Questions & Answers #2

paints q&a tools Sep 30, 2019

(Just a heads up! The times are about 45 seconds off ...)

00:08: Alright, friends, we are back going live with a question and answer time, so super excited to be here and wanted to say good morning, and it's a pretty grey day. Last week I was telling you how summer came to an abrupt end, like basically we just entered this season where it was like rain, rain, rain, rain, rain after a long period of good sunshine and stuff like that, and then this week we actually had a little reprieve from the rain and so that was really nice. I don't know what it's like for you, but I remember last time when I said that, somebody said, "Yeah, it's 90 degrees here in Kentucky." And I was thinking a little different.

00:57: I'm excited because we're back in full steam mode moving forward with Acrylic University. I just finished 25 paintings. They are right here next to me in the living room and are ready to be brought over to a gallery right here and they'll be going up in a show.  It's my annual show down at the Sunnyshore Gallery, which is my brother's studio. I was talking last week a little bit about the art, the access to art program, because we've got kids that we want to get into art and we want to help provide them with what they need. They need materials, they need supplies, they need encouragement, they need instruction and this is one of the ways that we're thinking we can really come alongside them and help.

01:54: When we bring on kids we'll make a big deal about it, but I'd love for people to come around them and really support them because a big part of us being creative is having the encouragement of other people. I also wanted to just say thanks for being part of this, thanks for writing in your questions. It's fun for me to have the interaction. I love just seeing what people are up to, hearing what people are working through and I don't always know all the answers, but I'm looking for the answers if I can't find them. So how are you guys doing today? Doing all right?

02:56: We've got Peter here today listening. Peter's our video guy and he's also helping out with a bunch of stuff. So I have a little story about going to the YMCA last night that made me super happy 'cause I was about to sign up for a membership. And the membership was gonna be super expensive, and then they ended up giving it to me for way less than what I thought it was gonna be. And all last night and this morning, I was just like super, super excited about it because I don't know. This is one of those little victories that you think it doesn't even matter that much but it was just really awesome. So I'm gonna jump into the questions, this will be a little shorter than last week because there aren't as many questions, but this question is from Dale, our friend, who lives in Portland.

Disposing of Acrylic Paint

03:56: It says, "Living in the city makes me concerned about dumping my paint brush water down the drain. How do you properly dispose of the water you use to clean your brushes? Should I be concerned about clogging the drain? If I lived in the country, I'd probably just pour it on the lawn." So, a really good question Dale, because we really want to be considerate and thoughtful. We don't want to be polluting the earth or our drain fields or doing things that would cause harm. I'm gonna put a couple of links below that have ideas about how to deal with the water in a way that dries out the paint and helps the water evaporate. It turns the paint into a solid, something that you could then just dispose of as a solid.

05:12: I'm kind of lucky in that I have a place near our house that's an easy place to dispose of my paint, and it doesn't get into anything. So that's really awesome for me, but I totally get it because when you live in the city, you wonder what should you do, where should you go? And so hopefully this will be a helpful thing. I'll put the link underneath. Hopefully it'll be helpful for you Dale and anyone else who's looking at that kind of issue.

Color Shifting

06:13: Okay, from Jan. So I don't know if you remember that Jan is a new member who came on pretty recently, and he's from the Czech Republic and he started painting in pastels a couple of years ago. This is his question, and I can totally understand where this is coming from, especially considering that he's coming from working in pastels. He says, "Experience with the acrylic color shift. I've noticed that the more I use water during the painting, the more it will show when I dilute colors with the medium only like golden gloss medium and I use water only for cleaning brushes, it's much better." So, what's he talking about? Basically, he's talking about when... If you're using acrylic paints the color will shift, it will darken when it dries and that's because when the water evaporates, because it is a water-based paint, it actually changes the color. It's different than an oil paint, and it's definitely different than a pastel. Like a pastel is pure pigment that is kind of bound together, but it's really like, it's just held there by whatever they put it, but it's basically just pure pigment, and so when you put it on, it's not gonna change or shift or anything like that unless maybe you do put something over the top of it.

07:48: But acrylics generally will dry darker than when you put them on, which is something that you really have to get used to if you're starting out because, and even, it doesn't matter how long you've been painting if you're trying to match a color in acrylics, you need to think about where the color is going to end up. You can't just mix the exact color if you know it's gonna dry a little bit darker. Sometimes you have to mix it a little bit lighter than what you see and then as it dries it will match that color. So how do you deal with that? What he is saying is that, when he uses a gloss medium like this, which you can instead of... If you're wanting a thinner paint instead of mixing water in with it, you could mix your gloss medium. That would actually work better because there's less water that's going to be evaporating.

08:55: And I think that that is true. I think that when you use a medium, it tends to reduce the amount of color shift that there is. But what I found is that it doesn't matter, it will always shift a little bit. There are certain brands of paint that are better. And one of the reasons that I started using Utrecht brand paint a couple of years ago, was because I had read a review and they looked at a whole bunch of factors like they looked at drying time, they looked at how thick and how usable the paint was, when you were pushing around what did it feel like? They talked about the color shift and they looked at all these factors and they'd asked a whole bunch of artists to choose what paint they liked the best, and they actually had said that they liked Utrecht.

09:56: And so I bought that paint for the first time after I read that, and I've been pretty happy with it. I use Liquitex also, and I still have Golden paint. All those paints are really good if you're using the higher grade paints. And I think that when you use a lower grade paint you might tend to get more color shift just because there's more filler in there and less pigment. And so all that stuff kind of affects what's going on. But I would agree with you, Jan, that this is probably a better way to go when you're mixing something in and you're wanting to water it down but not have such a big change in color. I think mixing a medium in would be better than mixing with pure water. So I would keep doing that, but it's gonna be an adjustment for you because you're gonna have to get used to the color shifting at all compared to a pastel.

11:03: The benefit is that with a pastel you either are going to need to spray some kind of fixative on it. You're gonna need to put it under glass, you're gonna need to do other stuff to deal with the issue that is it's pure pigment, and pure pigment won't stay where you want it to, it will come off. It will have all sorts of other problems, right? So, acrylics will shift a little bit in color, but you don't have to put them under a glass and it's a very permanent thing and especially when you're mixing, like when you're using mediums and stuff that just increases the amount that it can bond.

11:52: If you dilute it with water too much, it doesn't mean that it's going to fall off or something like that, but it loses some of the ability it has to adhere to your surface. So what I always try to think about is, if I do dilute something with water, I usually try to mix in some medium with it. So if I'm doing a glaze, because it needs to be nice and thin, I'll mix part water, part medium and part paint. That will give me something that's going to stick really well to the surface. And then if for whatever reason I have something that's on there that's more water than I really want it to be, I'll cover the whole thing up anyways with a coat of medium varnish and that will really seal it all together. So, thanks for the question, Jan, good question.

Favorite Brushes

12:50 : Our friend Matt asked this question and then he kind of changed it but I'm gonna address it, "Jed, how many brushes do you typically use and what sizes?" Laura asked a similar question last week but I didn't get around to answering it so I will do that now.  Her questions was: "If you could choose just one brush what would it be?" So I'll answer Laura's question first. If I was choosing just one brush, I would probably choose a flat number 10, and this is my favorite brush right now, it's by a company called Princeton. The brush is Princeton Catalyst by Princeton. And it's super great. It's got enough stiffness that it can hold good amount of paint and push heavy paint around. It also has a really soft edge because they divide each strand so it's a split end so at the end of this brush are split ends.

14:31: What it does is it actually just gives it a little bit more of a soft feel at the very tip of the brush, which I really love, and I've gone through this transition because I used to use brushes like this. They were shorter, and I would just get them at Michaels and they were in a pack, a ten-pack, that was what I used for years and years and they were great.

Shedding Paintbrushes

15:02: But I would basically be stuck with a brush that was about this size, and then I would get some other brushes that were bigger. And they were fine, they were totally good. And Rayleen, I'm actually answering your question at the same time because she asked this question, which is, "Can you recommend brands of paint brushes that don't lose hairs in the paint?" It's frustrating if you're trying to pick them out. So the big thing to know when you're painting an acrylic is use a synthetic brush. You can buy a pack of 10 brushes for $10 at Michaels. Then I started getting bigger brushes from Michaels. And this is one that I have now ... It looks like a flat, but it's actually called a bright and you can see if you compare the length of the bristle this one has a longer bristle than this one

16:00: This is called a bright and it's stiff and it's pretty good. And I liked it quite a bit. I used it for a long time, but then the reason I was using these was, 'cause I found that the flats were maybe a little bit too floppy. Then somebody introduced me to this other one that I recommended in Acrylic 101. I can't remember the name of them right now, but at the Plein Air Convention last year, somebody gave me a couple of these.

16:41: I was trying it out and I loved it because it was super soft. It was still stiff enough to hold the paint and push it around and everything like that, but it had a nice soft edge that I could blend and do really cool stuff with. So those are definitely right now my favorite brushes and they don't lose their hair. That's the big difference if you're using a natural hair bristle brush or a cheaper brush that those things lose their hair so much and it is super annoying to pick it out. So I would definitely go with the synthetic brush. And those are really good questions. Your brushes are your best friends in painting and you want to take care of them and treat them nice.

Mixing Paint - Canvas or Palette

The second follow-up question from Matt was basically, he's asking if I mix on the canvas or if I mix on the palette first.  He says his style is much different than mine, and he mixes colors on the canvas a lot. So, Matt, I generally mix my colors on my palette. So I pull my paints from my paint box and I pull them out from here, and I mix them on directly on the palette.

 18:17: Awhile ago someone asked me if I am careful with mixing these colors because it looked like I was just dipping from one paint color and then grabbing paint from another one. And they were getting mixed up in my paint box.

And that's true, that's totally what I do. You can see that I have a bunch of colors here mixed into the white. They're not really mixed in though, that's what I would say. They're just on the top. So if I grab more white, I'm going to get a tiny little bit of blue there, but most of the time it's not going to affect what I'm doing. If I really need to have a clean color, I'm going to use a palette knife to scrape off the dirty layer. But I don't worry in general about dipping in one, mixing and then dipping in another. I don't need to wash my brush out in between, I'm not usually worried about that, unless I really have something that I want to be totally vibrant and bright.

 19:30: The reason I'm not worried about it though is because when I'm mixing colors, I almost never pull a color straight from my paint box and put it straight to my painting. I'm always mixing them because that's what gives your painting harmony. When you mix your colors together. That's why I was having so much fun recently with using just the three primary colors that I talked about last week. Because you have one yellow, one red, one blue and your white and your black. I'm mixing those together constantly to get these other colors, and it creates this harmonious painting, but I almost always mix my colors on the palette.

 20:28: I have a couple artist friends who do a lot of their color mixing on the canvas. Putting on larger amounts of paints and mixing it there. I know some oil painters who do that because they actually have way more time to mix it on the canvas. But I've never really done it that way. Matt, I would love to see the way you do this and see your method for mixing on the canvas because I think that that would be pretty interesting. And interesting to see the different outcomes of that because it's something that I've never done that much. I did use a palette knife the other day. I  was trying to make a super thick- textured painting, and it worked. Somebody had asked a question about getting an impasto look and I know that for me, the best way to get a lot of texture in a painting is not through a brush but through a palette knife. When I've used a palette knife I find that because it's a lot of paint there tends to be more mixing of color on the canvas because the paint will stay wet on the canvas. So then when I'm coming back over it with another palette knife full of paint, it will often mix together.

 22:09: Matt, if you have some time, send me a video of how you mix colors on your canvas, because I think that'd be really interesting.


Lydia asks this, "Can you talk about framing?" What types of frames you use? Where to get them and helpful tips, stuff to avoid?" What I've done in the past is I've gone to actual stores and I've bought frames, but I don't do that anymore. Back in Vancouver, we used to have a place called Framer's Choice and it was almost like a discount framing, it was like a whole sale framing place. And it didn't look like a store or anything, it looked like a warehouse, but they would sell frames. Somebody told me about it and I went there and you could buy frames that were pretty good deal, and they would make custom frames for you, but that was always more expensive, of course.

23:45: So I would usually try to paint in a size that I could buy a frame, and they were pretty reasonable. We've discovered a few different framing options. About a year ago, I ordered 80 frames from Jerry's Artarama or Cheap Joe's Art Supply. They had a good sale.  It was September and usually in September they have a back to school sale. And I thought, "Man, I'm just gonna buy all my frames for this year." And so I went out and I bought a ton of frames. I thought they were wood frames but they weren't. They were made of some kind of paste.

 25:12: So if the corner gets nicked at all, it doesn't just nick the corner a little bit, it actually breaks off a little chunk of this frame and then it's completely white underneath. It's not wood at all. And they're heavy. I don't mind the way that they look but they're just a hassle to deal. And I bought so many. From 18 by 24, down to 6 by 6. A lot of times I don't frame bigger art work (bigger than 18x24). I just paint on a gallery wrapped canvas and let it be unframed. I paint the edges of the canvas because it's so expensive to buy frames. (Unless I have a really nice show that I'm trying to get into or something special.) I usually just paint the edges of the canvas black. And I sell it for a little bit less because I think that if somebody is wanting to frame a really big painting, they might have a particular taste and they might not want the frame that I would have bought anyway.

 26:33: But one of the lessons I learned from that was, don't buy 80 frames at one time before you buy one and see if you like it. So that'd be one of my first recommendations is: If you want to buy a frame, you want to see what a frame is like before ordering a bunch online. Buy one and have it shipped to you. You'll be able to get it and hold it in your hands, and see what it feels like. You'll be able to see if it's made of actual wood and tell what it looks like when your painting is inside of it. It's really hard to tell that stuff from online.

27:26: I met a guy at the Plein Air Convention who owns a company called JFM Frames. They are in Atlanta, Georgia, but he was at the Plein Air Convention and he had tons of frames there. And so I was actually able to see them in person, and I bought a few frames. Now, if I wanna order a frame from him, I go on their website And I know these frames that I like and I can order them online. We've ordered others from this company and really liked them. There is another place also called San Diego Frame Manufacturing Company and they have great frames. I would recommend them also. I always buy "plein air" frames. There is no glass in these frames - which I don't need for displaying acrylic paintings!


JFM Frames:

San Diego Manufacturing Company:

Article about disposing acrylic paint:

Video on filtering solids from acrylic paints:

Favorite brushes:

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