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Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN


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2017 New Schmincke Set, now available for preorder

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2017 Limited Edition Botanical Set, colors chosen by Marilyn Garber

Due to the amazing support of our watercolor loving friends, our first 2017 Limited Edition Schmincke travel tin (Botanical, colors chosen by Marilyn Garber) sold out in record time. We were encouraged by the phenomenal interest (and ongoing requests) to put together a second set for 2017, which seemed appropriate given 2017 is the 125th Anniversary of Horadam Watercolors.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Schmincke updated the color selection of their watercolors. We lost a couple colors entirely to the raw materials no longer being available – Walnut Brown and Pozzuoli Earth, RIP. A few colors just got new names and a few got replaced with similar pigment formulas, so have both new names and reference numbers. For full details on the changes to old colors, see this pdf from Schmincke: What’s different in the new assortment.

The most exciting thing about the new assortment, of course, is 35 New Colors.

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The new Horadam colors run the gamut – they include historical pigments, transparent earths and modern colors. We decided to put together a split primary palette that not only introduces you to these new colors, but also allows you to create magical mixes for a range of subjects. As with the Botanical set earlier in the year, this selection of 12 colors will be in the squarish tin that holds a total of 18 half pans…which leaves 6 spots to customize the palette to your tastes or outfit with your favorite go-to colors. *winkwink* We have free shipping at $99.

74774097^2Here is the selection in the new tin:

AQ344 Perylene Red Dark

AQ359 Saturn Red

AQ483 Cobalt Azure

AQ477 Phthalo Sapphire

AQ222 Yellow Orange

AQ205 Rutile Yellow

AQ370 Potter’s Pink

AQ371 Perylene Violet

AQ784 Perylene Green

AQ789 Hematite Black

AQ513 Viridian

AQ672 Mahogany

Important Notes: We have confirmed shipment from Germany, but our lovely sets are on the slow boat. Barring any issues with customs, we hope to see them by mid-October and are now taking preorders. There are two duplicate colors with the Botanical set –  Cobalt Azure and Perylene Green.  We will not be making changes or substitutions to the colors in the new set. In addition to the new sets, we expect to see dot sheets back in with this import shipment. We anticipate a heavy influx of orders for this set – they will be processed in the sequence they are received. Order fulfillment may be longer than usual due to volume, once they arrive.

Click on through to preorder the new set, $69.95 each

Want to expand your set with more new colors?

Want to browse all of the Horadam half pans?

Want the awesome gel pen that I used as a resist in the color swatches?

kateheadshotThank you to all of our water-media, Schmincke-loving artist friends. We could not make these unique items happen without your patronage.

Happy Painting!

Kate Katzer


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Fall’s Rich Mix of Classes

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This blog post was written by Virginia McBride, Classes and Events Manager at Wet Paint

Things we can count on at this time of year: the farmers markets are brimming with produce, the days are a little shorter, the air has started to turn a little cooler, the crickets are chorusing, the Minnesota State Fair is underway and soon Fall classes will start up at Wet Paint.

We are excited to bring you a robust season of classes that will support your continuing creative pursuits or perhaps introduce you to new materials or techniques for the first time.

Our fall catalog and online listings are ready. Here’s a look at what’s in store:

You’ll find multi week courses in watercolor and acrylic painting, awakening creativity, italic lettering, drawing animals, urban sketching, and rosemaling; daylong or weekend immersive workshops in folded and ruling pen lettering, collage, gestural watercolor, drawing facial features, oil painting without solvents, direct watercolor, mixed media, and oil paint + cold wax medium , along with many single session classes ranging from book and paper arts to 3D, organizational journaling, brush pen lettering and airbrush.

There are some new instructors and classes to point out:

Meet Your Creative Self- “The Artist’s Way” taught by Tara Tieso, Brush Pen Lettering, and Shrink Film Charms classes taught by Kaytee Crawford, Drawing Animals from Photographs taught by Tracie Thompson, Making Watercolors Sing: Split Primary Color Theory taught by Tara Sweeney, and for those continuing in watercolor or acrylics, Watercolor II: Figures in Landscape and Acrylic Painting-Level 2+3 taught by veteran instructors Tara Sweeney and Carl Oltvedt (respectively).

We are fortunate to be able to partner with some of our manufacturers to bring you a selection of classes and events featuring expert instruction and excellent art materials including:

From the Pacific Northwest: renowned watercolorist, Ron Stocke and oil painter Angela Bandurka will give a demo and each will teach daylong classes featuring M.Graham Paints (Oregon), Introductory Airbrush featuring IWATA airbrush  (also headquartered in Oregon)  taught by Rurik Hover; Oil and Cold Wax Medium with R+F Handmade paints (out of New York) taught by the incredibly popular Julie Snidle (from St.Louis); Minneapolis-based instructor Diana Eicher’s Family Print Activity classes with Speedball/Akua printmaking supplies, the pride of Statesville, North Carolina!

From Minnesota-  Autograph Digital Projectors and Light Pads demo/tutorials with John Davis and Two classes using CAVE handmade paper (from across the river in Minneapolis) –Hand bound Sketchbooks taught by Bridget O’Malley, and Nature Journal: Book Arts and Writing classes taught by Amber Stoner.

In addition to classes you’ll find some incredible free demos and events this fall:

With 45+ classes and events, it’s going to be a bountiful and creative fall in the Wet Paint classroom. Hope to see you there!


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Queen for a day

We’ve just wrapped up our big Sidewalk Sale and the fabulous Painting Best Practices workshop (thanks again to George and Tatiana from Natural Pigments and Jim and Sarah at The Art Academy!), and now we have a minute to catch our collective breath before the craziness of back to school is upon us.  What better time to reflect on all the cool, new stuff that’s arrived at Wet Paint recently?

In 1949, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands – an artist as well as a monarch – made her favorite Dutch paint manufacturer, Talens, “Royal.” The Queen felt that Talens shared the same passion for producing color as artists have for producing artwork, so she made their nobility official!  Wet Paint has no such authority, but we are very excited about the new Royal Talens products that are arriving:

– The 46 brilliant colors of Amsterdam Acrylic Ink are highly pigmented ink, extremely lightfast, and waterproof when dry. It has been flying off the shelf since it showed up a few weeks ago. Check out this teaser video to see why.

Ecoline Liquid Watercolor just arrived. The brilliant, dye-based colors are super intense, super transparent, and – of course – super water-soluble.  Super sweet 30ml glass bottles enhance the presentation.

– To go along with the Liquid Watercolor, we’ve also brought in new Ecoline Brush Pens (the display is en route to Wet Paint at press time). These contain the same Ecoline Watercolor in a hearty, economical brush pen that’s great for making sweeping, gestural marks or teeny tiny details.  Can’t wait!

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One of the big hits from our Holiday Sale was a series of Paper Toys books from Ginkgo Press.  We just received a huge order of these and there are new titles!  These interactive craft books allow children (or the young at heart) to pop out and build their own paper toys. Each volume in the series is designed by a different talented artist, lending a stylized look to their fanciful creations.  Animals, Monsters, Robots, and Fantasy Creatures, themes are now joined by Super Heroes and Speed Demons. Printed on durable cardstock and die-cut, each toy is easy to assemble with no glue or scissors needed.

So many new pens! Here’s a rundown:

– We’ve already sold out of our first order of Pilot Kakuno fountain pens, but – never fear – we got more. This simple, beginners fountain pen is a favorite of new and seasoned writers alike.

Pentel’s Libretto matching rollerball pen and pencil set makes the perfect gift for the sophisticated professional and the conscientious student alike. These nicely weighted utensils feature sleek metal barrels available in three colors and accented in elegant silver trim.

– Also from Pentel, the Tradio refillable fountain pen (not to be confused with the Tradio non-refillable fountain pen) is a stylish and sophisticated, yet affordable, writing & drawing tool. The medium size stainless steel nib allows the ink to flow with smooth control.  The Tradio accepts your favorite International style cartridge, so the world’s your oyster when it comes to ink colors!

Blackwing Pencil fans, come on down…we just received a very limited number of the new Blackwing 73. The 73 features a silver ferrule, a white eraser, and a vivid blue finish with a raised texture that mimics the topography of Lake Tahoe. The number 73 references Lake Tahoe’s last measured Secchi depth (a unit to measure clarity) of 73 feet. The 73 has the soft graphite found in other Blackwing pencils.

You know what would go nicely with your new, blue Blackwing 73? How about a new Hahnemuhle Skizze pad with an eye catching blue rooster on the cover? We’ve got ‘em in two paper weights, two sizes, and gummed or spiral bound. Nice paper, nice look…perfect for sketching at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  Also check out the new hardbound Hahnemuhle watercolor books and Grey Books, the plain or ruled Diary Flex, and the back-in-stock-at-Wet Paint Quattro square watercolor blocks.

Our friends at Tara Fredrix have launched their latest and greatest new idea: toned canvas in pads and panels. Now you have more time to paint…no need to tone your own canvas first!  Available in four “go to” colors in a variety of sizes.

Strathmore has added three new titles to their popular “Learning Series” instructional books: Textures in Colored Pencil, Draw Nature with Colored Pencil, and Hand Lettering Basics. The Strathmore Learning Series incorporates step-by-step art lessons, developed by the most popular art instructors, into a pad of quality Strathmore paper. Online video tutorials for each pad create an integrated learning experience that help beginning and experienced artists explore a new art style.

Lastly, the biggest, newest single item at Wet Paint is already almost sold out – the Botanical Illustration set of Schmincke Horadam ½ pan watercolors. Based on the overwhelming response, our friend Marilyn Garber picked some good colors!  If you haven’t already picked one of these up, run – don’t walk – to your phone, screen, or transportation device!

So…no official proclamations imbuing royalty, just lots of excitement around the new creative supplies at Wet Paint!


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Wet Paint’s 4th Annual Summer Postcard Project

Going somewhere fun this summer? Or, having a productive stay-cation? Draw, paint, or mix up your media on a postcard-sized paper and mail it to Wet Paint! We’re putting together an exhibition of mail art from our friends and fans wherever they may be. As postcards arrive, we will photograph them to share on our social media pages and then display them in our storefront windows. At the end of the summer, we’ll host a public art opening here at Wet Paint for all of the contributing artists!

postcardimage15There’s no limit to how many postcards you can send, but in order to participate, postcards have to arrive at Wet Paint via our friendly postal carrier – – no dropping them off at the store! Don’t forget to sign your postcard(s) and let us know how to reach you. We want to make sure we’re crediting you when we post the work online and we want to be able to contact you with details about the end of summer art opening on August 18th, 2017.

General Guidelines:
-We are a family-friendly shop, so please tailor your images & words to be suitable for viewers of all ages.
-We reserve the right to not display postcards that we feel are inappropriate for this activity.
-All artwork must be original.
-In order to have your postcard displayed in our end of summer exhibition, you’ll need to have it postmarked by August 11th, 2017.
-All participating mail art must arrive at Wet Paint via US Mail.
-Keep in mind that postcards will “wear” a bit depending on how far they travel- which is part of the fun of mail art!
-Contact your local post office for shipping and postage information.
-Send one or send one every week! We’ve got big windows!

Wet Paint Address:

Wet Paint
Summer Postcard Project
1684 Grand Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105

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Verra’s Paper Pick of the Week: MN Made Marble Papers by Sally Power & Sue Bjerke

Marbling paper sounds easy: float paint on the surface of a bath, drag something thru the paint to create a pattern, lay the paper on the patterned paint, lift the paper, and – voila!  It both is and isn’t that easy…the artist has choices about what kind of paint to use and how to make it stay on top of the water’s surface; what kinds of patterns are desired and what tools are best to achieve them; what color palette is pleasing and what paper substrate enhances it; and so on.  As with so many creative endeavors, the artistry is not just in the execution, but in the years of trial and error experience that make that execution successful.

Today I want to turn the spotlight on the hand marbled papers made by two close friends (of each other and of Wet Paint): Sally Power and Sue Bjerke.  Their papers are a testament to their dedication to the craft of marbling…each sheet is a stand-alone work of art!  Although Sally and Sue both teach at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and both use similar materials, their styles are very distinctive and unique.  Ask to see the gorgeous work of these two local artists the next time you visit the Paper Counter at Wet Paint.

Sally’s patterns can be quite lively and contemporary.  She often marbles onto different colored or toned papers, and shares the pattern name, type of paper, and grain direction on the back of each sheet.  This info is very helpful for the box maker or book artist.  I should also mention that, in addition to her full marbled sheets, she has created a pattern unique to her, that she calls “white space marbles,” where she intentionally leaves a section of the sheet almost blank.  Her reasoning is that you can add a verse, or maybe even someone’s name, on that blank space.

Sue’s papers on the other hand, are brightly colored on a bright white paper.  Her designs are marbled and over-marbled so they are super psychedelic, though her patterns tend to be more traditional than Sally’s.

These papers are hand marbled in Minnesota on machine-made paper and are roughly 17×23″ in size.

verrapaperblogMy name is Verra Blough, and I have been the Paper Department Manager at Wet Paint for 25 amazing years.  Wet Paint stocks over 20,000 individual sheets and 2,000 unique styles of paper, including papers from all over the world: China, Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Philippines, Portugal, Thailand, and the USA.  We have some locally made ones, too!

Whether you’re looking for a surface for drawing, painting or printmaking, or a decorative sheet for bookbinding, invitations, or collage, I have the good fortune of seeing all of them and working with many of them…it would be my pleasure to help you find the perfect paper for your project.   With that in mind, I will be  blogging about paper each week, highlighting some of my favorites, as well as some helpful hints.  Let’s get started in exploring paper!


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Is That a Pencil in Your Pocket?

There’s been a lot of attention paid in the media to the pushback against digital tablets in favor of, well, tablets.  It seems that more and more folks are discovering (or rediscovering) the appeal of making marks on paper.  And while you hear a lot about all the different kinds of notebooks out there, the tools that are doing the actual writing and drawing are sometimes less recognized.  What better way to “fix” that (pun intended and explained below) than to cast a discerning and appreciative eye on our old friend, the humble pencil?

IMG_6447For many people, a pencil has a wooden, yellow barrel with a pink eraser on top.  That describes Dixon’s Ticonderoga, amongst others, and we’ve got ‘em at Wet Paint.  We’ve also got lots of pencils specifically made for drawing.  Artist-grade pencils are like the fancy cousins of the “yellow pencil”…they’re related, in that they have lead encased in a wooden barrel.  The big difference is the very high quality lead they contain and the fact that this lead comes in a bunch of different hardnesses (see the guide below), allowing the artist to make a range of marks from smudgy dark to scratchy light.  Caran d’Ache produces a remarkable artists’ graphite pencil called Grafwood – 15 hardnesses of the nicest graphite you’ve ever used.  Czech company Koh-I-Noor is credited with the creation of the graphite pencil we know today…Wet Paint stocks their Toison D’or line of artists’ pencils.  We also carry high quality pencils from German Faber Castell, Austrian Cretacolor and English Derwent.

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Sometimes a pencil is that thing that clicks when you push down on the eraser and lead comes out.  Those are known as mechanical pencils and we’ve got tons of those, too.  Modern mechanical pencils are available in four standard lead sizes – .3mm, .5mm, .7mm and .9mm – and a variety of lead hardnesses (though not as many as artists’ pencils).  Pentel’s new Orenz actually comes in a teeny tiny .2mm, but it’s the exception!  One of our favorite new mechanical pencils is the OHTO SHARP .5mm wooden mechanical pencil.  It looks like a small, regular pencil, but it clicks!  Available in three appealing colors…I think everybody on staff owns at least one of them!

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The architects and engineers reading this may have their hands in the air at this point, because there are also mechanical style pencils that hold larger lead sizes than the four I mentioned above.  Lead holders, as these are called, accept lead sizes from 2mm to 5.6mm.  This heartier lead is perfect for the demands placed on it by makers…of buildings and art.  One of our most popular lead holders is the Fixpencil (remember my pun?) from Caran d’Ache.  Available in several lead sizes, color accents, and surfaces, the Fixpencil combines workman-like durability with sleek Swiss design…they are very handsome tools.

Back to the basic yellow pencil.  Some of our favorite writing tools are essentially “regular” pencils, just more stylish.  The Blackwing pencil, for instance, only comes in a few different hardnesses, but in a multitude of limited edition finishes and colored barrels.  The unique square ferrules and replaceable erasers make them stand out from the crowd.  Speaking of standing out, my favorite #2 pencils of all time have to be the Viarco Vintage series pencils.  Both pencils and packaging are faithful reproductions of Viarco products from the 1940s to the 1970s. These boxes are so authentic, a slip of paper had to be added to accommodate a bar code! These six unique 12-pencil boxes are designed in Portugal using long-established production methods, and the quality you’ve come to expect from Viarco.  They are almost too fantastic to use.

Oh, and we’ve got notebooks, too….


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Verra’s Paper Pick of the Week: Thai Heavy Embossed

Have you ever bought something that you then forgot about? Well, I have.  I was recently stocking a new paper purchase in my flat files and came across some papers I had brought home for a project a long time ago! These forgotten sheets were Thai Heavy Embossed with “Ficus Leaves.”  This entire Heavy Embossed group has a very soft feel and off-white color.  I bought these sheets a while back with the intention of using them as a window treatment.  I knew I didn’t want curtains, so I thought these sheets would be lovely attached to the window with a little adhesive putty.

I cut the sheets down to the appropriate sizes and discovered that, when cut, the paper has a very soft edge- which I love. I might experiment with adding a little color to them… but they also look just fine as they are (why mess with a good thing?).  I can’t wait to see what they look like once they’re up.  I’ve left them out – so I don’t forget them again! –  and plan to put them up at home soon.  I’ll try to get a good picture of the finished product if I can (feel free to ask me about my new window shades the next time you’re in the store!).

The “Thai Heavy Embossed” group of papers are 22×30″ and handmade in Thailand.

Also, this is a fantastic show and will be up for another 2 weeks- until May 13 at the Textile Center. Mary Hark’s indigo dyed handmade paper and fabric is gorgeous! Check it out!

verrapaperblogMy name is Verra Blough, and I have been the Paper Department Manager at Wet Paint for 25 amazing years.  Wet Paint stocks over 20,000 individual sheets and 2,000 unique styles of paper, including papers from all over the world: China, Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Philippines, Portugal, Thailand, and the USA.  We have some locally made ones, too!

Whether you’re looking for a surface for drawing, painting or printmaking, or a decorative sheet for bookbinding, invitations, or collage, I have the good fortune of seeing all of them and working with many of them…it would be my pleasure to help you find the perfect paper for your project.   With that in mind, I will be  blogging about paper each week, highlighting some of my favorites, as well as some helpful hints.  Let’s get started in exploring paper!


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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!


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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.

TropheeDeLeauCLF

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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Wax on, wax off

Encaustic, a mixture of wax, pigment, and resin, is unlike any other paint…it’s not wet or dry, it’s hot or cold.  This makes it easy to start, stop, modify, and layer.  Encaustic does require a little more preparation than other paints – you need a heat source to warm it and decent ventilation for dispersing the fumes & gasses (generated when you heat something).  However, once you’re set up, the painting possibilities are nearly limitless.  It can be polished to a high gloss, carved, scraped, layered, collaged, dipped, cast, modeled, sculpted, textured, and combined with oil paint. It cools immediately, so that there is no drying time, yet it can always be reworked. Besides its versatility, encaustic is also very durable.  Wax is a natural preservative, so it protects its substrate.  It’s also very flexible, so it won’t crack or chip.  Just don’t leave your wax-based painting in the back seat of your car in August after you’ve been rejected from the State Fair…I’m not saying that happened to me or anything.

Painting with pigment & wax is a practice that dates back to antiquity.  The Greeks were painting their ships with wax as early as the Fifth Century BC…first to waterproof them, then – adding pigment – to decorate them.  The process of painting with encaustic reached its apex in the paintings that are known as the Fayum Mummy Portraits.  Beginning in the 1st Century AD, panels bearing the likeness of the deceased – painted in encaustic –  were mounted to the bands of mummified bodies prior to burial in Roman occupied Egypt.  This practice continued for nearly 300 years, until cultural and economic changes brought on by the fall of the Roman Empire – as well as cheaper, more immediate paint options – led to its disuse.  Encaustic mostly languished in obscurity until curious 18th Century antiquarians rediscovered the paint of the ancients.

Encaustic painting has had a real renaissance in the greater Saint Paul/Minneapolis area over the last dozen years.  A huge part of that can be traced back to our old friend – and accomplished encaustic painter – Jeff Hirst.  Many artists have had their introduction to painting with wax in workshops in Jeff’s Northeast Minneapolis studio.  These folks have gone on to become notable encaustic painters and instructors themselves, including former Wet Painter Jean Wright (who just taught a sold out class of her own at Wet Paint a few weeks ago).  If you want to turn out good like Jean, get yourself enrolled in one of Jeff’s workshops here…they’re all over the country!  Back to classes at Wet Paint: Saint Louis based artist Julie Snidle will be back this summer to teach her hugely popular encaustic, cold wax, and Pigment Stick classes.  If you haven’t signed up yet, you should…Julie’s classes have never not sold out!  Finally, if you don’t live nearby, but are interested in hot wax, Saint Paulite Clare O’Neill teaches online encaustic workshops at photoencaustic.com…check ‘em out!

RFhandmadePaints__beauty_cakesAnother fun thing about encaustic right now?  We just unpacked a box with twelve brand new encaustic colors from R&F in “easy-to-try” 40ml size blocks.  Check ‘em out here!  These join their “big brothers,” R&F’s 104ml encaustic blocks, and Enkaustikos Hot Cakes, in the encaustic department.

RFhandmadePaints__pigmentsticks_beauty_1Earlier, I mentioned Pigment Sticks and cold wax.  Let’s say you like the look & feel of encaustic, but the heat & ventilation are a problem.  Great news: there’s cold wax and Pigment Sticks!  Cold wax is a medium and finish used with oil paint to achieve encaustic-like effects without the heat.  Simply mix a little color in to your cold wax medium and apply to your substrate with a knife of brush and…mmmm, satiny lustre!  Wet Paint stocks cold wax medium from Gamblin, Williamsburg, Dorland’s and Michael Harding…we should have the right one for you!  R&F’s Pigment Sticks are an oil paint & wax combo in easy-to-use, easy-to-hold sticks.  Paint with ‘em directly on your substrate just like drawing with crayons, or use traditional painting tools to apply the color.  We have 102 colors of gestural lusciousness in two sizes.  Wanna get hooked?  Go see Joyce Lyon’s beautiful paintings at Groveland Gallery or watch this enticing video of Charles Forsberg. Both cold wax and Pigment Sticks can be integrated into either your encaustic or oil painting process.  Once you’ve introduced wax into your painting, though, it’s best to continue using it.

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Wet Paint is your “go-to” source for wax-based painting supplies and instruction!  Besides everything mentioned above, we also stock Enkaustikos Wax Snaps & HotSticks, mediums & waxes from Enkaustikos, R&F and Jacquard, and Encausticbords from Ampersand.  If you haven’t tried using wax/encaustic, I can’t recommend it enough.  There’s a real romance to the process and the results…the tactile qualities of the paint alone are worth the price of admission.