Artist Tip - Clean paint colours in your work

Artist Painting Tip By Ron Gribble;
Speaking of cleanliness, on previous occasions, the end result of all this is clean colours.

Clean colours while mixing art paint

There is much to be said about colour mixing, that I could never cover on the Internet.

Try keeping each colour you mix to a minimum of colours from your pallet. The more variety of colours from your pallet that you mix, the closer you get to ‘Mud’. That is dirty in colour.

Ask the question of yourself very clearly - "Do I want a hot colour or a cold colour"?

If it is neither one nor the other it not only loses a great opportunity to contrast against it but it also is in danger of being boring at best, and muddy at worst.

If you decide on a cold colour go easy on the mixing of hot colours. If you want a hot colour mix, then don’t put large quantities of blues into the mix.

Of course there are always exceptions to every rule, but I have found the ‘Hot & Cold’ decision to be pivotal

Happy Mixing

Ron Gribble

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Artist Tip Taking care of artist brushes

Artist Tips by Ron Gribble

Last post we discussed brush-cleaning devise that I use, This post I want to stay with brushes.

Generally speaking, good oil painting brushes are not expensive, but it takes only a minute to prolong their useful life.
care of artist brushes school paintng

I try to remember after each painting session (not so easy when I am on location) to clean my brushes with clean soapy warm water, as follows.

Wipe the brush across a wet piece of soap until a good quantity of the soap is worked into the bristles.

Grip the ends of the bristles with one hand and with the other hand move the brush so that the bristles are splayed out and the soap can work right up to the ferrule.

Now Place the brush into a sink, and squeeze the soap back out by pressing the ferrule end of the bristle against the hard surface until you squeeze out the dirty soapy water. Rinse with warm water
Artist brushes artist tips
Repeat this until the soapy water that you squeeze out is no longer dirty.

Lastly repeat step one only, then gently mould the bristles nice and straight leaving a good amount of soap in the bristles. The flat can have a chisel edge moulded by squeezing gently between thumb and first finger.

Leave to dry, with the soap "training" and protecting the bristles. You will be able to transport these now without them bending over if they press against anything. The soap, when dry, can be broken out again, when you want to use the brush.

In Conclusion, think of your brushes as the instruments of your trade. Would a surgeon use a dirty scalpel? You must be confident of the brush mark that will get from a particular brush. If it has dry paint up the ferrule, You will not get what you expect, ant the result is loss of control, on the canvas.
I hope this helps

Ron Gribble
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String Painting lesson with school paints

LEVEL: Pre-school and Early Primary.
String painting is a simple art experience that encourages children to explore and create with a different kind of media and to experiment with line, colours, shapes and designs.

Here is another way to do string painting.

You will need:

: Tempera poster paint.
: String cut into 30cm to 50cm length (12 to 20inches).
: Sheets of paper – pre folded them in half.
: A shallow paint tray or dish
: Apron and a cover sheet or newspapers – plus paper towels – for clean-up.

String painting school paints
String Painting

Let’s get started:

Prepare the work area with a plastic sheet and put on the aprons. 
A flat surface is better that an easel for string painting.

Open the folded paper on the table close to the paint trays.
Place one end of the string into the paint tray while making sure you are keeping hold of the dry end. 

Lift the string out of the paint by the dry end.  Lay the string on the paper to be painted while trying to drip excess paint back into the tray.

Do the same with the other paint colours.  So you end up with two or three colourful pieces of string on one half of the paper with the dry ends of the string over the edge of the paper.   
While still holding the dry ends of the string, fold the paper in half.

Press down on the paper while you pull the paint strings out of the paper.  

Let them slip and slide so you get different colour painted effects.

Slowly open up the paper and allow to dry.
String Painting school lesson


-          You can also do one colour at a time and repeat for each colour.

-          3 to 4 bright colours are ideal for string painting.

-          Plastic string does not work very well with String Painting.

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Artist Tip How clean artist brushes

Artist Tip by Ron Gribble.

There are a lot of commercial brush cleaners available, but I will tell you about a cleaner you can make at home, out of two empty tins.

Before I give the details, I need to explain why a specific cleaner is needed. Why not just a jar of turpentine for oils?

You need to be aware that turpentine only suspends the paint, which then settles down into the bottom on your container. All you are doing after the first clean or two, is stirring up sediment and forcing it up into the brush ferules.
cleaning artist brushes with tin cans

So take a standard food preserving tin; make sure that the lid has been removed without sharp edges. Now take a smaller size tin, Like a baby food tin and place it bottom up onto a desk.

Now, take screwdriver, with a medium width end, and with a hammer, gently force slots into the base of the tin. Don’t hit too hard, we only want slots and not holes. Not too close together or you will lose structural strength, but enough to cover as much of the bottom of the tin as you can. The shape edges should be inside the tin, and the smooth slots on the outside.

Now place the small tin bottom up inside the bigger tin the smaller tin should fill about a half of the height of the larger tin.

Fill the larger tin with turpentine, until the smaller is only just covered. You will now be able to clean your brushes on the bottom of the small tin, and paint will drop through the slots and gather in the bottom of the larger tin. If you let it settle, you can pour off the turpentine and clean out the big tin every now and again.

Next post we will look at caring for you brushes. I trust this is a help to you.

Happy Painting
Ron Gribble
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How to paint a blended sky

How I paint a gradated sky or background using acrylics or a tempera paint.
The Colours: 

For a sky I prepare three colours from dark or ultra at the top to a light sky blue that is almost white at the bottom.   You can also use the same dark or deep blue but prepare three that have white mixed with them to end with 3 totally separate blues with the same base colour.

How to paint a blended sky school painting
Still working in a very fast way, start to brush one strip into the next blue strip

I also use a very wide brush with long brush strokes so they completely move from one edge to the other.

Important: For painting a gradation or blended sky you need to work rapidly before that paint starts to dry.
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So let’s get started:
Wet your brush so it is damp and not soaking wet.

Work with a rapid bold complete side to side brush stroke, trying your best not to stop midway across the canvas. Paint the three ‘wide’ strips starting with darker deeper blue at the top then use the same damp brush in the mid-tone blue for the next strip.  Follow on with the lighter sky blue.  You do not need to clean the brush between adding colours.
Still working in a very fast way, start to brush one strip into the next blue strip.  This will start to blend one colour into the next to you get a blended gradation. Making sure you keep the bold side to side movement.

Before you finish add a little extra white into your lightest blue shade. Slightly wetting your brush again (you might need a paper towel to dry it off). Blend in a little white at the very bottom.  This will act as the lighter horizon.  Being careful not to over brush this last colour or allow it to mix with your darker blue colours higher in the sky.
School painting learn to paint a sky
A large canvas with a blended sky

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Tony Parker
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It is important to try to keep the brush strokes long so they completely move from one edge to the other.  Never stop or start in the middle.

You might find it helps to wet your canvas with a slightly damp and clean brush before you add any paint.  This will slightly slow down the drying process and allow you a little more time to blend the colours.    
Before the paint dries try passing an almost dry brush over the edges of the strips to help smoothly blend them together.

Try not to overwork and over brush.

Get Set up Properly, artist palette

by Ron Gribble

If you cannot keep your work place clean and tidy, you will never paint a clean and correct painting.

In the next posts, I want to give you tips on how I keep from painting " Mud" coloured paintings. The secret is in getting organised and disciplined. So often in my workshop, I see people who get paint literally everywhere.

So we will cover: 
  • Palette
  • Brush Cleaners
  • Care of Brushes
  • Colour Mixing – More colours, means mud.

The Palette:

In the studio I use a piece of glass. It cleans very easily, as the paint does not soak into it. If I am tinting my board a darker colour, I can slide a sheet of paper, tinted the same colour under the glass. This allows me to mix against the colour on my canvas.

The piles of raw colours around the edges (use the edges further away from you) will dry much slower on the glass. Use a large piece mine is about 1500mm x 400mm. Make sure there are no sharp edges, and use a painting trowel, with a bent neck, to mix your colours.

mixing paint with a dirty brush
Never mix with a brush

Never mix with a brush this forces the raw colour up into the ferrule of the brush and you lose control of the colour very quickly.

Stop and clean up regularly, brushes and pallet.

Next post: We will learn about brush cleaners.

Happy Painting
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Finger Painting Prints lesson plan

LEVEL: Pre-school and Early Primary.
Finger Painting Prints school paints
Colourful squishy paint all over little hands

There is nothing that is more fun for kids, than to have colourful squishy paint all over their hands. To be creating a colourful masterpiece is just an added bonus. Here is the lesson plan.

You will need:

: Tempera poster paint or finger paint
: Plastic table top or cover a table with a plastic sheet.
: Large sheets of paper – not too thin paper.
: Soapy water in a bucket with a towel
: Apron and a cover sheet or newspapers – plus paper towels – for clean-up.

Let’s get started and make Finger Painting Prints:

Prepare the work area with a plastic sheet and put on the aprons.  A flat surface is better that an easel.

Pour a puddle of paint onto the plastic table top.  Keep the colour range to no more than 3 bright colours.  Often just one colour is enough.

Now start to finger paint directly onto the table top, trying to keep to around the same size as your paper.  Not too thick and squishy. When you are ready, wash up with the warm soapy water and dry off with the towel.  It is important now to make sure you have clean hands.

Carefully place your sheet of paper directly on top of the finger painting. Still being careful, press your paper into the artwork on the table top with clean hands.

You may need to clean your hands again.  Carefully peel back the paper starting from one side to the other.  Being very slow and careful not to tear the paint soaked paper.
Finger Prints school painting

Hang up and allow to dry.   
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-          This is one of those lessons where less is more.  Too much paint and too many colours just turns into a mess and the paper will fall apart.

-          Kids can enjoy mirror art.  Where they write a name or letter and it appears backwards on the print.

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Tony Parker
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Tint An Alternative Colour

by Ron Gribble

Last tip I suggested that you try tinting your boards.  A warm mid-tone colour.

This eliminates the need to cover the stark white when painting in oils. I use a mixture of titanium white and burnt sienna.

This tip I want to suggest an alternative colour. Try a darker blue/purple. If you have a close look at the picture of Lake Wanaka, you can see that the background was painted in a pink colour and the other with a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and crimson.

Lots of this colour appears all over the painting very deliberately. Not only does this technique eliminate the problem of covering the white board, but it also helps to bind the whole paint together into a common "Atmosphere".
school paints
Lake Wanaka, NZ

If you try to mix the back ground colour in acrylic and let it thoroughly dry, then re-mix it in oil colour. Use this colour as your atmospheric colour. Tint every colour that you mix for that painting. The whole painting will have a distinct tint towards that original colour.
Now try a different colour! A hot colour or a cold colour! I have had the best results when I have chosen my subjects well. (i.e.: A hot colour for a sunset, a cold colour for a cold scene).

Also keep colour on the dark side. A strong colour is fun. If you look closely at the Wanaka painting, you will see what I mean.

Ron Gribble
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Roller Painting - School Paints

LEVEL: Pre-school and Early Primary
school paint roller painting
A Selection of Rollers for Kids

Roller Painting provides the opportunity for expressive activities through the use of paint rollers. Children can create designs in a quick and easy way. It is also a great way to introduce children to textured materials.

You will need:

: Tempera poster paint. Not too many colours 1-3 is fine.
: Foam rollers, small are better.  Kids size are available.
: Paint in shallow paint trays – need to be able to roll the roller in these.
: Paper A3 is a ideal
: Apron and a cover sheet or newspapers – plus paper towels – for clean-up.
school paints

Let’s get started:

Prepare the work area with coversheets and put on the aprons.  A flat surface is better that an easel.

Try to have a clean roller for each colour.  Also try to have the children return the rollers to the correct colours. You will end up with cleaner colours to your artwork.

Pour paint in to the trays.  One colour per tray.

Dip the roller into the tempera paint and spread the paint in a rolling movement. 

yle="font-family: "arial" , "helvetica" , sans-serif;">Try a range of techniques like stripes, waves and curves.  Dabbing, circles and outer frames are also fun.  Try to find any other ways you use the rollers.
The key is to have fun mixing colours and making shapes.

-          Add glitter for special effects to the wet paint.
-          You can roll a blue sky, green grass and come back later to paint people or a house.

-          Sometimes it is a good idea to have a sheet of blank paper for starting off the rollers. This makes sure the complete roller surface is covered in colour.

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Roller Painting - School Paints

Try tinting your canvas before you start to paint.

Try tinting your canvas before you start to paint.
by Ron Gribble
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Using an artist quality acrylic. You can try several options. The most versatile option is to choose a warm mid tone colour.

e.g. Try White: 80%; Burnt Sienna 20%

tinting your canvas before you start to paint
Try tinting your canvas before you start to paint

We will try other options later. Let it dry thoroughly before you paint your oil colour over the top.  

Why tint your boards?
Because the stark white will need to be covered in the finished painting.  It is stark, lifeless and demands attention if left showing.
Why a warm mid tone?
Every subject that we paint is affected by light. Light is warm. The mid-tone does not leap off the canvas as white does.
So if you allow some of the original under painting to show through thin layers of paint or just simply leave area’s unpainted, it doesn’t matter.
It looks like warm light. In creating the illusion of the painting I want to eliminate as many problems as I can as early as I can. This allows me to render the subject in the loose "painterly" style that I desire.
Try it for yourself.
Happy Painting
Ron Gribble

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Blank Canvas, Where Do I start?

Blank Canvas, Where Do I start?
Ron's Artist Tips:

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Some students always start to lay out their paintings at the horizon; some start at the sky - some the foreground.

For me, the answer has been little more complex than that. I need to ask myself a few questions.
1. What would I like to keep away from the middle of the composition?

2. What detail do I want to be sure not to lose off the sides, top or bottom?

3. What was it that made me want to paint this? Where should that element appear in the composition?

Blank Canvas school paints
Blank Canvas Where do I start?

Too often, I have noticed paintings skilfully done but with some vital element crowded closely to the bottom edge, while there is much too much sky at the top!

So start drawing up your work at the point of primary interest or considering my three questions, and start there.

If you give the canvas a light coat of linseed oil first, (use a rag) and then draw it up using a pastel colour (I use an atmosphere colour of the particular work) to draw in the elements using a fine round brush. If you make a mistake, it will rub off easily because of the linseed oil.

If some of your drawing up is still visible in the finished work, it doesn’t matter; as the atmosphere colour is not going to look out of place anywhere at all.

I don’t use pencil or charcoal as it will have to be thoroughly “fixed” and it will show through the paint. Let’s not make life harder than it has to be!

Happy Painting

Ron Gribble
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Artist Brush Selection Guide: School Paints

Artist Brush Selection Guide: School Paints
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High quality finely balanced brushes are the most important tools of an artist’s trade. Their design and manufacture demands precision, patience and skill. There is an extensive range of artist paint brushes available and in a vast range of brush hairs.
Artist Brush Selection Guide school paints
Artist Brush Selection Guide  - Click Here to zoom in

The Handle:
Many school-type and mass-produced handles are made of unfinished raw wood. These are the least expensive, become easily soiled and the wood often swells in use.

School Paints
stubby brushes
School brush handle: Known as stubby brushes.  They are a short woodened handled brush with a head that is made of hog hair.  It offers the wide thick handle that is ideal for small hands and can come in either round or flat shaped head.  

Artist-type handles are made of seasoned hardwood, lathe shaped and properly balanced to give you the most comfortable grip. The pores of the wood are sealed and several coats of lacquer are applied to give the handle a polished high gloss finish.

Tapered handles are made of seasoned hardwood dowels and tapered both ends. They are either finely sanded plain wood or finished with several coats of varnish or enamel. Some brushes have moulded plastic handles instead of wood.

The Ferrule:
This is the tapered metal tube that holds the brush hair filaments. Ferrules are made of different materials aluminium, nickel, copper and nickel-plated. Seamless nickel-plated ferrules will usually appear shinier, with darker tone than aluminium.

Aluminium ferrules are seamless and polished.
Copper ferrules are seamless, polished and varnished to prevent tarnishing.
Nickel ferrules are seamless, polished nickel-plated brass.
Nickel-plated ferrules are made of nickel-plated steel and spot-welded (rust proof).

The Brush Head:
Brush heads can be constructed in many shapes and various filaments. There is an almost limitless choice available to artists but in principle hair type is divided into three groups – soft hair, hog bristle and synthetic:

Soft hair brushes are manufactured using sable, squirrel, ox hair, pony, goat and badger.

Hog brushes are manufactured from various qualities of hog bristle, either bleached or unbleached.
Synthetic brushes are made of special multi-diameter extruded nylon filament.

Next blog post we will look more at brushes.  Brush hair, shapes and what works best with the diiferent painting mediums.

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Tony Parker

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