Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN

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Top 17 Art Supplies of 2017

As chosen by the Wet Paint Staff! In no particular order, here are 17 picks of our favorites new to the store -or new to us- this year.

kateKate: Leuchtturm 1917 Journals and Sketchbooks“These have great paper for pens, and I love the aesthetic look of the limited edition covers”

Anna: Tombow Dual Brush Markers– “These markers are really fun and easy to work with in my sketchbook, they have become my go-to drawing tools this year.”

Justin: Stillman & Birn Nova Series Softcover Grey Sketchbooks– “I have really enjoyed drawing on this toned paper- it is a totally different drawing experience! The grey paper really shows off the highlights and the heavy paper weight works well with many types of media.”

jordenJorden: R&F Pigment Sticks– “I have been having so much fun with these this year since they set me free from having a brush!”

Greg: Faux Kolinsky by FM Brush–  “I have been doing a lot of gouache painting lately and these have become my favorite brush to use. Real sable brushes are too soft for gouache, so these have just the right amount of resistance in the paint.”

chris2Chris: Talens Ecoline Liquid Watercolor – “Available in brush pens and bottles of ink, these products work really well together- dip a marker in an ink and you can get some amazing ombre fades!”

Amanda: GOLDEN Acrylic Gel Mediums– “Sculpt with them, add them to your paint to build texture, or just save some money by extending your color.”

paulPaul: QoR Watercolor Paint– “I hadn’t really given this line a lot of thought since it came in a few years ago, but my opinion has changed this past year. The granulation and color is great…these paints are now a part of my regular palette.”

Tzvi: Speedball Professional Relief Ink in Supergraphic Black– “This ink cleans up like water-based inks, but has the smooth consistency of an oil-based ink, which makes it easy to use as a beginner, but it is artist quality.”

paigePaige: Fabriano Artistico 300lb Cold Press Watercolor Paper– “I am LOVING this paper! It is great to slop on water while I am painting and not worry about curling or buckling- and the price is great, too!”

Emily: OHTO Horizon Needlepoint Pens– “I’ve been really into the OHTO Horizon Needlepoint Pen lately. I’m typically more of a pencil user but I took the Horizon on a trip abroad and it served, and continues to serve, me so well. The aluminum hexagonal barrel not only keeps the pen from rolling but also provides a comfortable grip and greater precision. The needlepoint offers a very fine line and retracts with a satisfying push button on the side of the barrel. They also look pretty classy and come in a variety of colors– I’ve been sporting the yellow at work and the white at home.”

Mariah: Angelus Leather Paint– “I love these vibrant colors on leather! They worked great for my leather earrings!”

rebeccaRebecca: Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Paper in Hot Press– “This paper is really great for making work that you then scan for reproduction. The silky smooth surface also gives you extra float time for easy lifting and longer working.”

Kristina: Palomino Blackwing Volume 73 Pencil– “I have been a fan of the Blackwing pencils since we got them, but this one has been my favorite: I love the grip of the topography lines, the blue color of the barrel, the soft dark graphite, and the environmental subject of Volume 73.”

Virginia: Princeton Neptune 1″ Mottler Watercolor Brush– “I was very surprised at how much I love this brush- I bought it for Monica Fogg’s Tonal Transformations class and I use it all the time with my watercolors, ArtGraf, and charcoal! It is so expressive, it feels like an extension of my hand!

scottScott: Art Advantage Art Box Easel– “We use this in our kitchen for the ipad when we need a recipe or sketching when we are creating art, but it is easy to move and pack up when we don’t.”

Darin: What Is Painting? “Yes, what is it?  Julian Bell’s book approaches the question from the angles of philosophy, social science, and art history and comes up with a readable, inspiring analysis.  This lavishly illustrated hardcover just arrived at Wet Paint.  Not to be confused with the also fantastic and highly recommended What Painting Is by James Elkins.”

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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!