Wet Paint

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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Fantabulous floaterframes!

We sell tons of Ampersand panels at Wet Paint…Gessobord, Claybord, Aquabord, and – of course – Unprimed Basswood (how could you miss the boxes full of ‘em on the pretty orange palettes?).  Many folks like painting on panels because they can be presented without framing…simply paint or stain the cradled edge and it’s ready to hang on the wall.  Unfortunately, this presentation method doesn’t offer any protection to the artwork.  It also doesn’t adequately distinguish the picture from the wall.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple, all-in-one solution that would both safeguard and support a painting made on an Ampersand panel while also making it stand out from the wall?  Well, now there is: introducing Ampersand “floaterframes!”  Designed to fit 7/8″ and 1.5″ cradles, 3/4″ canvas (and even flat panels!), floaterframes come in two profiles, three colors and five popular sizes.  These premium hardwood beauties are super easy to use…everything you need to give your artwork the finishing touch it deserves is included: all of the mounting and hanging hardware comes with each floaterframe.

Floaterframes elegantly complete those panels you’ve worked so hard on, and we’re making it easier for you to complete them: all Ampersand floaterframes are priced with an introductory  discount of 25% off!  Stop by to see all of the options…Greg even framed one of his fantastic panel paintings so you can see the magic in action!


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Jumpstart Your Art with Mixed Media Collage

virginiaheadThis blog post is from Virginia, our Programming Manager at Wet Paint:

Join us in the Wet Paint classroom on Saturday, October 22nd for a 3 hour mixed media workshop with visiting artist Dana Brown.  You will make (and take) two unique mixed media pieces while exploring the potentials of Ampersand’s fantastic panels.  The workshop is offered twice – from 10am-1pm and again from 2pm-5pm – choose the one that’s best for you!

Mixed media collage allows you to experiment with dynamic compositions while you explore new techniques and materials. The change of approach from more conventional processes is great for generating original ideas that impact both the collage itself as well as your regular drawing and painting practice.

Dana is well known for the fun he brings to teaching, as well as his extensive knowledge of artists’ materials. This workshop is suitable for any level of art maker. It would be a great way to expand your experience of using a variety of media on the same surface, or just to try something different.

The $48 class fee includes all of the supplies we’ll use in the workshop: an 8×10 Claybord and an 8×10 Encausticbord for each participant, as well as Golden acrylic paints, Claybord/Scratchbord inks and the full line of Scratchboard tools, magazines for collage, drawing supplies, random materials for mixed media techniques, and essential studio supplies like brushes, glue and scissors. Register yourself – or your group – here.

More about Dana and Ampersand:

mixed102216Dana Brown is an artist from Austin, TX.  He has worked with Ampersand Art Supply for the past nine years educating artists and conservators from all over the world about Ampersand’s innovative contemporary artists’ panels. Dana’s personal art work is in a variety of media, ranging from oil painting to paper collage.

Originally from rural Iowa, Dana moved to Portland, Oregon, after completing his degree in studio painting. While there, he spent almost six years with oil paint company Gamblin Artists Colors, before moving to Texas to join Ampersand Art Supply. He loves working in the constantly evolving world of artists’ materials. He finds that this work reinforces his belief that access to information about the materials that we use helps support our personal, artistic intentions.

Ampersand Art Supply began hand-making museum quality panels in 1993, with the goal of offering artists  rigid, versatile, and permanent supports. Initially beginning with smooth, absorbent Claybord, Ampersand now offers ten different surface options; rejecting the, “one size fits all,” approach to painting surfaces. Ampersand hand-makes museum quality panels in Buda, Texas.


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Why Wet Paint loves Greg Graham

Greg at the paper counter at Wet Paint

Greg at the paper counter at Wet Paint

Twenty years ago I hired this guy not just with an artist’s attitude but a New York artist’s attitude to boot. I never imagined Greg would turn into a long term employee and be so devoted and committed to Wet Paint, our employees and customers. Greg has grown into a key manager at Wet Paint, keeping the front of the house well stocked and staffed. He is passionate about art materials and loves to share his extensive product knowledge with staff and customers. I am constantly amazed to hear Greg speak of a customer and the products they use; how they use it, and where they are showing their work.

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“In Progress” enamel on panel by Gregory Graham

And now Greg’s clientele has the opportunity to view his new work at the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center’s Atrium Gallery. The show includes 60 paintings (yes, 60) ranging in size from 4”x4” to 8”x10” (yes, inches). As a true art supply junkie, they are enamel over acrylic on Ampersand panels. He is currently using the Princeton Select 3750 series of brushes.

So join Greg at the reception for his show this Friday evening, October 4, from 6-8 p.m. I know he will love to see you and talk shop.

Check out his website www.gregorygrahamart.com