Tips 'n Techniques...

The Magic Eraser is wonderful to use around the home, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Gretchen Parker, a color pencil artist in SC, uses the Magic Eraser to blend the pencil colors together! She also keeps one on her work table to remove color pencil dust after sharpening or to remove oil paint smudges. These tips appeared in the Foothills Artists' Newsletter.

Tips and Techniques
Ruth Rodriguez

Water Basin: Fill with cool or cold water. Hot or warm water can cause damage to your brush and set paint in it. Some painters are always changing their water and some painters don't change until they are done with the project or even longer. They say the dirty water gives the painting more character and hues. This is a personal thing so do what you are comfortable with as it is your painting.
Try and not rake your brush vigorously on the bottom ribs of the basin as this will wear your brush and fray it, especially on liners and your sideloading brushes. Some of your drybrushes can take a little more scrubbing. You realize they make those brush basins with the ribs on the bottom so that you will need to buy brushes over and over. I have heard various ways of cleaning your brush.
Just use a plain container and swirl the brush around in the water.
Use of a few containers to wash in one, rinse in another and use clean water for sideloading and thinning your paint.
Wipe your brush on a paper towel and then rinse in water this will keep your water cleaner longer.

Water Spray Bottle: When you need a few drops of water have a spray bottle handy. I like the small travel spray bottles so I can spray my palette with droplets of water when I am painting and need a drop or two of water to thin paint or to sideload and need a little more water.
Some people spray their wet palettes with spray bottles. I prefer to wet my paint from the underside so I have a eye dropper or a bottle with a nice point on it (the hair dye bottles work great for this) I just squirt around the edges and between the rows of paint.

Water and brushes: Don't leave your brushes in your water basins. Get in the habit of rinsing it and lay it flat to dry. This way the water doesn't affect the glue in the ferrules.

Save worn out brushes: they make great stipplers for fur, trees, shrubs and for basecoating your pieces rather than using your good brushes. There is nothing better than using a new brush you just feel like you paint better. I usually only throw out frayed liners and brushes that have to much dried paint in them.

Stray hairs on liner brushes: If you have a couple stray hairs, don't cut them. Heat a cup of water to a boil and quickly plunge the brush into the boiling water, then pull it out immediately. Be careful not to let the ferrules get to wet as this could cause problems with the glue. Put some brush soap in the hairs and reshape so the hairs are together and let it dry. Be sure to wash out the soap before you begin to paint again.

Table this Idea: Cover your crafting table with durable clear plastic. Under the plastic you can arrange pictures and clippings of projects, patterns, and color conversion charts. This is easy access to information while you paint. The plastic also makes the table easy to clean.

Drawer Liner Paper: If you have some of this leftover it is great on your painting table as it will keep your wood where you want it and if you have little pieces they stay put and don't roll around on your table and you don't have to look for them all over the place. You can purchase a small roll of this at the Dollar Store and you won't be sorry. These are also good for opening jars of paint too.

Transfer Paper (graphite paper): A Gray and White graphite paper are the usual papers used to transfer your design to your piece. If you have a new piece of gray graphite I take a paper towel and rub off some of the graphite so that my transfer will be light (I still use a light touch when applying my pattern so I won't have trouble removing it later before I varnish). Gray graphite paper is better with time and you can use a piece for a long long time (years). I prefer used graphite and usually a small piece as I can check my pattern as I trace and move the paper around under my pattern more.
I mark the side of the paper that needs to be up.
There are other transfer papers like Saral it comes in various colors (yellow, red, blue, white) and is more waxy and I have used it with success. There is one called Chaco-paper and it is a light blue but it is water soluble, its great but water will erase it so you would want to use it when its okay if you lose your pattern lines.

Tracing a pattern: From your hard copy of the pattern place a piece of tracing paper over it and trace the pattern. (By doing it this way you are becoming one with your pattern, HAHAHAH!!!!). By doing this you can align your pattern if you need to put more detail on easily because you can see where your pattern lines up with what you have painted. You can use a copier and your computer to do your pattern on Vellum or acetate. Be careful because sometimes the computer changes the size somewhat.

Tracing on Fabric: They have pencils and pens in the sewing stores that work. They are traced on ironed on to the fabric. I like the tulle netting method. You place your pattern on the table then put saran wrap over it and then a piece of tulle, then with a permanent marker trace the pattern thru all the layers. Let the marker ink dry and then position the tulle on your fabric and then trace onto the fabric with a piece of chalk.

Wet Palette: You can use any airtight container (Tupperware, plastic, or palettes designed to be a wet palette.) I use various things and I use at least 5-6 layers of blue towel. If possible I try and use distilled water to wet them whenever possible, the paint doesn't seem to mold or smell as bad as using tap water. You want your towel wet but not dripping but have some water there so the paint can absorb it as it sets out in the air.

Ceramic Palette: You can use 9" x 12" square tiles for a palette instead of a paper palette. The tiles work great, clean up easily, and are just a one time cost or free if you have tiles left over from a tiling job.

Easy Cleanup: Next time you have paint to clean off a palette or tabletop, don't reach for your kitchen sponge. Use your nylon scrubbing pad instead. The paint rinses out of the pad easily, so unlike sponges, there won't be permanent paint stains left on your pad.

Vodka: One of the first tips I ever heard was get a small bottle of vodka to put in your painting supplies. It is great to remove paint from your clothes (better than those expensive paint removers). Also can drink it if your painting is not going so well.

Blushing Faces: If you have trouble getting a good blush on faces or skin then use a colored pencil, chalk or blush make-up, both work well. The only thing you have to do is set these with a fixative (1311) so they don't disappear while you finish painting and before you varnish. I usually wait do this when I have completed my painting and just before I varnish.

Sawdust: Mixing sawdust with a little white paint will give you snow, just like you get with some of the texture mediums. You can also use it with glue and make wood filler to fill in dents or nicks in your wood piece.

Dents in Wood: To fix an unpainted wood object that has a dent in it, put water on the dent and let it soak into the raw wood. Set a steam iron on high and hold over the dented area. This will raise the grain and the dent. (hopefully)

Dots of every size: If your stylus disappears about the time you need it make some new ones. When brushes finally outlive their usefulness, insert the wooden handles into a pencil sharpener. Depending how zealously you sharpen the points, you can make "dotters" of every size. You can also use the ends of brushes, ends of Q-tips, ends of pencils, toothpicks and a variety of other objects.

Dot to Dot Perfection: To place dots quickly and evenly on a project, use a stencil grid of squares (they come in many sizes). Position the stencil over the area you want to dot, then, using a stylus, dot paint in the same area of each square.

Ready, Set Glue: Store glue bottles upside down in a jar or container and your glue is ready to go when you are ready to glue something.

Separate Matters: If base-coating multiple cutouts of the same project. a piece of waxed paper "sandwiched" between the pieces lets you stack the dry-to-the-touch cutouts and keeps them from sticking together until ready to complete them.

Loose Change: Keep loose change at your painting table to use for covering areas such as faces when you spatter a project with paint. Once the paint is dry, just remove the coins.

Pin it While You Paint: Epoxy or glue the tie tack pin back to the project first. When the epoxy or glue is set, I push the pin into a square or rectangular pencil eraser to secure it. This makes it easier to paint the sides of the pin and keeps paint off my fingers.

Tape and Small Objects: If you have small objects of wood to paint that are hard to hold in you hand take a piece of tape and fold it back around your hand and attach the small pieces to the tape and proceed to paint.
Another idea is to use double stick tape and apply to a ruler or paint stick and attach the tiny wood cutouts, buttons, plugs to the tape and paint them that way you don't get quite so messy painting the small pieces.

Sew Easy Solution: Before you apply hotmelt adhesive to projects, reach for a thimble from your sewing box and place it on the finger that you will be pressing the glued area with. This protects you from burns.

Remove all Evidence: To remove those sticky price tags on wood cutouts, dampen a rag with odor-less brush cleaner. Wipe the cleaner over the wood to release the adhesive.

Remove graphite lines: Most can be removed with erasers but if you are having trouble getting rid of some try some odorless turp it will usually do the job and won't harm your painting.

Turntables: These are great for painting plates, bowls, stepping stones, and pots. The cheap ones you can get at stores and there is one that some shops sell that are really nice and adjustable.

Supplies: things you need to have with you all the time in a little kit: stylus, palette paper, tracing paper, pencil, pen, toothbrush, eraser, sharpener, chalk pencil or soap pencil, sanding pad, small pair of scissors, ruler, tape, wipes, Q-tips, sponge, table cloth, towels cloth and paper, apron, picture holder and anything else you use when you are painting that helps you.

Seminar List: The teacher will give you a list of supplies and if you don't have everything don't fret. I have bought some things that were listed and never used them or just used them once. Bring things and brushes that you are comfortable with. If the teacher brings brushes for sale and you think you need them then by all means buy them.

Getting a Fine Line: Dampen a paper towel and have it on you palette. With thinned paint for painting line work load your brush with the paint and then gently lay it on the damp paper towel. This absorbs some of the water in the brush and you will have a very nice fine line when you apply it on your piece.

Learning: Learn from different teachers, other painters and from printed sources. There are not set rules and no one way to do things. If there were rules and just one way than we would not have all the great painters and techniques that we have today.

Failure: Never feel that you have failed. You just have learned that there may be another way of doing something. If it doesn't look like the teachers, well it shouldn't. She probably has a few more years painting than you do and its your piece and it should look like your style that you are learning to create. Be willing to experiment with failure because it is the best teacher you will ever have. Push yourself to do things that you don't think you're ready for, you will be surprised how your painting will turn out. If you don't really like the project that is being offered but you want to paint then go ahead and take the class and you will probably think this was really neat and I learned a lot.

If you have some good tips to share send them to