Thompson, Tracie – Draw and Paint from Photos

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Draw and Paint from Photos with Tracie Thompson

OILS

Some students will already have all or part of the supplies they need. If you’d like to experiment with mixing media, you may bring pens, ink, colored pencils, pastels, etc. 

Oil Paints (see separate list for acrylic painting materials) If you don’t already have oil paints, I recommend getting a “professional” grade (Grumbacher Pre-Tested, Gamblin, Winsor-Newton, Rembrandt — the major brands are all good quality) or a better-quality “student” grade such as Gamblin 1980 or Windsor-Newton’s Winton. 

Water-Mixable Oils are a great option if you wish to avoid working with petroleum solvents. They thin with water rather than turpentine or mineral spirits, and otherwise handle just like traditional oils. Winsor-Newton’s “Artisan”, Holbein Duo, and Grumbacher Max are the most readily available, and all are good quality, with Artisan being the most affordable. 

You’ll need 6 basic colors plus white: 

  1. Alizarin Crimson — the pigment in things labeled Alizarin Crimson varies wildly. Look for a deep, dark, transparent red like a glass of Merlot. If it looks pinkish, magenta, or bright red, pass.
  2. Cadmium Red Light or Naphthol Crimson.
  3. Ultramarine Blue Phthalocyanine Blue — you may see “red shade” and “green shade”; either will work.
  4. Cadmium Yellow Medium — not “Hue” and not “Cadmium Free” which almost always has titanium white in it. This is the one pricy color you really can’t do without. You’ll use a lot of it and I’ve never found a good substitute.
  5. Cadmium Yellow Light. A bright lemon yellow. If you buy a “hue” of this color, make sure it doesn’t contain any white. Check for “titanium dioxide” or “zinc oxide” (or the code numbers PW6 or PW4) on the tube label. Azo Yellow is a good substitute but can be hard to find.
  6. Titanium White 

Feel free to bring any colors you already own. I keep my “required” list very simple, but it’s fun to experiment with colors already in your kit and see what they will do. 

Oil painting medium, small bottle. There are endless varieties of painting mediums out there. Mediums are used to make paint flow better while maintaining gloss and providing a strong paint film when dry. If you’re working with traditional oils, you can make your own medium by mixing a little linseed oil with a little mineral spirits. 

There are also options such as alkyd mediums (Liquin, Galkyd and others) which make oils dry significantly faster. 

For water-mixable oils, I use the ready-made painting medium sold as part of the line of paints I’ve got. Don’t worry if you don’t have painting medium on day one of class, as you won’t need it until a little later. 

Brushes

You can use both synthetic and natural (hog bristle) brushes. Synthetics tend to make sharper, more controlled edges than hog bristle brushes, which give a softer and more “painterly” effect. The basic starter-kit brush shapes you’ll need are: One small (not tiny, but small, about #4 in most brands) round brush with a fine point. One larger “flat” brush, about 3/4″ to 1” One smaller flat brush, about 3/8” wide One “filbert” brush, 3/8” to 1/2″ wide 

My own favorite brushes are Silver Brush Company’s “Bristlon” line, which are synthetic and have the stiffness, springiness, and ability to get soft edges, and are more durable than most hog bristle brushes. Blick doesn’t carry them but Wet Paint in St. Paul does, or you can order online. 

One “chip brush” — the cheapie kind you get out of the bins at Home Depot for about $1.50. Choose one about 1.5” to 2” wide. These are really great for blocking in large areas fast, and for creating natural-looking textures that good brushes can’t. 

Again, if you already have brushes, bring what you’ve got! 

Other Supplies

A palette, or pad of palette paper. For classes, disposable palette paper can be really nice. Toss it when class is done and no worries about getting paint all over your car seats. 

You may notice a “Sta-Wet” Palette which has a sponge layer you soak with water to help stop the paint from drying out — it’s designed for use with acrylic paints. Some oil painters buy one and then put their glass, wood, or paper palettes in it, because it has a lid. If you want to save your palette from week to week, a covered palette is great. If that’s more hassle than you care for, disposable paper palettes are an easy choice. 

A “Clean the brushes” container, which can be anything. Glass jars with tight- sealing lids (pickle jars, salsa jars, etc.) are good if you’re cleaning with mineral spirits. For water-mixable oils you can use most anything. 

A palette knife, preferably metal. The plastic ones are okay but will make you work harder to mix colors. 

Rags! Worn-out t-shirts make excellent paint rags, or you can get rags at any hardware store. This is for cleaning brushes and also for removing wet paint from your canvas as needed. 

One Pastel Pencil I use CarbOthello or Pitt Pastel pencils. Look for a medium earth tone, similar to a clay flowerpot. This is for drawing your design onto your canvas before you paint. You’ll want an Exacto knife or pocketknife to sharpen it, as regular pencil sharpeners will break the lead. One eraser, either a kneaded eraser or white eraser. Regular #2 pencil for sketching on paper Paper, your choice; 8 x 10″ size or larger. A drawing pad will work fine. This is for making sketches and figuring out your composition before you paint One 12″ ruler. Longer is great if that’s what you have. Photos as references. Preferably photos you or someone you know took, rather than professional shots from magazines or websites. If you have a desktop printer, I recommend printing your images on plain old typing/printer paper. If you don’t have a printer, we can copy photos at the Art Center before class. Canvas or other painting surfaces! This can be a “canvas pad” which allows you some flexibility in adjusting the size of the painting; or a panel or canvas. Unless you know you want to paint BIG, I recommend 18×24” or smaller, such as 12×16, 11×14, 9×12 or 8×10. Pick a size you feel comfortable with. In our first class, I help students figure out what image they will work from, and what size and shape of canvas their subject will need. If you already know what you want to do and you need a certain shape, such as a square canvas or a long rectangle (like a 12×24 or even 12×36), go ahead and bring it. 

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Draw and Paint from Photos with Tracie Thompson

ACRYLICS

Some students will already have all or part of the supplies they need. If you’d like to experiment with mixing media, you may bring pens, ink, colored pencils, pastels, etc. 

Acrylic Paints (see separate list for oil painting materials) If you don’t already have acrylic paints, I recommend getting an artist grade or professional quality paint. I like Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics and Golden acrylics. 

AVOID Liquitex Basics, Michael’s “Artist’s Loft,” or other super cheap “student” acrylics. The colors are weak and they will cause you a lot of frustration. 

You’ll need 6 basic colors plus white: 

  1. Alizarin Crimson — the pigment in things labeled Alizarin Crimson varies wildly. Look for a deep, dark, transparent red like a glass of Merlot. If it looks pinkish, magenta, or bright red, pass.
  2. Cadmium Red Light or Naphthol Crimson.
  3. Ultramarine Blue Phthalocyanine Blue — you may see “red shade” and “green shade”; either will work.
  4. Cadmium Yellow Medium — not “Hue” and not “Cadmium Free” which almost always has titanium white in it. This is the one pricy color you really can’t do without. You’ll use a lot of it and I’ve never found a good substitute.
  5. Cadmium Yellow Light. A bright lemon yellow. If you buy a “hue” of this color, make sure it doesn’t contain any white. Check for “titanium dioxide” or “zinc oxide” on the tube label. Azo Yellow is a good substitute but can be hard to find.
  6. Titanium White 

Feel free to bring any colors you already own. I keep my “required” list very simple, but it’s fun to experiment with colors already in your kit and see what they will do. 

Clear acrylic medium, small bottle. Often sold as “Gloss medium and varnish.” 

Brushes

I use both synthetic and natural (hog bristle) brushes for acrylics. Synthetic brushes tend to make sharper, more controlled edges than hog bristle brushes, which give a softer and more “painterly” effect. The basic starter-kit brushes you’ll need are: 

One small (not tiny, but small, about #4 in most brands) round brush with a fine point. One larger “flat” brush, about 3/4″ to 1” wide One smaller flat brush, about 3/8” wide One “filbert” brush, 3/8” to 1/2″ wide 

One “chip brush” — the cheapie kind you get out of the bins at Home Depot for about $1.50. Choose one about 1.5” to 2” wide. These are really great for blocking in large areas fast, and for creating natural-looking textures that good brushes can’t quite do. 

Again, if you already have brushes, bring what you’ve got! 

Other Supplies

A palette, or pad of palette paper. For classes, disposable palette paper can be really nice. Lots of acrylic painters use a Sta- Wet Palette which has a sponge layer you soak with water to help stop the paint from drying out. If you want to take wet paint home to continue working, that’s a nice option. If you only paint in class, a pad of palette paper is ideal. 

A spray bottle for water This is so you can spritz your palette to keep the paints wet longer. 

A water container, which can be anything. Pickle jars and large yogurt tubs work great. 

A palette knife, preferably metal rather than plastic. 

Rags or paper towels — t-shirt fabric rags are nicest. You can use old t-shirts or pick up rags at any hardware store. 

One Pastel Pencil I use CarbOthello or Pitt Pastel pencils. Look for a medium earth tone, similar to a clay flowerpot. This is for drawing your design onto your canvas before you paint. You’ll want an Exacto knife or pocketknife to sharpen it, as regular pencil sharpeners will break the lead. One eraser, either a kneaded eraser or white eraser. Regular #2 pencil for sketching on paper Paper, your choice; 8 x 10″ size or larger. An economical drawing pad will work fine. This is for making sketches and figuring out your composition before you paint; or you can paint on the paper itself. If you’re going to paint on it, get one with a good, heavy paper that will handle wet media. One 12″ ruler. Longer is fine if that’s what you have. Photos as references. Preferably photos you or someone you know took, rather than professional shots from magazines or websites. If you have a desktop printer, I recommend printing your images on plain old typing/printer paper. If you don’t have a printer, we can copy photos at the Art Center before class. Canvas or other painting surfaces! This can be a “canvas pad” which allows you some flexibility in adjusting the size of the painting; or a panel or canvas. Unless you know you want to paint BIG, I recommend 18×24” or smaller, such as 12×16, 11×14, 9×12 or 8×10. In our first class, I help students figure out what image they will work from, and what size and shape of canvas their subject will need. If you already know what you want to do and you need a certain shape, such as a square canvas or a long rectangle (like a 12×24 or even 12×36), go ahead and bring it. 

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