Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN

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Wet Paint Staff Pick of the Day: Stonehenge Lightweight

We have such a wide and ever-expanding selection of journals/notebooks/pads at Wet Paint, we thought it would be fun to feature some of our staff favorites. Stay tuned to find out more about what we stock and maybe find a new favorite for yourself!

Today’s staff pick is from Justin: Stonehenge Lightweight Pad

“One of my newer favorite papers is the Stonehenge Lightweight pads.  I love the durability of this paper, which is 100% cotton.  It handles pen & ink with very little feathering.  I love it!”


Stonehenge Lightweight Pads

Machine made in the USA, Stonehenge Lightweight is a 135gsm, 100% cotton paper that has the same outstanding quality characteristics as the heavier weight 250gsm Stonehenge. This is the optimum sheet for the artist that specializes in fine drawing and prefers a lighter weight quality paper. Excellent surface for all fine drawing techniques: colored pencil, graphite, pastel, charcoal, offset lithography, and limited edition book printing. Available in large sheets or 11×14 or 9×12 pads.


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Summer Session- Art Date 4: Nocturnal Notes


Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhone”

Stay up late and sketch the town red!  Okay, maybe not just red, but any and all colors that lend themselves to the neon and moon glow of nighttime escapades.  Using the Van Gogh painting as inspiration, see how colors can light up the night or capture a moment like our friend, Justin Terlecki’s 4th of July print, entitled July.  Since the 4th of July is this weekend, try doing a quick sketch of the scene and, as night falls, lay in the explosive color! If you are a night owl, go out on the town and paint the city lights, or a country road and paint the night sky.  For this art date, try toning your paper with a dark color first, then layer in color with your favorite opaque paint markers for a colorful pop!



Justin Terlecki’s Lithograph print “July”

Wet Paint will have the refillable Montana Paint markers on sale for 15% off MSRP from now until July15th!  Available in a great variety of colors and sizes, and now in six fluorescent colors so you can really make your paintings bright!

These Weekly Workouts will be posted as Events in our Facebook Group, click here to join!
If you are not on Facebook, share your photos in our Flickr group
We will also post our exercises here on our blog
 Click here to see our list of suggested art supplies

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Why Wet Paint loves Gil


gilNearly 30 years ago I met Gil. Gil was selling art supplies at a store in Berkeley. Next time I saw Gil, he owned an art supply store in Palo Alto. Both of us being independent art supply retailers meant we had a lot in common. What we didn’t have in common, we have in a friendly way, argued about over the years. Gil likes to travel and spends lots of time in Europe. And during those trips, he has found some great art supply lines that no one was importing into the United States. So we share our retailer woes together plus Wet Paint buys Gil’s Kunst & Papier books and Fibonacci brushes.


Justin with his Kunst & Papier sketchbooks

Kunst & Papier is a German line of sketchbooks and journals. They were designed by an artist because he couldn’t find a sketchbook to meet his own needs. The Wet Paint staff heartily endorses this line through their own personal use of the product. All of the sketchbooks are made with beautiful, quality paper. They respond to a variety of media and of different artists’ touch very well. The binderboard sketchbooks are their signature line. With a highly flexible spine these books have a great lay flat quality. No more using the side of your palm to hold the rolling paper flat. With plain bookboard covers, they are plain and simple in appearance which then can become the substrate for the artist to personalize. Newbie at Wet Paint, Chris, likes the subdued appearance which you can “make your own without defacing the book.” Both Liz and Justin rely on Kunst & Papier because their books are so well made they “wear well” and hold up to hauling them around with you. Even K&P’s simplest soft-covered sketchbooks that have few sheets and staple binding meet the discerning eye of Virginia who applies a wide range of media to their pages. Everyone feels they are just the most esthetically pleasing line of books, to the eye and to the touch. They look good. They have a wide variety of sizes. They have great paper. They are well constructed.


Gil with a handful of Fibonacci brushes

A few years back Gil visited Wet Paint with the Fibonacci line of brushes he found during his travels. The jaded Wet Paint staff, who have seen and tried just about every brush currently made, all wanted their own Fibonacci brushes. Beautifully crafted with synthetic blended heads in a vast assortment of sizes and shapes for water media. So what’s with another line of brushes? Liz likes the comfortable, well balanced handles. Verra likes the great snap of the hair. Justin likes the fact they hold their point for a very long time. Steve likes the crispness of the lines they make. Another esthetically pleasing, well-crafted tool.

When you handle lots of art materials, you just know when you pick up the good ones. These are them.


This weekend only, all Kunst & Papier sketchbooks and journals are 40% off MSRP and all Fibonacci brushes are 50% off MSRP! In-stock items only, valid 10/18 to 10/20/13.

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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!

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Why Wet Paint Stocks Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks


Justin Terlecki pen on Delta

Back in the 1970s, if you were a serious art student, it was standard to carry a black bound sketchbook just like your professor. Besides being the repository of your sketches and notes, the binding gave you the sense of this being a permanent record, a uniform format that would be the historic record of the studies for your artwork. As this tradition continued through the decades, the black sketchbook began to evolve. Some artists didn’t like the roll of the page caused by the binding, so paper manufacturers started providing the field sketchbook: the same hard black leatherette cover but with spiral binding. Others introduced micro-perforated sheets that could be torn out discreetly. In doing so, the original intent of the bound book changed over time. The book could now be easily edited; pages torn out and discarded instead of kept archived in place and in sequence.

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Epsilon

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Epsilon

By the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of the black sketchbook made it quite a commodity item for the pad makers. Unfortunately, in order to compete with each other, this meant that many black sketchbooks began to come out of Asia with lower and lower prices and with paper of the quality of a cocktail napkin. This devolution of the quality of the black bound sketchbook only took into consideration that all art students and most artists wanted this product. They had lost track of the purpose of the book … They ignored the fact that paper quality could affect the drawings made on their pages. They totally missed the trend of artists working in mixed media which requires heavier and better paper. They didn’t notice the growing movement of sketching as an art form where the final work is kept within the sketchbook itself. And they lost sight of the vital role that the black sketchbook could play as a place to record ideas, document the creative process, and archive one’s development as an artist.

Wet Paint staff, Steve and Langhan, and the display of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.

Wet Paint staff, Steve and Langhan, and the display of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.

As an industry, art materials has been ripe for the return of a quality black bound sketchbook and in 2011, Stillman & Birn did just that. Michael Kalman and Oscar Hernandez are the founders of Stillman & Birn. Michael is the nephew of the original manufacturer of the first black bound sketchbook in 1958. Michael and Oscar believe that artists need sketchbooks that are the same caliber as any of their other art materials. Stillman & Birn understands that all artists don’t work alike and need papers with different surface qualities, different weights, different levels of whiteness, and of course, different sizes and different bindings. They have listened to artists and worked to provide them with a line of bound sketchbooks that is as diverse as their needs. Stillman & Birn has sourced the finest quality papers from Europe and then bound them under the strictest quality control in the United States. They’ve mastered the challenge of featuring heavier papers in bound books in addition to spirals, and, most remarkable of all, their bindings will actually allow the pages to lie flat and satisfy the sketcher who wants to work across 2 pages.

Stillman & Birn is a supplier that truly wants to provide artists with the best possible product they can afford and Wet Paint has worked closely with them in the improving of their product and the development of new items. Their commitment to the artist shows not just in the sketchbooks themselves, but in the amount of information that is provided on each book.

Justin Terlecki; pen on Alpha

Justin Terlecki; pen on Alpha

Wet Paint has stocked the Stillman & Birn books since their first manufacture run. The Wet Paint staff personally endorses this line. Justin Terlecki only uses Stillman & Birn sketchbooks now and says, “The Alpha and Beta have wonderful paper in them that is suitable for fountain pen sketching. The paper takes the ink beautifully and produces nice clean lines that don’t feather. The paper is also heavy enough that your drawings do not bleed on the other side. When you hold one of these books in your hand, you can tell that they are no ordinary sketchbook.” They are Liz Carlson’s go-to sketchbooks too. She uses the Alpha series because “the bright white tone of the paper is perfect to show off color media.”

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Alpha

Liz Carlson; watermedia on Alpha

Last month Stillman & Birn began shipping their new “Zeta Series” sketchbook to meet the demands of artists wanting a 180# heavy weight, natural white, smooth surface in both hardbound and wirebound books. And in June 2013, Wet Paint will have 22×30” individual sheets for each of the 6 papers featured in Stillman & Birn’s sketchbooks. This enables the artist to move from their sketchbook to a larger format without having to adapt to different surface qualities. Later in the year, we will have sampler sketchbooks which will include pages of all 6 papers so people can experiment will all the surfaces in the series.

Visit Wet Paint in person or online to see the entire line of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. And visit the Stillman & Birn blog to see more examples of what artists are doing in their books.