just in case you don't get the point!
As I mentioned to students in my painting and painting media classes, this is the stapler that I recommend strongly and use for stretching my canvases.
Rapid, who manufacture the R23 model are a Swedish company based in Hestra in the Swedish countrside and are well known in the building industry in Europe.
I used to struggle with the spring mechanisms on other staple guns which hurt my hands and required two hands to fire after a short while, leaving me unable to hold the canvas tight at the same time. This staple gun is lightweight and has a soft rubber grip and is perfectly sufficient for holding canvas on stretcher bars. It shoots 4-8mm staples.It is also guaranteed for two years. Mine has been doing fine for at least 10 years.
I am thrilled to have found a non-toxic solution to fixing my charcoal underdrawings on my paintings.I have been worried for a long time about spraying an acrylic layer of fixative (modern ones use acrylic as a medium) between my oil primed canvas and my oil paint. Casein, a natural milk ingredient, has been used for over a millenium as a medium for paint. The Egyptians used it. Degas, Mary Cassat and Vuillard used it with pigment and as a fixative. Now it is being manufactured in a convenient form that you can keep on your shelf and use as you need it without refrigeration.
I use a little Preval sprayer, available from hardware and paint stores to atomize the solution. One bottle of concentrate will make 16oz of fix. I dilute mine with Everclear grain alcohol but you can use the cheapest vodka instead. Spray very light coats and let dry between each. It takes several to fix thoroughly.
I have been using Metroframes for years now, whenever I want a floater rather than anything more complicated.
I like that they make my paintings look contemporary and LOVE that I can order them online and that they pre drill the holes and even supply the screws, so all I have to do is lay the painting in, insert the screws from the back and within minutes have it framed.
The frames come in Maple, Cherry or Ash and a whole load of varnish colours and finishes to go on top. They will also supply them joined as a finished frame (my preference) or in cut lengths for you to put together yourself with their special wedge sytem. I like to order them with black stained interiors, so all you see is deep shadow between the painting and the frame.
Frame depths available are 2 5/8", 2 1/4" and 1 1/2" and they also supply frames for panels, as on the left.
They also have some helpful instructional videos on Youtube about the right way to finish frames with hangers and wire, and on fitting inserts into the back of frames etc. as well as some studio visit interviews with artists. Maybe one day they will come and visit mine :o)
I have fallen totally in love with Rublev Lead White Oil Ground made by Natural Pigments for priming my canvases.
I use it on top of acrylic ready primed canvas after sanding it lightly. I apply one or two coats of the oil ground which I tint to whatever colour I want using oil paint. I stir the tube paint into a little of the ground then mix it into however much I will finally need. I use an inexpensive 6" Purdy 'White Dove' 3/8" nap roller and disposable plastic roller-tray liner (I get mine from Ace Hardware) both of which I can discard after use with no cleanup necessary.
I get a perfect surface which is tough, gives the painting a solid foundation and helps with drying the upper layers. Its dry enough to paint on within two or three days though its preferable to wait another day or two if possible.
Tim Stotz and Michelle Tully, friends and fellow NY Academy alumni, opened an atelier school in the south of France a few years ago and now have a studio location in Paris as well, where they are offering figure drawing intensives that include cast drawing in the sculpture court at the Louvre. Instead of drawing from plastercasts of the originals, these ARE the originals!
The studio facility in Monmartre was previously the atelier of Toulouse Lautrec and Suzanne Valadon, model and mistress of Renoir, Degas and Puvis de Chavanne and mother of Utrillo. They offer three month intensive figure painting courses in their Argenton-Chateau location as well as occasional visiting artist workshops.
Another one for my anatomy students - Famous historical anatomical illustrations in the collection of the US National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, available to download to your desktop and even zoom in on.
A truly wonderful resource available for free on the web.
Ever wondered why Norman Rockwell's paintings look so photographic? He went to great lengths to get his reference material as close to his original idea as possible. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts has an exhibit of his original reference photos and a new book has come out about them - " Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera" by Ron Schick - using images taken from the archive of nearly 20,000 photographs which are housed at the museum.
Robert Doak has a new and much updated website with a complete list of his products and interesting additional information and comments on some of his illustrious clients, though beware his critical eye (see his review of Margaret Boland's work - I sure hope he likes mine!).
I have been buying materials from him for over ten years and have come to love, in the process, the conversations I have had with him and the time he has so generously given me in sharing his immense knowledge of painting techniques. He has introduced me to new colours and materials that have quite literally changed the way my paintings look.
I can never thank him enough.
You might want to check out this fairly new art information website. Artslant is a quick and easy way to see what is happening in the galleries worldwide (and locally if you are near a big city), plus its another way to show some of your work online. They make it very simple to upload images and resume etc.
Lefranc & Bourgeois are no longer manufacturing Black Oil. I have not been happy with the one made by Wiliamsburg as I find it gets gummy in the bottle after a while. I have found another manufacturer, a small company in Maryland making batches by hand. Mr Groves also makes various other really interesting mediums and I am intending to test them all as time goes by. You can order online on his site or by phoning him at (301) 689-3389
His version of Black Oil is called 17thC Light Drying Oil and is a golden honey colour. He recommends storing it in the fridge in between use. I am currently also trying his 19thC Drying Copal Varnish which I am mixing with equal parts of turps and walnut stand oil and then adding a few drops of his Sicatif de Courtrai drier for glazes. It dries by the next day.
If you are interested in cast drawing or painting, Giust Plaster Casts makes exquisite reproductions and they pride themselves in maintaining the same old world methods used by Pietro Caproni in 1911. They are not cheap but there are a few that are less expensive and still gorgeous. View their casts online and order a catalogue.
This one is for my anatomy students. See how many originations and insertions you can spot! I have embedded it as a Quicktime movie (I hope its showing below!),or you can see it as a .wmv windows file
If you want to know how lead white pigment was actually made in the 15th century, here is a step by step photo account of it being made today in exactly the same way by Natural Pigments. The company is based in Willits, California. They specialize in supplying art materials that were used in historical painting since pre-historic times up to and including the eighteenth century.
I just found out about these handy cardboard boxes for carrying wet paintings (I have not tried them myself yet). They come in packs of three in various sizes.
The largest size is 16" X 12", which is about as big as you might want to use in one of my classes. They are available from Judsons, Cheap Joe's and Dick Blick.
From Bob Shephard...
"Your site looks great as always! I'm about to go public with a site of my own. It is www.portraitsbyshep.com. I really appreciate your critique on my painting "Meredith & Kevin" from our last correspondence. I corrected the painting and won "Best of Division" and "Best in Class" with it at the Brenham Fine Arts League Show, this year. It's the oldest art competition in Texas."
As promised to my 'Expressive Drawing' class in Seattle (Congratulations to ALL of you, by the way, what a great class it was!) here is the information on Pinhole glasses plus some eye exercises you can do to improve and maintain vision.
As I have been asked several times for the materials list for the classes, they are now all up to date and on a webpage, with links below the class descriptions for each one on the 'classes' page. Hope it helps.
I have finally put that booklist I promised to you on the site. Only Anatomy books so far but Painting and Drawing recommended books will be coming as soon as i can get to it (if I can just get some time apart from my work!! You have no idea how long this website stuff takes.... ) Anyway, take a quick look:
From Mike Corcoran, here is the proportional mix that Lefranc&Bourguois used in their Cold Black paint: 60% Ivory Black - 40% Ultramarine Dark #1
or in French (for those inclined)
"Le Noir Froid
On peut retrouver cette nuances par mélange de : 60% Noir d'Ivoire - 40% Outremer Foncé N°1"
Thanks, Mike, for sending it in.
ART SUPPLY LINKS
Trekell - Handmade brushes - high quality individually crafted brushes from this mailorder company are availble only through their website. Low prices and great 'feel', I highly recommend their hog and red sables. Visit the site HERE
J.C.Groves - Historical Oil Painting Varnishes and Mediums For black Oil and other interesting historical mediums , this small hand manufacturer really knows his stuff. Read his interesting piece on Ruben's painting method using 'Fir Wax'. Visit his site HERE
New York Central Art Supplies has been selling art materials for over 100 yrs to New Yorkers. Andy Warhol's favourite art shop and mine too. Download their catalogue HERE
Artisans is my local art supply shop here in Santa Fe. They carry practically everything I need and are very helpful in finding things they don't stock. Visit their websiteHERE
Maxilla & Mandible have an amazing assortment of real skeletons and other stuff. If you want some real bones, tryHERE
Skulls Unlimited has every animal skull imaginable both real and repro plus some interesting fossil reproductions. Visit themHERE
The Bone Room also has a wide selection of human and animal bones and other anatomical delights plus some pathological oddities. Right now its the best place to get human skulls and single human bones. Visit the Bone Room HERE
Plastic Skeletons If you are thinking about buying a plastic skeleton, the best ones are available from American 3B Scientific. They do a whole range of them including a really great mini skeleton ( "Shorty") for around $200 and life size fully posable one. It is sometimes possible to find their skeletons cheaper on Ebay - look for "American 3B Scientific" or do a search for "anatomical skeleton". See their website HERE
Metroframe have good floater frames in a variety of woods and finishes at reasonable prices. You have to attach them to your painting but its really easy and they supply the screws. Just order online and wait for them to arriveHERE
Sinopia in San Francisco sell pigments and gilding supplies if you want to make your own paint or pastels. Visit themHERE
Natural Pigments has some very interesting historical colors. Get in touch with them and ask them to send you a catalogue HERE
Jack Richeson & Co make art materials and brushes. I have recently discovered their wonderful 'Egbert' brushes and cannot praise them enough. Get in touch with them and ask them to send you a catalogue or visit their website and download their PDF catologueHERE
Robert Doak makes wonderful and very special oil paints. There is unfortunately no colour chart but there is now a rudimentary website (its still under construction). He will send small samples of colours if pushed and talking with him is always an interesting experience. He is unique and a true colour master. Minimum mail order is $50. Try his Blue Ochre, Adobe and Sinopia, also his Flemish White. ROBERT DOAK & ASSOCIATES, INC. 89 BRIDGE STREET, BROOKLYN, NY 11201 PHONE: 718 237-1201 or 237-0146 See his website HERE
Cheap Art Supplies - I am putting the following links on here because all three sites often have really good sales for basic stuff (I got $200 off my current easel at Dick Blick) and its useful to keep checking them from time to time: www.cheapjoes.com/ www.aswexpress.com/ www.dickblick.com/
Easels - When it comes to easels, the company that I have been relying on since 1978 is an italian company called Mabef. They are made out of beech, really strong and easy to use and I just love them. I have graduated slowly, from their lightest weight studio easel (M/07) which has a ratchet raising system and is still going strong after nearly 30 years, to my present larger crank raising one. I recommend lightly coating them with linseed oil before first use.
Visit their website HERE
Do you have any interesting art suppliers' websites that you use and want to pass on? Send them to me HERE so we can all share....
The Art Materials Information and Education Network
AMIEN is an internet resource for artists dedicated to providing comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased factual information about artists' materials. In the forum, you can ask questions about materials which are usually answered very quickly.Their information is based on the most current scientific knowledge from peer-reviewed sources regarding quality, durability, and health hazards, and on original research conducted at AMIEN.
If you like to play chess, which I frequently do - it helps to keep the little grey cells active - check out the online chess at Chessworld.Net. My site nickname is 'Goff'. Maybe you will challenge me to a game!
About Cold Black...
To all my students who have taken my venetian painting techniques class in the past: I am afraid that it now seems definite that Lefranc & Bourgois are no longer making the magic colour 'Cold Black' which I have been recommending all these years in the classes.
Williamsburg do make a version that seems quite good but its gritty. Holbein makes a Blue Black that I recommend but you need to add some Ivory Black to it. If you are going to use my recommended mixtures for a while, maybe the best thing to do is make up a batch using Mussini Ivory Black and Ultramarine Blue and fill an empty tube or two (available from art stores like Artisans). The Mussini paint has the same buttery qaulities as Lefranc & Bourgois although my wife, Lyndall Bass (www.LyndallBassArt.com), tells me that Windsor & Newton make a very buttery Ivory Black and Ultramarine Blue. I have yet to try them myself.
I will experiment and try to find the perfect proportion of black to ultramarine.... check back later when I have posted it here.
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