Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


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I can’t read my own handwriting!

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Fifteen years ago I was in a corporate tech job and one day I didn’t have a pen. I hadn’t misplaced my pen. I simply had no pen at my desk and likely hadn’t written anything down for days. I didn’t need to. It was a tech job and everything went directly into the system. It was the early 2000s and, thanks to debit cards, I wasn’t even writing checks all that often.

Soon after that I got a promotion, certainly due to my amazing efficiency and technical prowess, and I needed to write again in two common and important situations. I had to write on whiteboards for presentations and I had to act like I was taking notes in stupid, boring meetings while someone else got to huff the marker aroma. I enjoyed the challenge of writing legibly with a dry-erase marker backwards over my shoulder while talking. However, rolling a fat, heavy, corporate logo-ed pen with a crappy OEM rollerball cartridge across a legal pad to stay awake while someone reads each word from their own PowerPoint slides happened far more often and it took a terrible toll on my penmanship.

Now I am back to a world where I write more than “trouble tickets” and email. My degraded handwriting needs to be addressed. Slowing down helps and I’ll be practicing more thoughtful lettering. But I work at the pen store and I know that picking the right device is half the battle. No more “award-quality” swag pens.

milanRight now my go-to is the Milan P-1 Gel Touch pen. I keep one at the ready on my keyboard and it is the one I use for signing checks. The “dry” roller has the right amount of drag and the line is bold but not too thick. It reduces lift-offs and accidental ligatures when I print and keeps my cursive from looking like I’m jotting down my EKG. In the grip department I like the rubberized coating and uniform hex body. Style-wise it strikes me like the Ford Taurus in RoboCop: High utility, clean lines, and durable.

As an autonomic pen-clicker I give the button action a 9. The P-1 provides satisfying resistance and return that won’t sprain your thumb with a quiet, but audible, “POP!”

Milan also makes a 4″ Mini version and we can barely keep those in stock. It’s the ultimate tactical pen.  It’s also less than a dollar. We are stocked up right now though, and during our “Make Your Mark” sale all pens (and pencils) are 15% off!

 

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It’s really quite Swiss.

Over in the pen case we have three more click pens that range from a step up in quality to a fun fine writing instrument.

The Horizon Otho is stellar. The ultra fine rollerball is fantastically tight.

The Infinite BP is a heavier basic ballpoint pen with smooth, soft action that might not soothe the nervous clicker but would certainly help everyone around him.

The Caran d’Ache 849, which packs a smooth Tungsten Carbide ball point, is a modern design classic that is just heavy enough in the hand without being large or ponderous. At about 40 bucks it might find a permanent home as your purse or pocket jotter but with the look and the colors available you could get several and call them fashion accessories.

If you aren’t a clicker you might like the Pigma Micron PN. It’s the same permanent, lightfast, and waterproof ink as the precise point fiber tip pens in the same barrel and cap but the tip is a durable plastic nib (PN=Plastic Nib!). It’s designed for the jobs that would wreck a nice fiber tip, like signing checks at Zantigo to pay for a sack of delicious Chilitos but still wanting something decent for drawing after lunch. We have found that the one-size nib allows for some variation in the line. You’ll get fine with light pressure and bold with a little more.

PN

I won’t sign my name in red.

 

The right writing materials make a difference whether they are your go-to disposable or your soul mate of a fountain pen.  Come in and check out the pen rack or step over to our fine writing counter to try them and find the pen that helps you communicate more clearly. 15% off helps and the Make Your Mark Sale runs through the end of the month.


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Minding our beeswax

I got a text last night after the store closed. It got me thinking about a couple of trends we’ve noticed that have something in common.

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Tell Alex we have wax coming out of our ears. (but we mainly sell the stuff from bees and plants)

Wax is amazing smooth sticky stuff. We carry it for scads of uses and on the main it’s pretty much all the same bee and soy waxes in different formats (power, blocks, granules). It is a removable resist for water based techniques (fiber, batik, watercolor).It’s a mixable medium and finish for oil based media. On its own you can make sculptures out of wax for 3D sketching and for castings (lost wax technique).  It’s also in all the colored pencils in some quantity.

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Hey Paige, there was a bunch of bees in here a little while ago asking for you.

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Wax is a traditional matting and stiffening agent for oil paints and finishes.

Oil painters use wax mediums like these in the paint to get a stiffer texture for brush and knife strokes and in some mixtures the result  can be burnished to a satin luster. They are available ready to use or can be prepared with basic materials and a good recipe. There is a wealth of information on cold wax technique here.  As a finishing touch wax and wax mixed with varnish are often applied to a completed painting for a similar result. Note that the wax finishes will take much longer to cure and will never be as hard, but are easily removed for cleaning. Encaustics are a kind of paint made of wax enjoying a revival ove rthe last couple of years. We wrote about them a little while ago. I think the resurgence comes with the trend of having electricity available in artists studios and also the greater availability of proper surfaces like Ampersand cradled boards.  The colors have to be used hot and most painters can now have a hot plate on their table for heating the color palette or the panel itself to keep it workable. There’s a hot wax aroma in an encaustic studio which some people dig but ventilation is suggested. Boards are the most popular surface for encaustic painting, it doesn’t bend and flex as well as oils. These paintings have a harder finish than the oil mediums and can also be burnished to a beautiful warm patina with amazing depth of color.

We have little cakes of fine beeswax and kistka (the needle used to draw the design on the eggs) on order right now for one of our most popular free demo event, Ukrainian Egg Decorating. Everyone says this particular wax smells wonderful!  We are also getting a few dozen goose and chicken eggs from a local farmer friend that will be already blown out for ornaments and display!

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We have a wonderful sample egg in our display case! Ask to see it!


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Only at Wet Paint: Bee/Pentalic Pad Super Pack

2095816Two sizes of two of our most favorite drawing pads in one remarkable package! Long described as the “only sketchbook you’ll ever need,” the Bee Super Deluxe features heavy, archival, natural white drawing paper that’s great for most any media. Pentalic’s Nature Sketch has even heavier (130 lb!), creamier, 25% cotton sheets.  The paper in both pads has a toothier, textured side and a smoother side. Both also feature heavy paper laminate covers and chipboard backs. All four pads are packaged in a zippered mesh tote…perfect for gift giving!  Need a sketchbook yourself?  Give three as a gift and keep one for you!

This holiday season we are featuring some of the unique, creative supplies that are regionally, or nationally, exclusive to Wet Paint. These items are great gift ideas that you will not find anywhere else.

 


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Learn to Paint from a Modern Master

virginiahead

This blog post is from Virginia, our Event Coordinator at Wet Paint:

At Wet Paint we are fortunate to know so many incredible artists, many of whom are also great teachers. Carl Oltvedt is one of them.

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Reflections II

 

Carl taught at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, where he was a Professor in the School of Visual Arts for 32 years.  Back in the day, he worked for an art materials retailer in Minneapolis so his knowledge of art materials and uses is extensive.  You can see some of his paintings at Groveland Gallery where he is currently represented. His work is in national and international private and corporate collections. He currently has his painting Reflections II on view through January 2017 in the US Embassy in Olso, Norway.

Carl has a lot of credentials but he’s not intimidating…he is one of the most caring, attentive and skillful teachers you’d ever want to meet.

And here’s an opportunity to do just that when you sign up for Carl’s multi session  Introduction to Acrylic Painting class at Wet Paint, Tuesdays from 4:00-7:00pm, October 4th-November 1st.

In this class you will learn basic painting fundamentals – how to build a painting from start to finish, simple color theory and composition, and how colors mix and relate to one another.  The class starts out simply and more advanced technique is added in as the course progresses. You’ll be working from a still life. Paint and some shared supplies will be provided, though a few additional materials are required.

Starting a new medium can be daunting. Acrylic colors and mediums offer a huge array of choice which can be overwhelming. So it’s great to have expert guidance, a stretch of time to absorb it all, and materials chosen with your experience in mind.

I believe that real, long term enjoyment of a new medium comes from gaining knowledge of how to use the materials, combined with basic principles of art.  These foundations give the aspiring artist the best chance to realize their vision.  Whether you  are new to painting or painted years ago and want to get back into it, there is no time like the present to begin or begin again. I hope to see you there. Click here to find out more and register online.

Virginia McBride
Programming Manager

Space is limited…please register no later than Sunday, October 2nd


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Week 10: Spring into Action with Abstract Expression

Is your subconscious celebrating spring? Time to let your spontaneity lead you as we explore Abstract Expressionism.  Taking inspiration from action painters, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, let your intuition and paint fly! Both these painters found rhythm in their painting process, so don’t dilly-dally during this exercise- keep that paint moving.  We recommend using acrylic inks (High Flow Acrylic is a great choice) to tint your acrylic mediums and extend your color and creative options.  Whether you choose a spring color palette or not, try drip painting in the style of Pollock, or a figure in the style of de Kooning.

This week at Wet Paint, all acrylic inks are 10% off!  Mention the Weekly Workouts at the counter to receive your discount!  Golden Acrylics Clear Tar Gel Medium is especially great for flingin’!

These Weekly Workouts will be posted as Events in our Facebook Group, click here to join!
We will also post our exercises here on our blog
Click here to see our list of suggested art supplies


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Wet Paint’s Friends at the Art Academy

New location at 651 South Snelling Ave.

New location at 651 South Snelling Ave.

Once the Minnesota State Fair is over, Wet Paint, Grand Avenue and Saint Paul is buzzing with the excitement of the Back to School season. And after you settle into the fall semester routine, make sure you have set aside time for art classes. A favorite school for many of our customers is the Art Academy here in St. Paul. For 20 years, the Art Academy has leased space from educational institutions. Early in 2013, they moved into their own space at 651 South Snelling.

Sarah Jane Stowell Oil

Sarah Jane Stowell
Oil

We are raffling off free tuition for one class for the fall term 2013 which runs eight weeks from September 30th through December 8th. It is for any class (except the figure drawing class or co-op). This is a $180.00 value. Simply fill out the raffle form at our front counter or the contact form below, or on our website (see below for more info) between now and September 19th. The drawing will take place Friday, September 20th at 10 a.m… You will be notified by phone or email. Of course, this raffle is only open to anyone who can attend a class in Saint Paul.

The Art Academy opened in 1993 and celebrating its 20th year. Director Jim Robinson came to the Twin Cities from Chicago with a degree from Columbia College to study at Atelier Lack. As he read art history he questioned trends in kids’ art instruction. “When I was growing up, children’s art education had dwindled to craft-based “creative” exercises. Skills weren’t being taught. I wanted to create a program with a focus. I believe kids have an innate capacity to draw and paint exceptionally well, and I constructed a school so those natural abilities can blossom.” To support that idea, Robinson researched Renaissance teaching methods and has patented a method based on those ideals.

State Fair Blue Ribbon! Andrea Fields, Age 15

State Fair Blue Ribbon! Andrea Fields, Age 15

The Art Academy has taught thousands of children (and adults) drawing and painting skills. Although the school is structured with classes, it offers a Montessori model. Students work on individual projects at their own pace. Instructors teach 2 to 7 students at a time. The atmosphere is supportive and positive, fun and non-competitive. Similar to the Suzuki violin method, Robinson does not believe that the sole purpose of instruction is to train professionals. “In any art school, only a small fraction of students pursue fulltime careers. Equally important is to build confidence and an appreciation of art that fosters individuality and nurtures kids to become well-rounded adults.”

State Fair Winner! Malcolm Kelner, Age 7

State Fair Winner! Malcolm Kelner, Age 7

What also develops over time is a community of students and teachers spanning generations. Kids return year after year, forming long-term relationships with Robinson and his staff. Many have become apprentices and teachers at The Art Academy. “By structuring the school around a Renaissance studio we were able to help students acquire successful life skills to carry into any path.”

This is a great opportunity to learn or improve your drawing skills. You can see the proven results of their methods to teach representational drawing and painting skills at their website http://www.theartacademy.net. Get into the swing of the back to school season and add an art class.

Steps for using our online form to sign up for the raffle: Start at our Contact page. Here you will see a section called “Send Us A Message” where you can enter your Name (first and last, please) and Email address. In the Comments box, please enter your phone number and write “I am signing up for the Art Academy Raffle!” so we know to enter your name and info into the raffle. That’s it!  Or use the form below.