Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


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Painting the Place Between

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Kristen Lowe going on location with Holly Swift last winter

We are having one of those truly Minnesota weeks where we transition through a wide range of seasons in short order. Just days ago I moved through three different weight coats in one afternoon. By the end of today’s lunch, I had shoveled my sidewalk twice. What was falling from the sky on my way to Wet Paint wasn’t really snow or sleet or rain or hail. If we lived in Iceland or Greenland or Sami country, we would have an exact word for it. And the meteorologists are bracing us for sub-zero temperatures by the weekend. So we figure out how to navigate through our new landscape and still get back and forth to work and get all that holiday shopping done.
Looking at snow I like to focus on the shadows. Years ago, Art Graham added Ultramarine Violet to his watercolor paint line. It seemed odd to me he would add this one color. He told me it was for painting shadows on the snow. Holly Swift’s paintings, currently at Macalester’s gallery, have these haunting violet iridescent passages which remind me of the same unexpected coloration that you don’t see in the landscape until you really look, and then you do.

"Painting the Place Between" poster image

“Painting the Place Between” poster image

By Friday we will be in our seasoned Minnesotan zone, ready to weather it all to the Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown Saint Paul to attend the premiere of “Painting the Place Between.” A documentary film by artist Kristen Lowe, it features four of the Twin Cities’ finest landscape painters, Betsy Byers, Jil Evans, Holly Swift and Andrew Wykes. From the video clip I can tell these are the stories of real people weathering their life, their art and their craft in the Minnesota landscape. They split their time between the plein air and the studio with finished works that approach the abstract but are true to “the place between.”
You can still get tickets for Friday’s premiere. Before the showing, there will be a reception with the artists. It should be a great landscape of a weekend.

 

 


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Wet Paint loves Holly Swift’s New Show at Mac

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Detail of “Cedar Grove, September,” oil on canvas

When you’ve had too much of the seasonal events get yourself over to see Holly Newton Swift’s exhibit at Macalester College. It’s a 2 block walk from Wet Paint and worth every step no matter what the weather.

The show includes sketches and fully executed works both in drawing and painting. Swift studies the landscape and its trees, branches, boulders, water and snow and thoroughly investigates her materials, charcoals and oils, with the same depth. Her understanding of subject and materials masterfully comes together in compositions that reinforce both. She makes the most amazing colors zing out of a palette of greys.

This is another show that confirms Macalester has built a quality space in their newly renovated Law Warschaw Gallery, Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. Swift’s paintings just sing in this gallery. It feels museum-like yet intimate with soaring ceilings that never seem to dwarf the art on display. Its greatest downfall as a college gallery is their limited hours. Check before you go. (They will be closed this Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday but open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4. )

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“Spring Cascade” featured in Painting the Places Between

You can have another view of Holly Swift’s work through Kristen Lowe’s film “Painting the Place Between.” Swift along with Betsey Byers, Jil Evans and Andrew Wykes are the four featured landscape painters in the film that will debut at the Fitzgerald Theatre in Saint Paul on December 6th. We have tickets for sale at Wet Paint for this screening.

Woodlands and Waterfalls by Holly Newton Swift is on display until December 15th

Law Warschaw Gallery

website: macalester.edu/gallery

email: gallery@macalester.edu

phone: 651-696-6416


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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


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Most Often Asked Question at Wet Paint

If you were to ask Darin, General Manager at Wet Paint, what customers ask for the most that we don’t provide, it would be “classes.” Besides not having classroom space, we at Wet Paint also believe the Twin Cities offer many options for further artistic learning. We have come up with some unique partnerships to connect those who manufacture art supplies with a number of organizations to bring new learning experiences to our customers and our community. There are a number of classes and workshops we have helped develop this October featured at existing educational venues with our friends in the art materials industry, our customers and the Twin Cities community.

Mary Esch colored pencil drawing in the Walker Collection

Mary Esch’s colored pencil drawing in the Walker Permanent Collection

St Paul Community Education still has space open in “Almost Intermediate Drawing & Color Pencil” with Mary Esch. An internationally recognized artist who has art in the Walker Art Center’s permanent collection, Mary Esch worked at Wet Paint a long, long time ago. This is a hidden gem of an opportunity to work with this talented artist at Community Ed prices. The class is held Monday evenings at Creative Arts High School.

Another Community Ed opportunity is “Open Studio Painting” with Dan Mackerman starting October 9th at Edgcumbe Rec Center. Professional artist Mackerman will help beginning artists decide which is the best wet media for them. This is a way to experiment with watercolor, acrylic and oil without having to purchase 3 ranges of color.

Brian Buell, president of Logan Graphic Products will teach a ½ day class on DIY mat cutting. The class, held at Macalester College on October 26th, will take you through border calculation, mounting and cutting both single and double mats. Brian comes armed with mat cutters and materials for everyone in class to have hands on training. This workshop is also part of St Paul’s Community Ed. Click here to see the entire Community Education Catalog!

Susan Rostow demonstrating Akua

Susan Rostow demonstrating Akua

Wet Paint is pleased to bring Susan Rostow, founder of Akua Inks to the Twin Cities. Susan became concerned about health safety issues surrounding printmaking and created soy based printing inks which are highly regarded in college printmaking departments. Besides offering a free talk at Wet Paint the evening of October 11th, Rostow is teaching a workshop at Highpoint Center for Printmaking on Saturday October 12th. At this writing, there are still some spots open in this workshop. Read more here!

Yuming Zhu

Yuming Zhu

Yuming Zhu, master of Sumi painting, has come to the Twin Cities for a number of years doing demos at Wet Paint and teaching workshops at some of the art centers in the area. October 29 and 30, Yuming will teach a two-day workshop called Golden Leaves at White Bear Center for the Arts. Yuming is a mesmerizing teacher and quite witty, too. This is a way to experience White Bear Center for the Arts’ new building which I saw last week and it is fantastic. Read more here!

All these classes have fees and registration through the organizations presenting the classes and workshops. Wet Paint is happy that we can pool our resources and bring these opportunities to our community.


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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.


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Why Wet Paint stocks Masterpiece Canvas

Display of Masterpiece canvas in Wet Paint

Display of Masterpiece canvas in Wet Paint

I have had about 50 years personal experience with canvas as a painting support. The first 20 as a painter, the next 30 mostly as an art supply retailer. Some of the historic canvas prep techniques I learned in school aren’t taught anymore and many of the materials used aren’t readily available. There are a number of reasons for these changes. First, many painters want to spend their time creating rather than preparing. Second, many don’t have the access to tools and space for stretcher building and canvas stretching. Third, pre-made stretched canvases are now available at a much higher quality.

Wet Paint staffer, Meg Nelson, holding one of the small size canvases

Wet Paint staffer, Meg, holding one of the small 6×8″ size canvases

Since 1965, Masterpiece Artist Canvas has been improving their stretched canvases to earn their reputation for professional quality today. Artists used to build their own stretched canvases so they had control over the end results. Masterpiece has built into their everyday production the features that artists could not find in “ready-mades” 20 years ago. They offer 3 profiles of bars, all of which keep the canvas surface away from the wood so it doesn’t show through one’s paintings. All the stapling is done on the back so the edges are smooth to be painted or for ease of framing. Corners of the canvas are folded and not cut so the painting can be taken off the stretchers, rolled, shipped and easily re-stretched. They also automatically add cross braces to canvases 24” and larger to keep the wood from twisting and surface from warping. Masterpiece’s stretched canvas range includes 10 different canvas surfaces to give the artist the right ground, weight & texture for their medium and technique. And they offer 130 sizes from 4×4 to 72×96. All in all, that means that artists now have access to over 3000 different stretched canvas options.

Wet Paint staffers, Chris and Justin, holding a giant 48x72" stretched canvas

Wet Paint staffers, Chris and Justin, holding a giant 48×72″ stretched canvas

Masterpiece is also the only company I know that is obsessed enough about stretched canvas to offer artists dimensions that employ the golden ratio. The golden ratio (or, as in the case of canvas, the golden rectangle) has been used in art and architecture throughout history (DaVinci, Dali and others) to achieve what is believed to be the most pleasing proportions to the human eye. So you may want to try an 18×29 rather than an 18×24 canvas and see if it makes your painting more pleasant. Of course, now that you no longer have to spend your time stretching your own canvas, you have time to paint both an 18×29 and an 18×24 to compare the two.

I know somebody out there is tsk tsk-ing that many artists don’t prep their own surfaces, but there’s a lot to be said for pre-stretched options. Come in and we can talk about how much fun it used to be to prepare rabbit skin glue and apply white lead with a painting knife. Come in and I will to tell you about the 6 canvases I stretched during a tornado (they always had a life of their own.) The bottom line is, most artists stretched their own canvases because it use to be the only way to get the size and surface that they needed. We have a lot more options these days thanks to Masterpiece Canvas and that gives us lots more time to just be painting.  Until July 3rd, all Masterpiece Canvases are 50% off MSRP!