Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


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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.

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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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Darin and Scott went to beautiful Utah, barely went outside and it was well worth it.

Darin and I went to the big art supply show this week in Salt Lake City. It’s been nineteen years since the last time I went to a NAMTA show and I’m still reeling. It’s a gas seeing all the people behind these products and meeting up with other store owners to catch up, talk shop, and see if anyone has found the next adult coloring book trend or the new Bob Ross.

If you have been following us on Instagram or Facebook you may have seen a few sneak previews of stuff we found for the store like the Black Black drawing pads, the Viarco vintage pencils (cooler than cool), and some new Daniel Smith oil colors. Stay tuned and we’ll let you know when these and more (including some TOP SECRET ITEMS) hit St Paul and our online store.

During the opening presentation I was pleased to see that the NAMTA organization and the University of Delaware are continuing the work of the late Mark Gottsegen with the Materials Information and Technical Resources for Artists  (MITRA) website. I had to take a break from reading the forums there to get this blog post done. Let us know if you also find something interesting there.

logoI was also impressed that the group is advancing their Art Matters! campaign for arts advocacy. You should expect to see some of the Art Facts in our store and posts. I ordered up some Art Matters! shirts for the staff as well.

I was excited to spend a few minutes that evening with Robert Gamblin, who mentioned gamblinWet Paint during his acceptance of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award (Congratulations, Robert!). The next day we caught him in the Gamblin Artist Colors booth and Darin had brought along a detailed customer question about mixing satin and matte finishes and applying varnish. Robert’s general advice for application of Gamvar is to always work in thin layers by applying a liberal amount and then using a varnish brush to pull off the excess until only a film remains for each coat.

Out on the floor we had our running shoes on and covered a lot of ground in four days.

We picked up some French-made journals with Coptic bindings and modern art covers from our friend Greg Daniels when we were in his booth talking about DaVinci watercolor brushes. (Tip of the cap to Phillip Forstall for helping with the term “Coptic binding!” ) These books look great and feel like they are delivered by time machine from 1959. I can hear jazz playing when I open them.

Karin Harding from Michael Harding Artists Oil Colors turned the tables when we got to her booth and interviewed us for a bit. She wanted to get more info about the artists that are so dedicated to using their incredibly rich handmade oils.

In the Yasutomo booth we checked out some new brushes and origami papers. One lovely item mystified us. We ended up eating it.butter2

Maureen Labro and I chatted after the President’s reception while we were stranded at the Utah Museum of Natural History one evening waiting for the shuttle bus to get towed through the snow (4 inches can stop a bus? Maybe in Utah. Not in Minnesota!). In her booth the next day we looked at printmaking and drawing papers from Fabriano and Awagami. Check out the fun they were having in that booth!  We couldn’t leave without placing an order for a display of adorable yet incredibly well-featured travel brushes and a matching bamboo wrap. Great attention to detail on these. The wash brush has a functional scraper end.  All of our whiskey/pocket watercolor painters will have these on their get list.lil brush

 

Two audiences that are getting more attention from manufacturers this year are Plein Air painters and Bullet Journalists.

Portability and ease for the outdoor painter is number one yet the Plein Air artists also remind us they are part of a tradition of style and materials. Both efficient modern design and beautiful heritage tools and paints are well represented in some new/old products we’ll be featuring soon. More than one oil manufacturer is working on smaller tubes for you and I’m so thrilled I’m already working to rearrange the aisles to make a little more room for them.

OK, BuJo’s (aka “Bullet Journal aficionados”) we hear you. More journals with dot grids and numbered pages are arriving daily! We also got a sneak peek at a beautiful highlighter line suggested by a local journaler that has watercolor-like tones and even comes in grey! We have to wait for them to get to the US then we will get them in ASAP!

  • HOT TIP Plein Air and Bullet Journaling artists! If you are interested let us know in the comments and we’d be happy to give you a head-ups email as the new stuff hits our receiving room.

 Darin wrote up about five pages of notes from the show. Watch this space and follow us on social media for more of the finds and discoveries we brought back from our trip to SLC.


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Hall of Fame Week at Wet Paint

Wet Paint is offering you more than a week of headliners, Sunday, April 28th through Monday, May 6th. The International Art Materials Trade Show and Convention takes place in Minneapolis this year bringing all these artists into our community. An opportunity like this rarely occurs so you need to make room on your calendar to visit Wet Paint a number of times.

scottSunday, April 28th from 2-4pm

Scott Gellatly, an accomplished landscape painter and an active plein air painter, is also Product Manager for Gamblin Artists Colors. Scott will present a 90 minute talk, “Understanding Contemporary Oil Painting Materials.” He will cover topics such as oil and alkyd paints, painting mediums and varnishes, pigments, painting techniques and studio safety. Wet Paint has stocked Gamblin products since the beginning of their production. We like to support American made art supplies. Like us, Gamblin Artists Colors is committed to artists from product development to staffing. Over the years Robert Gamblin and I have had many conversations. One was comparing Gamblin’s oil to some other paint brands. Robert always says his paint is ready for painters to use right out of the tube unlike stiffer paints that need considerable manipulation before they can be applied to a canvas. Robert Gamblin still remains active in the company but paints as much as possible. Scott has learned the art of oil paint from Robert and has taken over his “on the road” responsibilities. We feel quite honored to have Scott visit Wet Paint. See his work at http://www.scottgellatly.com

pattibook1 copyMonday, April 29th from 5:30-7:30pm

We have certain customers who are so excited about Patti Brady coming to Wet Paint, they can hardly wait. Artist and author of “Rethinking Acrylic,” Patti is also the Director of the Working Artist Program for Golden Artist Colors. Her knowledge of pushing acrylics over the limits, in any direction imaginable, is astounding. You want acrylics to do what? Patti has an answer and probably a sample in her bag of paint swatches. Patti will give a short presentation followed by all the interaction our audience wants. Come see the new products Golden is introducing in 2013. Golden is a company Wet Paint really believes in. Besides innovative products that meet the needs of artists, they are committed to making sure artists know how to use the products effectively and safely.  Her work can be seen on her website http://www.pattibrady.com

RTEmagicC_antistatik_jpgTuesday, April 30th from 3:30-5pm

Antistatik, AKA, Stephane Helbert, represents Molotow, and we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome him to Wet Paint from France. Stephane has been part of the Graffuturism art movement and has murals and exhibits throughout Europe. We saw the Molotow marker line last year at the art materials trade show and were so impressed with their covering power. At Wet Paint, acrylic paint markers are one of our fastest growing product categories. Like spray paint, we didn’t realize how many different types of artists would be interested in this product. The applications are numerous. The results are immediate and possibly more spontaneous. They work in a sketchbook as well as on canvas. Acrylic paint markers work in combination with spray paint, traditional acrylic tube paint and anything else you can imagine. And Stephane incorporates many media in his own paintings. Come try Molotow paint markers and see some other products coming soon from Germany.  See Antistatik’s work here.

marieWednesday, May 1st from 5:30-7:30pm

Marie Browning is a new friend of Wet Paint. She is a design consultant to the U.S. Company that imports Tombow products from Japan. Marie has embraced the art of Zentangle along with her Tombow markers and pencils. Her recent book is “Time to Tangle with Colors.” For those unfamiliar with this movement, Zentangle offers an opportunity for opening your creativity through a multi-patterned drawing design. I can attest to the Zen part of the process. I personally find it relaxing and rewarding at the same time. Tombow brush markers are a standard in the world of water based brush markers. They seem to find a place within various creativity practices such as calligraphy, rubber stamping, journaling and more. What you really want to experience is Tombow’s Irojiten colored pencils. Not just another colored pencil line, they are a beautiful range of colors that Tombow presents in striking color family sets. At first they may seem hard and dry but the pencils actually release their colors in a very controlled manner. They are superb for color layering. I haven’t found any color combinations that don’t blend effectively.  Check out Marie’s blog.

kathi

Thursday, May 2nd from 5:30-7:30pm

If all this color is too much to handle, Kathi Hanson from General Pencil has the perfect antidote – graphite and charcoal drawing techniques. She has some new mixed media applications that may surprise you. Kathi will show you all the possibilities with their new Sketch & Draw Kits that would be great for summer travels. General Pencil still produces wood encased graphite pencils in the U.S., and they love to share their pencil making process with their fans. And General Pencil is a family operated company too. I have always appreciated how they incorporate artists’ drawings into their packaging. All in all, General Pencil is the kind of company we at Wet Paint believe in and believe our customers believe in too. Visit her website http://www.kathihanson.com

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Friday, May 3rd from 5:30-7:30pm

We couldn’t be happier to have Denise Lapointe and David Carruthers from Papeterie Saint-Armand visit Wet Paint to talk about papermaking. Their operation is right at the apex between handmade processes and machine driven mills. I have visited their studio twice and I am amazed at their operation. The first visit the cab driver didn’t want to take me there – it is outside of lovely Montreal in a relatively abandoned warehouse district. Last fall, the area looked like it is ready for revitalization. Denise and David are passionate about papermaking in general and specifically about their own mill. They are proud of their equipment and their black rags for making black paper. Denise is fiery and David is circumspect. And they have stories about the history of papermaking in Canada, about making paper for the restoration of the home of Edith Wharton, about spec’ing paper jobs for rock and roll bands. They are as beautiful as their papers.  See their website http://www.st-armand.com

Robert%20Paschal%20Working%20in%20his%20Studio

Saturday, May 4th from 10-12:30pm

Robert Paschal and Iwata are both synonymous with airbrush. Robert’s books on airbrush techniques are best sellers. He is a respected airbrush artist known worldwide. Iwata is the most well-known and respected name in airbrush equipment. Take advantage of Bob being here and bombard him with your questions and Bob will help you overcome your fears of airbrushing. We see a new interest in this tool as many artists look for new venues after starting their art making with aerosol paint. An airbrush gives you control where even the widest range of spray nozzles can’t. Joined by Brooke Cedros from Iwata Airbrush, we are giving you the opportunity to test drive the best with the best. For more info on Robert, click here.

katherine_sm

Sunday, May 5th from 2-4pm

In 2008 Daniel Smith Watercolors became available to retailers like Wet Paint. We jumped at the opportunity to stock the watercolor most often requested by our customers. We have been completely happy with this decision and are delighted to introduce our customers to Katherine Taylor from Daniel Smith. Katherine has worked with us from day one to ensure they could work with Wet Paint and our sometimes unique demands upon our suppliers. We have been quite surprised with their constant introduction of new colors. And the colors they come up with do the most amazing things. Serpentine, Shadow Violet, Moonglow. Colors that almost do the painting for you. Join Katherine to experience the hundreds of additional colors available through mixing in the Daniel Smith Watercolor line. See all their colors at http://www.danielsmith.com

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Also Sunday, May 5th from 12-4pm

Two years ago I met Don Colley at a workshop. When he showed me his journals, old ledgers from secondhand stores, filled with his drawings created with Faber Castell pens and pencils, I knew these were special. Besides having a tactile quality of well used books, Don truly captures his subjects. I came back to Wet Paint and said we had to have Don Colley come to Wet Paint with his sketchbooks.DON-COLLEY-Darin-NAMTA We looked at his website and there was a drawing he had done of Darin Rinne, our General Manager, just months before at the art materials convention in Phoenix. Don had drawn him from the back, across the patio, and without knowing his subject, he had captured Darin to a T. If you need a personal coach to motivate you to get moving with your sketchbook, Don is your answer. Don will share his strategies of sketching a subject in public when you don’t know if you have your model for 60 seconds or 60 minutes. Take this opportunity to get out and urban sketch the Grand Avenue neighborhood with a true master.  See more of Don’s sketches here

Carl

Monday, May 6th from 5:30-7:30pm

Carl Judson is my own private cowboy. He saw the traditional European pochade box and made a bullet proof one to address the real needs of the plein air painter. Carl, an engineer turned painter turned product designer, has created and sourced an entire palette of products, the Guerrilla Painter line, to make outdoor painting a painless process with no loose ends trailing behind you from your vehicle to your painting site. Come see Carl at Wet Paint and he will help solve your personal dilemmas of onsite painting. Be amazed as Carl explains why he moved the latch on a box or how to fight glare off the brush ferrule. See Carl’s lovely paintings of the American landscape. And watch him drive off into the sunset in his pick-em-up truck.  Check out Carl’s paintings at http://www.carljudson.com