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Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


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Ara’s Top Picks for Kid’s Art Supplies

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Guest blogger, Ara, with her 3 children

Hello!
I am writing to share my top picks for art inspired gift giving for kids. I am a local artist, author and illustrator- but more importantly, I am a mother of 3 children- ages 9, 7, and 5. I have a background in early childhood education, and many, many years of teaching, creating and making joyful messes with children. I am frequently asked what I would suggest purchasing for kids to encourage creation and inspire creativity. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to get children REAL art supplies. Yes, they are a bit more money, but I have seen firsthand the difference in quality of art and love of making when children are given higher quality art supplies. Skip the big box sets of “100 ITEMS!” – most of which are lost, broken, dried out and faded within hours of opening. Instead, opt in for a few simple, but vibrant supplies, that are sure to make satisfying and stunning pieces of art. I am fiercely devoted to shopping at Wet Paint for materials, because the selection, vibe, and staff are beyond excellent.

1. A Utility sketch book
These guys are nice, heavy paper for any kind of drawing, bound like a book, and a full 288 pages! We keep a couple in the car for drawing when “bored”, my kids travel with them, and have one next to their bed for late night drawing. I love that they’re bound, because it allows a collection of art (288 pages!) to be saved easily.

2. Playcolor
These bright solid paint sticks are my most recommended to parents who are looking to get something new and interesting. They are capped like a marker, but smooth like a paint. They are deeply satisfying to draw with, almost like a lipstick. They dry fast, are not very messy, and come in varieties like metallic and textile. I think kids as young 3 and as old as me would enjoy these!

3Yarka Watercolor Palette
Yarka’s palettes are semi-moist, vibrant watercolors. These are SOOOO much better than those dried out, barely there color, other brand watercolor paint palettes we all used in school. Creamier and brighter, kids love painting with these. I especially love watercolors with kids if the paper is wet from a spray bottle or big brush. Watching the colors swirl and mix is so much fun process, and if you use a decent watercolor paper, the images can be saved for gift wrapping, card making, and other fun crafts.

4Niji Watercolor
A step up, for my kids, is a tube or liquid watercolor. The Niji brand is affordable, and kids love to squeeze a bit of paint onto a palette and mix it up with water. It’s also great for learning how to color mix and creating unique shades. Wet Paint also carries two other already mixed liquid watercolors, which are also fantastic.

5. Watercolor Paper
I like the Strathmore vision watercolor pad. It isn’t top shelf paper, but it is a million times better than flimsy kid craft paper. You get 30 sheets for $10, and end up with frame-able kid art and great watercolor abstracts for various paper projects.

6Faber-Castell Beeswax Crayons
One of my personal favorite art supplies, I use these crayons for almost all of my base sketches, and my children use them whenever they color. I think they are brighter and smoother than a typical crayon, and they are amazing with watercolors or inks as a resist. Plus, beeswax is a natural and renewable resource, unlike petroleum-based paraffin of other crayons.

7Ampersand Art Panels
I have used art panels in many of the classes I’ve taught to young artists. I always ask them, “how do you like painting on the panels?” And everytime they all say IT IS SO MUCH FUN. The Ampersand art panels come in many finishes, and I love them all. My favorites are basswood and claybord, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. They are smooth, sturdy, and hold endless amount of material (so they’ll never get soggy like paper, no matter how much paint your kids pile on). Kids feel VERY proud of art made on these panels, because they are instantly ready to gallery hang, which makes any artist feel legit.

8. Claytoon
Pretty clay in fun packs of four colors, and it never dries out. Unlike other clays, it isn’t crumbly, and so less messy and easier to clean up. Soft and smooth clay is easier to create detail work, and to sculpt into the perfect figure. I suggest getting a lidded plastic pan/tray, that the clay can be kept in. Then it is easier to tidy up, and keeps it all in one spot. Bonus- add a couple IWAKO Japanese mini animal erasers to your clay tray. My kids love to sculpt tiny furniture and gardens and lands in the tray for the eraser guys to live in. Tiny clay bunkbed with a tiny eraser bunny = CUTE.

9. Marabu Art Crayons
Somewhere between Playcolor and watercolors, is the new Marabu Art Crayons. Silky and satisfying like Playcolor, they are a joy to draw with. But add in a paint brush and cup of water, and they turn to pretty washes and blends. These come in sets, or a la carte, for the perfect set of favorite colors.

10. Yupo Paper
Yupo is fun paper to play with and experiment new techniques on. I can’t imagine any child wouldn’t love it! It is silky smooth and lush, and with ink or markers is complete joy. Our kids love to use the Sakura Gelly Roll pens on it, or the Touch brush markers. The markers just saturate the paper with color, and the gelly rolls are glossy and glittery.

11. Kuretake Bimoji Pen
My favorite pen, for drawing, sketching and writing. We can’t keep enough of these in our house. Everyone loves them. Solid black, smooth, felt tip, they are great for outlines and detailed drawing work.

12. Cigar Boxes
Now that you have all the supplies, make sure you grab a $3 cigar box. Cigar boxes are the best! When I was kid I kept all my crayons in my grandpa’s old cigar boxes, and so it is nostalgic for me. But besides that, they are appealing to look at, practical for storage, stackable, sturdy, and a great size for almost anything.

I also love: Amsterdam acrylic inksGelly Roll pens, Papermate felt tips, Sakura Micron Pens, Molotow paint markersStrathmore blank cards/envelopesArt Graf carbon disc + Aquash water brush, and Traveler pocket journal sketch

Here are some lovely combos:

Basswood art panel + Beeswax crayons + Niji watercolors + cigar box
Basswood art panel + Playcolor + cigar box
Basswood Art Panel + Marabu Art Crayons + cigar box
Claybord Art Panel + Amsterdam acrylic inks + beeswax crayons + cigar box
Utility sketchbook + Gelly pens + Yupo
Utility sketchbook + Kuretake Bimoji Pen
Yupo paper + Kuretake Bimoji Pen + Touch Brush Markers + cigar box
Yupo paper + Gelly Pens + IWAKO eraser for cuteness + cigar box
Strathmore vision watercolor pad + Niji or Yarka watercolors + cigar box
Strathmore vision watercolor pad + Marabu Art Crayons + cigar box
Strathmore vision watercolor pad + Art Graf carbon disc + Aquash water brush
Claytoon + IWAKO erasers + storage container


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Who’s a cute Acryla tin?

The dust has finally settled on fall back-to-school and preparations for our annual Holiday Catalog…now there’s time to show off the catalog and all of the cool stuff we packed into it!  I will try to highlight one or two of the products we’re thinking about each week thru the end of the sale, so watch this space, as well as our Instagram and Facebook posts.

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Holbein Acryla Gouache Custom Set Color Mixing Grid by Anna Miller

This week’s “star of the show” is the item we’re most excited about in the whole catalog: our exclusive Holbein Acryla Gouache Set.  Everyone loves Acryla…it’s the gouache that dries permanent like acrylic and the acrylic that is velvety matte like gouache.  It has no color shift from wet to dry, and it’s totally mixable with other gouache, other acrylic, or pretty much any other water-based media you can think of.  And the color palette is large and unique…there’s colors in Acryla that you won’t find in any other paint line.  In fact, this was the catalyst for our exclusive set: combining a range of bread & butter primaries with best-selling, esoteric colors like Ice Green and Horizon Blue.  We think the super sale price for the eighteen 20ml colors alone is enough to make this custom kit a homerun…but wait, there’s more!

 

To make our set extra special, Holbein North America imported these fantastic, cylindrical metal tins – embellished inside & out with the illustrations of Japanese artist Yuko Higuchi – to package the paint.  Durable and eye-catching, these tins have just enough room to add six more of your favorite 20ml Acryla colors…there’s even a color chart included to help you choose your favorites!

If you’re thinking ahead to gift-giving season, consider this paint set for the graphic designer/illustrator/watercolorist/architect/wood carver on your list…it’s only available at Wet Paint!

Plus, check out the little video we made about this awesome set!


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2017 New Schmincke Set, now available for preorder

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2017 Limited Edition Botanical Set, colors chosen by Marilyn Garber

Due to the amazing support of our watercolor loving friends, our first 2017 Limited Edition Schmincke travel tin (Botanical, colors chosen by Marilyn Garber) sold out in record time. We were encouraged by the phenomenal interest (and ongoing requests) to put together a second set for 2017, which seemed appropriate given 2017 is the 125th Anniversary of Horadam Watercolors.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Schmincke updated the color selection of their watercolors. We lost a couple colors entirely to the raw materials no longer being available – Walnut Brown and Pozzuoli Earth, RIP. A few colors just got new names and a few got replaced with similar pigment formulas, so have both new names and reference numbers. For full details on the changes to old colors, see this pdf from Schmincke: What’s different in the new assortment.

The most exciting thing about the new assortment, of course, is 35 New Colors.

swatches

The new Horadam colors run the gamut – they include historical pigments, transparent earths and modern colors. We decided to put together a split primary palette that not only introduces you to these new colors, but also allows you to create magical mixes for a range of subjects. As with the Botanical set earlier in the year, this selection of 12 colors will be in the squarish tin that holds a total of 18 half pans…which leaves 6 spots to customize the palette to your tastes or outfit with your favorite go-to colors. *winkwink* We have free shipping at $99.

74774097^2Here is the selection in the new tin:

AQ344 Perylene Red Dark

AQ359 Saturn Red

AQ483 Cobalt Azure

AQ477 Phthalo Sapphire

AQ222 Yellow Orange

AQ205 Rutile Yellow

AQ370 Potter’s Pink

AQ371 Perylene Violet

AQ784 Perylene Green

AQ789 Hematite Black

AQ513 Viridian

AQ672 Mahogany

Important Notes: We have confirmed shipment from Germany, but our lovely sets are on the slow boat. Barring any issues with customs, we hope to see them by mid-October and are now taking preorders. There are two duplicate colors with the Botanical set –  Cobalt Azure and Perylene Green.  We will not be making changes or substitutions to the colors in the new set. In addition to the new sets, we expect to see dot sheets back in with this import shipment. We anticipate a heavy influx of orders for this set – they will be processed in the sequence they are received. Order fulfillment may be longer than usual due to volume, once they arrive.

Click on through to preorder the new set, $69.95 each

Want to expand your set with more new colors?

Want to browse all of the Horadam half pans?

Want the awesome gel pen that I used as a resist in the color swatches?

kateheadshotThank you to all of our water-media, Schmincke-loving artist friends. We could not make these unique items happen without your patronage.

Happy Painting!

Kate Katzer


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Is That a Pencil in Your Pocket?

There’s been a lot of attention paid in the media to the pushback against digital tablets in favor of, well, tablets.  It seems that more and more folks are discovering (or rediscovering) the appeal of making marks on paper.  And while you hear a lot about all the different kinds of notebooks out there, the tools that are doing the actual writing and drawing are sometimes less recognized.  What better way to “fix” that (pun intended and explained below) than to cast a discerning and appreciative eye on our old friend, the humble pencil?

IMG_6447For many people, a pencil has a wooden, yellow barrel with a pink eraser on top.  That describes Dixon’s Ticonderoga, amongst others, and we’ve got ‘em at Wet Paint.  We’ve also got lots of pencils specifically made for drawing.  Artist-grade pencils are like the fancy cousins of the “yellow pencil”…they’re related, in that they have lead encased in a wooden barrel.  The big difference is the very high quality lead they contain and the fact that this lead comes in a bunch of different hardnesses (see the guide below), allowing the artist to make a range of marks from smudgy dark to scratchy light.  Caran d’Ache produces a remarkable artists’ graphite pencil called Grafwood – 15 hardnesses of the nicest graphite you’ve ever used.  Czech company Koh-I-Noor is credited with the creation of the graphite pencil we know today…Wet Paint stocks their Toison D’or line of artists’ pencils.  We also carry high quality pencils from German Faber Castell, Austrian Cretacolor and English Derwent.

Koh-I-Noor-Pencil-Point-of-Purchase-Sign

Sometimes a pencil is that thing that clicks when you push down on the eraser and lead comes out.  Those are known as mechanical pencils and we’ve got tons of those, too.  Modern mechanical pencils are available in four standard lead sizes – .3mm, .5mm, .7mm and .9mm – and a variety of lead hardnesses (though not as many as artists’ pencils).  Pentel’s new Orenz actually comes in a teeny tiny .2mm, but it’s the exception!  One of our favorite new mechanical pencils is the OHTO SHARP .5mm wooden mechanical pencil.  It looks like a small, regular pencil, but it clicks!  Available in three appealing colors…I think everybody on staff owns at least one of them!

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The architects and engineers reading this may have their hands in the air at this point, because there are also mechanical style pencils that hold larger lead sizes than the four I mentioned above.  Lead holders, as these are called, accept lead sizes from 2mm to 5.6mm.  This heartier lead is perfect for the demands placed on it by makers…of buildings and art.  One of our most popular lead holders is the Fixpencil (remember my pun?) from Caran d’Ache.  Available in several lead sizes, color accents, and surfaces, the Fixpencil combines workman-like durability with sleek Swiss design…they are very handsome tools.

Back to the basic yellow pencil.  Some of our favorite writing tools are essentially “regular” pencils, just more stylish.  The Blackwing pencil, for instance, only comes in a few different hardnesses, but in a multitude of limited edition finishes and colored barrels.  The unique square ferrules and replaceable erasers make them stand out from the crowd.  Speaking of standing out, my favorite #2 pencils of all time have to be the Viarco Vintage series pencils.  Both pencils and packaging are faithful reproductions of Viarco products from the 1940s to the 1970s. These boxes are so authentic, a slip of paper had to be added to accommodate a bar code! These six unique 12-pencil boxes are designed in Portugal using long-established production methods, and the quality you’ve come to expect from Viarco.  They are almost too fantastic to use.

Oh, and we’ve got notebooks, too….


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Thinking About Hard Edge Abstraction This Week

Great friend and customer, Dr. Michael Path, dropped by Wet Paint yesterday with a beautiful monograph he’d told me about on a previous visit.  Somehow I had never heard of the California abstractionist John McLaughlin (1898-1976), but seeing the reproductions in Dr. Path’s book made me excited to see the paintings in person.  As it turns out, I could have seen a bunch of them at the recent LACMA exhibition…if I had known about it before it closed on the 16th of April (and I was in Los Angeles).  Rats!

A show I also would have liked to have seen in person was the Carmen Herrera show at The Whitney last winter.  Herrera is another artist that I – and apparently many others – hadn’t heard of prior to her highly acclaimed career retrospective, even though she’s been working consistently for over 60 years, and continues producing new paintings at age 101.

Besides being largely ignored, then rediscovered, by the mainstream art establishment, McLaughlin and Herrera share another thing in common: their work falls into the category of “Hard Edge” painting.  This term was first used by curator Jules Langsner in his catalog introduction to the show Four Abstract Classicists at The San Francisco Museum of Art in 1959 (McLaughlin was one of the four painters exhibited).  Although the phrase was coined in the mid-century, this style of non-figurative, geometric abstraction dates back to the early twentieth century in the paintings of Hilma af Klint, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers.  The heyday of Hard Edge painting & sculpture, though, was definitely the late 1950’s thru the mid 1970’s as romantic Abstract Expressionism fractured into “cooler” movements, notably Pop, Mimimalism, Light & Space, and Hard Edge.  Artists like Frank Stella. Kenneth Noland, Anne Truitt, Ellsworth Kelly and Jo Baer created their signature abstract works at this time.

As the recent McLaughlin and Herrera shows demonstrate, there continues to be great interest in geometric abstraction, and a new generation anxious to relearn and reinterpret the modes associated with it.  German born Tomma Abts, the first woman to win the Tate’s prestigious Turner Prize, is perhaps the best known of a new wave of artists interpreting Hard Edge with a contemporary eye (check out her sculpture at the Walker the next time it’s on exhibit).  Closer to home, Lisa Nankivil, Ann Pibal, Ruben Nusz, and Melanie Pankau (all with connections to Minneapolis) are creating art that has traditional Hard Edge painting at its root, but all four are taking their work in unique and exciting directions.

NIJT-Nichiban-251-TapeEvidenced by the breadth of approaches from just the handful of artists above, there is no one Hard Edge style or technique.  There’s also no one particular material required for creating hard edge art.  That said, there are a few supplies that we’ve seen artists return to over & over.  The “edge” in Hard Edge usually arrives from masking one area from another, and our favorite thing to do that with is Nichiban Masking Tape from Japan.  As our friend Roz Stendahl once said: “This tape is so good, it should have its own name (besides masking tape).”  Super thin (no “ridge” to your “edge”), fantastically adhesive, and easy & clean to remove, if you use tape anywhere in your painting practice, you should use Nichiban.  Eliminating the “hand” of the artist – the gestural brushstrokes associated with a more expressionistic approach – is a hallmark of many Hard Edge paintings.  Golden Artist Color’s Self Leveling Clear Gel produces an even, transparent film when added to acrylic paint, so your color fields are smooth and distraction-free.  Finally, unlike our sister stores on the coasts, we don’t have as many canonical artists dropping by for paint.  30-ArtistTubesGRPHowever, we have supplied two famous Hard Edge painters and both chose the same paint: Lascaux Artist Acrylic.  Seemingly every acrylic says it has a creamy, oil-like consistency, but Lascaux really delivers…gorgeous color that handles like a dream.

 

I hope that, like Dr. Path and me, you find inspiration in the work of these artists.  I look forward to seeing you at Wet Paint soon!


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Green is our favorite color

loveearthWithout a lot of fanfare, many of the small companies that manufacture and distribute art supplies have been going green. I was just reading that very few industries overall are welcoming recent rollbacks of our US environmental protections.  Major companies see no need to turn this train because it serves their customers and shareholders to keep their promise to be more efficient and reduce their long term impact.  It seems that most companies do care about the long term effects of their methods and, more importantly, find that green tech is good for the bottom line. Maybe a few are cynically labelling themselves “eco-friendly” to get into the pocket of the SRCs (Socially Responsible Consumers) but those customers are not just the stereotypical college professors and yuppies.

Most importantly, in my opinion, we learn that plenty of companies that are new or expanding make a business decision for their facility that has more to do with their operations than their marketing department.  We figured that this week we’d call out a few cool things that we’ve noticed happening in our niche of the economy beyond strategically investing in LED replacement bulbs.

  • MABEF has been producing fine painting supports in Italy since 1948.  Their “French Easels” are iconic gear for the outdoor and portable painter . It turns out that MABEF uses only Forest Stewardship Council certified beechwood in their products, meaning the wood has come from a forest and supply chain that is managed responsibly.  Even the scraps and saw dust from the manufacturing process are converted to wood pellets that heat the MABEF factory and offices.
  • Artograph makes light tables and projectors and has been bringing their production of some of these products back onshore to the US (in nearby Delano, MN) which reduces the fuel used in shipping and transport.
  • Stabilo (Markers, Pencils, and Pens) added an environmental officer in the early 90s and pays very close attention to where their products come from and where they end up after the artist is done with them. I like their FAQ.
  • Gamblin Artist Oils has a page that wisely talks about the safety of the artist in the same breath with the safety of the environment. Their Gamsol product is designed with both in mind and every oil painter should be familiar with these safe studio practices.  They are like a lot of other manufacturers that also power with wind and are sharply on top of their waste management.
  • DaVinci Brushes relocated their new factory in 2006 to cut the commute of their staff and keep them close to public transport. The facility is green and happy employees are good for business!

Making paper consumes a lot of water in the growing of the pulp plants and in the papermaking process.  The manufacturing process can contaminate waste water with bleaches and other chemicals. Also, the product is just plain heavy to ship, which drinks a lot of fuel.  All of our manufacturers are addressing these issues. Here are some good examples of where their care with our resources makes good business sense:

  • Clairefontaine (Rhodia) makes some of our most popular softcover note/sketchbooks. Like more than a few other companies they use only pulp from managed forests.
  • We have several companies that use renewable plants for their stock, like the Lokta papers we were featuring this week and papers made with hemp or kenaf fiber.
  • Strathmore, Bee and others mills routinely now use 20-30% PCW (Post Consumer Waste) in their sketch paper. That’s a big deal as 20 years ago “recycled” was usually pre-consumer, meaning that a company was just re-pulping waste material and overstock found in their facility. Now they buy from companies like our local Rock-Ten and keep my shredded credit card offers out of the landfill.

TropheeDeLeauCLF

Some of this corporate responsibility is visible on the packages, but not all of it is shouty big green “ECO-Friendly Organic Paintbrush” stickers with treefrogs and leaves on the labels. I went looking and found these everywhere, not just in the brands mentioned here.  I encourage you to grab the pads on our shelves and read the inner or back covers to learn more about each pad’s sources. It’s there and I’m impressed.  If you don’t see it on the packages, hit the manufacturers’ websites or ask us and we’ll have a chat with our vendors.  It’s not all of them, but I have been really lifted up to discover that this has been threaded so thoroughly throughout our business over that last couple of decades that it is now just a fact of how we do business and I cannot expect any of this is going to be dropped in the next few years.

Absent the protection of law, the good news from 2017 is that few companies would turn their back on the consumers who want them to be responsible and only a poor quality business would think they could survive in the long term by being purposefully neglectful of their natural resources.

Heavy. Maybe next week we’ll investigate the practices of craft breweries and distilleries that compost and send their spent mash to farms for cattle feed.


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Step up your oil paint palette and your charitable giving…in one fell swoop!

We’re very excited to announce that Wet Paint is partnering with Pygmalion’s Art Supplies in Bloomington, Indiana and Gamblin Artist Colors in Portland, Oregon to bring you a wonderful opportunity.  For the past seven years, John Wilson, the owner of Pygmalions, has worked with local artists and the paintmakers at Gamblin to create limited edition oil colors that are only available thru Pygmalion’s…until now.

While supplies last, you can get caught up on the last few years of these limited edition colors. We have 37ml tubes of “Cat’s Tail” (2015), “Saffron” (2016), and “Red Rhino Red” (2017) at Wet Paint for only $8.95/tube (read more about each color below)!

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And – as if custom Gamblin colors isn’t enough – Wet Paint will follow Pygmalion’s lead and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these colors will be donated to a local non-profit.  The Art Department of LEAP High School in Saint Paul  is dedicated to serving students who are new to the United States and are learning English while earning a high school diploma. As an alternative high school, LEAP High School enrolls students up to age 20 and provides an educational opportunity beyond the offerings provided in traditional high schools.

leaphsAt LEAP a special emphasis is given to acquiring language skills through the study of art. Students in visual art classes at LEAP learn the language of art through drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture. They study works of art, nature, architecture and the environment.  They also use creative and thematic ideas related to their individual experience and interpretation in creating their own work. Students are encouraged to reflect on their native country’s traditions, landscape and architecture and communicate them visually and verbally. Many of the images posted on their website reflect their students’ personal experiences as well as their knowledge and experience in demonstrating their traditional art forms.

TAILCat’s Tail is a transparent red created by Autumn Bussen, an MFA Painting candidate at Indiana University.  For this custom color, John Wilson asked his customers to vote from a list of color names and Cat’s Tail won by a landslide.  After choosing the name, a contest was held to create the color that went with it.  Bussen’s winner combines a dark maroon mass tone with a warm, earthy undertone…great on its own or as a versatile mixer.

SAFFRONSaffron is a unique, opaque Naples Yellow-like color created by Mitch Raney, an MFA Painting candidate at Indiana University in Bloomington.  Saffron is a spice made from the stamens of crocus flowers.  In its natural form, it is a reddish brown color, but when cooked it becomes a beautiful golden yellow that can color other ingredients in a recipe, as well as adding flavor.  Each tube is decorated with a picture of a crocus flower drawn by IU Printmaking student Bethany Lumsdaine.

RHINORed Rhino Red is a semi-transparent mixture of three different red pigments.  It is a chromatic red color that biases pink, like a crimson lake.  Phil Cardenas created the color, and Raphael Cornford drew the rhino used for the logo.  Both Cardenas and Cornford are accomplished Bloomington artists, as well as Pygmalion’s employees.


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Add (some) Color to Daily Drawing Practice

Chris, on our staff, told me about his project last year to do one sketch a day. At first I thought, “Heck, how hard is that?” Then I tried it. After letting a couple of days get away the coin dropped and I recognized that it’s a very tough challenge. Like New Year’s resolutions to work out every day, to improve your bass guitar playing, to run three times a week, or to learn French with an app on your phone, this is about setting aside minutes every day for practice. Daily practice gets you ready for the race. One-a-day sketches will not be not 365 masterpieces. Like playing musical scales or making time for a walk or a run, hitting the minutes is the goal. The first week or so you may just be doing a few minutes each day before you are fatigued but you get stronger. The trick is trying for one more minute the next day and then more after that.

My goal is to get in 25-30 minutes of drawing practice each day and thanks to the realization that this is training, not the race, I’m finally doing it.

Here’s how I got a good start; toned paper. One of our regular customers came in to pick up a new pocket sketchbook and was showing me his cartoons and caricatures. He draws people he sees outside and in the skyways in his grey-tinted book and uses a white chalk or marker to punch things up. Then a couple of days later I saw a documentary on the Civil War that used illustrations with black and sepia conte on kraft-color brown paper with a yellow ochre rubbed into the backgrounds to pop them out. It was simple and looked good. So I got a kraft color Stonehenge pad-a small-ish one, since I was working with pencils.  To my regular assortment of regular pencils I added a white Pitt marker and made some fun little drawings. I’d do a sketch of random shapes or copy part of a picture from the newspaper and then fill the background with the white Pitt pen. The pop-out effect is like magic!  A couple of days later I added a 30% grey Prismacolor colored pencil, then a cream Conte crayon, then a silver Gelly Roll ball pen. After using white in the backgrounds I started adding dots of white in textures then highlights. (I really like the Signo white pen for those.) Also check out the amazing sketches of Don Colley for more inspiration.

The sketch pad is on the kitchen counter and it is filling up because I am picking it up and doing my drawings every day.

The other thing I realized is that even though I started after to first of the year I’m not behind schedule. A year from when I started will be January  16th. If you see me in the store ask me how it’s going and let me know how your year of sketches is coming along.


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Oh Boy! New Daniel Smith Watercolors!

Our number one line of watercolors already has more colors – and more unique colors – than anybody.  Now they have eight more and Wet Paint’s got ‘em:

  1. Rose Madder Permanent: a permanent version of the super popular, super fugitive staple of many painter’s palettes. If the organic pigments like Quinacridone are too intense, Rose Madder Permanent may be just right!
  2. Quinacridone Lilac: Speaking of intense Quinacridones…”Quin” Lilac is vivid, clean, and bright.  Less pink than Quinacridone Rose, less blue than Quinacridone Magenta, it belongs on the palette of every floral painter.
  3. Payne’s Blue-Gray: Bluer than traditional Payne’s Gray, but not as blue as Indigo, this semi-transparent is a nice substitute over black for darkening other colors.
  4. Aussie Red-Gold: This lovely, warm amber color is transparent and non-granulating.  If you like Quinacridone Gold (and who doesn’t?), you’re gonna love Aussie Red-Gold.
  5. Raw Sienna Light: More golden yellow than regular Raw Sienna, this color is reminiscent of the oil paint color Naples Yellow.
  6. Burnt Sienna Light: This beautiful earthy color is more red than Daniel Smith’s Burnt Sienna.  Previously available only in the Alvaro Castagnet set, now available to portrait painters ala carte!
  7. Lavender: This mix of three pigments is a granulating “periwinkle” blue…ideal for florals.
  8. Wisteria: A reddish lavender that’s non-granulating and non-staining.  Another useful color on the flower painter’s palette.

new-wcgs_9861-1Additionally, we’re now stocking Iridescent Gold and Pearlescent White Watercolor Grounds, too.  Folks have been asking us for the Iridescent Gold ground for years; it’s unique properties make it unlike any surface you’ve painted on before!  Transparent watercolors painted over Iridescent Gold ground take on the warm, luminous tone underneath, producing handsome glazes.  Similarly, Pearlescent White ground will impart luminosity and shimmer to the paints applied over it, but without the warm tonality.  Both grounds are semi-transparent, allowing the texture of the paper – or whatever you paint them on – to show thru.

We look forward to seeing you in the store soon!


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The Secret to Fantastic Drawing: Use More Paper

As a kid my mom would make sure my sister and I always had plenty of paper for drawing. She was a teacher so there was always a box of extra mimeographed worksheets to scribble on the backs of and, for a while, a carton of green-striped tractor-feed paper from the school office. We went through all of it. One birthday though, I received a pad of real drawing paper from the art supply store. I decided that it would be for special drawings so I set it aside until I was certain that I’d be doing a fantastic drawing.

Visiting my folks at home last fall I found that pad in a box and it is still blank.  As a kid I wasn’t confident that I’d be creating a masterpiece piece so I stuck to scrap office paper.

Since then I’ve stopped using the backs of German 101 vocab quizzes as sketch paper because I’ve learned that you shouldn’t wait to use good paper. Using better paper makes the drawing work out better. Now I get thick spiral pads with decent, toothy paper and I immediately do something fast, messy, and scribbly on the first few pages so that theres no hesitation about picking it up and adding to it and filling it up. Decent paper and not hesitating to use it is what generates fantastic drawings.

8080960Since I’ve gotten back into the store my new favorite is the 9×12 Bee 808 pad. It’s a sincere-looking, rugged, spiral-bound with 60 thick pages and a heavy board for a back cover.  And Bee makes it in the U.S., which is cool. I like the warm white color of the paper and medium surface. Spiral pads lay flat, which I prefer. It handles fine-point pens, soft pencil, and pastel nicely. It says it’s for multi-media so I’m going to get some ink and watercolor shading going soon.  My kids are each getting one with a promise to replace every full book with a fresh one.

Now thru February 10th, 2017 all pads and journals are 20% off at Wet Paint!