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The Right Tool for the Right Job

TurkeyHappy Autumn –  Happy Thanksgiving


Dear Friends:

Well, I am sitting at the dining table with two small pumpkins.  With a scissor in hand, I struggle to open the tiny screw that will allow me to insert two batteries so my pumpkin can announce to trick or treaters I am open for business.  The scissor doesn’t work.  Now I try a knife. It doesn’t work either.  Okay, so I get up to go to the toolbox.  What I retrieve doesn’t work either.  Twenty minutes later I am looking for the right tool.  Ah-ha! I find a small “screw cha-cha” as my son called it age 3 years of age.  Presto – chango, the screw is out, the batteries in, the light works, the pumpkins on the windowsill!  Three minutes.  This incident, of course, brings me to our topic: the right tool is always best if you want the job done right.

How does that apply to anything? To Art?  – Well for sure the masterly touch can work wonders with very little help from the right tool.  But it certainly makes life easier, and especially is true for beginning art students.  The logic behind “student” paints, which are less expensive, is that why waste paint on student work.  This may be a good idea for youngsters who are having fun, but I may point out there are prodigies who deserve working with the real thing.  Check out…. and enjoy this amazing story.

The big problem with so-called student grade paints is that they are filled with binder and less pigment.  This means the color mixing properties are not the same as with the artist materials.  In addition, many student grade watercolor paints are not very lightfast and will fade.  This holds true for inexpensive colored pencils, too.

Then we get to watercolor brushes…. well you say…. aren’t they all the same.  Answer: NO.  Every manufacturer of watercolor brushes offers several types in different styles.  There are rounds, flats, mops, wash, filberts, etc.  The sizing of brushes is most commonly done by a number system. Each number does not necessarily correlate to the same size brush by different manufacturers. Rounds for example have a size range from #00000 to #24, and possibly even higher.  So a #3 from one company could be quite a bit smaller or larger than a #3 from another company.

In addition, brushes come in hair or bristle and this leaves a wide range of quality.  For the fine artist of botanical paintings, or portraits, and even for very detailed still life and figure paintings, the most highly praised watercolor brushes are those made with kolinsky sable, which is said to come from the Siberian kolinsky, weasel or mink.  Sable brushes can be used for both watercolor and gouache paints. The best sable brushes are considered the ideal hair for watercolor brushes because the hair gently tapers from a wide belly to a very sharp.  When selecting brushes, test to see the point’s worthiness by wetting the tip and painting an imaginary figure eight on the palm of your hand. If the point stays together and does not splay, chances are the brush will do the same when painting.  The next thing to test is the brush’s spring or resilience.  If a wet brush flops over and does not return to a straight point, it will not be a good brush to work with.   At its best, kolinsky sable is durable, holds its point, and has a good snap that springs the brush back into shape after every stroke.

Many people select Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes, which are beautiful but very expensive.  At the Academy we have discovered the wonderful world of Raphael brushes, which thanks to Daniel Smith are offered to us at a terrific price point.  Because we use a two-brush method, it takes time to build the brush collection. But at the terrific price and discount offered to us, the collection will be easier to build.

Here are the three types of brushes that students select for three important reasons.  The sizes are up to each artist….

The Round Long Tip – This is the overall brush that can get you through most if not all of your painting projects.

Daniel Smith has an excellent pricing grid for these brushes.  Be sure to include both the Teacher Referral in your order and the Discount Code WOMArt20.

The first line on the order page will look something like this…….

Daniel Smith Teacher Program Logo




Raphael 8404











The Extra Fine Tip – These brushes have a beautiful, long sharp point that is excellent for really fine detailed work.

These brushes can be found on the Dick Blick website.  Be sure to add their discount code which can be found at the top of their product page.

Raphael 8408












The Short Tip Miniature Brush – These brushes have a smaller belly and shorter tip, so as a result hold less water and less paint.  They are wonderful for velum painting, and for areas where dry brushing will work better.

These brushes can also be found on the Dick Blick website.  Be sure to add their discount code which can be found at the top of their product page.

WNSeries7 Shorts











One  last thing…..

Check out our new book website.  It is a very easy way to find and order the Academy textbooks.  The site was designed by using templates.  VERY COOL.  Talk about using the right tool!!!

The WIX company makes it very easy to set up your own website….most templates are for free.  Maintaining the site for the year has a fee but not too expensive.  Check us out and then take a look at them.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

God bless. OM





























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