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Basics Oil Painting

TOOLS: Choosing Brushes (oil paint)

Oil Paint Brush Guide- Which Brushes to Use


A paint brush is to an oil painter, what a magic wand is to a wizard.  That is to say that it is a tool that makes all the difference to the practitioner.  A good brush is well worth the investment and will get better once it is broken in.

Traditionally, brushes used for oil painting are made out of hog’s hair (bristle) and sable. Increasingly, synthetic brushes made from materials such as nylon, are becoming more and more popular. A good brush will hold its shape, in paint and on canvas, bouncing back to its original shape. The bristles should be firm, neither overly limp or to springy.

Oil painting brushes have 2 handle sizes- long wooden handle and which is up to 12 inches and short- meant for detail.

Long handle brushes are used in a horizontal position with the painting surface vertical.The long handle serves to balance the brush in your hand, centering the brush so the paint will flow better.

The size of the brush by the brush head with No. 1 being the finest and No.12/14 the broadest.


The three most important shapes for oil painting brushes are- flat, round and filbert.


flat: these have a wedge-shaped square tip. Flat brushes are primarily used for blocking in large areas of color, in the painting’s early stage.

round: these brushes taper at the tip. Round brushes are used to create a more linear/straight brush stroke.

filbert: these brushes resemble a finger tip. Filbert brushes are used to apply color broadly. Used on its side, a filbert gives a thin line; used on it’s broad side (flat) it produces a heavy thick brush stroke.


Sable: also known as “soft” brushes, and are used for finer detail.

Bristle: also known as hog’s hair. These are a stiffer bristle, and are therefore better for larger brushes.


If your looking at filling in the of your oil painting basic brush collection for oil painting, we recommend getting the following brushes:

Flats: #12,#4-8 and #2
Filberts: #12,#4-8 and #2
Rounds: #2 or #3

If you are looking to get the most value for money, we would suggest investing in a complete set of brushes rather than buying each one individually. Brush sets, contain most of the brushes that you need in addition to a few extra’s that are just nice to have. These sets generally tend to be a good deal.

Most major brands have great sets, but we would suggest checking out the following sets:

Set of Oil Paint Brushes

Visit Blick Art Materials, to see a comprehensive selection of brushes. Selection can be found here:


In order to maintain a long lasting relationship with your brush it is good practice to clean your brushes after each session. Integrate this extra step into your painting regime and this will drastically help prolong the life of each brush.

1. Solvent as a Cleaner
For oil paint use mineral spirits, or terpenoid.
-Start by wiping excess paint on a rag, removing extra paint will make the job much easier.
-Rinse brush in mineral solvent, it’s okay to use the used solvent from your painting session. Try to get all the paint off the bristles.
-Use RAG to remove solvent and paint on bristles.
-Rinse brush under running water.
-Once brush is clean, remove excess liquid from bristles and shape into correct form. Store upright in container to dry.

2. Dish Soap
-Wipe excess paint on a rag, removing extra paint will make the job much easier.
-Squeeze liquid dish soap into the palm of your hand. With water running work soap into brush bristles until. Work through, rinse and repeat until there is no more paint remaining.
-Reshape brush, and let it dry completely.
3. Fabric Softener
-Wipe excess paint on a rag, removing extra paint will make the job much easier.
-Mix together a gallon of warm water and 1/2 cup fabric softener.
-Swirl brush in solution, paint should begin to come off in the mixture. Shake off and rinse any remaining solution.
-Reshape brush into correct shape and let dry.
4. Vinegar
-Soak the brush in vinegar for an hour.
-Place the brush in an old pot and cover it with vinegar. You want the bristles to be completely covered with vinegar
-Bring the vinegar to a slow simmer on the stove. Simmer vinegar with the paintbrushes for a few minutes.
-Remove brushes, let them cool.
-Comb bristles, working paint out of the bristles.
-Rise and shape brush.


We have become huge fans of this type of brush cleaner. This metal brush cleaner features a grate at the bottom of the cleaning chamber that allows paint sediment from your brushes to fall to the bottom of the outer pot. This helps keep the fluid fresh for the next use, saving you time and preserving your solvent. The lid has a built-in gasket that forms an air tight, leak proof seal, preventing the smells and harsh fumes of solvents from escaping, and keeping solvents from spilling out.

Less expensive versions are made from glass and contain a metal grate at the bottom, and is also sealable.


Palette knives are mainly used for mixing and blending colors on a palette. Some artists use this tool as an instrument to paint with, although it generally is not recommended for most painting styles as it creates a heavy chunky stroke.

TIP: If you live in the United States, the best selection and prices come from Blick Art Materials, the most convenient and fast is Amazon.




-article compiled, photographed & written by Lyrica Glory, founder of Patron of the Arts

Basics Oil Painting

Prepping a Surface to Oil Paint On (canvas,panel,board)


A surface area (or support) is the name given to a supporting surface on which all (oil,acrylic,etc) paintings are created, or carried out.

The most popular surface or support’s to paint on are: canvas (stretched & board), wood panel, board (i.e. masonite, gessobord) and stretched linen. (see, Detailed Information section below)

Many artists prefer to use panel or board because the surface is rigid, smooth and not heavily textured and requires less prep-work and priming. Canvas is flexible and heavily textured and requires extra work to get a firm desirable surface for painting.


Primer is the first coat of paint applied to the support. One of the main purposes of a primer is to prevent the color pigment from absorbing into the surface. A white coat of primer or Gesso keeps the brilliance of the paint.

Gesso can be purchased ready made. It is similar in consistency to acrylic paint and comes in a multitude of colors. Gesso firms the surface, preventing the paint from soaking into the support; giving the veneer a little more texture or “tooth,” enabling the paint to stick better.

Adding primer to ALL surfaces is HIGHLY recommended- with an application of between 2-4 coats before actual pigment painting can begin.

Apply first coat with a vertical brush stroke and apply second coat with a horizontal stroke to fill in the groove. For each coat alternate and repeat, letting each coat dry thoroughly.


(full supply list in the tabbed section below)


Based on ease, quality and convenience- we recommend a gessobord with a 3/4 inch +(plus) cradle, meaning the support is attached and thicker widths can also function as a frame. Take into account what you want your finished product to be.

Application of a coat of gesso is still recommended, before painting, even on gessobord.

Check Blick Art Materials for the best selection of Gessobord panels, here.


complete information on prepping your surface to paint on

(expand sections below)

CANVAS: The traditional surface of the painter. Canvas comes in both a coarse and fine weave. The texture of a canvas is called the “tooth” of the canvas. The “tooth” when primed becomes very responsive to oil paint. A stretched canvas is easy and lightweight (easy to ship).

LINEN: Linen is the finest weave of canvas. Linen is less likely to shrink or loose its shape than regular canvas. Cotton canvas more inexpensive but is more prone to distortion. Linen is on the pricey side.

HARDBOARDS: Hardboard is made from compressed wood pulp. This type of surface area is largely favored by artists because it comes pre-made, it is lightweight, inexpensive and strong. Hardboard should be properly primed so that acid or oils do not leach in from the board which could result in yellowing of the painting. (This includes Gessobord and Masonite, which are both brands.)

WOOD PANELS: Hard woods are more suitable to use as panels, as softer woods are more likely to warp. It is believed that paintings on wood panel are likely to last longer. Panels can be should be cut from well seasoned wood and be free of knots, cracks and or defects. Painting on wood panels can create a heavy painting, and is therefore not recommended for shipping.

*best hard woods to paint on include: oak, cedar, birch, walnut, or mahogany.  

(Visit Blick Art Materials, for our recommended selection of pre-made hard wood panels)


The “drumlike” tautness of a canvas is achieved by stretching the canvas over a wooden frame called a stretcher. The stretcher is a mitered frame in which the beveled corners do not press against the stretched canvas. Ready made stretcher bars can be purchased here, and a list of full supplies below for stretching your linen or canvas.


(full supply list in the tabbed section below)


When considering what size you want your surface area to be, consider using standard framing sizes. If you plan on doing an framing you will be thanking yourself.

Below is the Standard Canvas Size chart in both inches and centimeters:





gesso brushes


We recommend gessobord, and if you live in the United States, the best selection and prices come from Blick Art Materials.



Blick Art Materials has the best selection for all supplies and materials listed above.

These were the resources that were used in the creation of this article:
BOOK: The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting- With Notes on the Techniques of the Old Masters by Max Doerner
BOOK: The Complete Book of Painting & Drawing by Gerald Woods

If you require large quantities of Gesso, it can be made from scratch. Recipe to follow in a separate post.

Patron of the Arts- Creativity & Inspiration Crown

-article compiled, photographed & written by Lyrica Glory, founder of Patron of the Arts

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo:The Artist’s Wardrobe locked up for 50 years, Revealed

“I recommend her to you [Frida Kahlo], not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work, acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly’s wing, lovable as a beautiful smile, and as profound and cruel as the bitterness of life.” –Diego Rivera

“Frida by Ishiuchi Miyako (2013) is a photographic record of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe and belongings. Following Kahlo’s death in 1954 her husband Diego Rivera began placing her personal effects into the bathroom of their Mexico City house, “The Blue House”, which later became the Museo Frida Kahlo. Rivera gave instructions that this room should remain sealed until fifteen years after his death and it in fact remained unopened until 2004 when the museum decided to organise and catalogue the contents. Ishiuchi Miyako was invited to photograph these artefacts, over 300 unseen relics of Kahlo’s life.

“As a project Frida is both a departure from Ishiuchi Miyako’s normal practice and a natural conceptual progression. While moving away from the Japanese subject matter of her earlier series, the work reveals Ishiuchi Miyako’s continued obsession with the traces we leave behind both as individuals and as a society. In her earlier series, Mother’s (2000-2005) and ひろしま/ Hiroshima (2007-), she photographed previously worn garments, evoking the lives and memories of the people who wore them as well as the social climate of post-war Japan. In documenting Frida, Ishiuchi Miyako again respectfully sifts through the ephemera left behind by an individual and in doing so makes intimate revelations about one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists. Frida Kahlo (1907 -1954) was an invalid throughout her life. Having contracted polio as a child she was then involved in a near fatal bus accident at the age of 18, which resulted in numerous surgical interventions. In the aftermath of her accident Khalo constructed her iconic wardrobe to camouflage her physical ailments. Ishiuchi Miyako’s images document the traditional Tehuana dresses that both concealed the damage to her lower body and acted as a feminist salute to the matriarchal society from which they are derived. * Through her photographs Ishiuchi came to recognise the parallel between these traditional garments and the kimonos of her own country, an “ephipany” that is evident in the images themselves. Throughout the photographs there is a particular awareness, a tenderness that is inherent to a woman looking through another woman’s intimate possessions. As she painstakingly catalogues the chic of Kahlo’s sunglasses, the intimacy of her darned tights and the corsets that were to be the armature by which she survived.” -MICHAEL HOPPEN GALLERY


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Creative Tool Inspiration

EXERCISE: Artist Date, Assigned Play


An Artist Date, Assigned Play
An Artist Date, Assigned Play

An ‘Artist Date’ is a creative tool conceived by best-selling author of the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron.

Directly from her website:

Artist Dates are assigned PLAY…

‘The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner wellof images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to askyourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.”

The Artists Way- Creative Resource
The Artists Way- Creative Resource

Why is this an effective creative tool? Creativity can come to anyone who wants it but you have to put yourself, the artist, into a receptive to state in order to allow it.

Take yourself somewhere special- break the routine and do something that excites and delights you. Treat yourself a little extra special and it will open the door to inspiration. Blocks will become unblocked and new ideas have the potential to flow into your creative spirit, if that is your belief or intention.

The best word  in describing the Artist’s Date is flow (a steady, continuous stream of something). Artist dates help in increasing your flow of creativity. If you would like a little more inspiration in your life, take yourself on an extra special date.

(You can read more about ‘Artist’s Dates‘ in Julia Cameron’s best selling book, ‘The Artists Way‘)

-written by Lyrica Glory, founder of Patron of the Arts

Fun Activities & Projects Patron of the Arts Exclusive

PROJECT: The Meaning & Magic of Dreamcatchers

Attach crystals, beads and feathers to the ting of the dreamcatcher.

“Native ancestors believe the night air is filled with both good and bad dreams. The legend of the Dreamcatcher is that it attracts the good dreams while catching in the center web, the bad.

The good spirit dreams float down the sacred feather into the psyche of the dreamer while the bad spirit dreams are held in the center web and burn off in the first light of the sun.

Believed to be sacred objects, dreamcatchers bless those with pleasant dreams, good luck, and harmony throughout their lives. Native cultures also believe that a good and easy nights sleep will allow the dreamer to remember messages and visions from the higher spirit.


 This Dreamcatcher also represents a medicine wheel with every component having meaning- according to Native American lore:

The web represents, the spider, the brother of life- infinitely repairing the eternal web of our existence. The spider weaves our life’s dreams and energy in the universal patchwork when the dreamer falls asleep.


The ring represents the Earth mother and the humble walk we tread upon her.

Covered in multi-colored textiles, the dreamcatcher represents the mind, body, spirit aspects of our personality, moods and emotions.

It is believed that we are related to all things, and that all things are part of us. The Dreamcatcher and medicine wheel are representative of such a sacred belief.

The ring and the web woven together represent love, honesty and purity.

All of the combined elements on the dreamcatcher represent aspects of earth, fire, water and ether- all things we need to live. Once the dreamcatcher is hung freely, it represents the element of air.

Also reflected are the qualities of love-  to “be” love and to love. To take risks, leave the nest and fly out on one’s own, it instills the ability to live and thrive beyond ones shadows.

Crystals attached to the dreamcatcher represent the element of earth. Imbuing it with the qualities, energies and magic of those specific stones. (Use stones that are conducive to the activation of the dreamwork- see recommended crystals in the tabbed section below).


The following resources were used in the compilation of this article:
“The Book of Stones” by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian (book)
The Legend of Dreamcatchers (website)
-Get more inspiration & ideas for your dreamcatcher from our Dreamcatcher Pin Board.

The best crystals for a peaceful and fulfilling dream state are listed below and have been compiled from “The Book of Stones” by Robert Simmons.

    • Moonstone – (keywords:mysteries, self-discovery, intuition, in-sight,dreams,the goddess) Moonstone is the talisman for the inward journey and meditation-taking one deep into oneself. What is revealed in that state are missing pieces or links to the puzzle. This stone connects one to the power of the moon. It is the stone of the High Priestess.
    • Rainbow Moonstone- These stones act as a prism that diffuses energy throughout the aura. It is a positive protection stone. It is particularly good for psychic protection and maintaining clarity of energy. These stones emenate great vitality, life force and exuberant joy. Rainbow moonstones offer the gifts of inner peace and harmony,emotional balance and strength, purification and transformation of negativity.These are like regular moonstones but with an extra dose. They also facilitate the opening of the rainbow light body.
    • Herkimer Quartz Diamond -(keywords: dreams,visions,purification) These crystals are manifestations of pure solidified spiritual light. They broadcast their own energies and magnify the frequencies of other stones. They emanate a high harmonious light. Their is a state of bliss and rapture in the vibration of a herkimer diamond. Dream work with Herkimer’s can be a wonderful experience.
    • Clear Quartz Crystal (keywords: programmability,amplification of ones intention,clearing) This is by far one of the most versatile and multi dimensional stones in the mineral realm.   Clear quartz can be ‘programmed’ by ones focused intention to assist in achieving virtually any any goal in inner or outer life. This is a stone of light and can be used for any metaphysical purpose.
    • Angelite– (keywords: angelic communication, gentle self-expression,serenity) The stones themselves emanate benevolence and serenity. Angelite is an excellent stone for dreamwork and can help one to remain lucid in the dream state and  to assist in remember the guidance received in dreams. It can also enhance the spiritual qualities of ones dreams. It helps with the exploration into the Akashic Records It can help in one understanding  and interpreting the symbolic content of  dreams and inner visions.
    • Smokey Quartz– (keywords: grounding,transmutation of ones negative energies,manifestation of ones dreams and inspirations) Smokey quartz offer protection from negative energies in ones environment, it cannot transmute unlimited amounts of negative energy by grounding into the earth. It is a stone for “keeping things clear”. Smokey quartz has a way of drawing the ethereal into manifestation.

May you be blessed with a beautiful and happy dream-filled life.”

-created, written & photographed by Lyrica Glory, founder of  Patron of the Arts

You can read more about Lyrica and her dreamcatchers directly on her website here, or see her available Dreamcatchers through her Etsy shop here


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