Pastels – Colour in A Stick

What’s in those colourful pastels?

A pastel stick consists of powdered pigment ground into water. This formula is held together by a gum binder and pressed into sticks. Because of their powdery nature, pastels need to be applied to a rough surface that will hold the pigment, such as special types of drawing paper. When applied to a shiny surface the pigment will basically slide off. Soft pastels are the most widely used as they have a higher proportion of pigment, as opposed to hard pastel sticks that contain more binder and less pigment.

Pacy Pastels

One of the other benefits of using pastels is they’re much quicker to apply than paint, making them highly suitable for capturing fleeting light in landscapes. If you’re doing a portrait, the sitter will also appreciate the fact they don’t have to pose for an extended length of time!

Pastels in history

The use of pastels is not a modern trend. While we tend to think of paint as the historic medium of choice, many of our greatest artists also used pastels to striking effect including Leonardo, Renoir, Degas and Whistler. Degas used pastels to create his celebrated Ballerina series while Leonardo was one of the first artists to mention the use of pastels in his work, including his commissioned portrait of the Duchess of Mantina in the late 15th century.

Selecting perfect pastels

When it’s time for you to create your own pastel masterpiece, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ comes into play. A cheaper set of pastels will save you money but you will lose out on colour – the more you pay, the greater the concentration of pigment, and colour, you get. As colour is a pastel’s outstanding feature, it’s worth paying a little more. Ask your art supplier for a set that has an equal representation of light, mids and dark colours. This will allow you to undertake a broad range of work: once you develop your style or settle on a preferred topic, you can choose individual colours to suit.

Handy hints for using pastels

Pastels may be beautiful but they are dusty – remember, you’re working with powdered pigment. Don’t blow away excess dust as chances are you’ll end up inhaling a good deal of it! Take your work outside and gently tap off the dust. To keep your pastels in top condition, store them in rice. Seriously! And when you’re choosing a surface, always tell your art supplier you’re working with pastels. They’ll help you find the papers and surfaces that will best hold the pigment for many years to come.

Painting with Watercolours

Watercolours: Just add water

The pigments used in watercolour look thick and solid when sold in a tube or pan but, of course, the addition of water thins the substance and transforms it into a transparent medium. This transparency allows light to reflect off the painted surface and gives it a luminous quality that is the hallmark of great watercolour paintings. On a more practical level, watercolour brushes can be easily washed with water so harsh chemicals can be avoided.

Watercolours are affordable

Watercolours are great for beginners thanks to their affordability. A basic paint set, brushes and papers are relatively inexpensive compared to oil paints for example. This is particularly beneficial early in an artist’s career when trial and error is part and parcel of the learning curve. Thanks to their affordability, watercolours take much of the pain out of those inevitable errors.

Watercolours and white space

To paint a watercolour in the traditional style means you paint without white paint. The white look on your artwork is achieved by leaving space on the paper and covering with a very pale wash to give the effect of natural light. This must be factored in before you start painting and should be top of mind throughout your painting session. Modern watercolour sets do contain white paints but if you’re a stickler for tradition, you may feel white paint is a shortcut to creating a true watercolour.

A simple hint for mixing watercolours

Don’t be too clever when mixing watercolours. Always mix a maximum of two colours at a time. Once you achieve the desired result, add another colour. Mixing too many colours at once and hoping to achieve the right hue is a big gamble and, almost inevitably, an even bigger waste of paint.

Choosing the right paper for watercolours

Watercolour paper is not created equal. Different manufacturers create different shades, including many shades of white! Depending on the subject you’re trying to paint, it pays to take the time to compare the different shades especially if you’re painting in the traditional ‘white space’ method. The thickness of the paper might dictate how much paint you apply, and again there are many different thicknesses (weights) to choose from. Finally, if you want your painting to be handed down through generations, choose acid-free paper as this will age without too much yellowing.

Buying brushes for your watercolours

As with most art supplies, there is a huge range of brushes you can choose from. As a general rule, natural hair brushes are best, even if they cost a little more than synthetic brushes. The main advantages of natural hair brushes are their ability to hold more paint and they retain their shape much better than artificial fibres. As with anything to do with art supplies, false economy is a major factor when choosing watercolour brushes. The more you invest now, the longer your brushes will last.

Acrylic Paint – The Versatile Paint

The make-up of acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is made of pigments suspended in a water based emulsion. This base allows acrylic paint to be diluted with water, which can create a wash similar to watercolours. However once the paint dries it becomes resistant to water. Acrylic paint has only been widely available since the 1950s but in this relatively short space of time it has been embraced for its durability and ability to be used on many different surfaces.

Fast-drying acrylic paint

One of the great benefits of using acrylic paint is its drying capabilities. Precious time is saved in the painting process, which is particularly beneficial for commercial artists. Layers can be added almost immediately as opposed to oil paints, which can take days to dry. And unlike watercolours, the colour of acrylic paint stays virtually unchanged from the wet to dry state. Being a fast-drying paint does have one drawback however – it is difficult to blend when a coat dries within minutes. To overcome this, extenders and retarders are now available to prolong the drying process and allow blending to take place.

Acrylic paint: choose your surface

Because of its adhesive nature, using acrylic paint gives you a great degree of flexibility when it comes to choosing a surface. No other paint can be used on as many surfaces – choose from paper, canvas, plaster, board, clay and cloth! Chances are the surface you choose will be highly suitable for acrylic paint. Different surfaces require different brushes to get the best results – a good art supply outlet will recommend the right brush once they know the surface you’re intending to use.

Long lasting acrylic paint

Its water resistant quality is one of the reasons acrylic paint is so durable. Acrylic paint has only been commercially available for around 60 years but no cracking or yellowing has been evident in that time. This explains why acrylic artworks retain a certain freshness and vibrancy – the works of Andy Warhol are striking examples of this.

Mix and match with acrylic paint

If you’re in the mood to experiment with different media, acrylic paint provides the ideal base. You can add texture and a certain X factor to your art by mixing acrylic paint with all sorts of things. Sand and pasta are just two of the additions that artists have thrown into the mix! And when the acrylic has dried you can put something on top like ink or pastels.

Oil Paint – The Good Oil

What is oil paint?

Without getting too technical, oil paint is made from pigment ground into a drying oil. The most popular forms of oil used in the manufacturing process are safflower and linseed, which have been used for generations. Because of its properties, oil paint is slow drying meaning an artist can work on a painting over an extended period of time, just one of the many benefits associated with oil paint. Modern advances have seen water soluble oil paints become widely available which can be thinned and cleaned with water instead of potentially toxic chemicals.

Oil paint and pigment

Pigment is what gives an oil paint its colour. Today, many pigments are synthetic but centuries ago painters relied on Mother Nature. Oxides such as zinc, titanium, and yellow to red cadmium were widely used as were clay earth pigments such as ochre, umber and sienna. As a matter of fact, our earliest artists were big fans of sienna – it was often used in cave paintings.

Choosing the right oil paint

When you begin your search for the right oil paint you’ll probably be faced with two main choices – student grade and artist grade. Your budget and artistic aspirations will dictate your final choice, with student grade containing less pigment and therefore less colour and richness than artist grade. If you’re a beginner, student grade is a relatively inexpensive way to paint with oil. The more you paint, and the better you get, you’ll probably look to invest in the more expensive but superior artist grade.

Good oil paint needs good brushes

It’s simply a waste of money to invest in good oil paint only to use the wrong brush to apply it. There are many brushes that are good for oil painting but as a rule of thumb, every brush collection should contain china bristle brushes made from pig hair as they are strong and durable enough to apply heavy paint to the canvas and clean easily. Sable brushes, while expensive, are also ideal for oil painting, being particularly good for blending and painting more subtle lines. While it may be tempting to choose cheap brushes, this is false economy as they need to be replaced more frequently than more expensive but better quality brushes.

Oil paint storage

There are many differing opinions on the best way to store oil paint once you’ve finished painting for the day. Some suggest using a glass palette and leaving it under water once your painting session is complete. Others use old film cartridge containers – great for their airtight qualities but a little difficult to find in the digital era! Plastic pill holders are also useful. Opinions certainly differ – but the best source for storage tips is usually the manufacturer. They’re the experts after all! Check the paint tubes, or the manufacturer’s website for instructions.

Visit a Haberdashery for Supplies

If sewing, dressmaking or hat making are your hobbies, chances are that you’ve done business with a haberdasher, whether you know it or not. If you enjoy making clothing, purses, hats, shoes or other accessories, you won’t get far without the items they provide. In fact, if those are your hobbies, you may be a haberdasher yourself and not yet be aware of the fact! But don’t worry. It’s an essential trade for all makers, adjustors, decorators and designers of clothing, no matter how fancy or how plain. In the UK, a haberdashery is a men’s’ clothing store, but elsewhere in the world, it refers to a provider of buttons, ribbons, zippers, buckles, snaps, needles, pins, measuring tapes, scissors, patches, elastics… well, you get the picture. In short, it’s a clothing crafter’s word for “miscellaneous”.

Nobody is quite sure where the word “haberdashery” comes from (though nearly everybody agrees that it’s rather fun to say). It appears in Chaucer’s famous “Canterbury Tales”, referring to a peddler who sold small, necessary items such as needles and buttons. This is about as civilized an origin as a word could have, but that’s not the only place it might have come from. Some people think that it could have come from the Anglo-Norman word “hapertas”, which meant “small wares”. Still others claim that it comes from the ancient Norse word “haprtask”, which meant “a peddler’s goods”. That means that even the Viking hordes couldn’t get by without haberdashers! Perhaps ancient Viking haberdashers carried spare helmet horns in addition to their other wares?


These days, you’re more likely to find lighter and less fearsome items at a haberdashery. It’s where you’d go to find notions for sewing… notions in the sense of “small items necessary for clothes-making”, though a haberdashery may also provide an avid crafter with “notions” of what their next project ought to be! Ask anyone who loves to sew and they’ll tell you that finding a set of really neat buttons or a spool of beautiful ribbon can be the inspiration for a garment designed to show off that absolutely perfect bit of trim. Unwary needlecraft enthusiasts may find themselves buying a great deal more than they intended when they wander into such a place!

And yet, despite the potential hazards associated with inspiration overload, a haberdashery isn’t a place you can avoid (and yes, haberdasheries can be websites as well, proving that the Internet really does have everything these days). They’re where you buy the tools of your trade. You can’t sew without needles, thread and scissors. You can get by without a pincushion, but why on earth would you want to? Actually, scratch that. Anyone who has had to cross a floor where pins have been spilled will argue that a pincushion is definitely not something you can do without. A haberdashery is also where you go to find the tools you need to take care of every dressmaker’s best friend: a sewing machine.

The other form of haberdashery, the clothing accessory store, is another friend to clothing makers the world over. Haberdasheries can sell scarves, hats, gloves, tie-tacks and other items that can complement a well-made garment. Some crafters are quite brilliant at making dresses, coats, shirts, and pants but prefer to leave the high-expertise work of making gloves to people who devote their craft to such things. Some people love nothing more than a perfect hat to complement a newly-made outfit, but don’t have the materials to create one. So they’ll visit a haberdasher’s shop to find those little details that take an outfit up that extra notch straight into perfection.

So you see, whether you’re a dressmaker, a hatter or just a fan of needlework in all its many forms, you’re going to visit a haberdashery at some point in your career. In fact, you may find that it’s your favorite place in the world to visit for everything from bare basics to fancy frills. Even if you’re just shopping for inspiration, the haberdasher’s shop is very likely to have exactly what you need. Here’s a hint, though. If you really want to make a Viking helmet, you’re better off going to a leatherworker’s supply shop for the horns.

Where Can I find Affordable Sewing Supplies to Save Money?

If you love to express yourself creatively, and also enjoy sewing, then it is vital that you have the necessary sewing supplies at your disposal, so you can get started as soon as inspirations strikes. While some consider buying sewing supplies an additional expense, it is not at all. When you are able to sew, you can save a lot of money because you are not making those purchases in retail. Clothing, furniture covers, blankets, and more can be designed and stitched by your hand. Imagine the savings!

Damaged clothing and other fabrics can be mended with ease, which is extremely more economical than spending a lot of money on replacements. You can use your fingers to make money, save money, and have a fashionable wardrobe that will get compliments left and right. You will pay a fraction of what you would pay retail, and will even save money and time from not having to travel to your local department stores and local mall to get your clothing and fabric purchases. Time spent perusing catalogs, online pages, and aisles in the stores to find that perfect gift will become a thing of the past when you use your sewing supplies and skills to make crafty, useful, and creative items to give family, co-workers, and friends for all your holiday and gift giving occasions.

SuppliesWhen purchasing your sewing supplies, you want to find quality and long lasting items to ensure the longevity of your creation. However, you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to get them. There are several ways that you can save money on sewing supplies. For instance, do you purchase your fabric at discount prices? A vast group of people think when they see fabric in a discount clearance bin in the store, or marked down on a website that there must be something wrong with the fabric itself. No one wants to spend good money on fabric that has imperfections or damage to it. However, this is mostly a misconception. When fabric is sold at lower prices, it is usually due to either needing more space to accommodate new stock, or the pattern/fabric is not very popular.

When you have the opportunity to buy great patterns, prints, or solids at rock bottom prices, be sure to get all you can. Paying 50% – 75% less for the fabrics that you love to work with can give you a hefty savings and a wonderful deal. If you find a fabric that you truly love, you can wait for it to go on sale or you can implement a lesser priced fabric for 80% or so of the project and then use the more expensive fabric as trim and accents. This ensures that you are still able to create a wonderful masterpiece without paying a fortune for the fabric. Going online to find discounted sewing supplies is a great way to find great fabrics that you are in love with, and you can do it without having to leave your home or office.

Buying in bulk online can be a great way to stock up on your sewing supplies, but you also want to avoid ending up with a lot of fabric that you are ‘stuck with.’ However, if you do find that you have a lot of fabric or other supplies that are going unused, the network of sewers should be utilized. What is the network of sewers? Well, your network is everyone you know that either sews, crafts, or does something in the sewing realm. When sewers that are networked utilize each other’s resources, they find that they can make a lot more projects and jobs successful because of the wide and diverse selection of supplies and fabrics they can swap.

If you know of someone or a shop that is giving up the sewing game for one reason or another, then you can ask them what they are getting rid of that you can use. You may end up receiving a lot of things for free or at cost, which can save you hundreds of dollars. If you are interested in getting basic sewing supplies, or you just need to stock up on quality supplies for an affordable cost, check out the extensive selection of sewing supplies that are available online today.

Why Do We Need Websites for Artists

How old is art? Art, in its many forms, has been around since the dawn of time.  From cave drawings to elaborate computer generated “paintings”, as long as there has been life, there has been art.  Why, then, do we need websites for artists to promote something that is already a part of our daily culture?  Why do we need a place to promote something that always has been and always will be?

To answer those questions about websites for artists, we need to go back in time. Before the Internet (if you can imagine such a time), before space travel, before airplanes, and before you could just go to your local store when you wanted a new shirt or a chocolate bar.  Go back to when dinner meant you chased or grew your food, designer clothing was made by hand because there was no other choice (animal prints were all the rage) and artist’s tools consisted of charcoal, and something sharp for etching.  Here we find some of our earliest art in the form of cave drawings.  None of us were around at that time so we cannot say for sure, but it is pretty reasonable to assume those living in that time period toured the neighborhood caves to check out the different styles of cave art.  (Tuk-Tuk’s pre-Saber tooth tiger attack art was far more enjoyable than what critics determined to be his angry, one armed phase).  Yet, despite the distractions of getting or being dinner, inventing the wheel, hunting and gathering and making fire, there was art.  The drive to beautify our world was imprinted our DNA as was the desire to share it with those around us.

images1Fast forward a few centuries and you have the Impressionists, many of whom were old or dead before their unique style of art was fully appreciated.  Back in the time of Monet and Renior, people simply could not fathom a sky being any color other than blue or a flower being a breezy spot on a canvas rather than an intricate, petal-by-petal rendering.  Nevertheless, these artists kept putting their work out there for the world to see despite being ridiculed and scorned.  Imagine what websites for artists would have done for those fine painters.  Even if the locals did not enjoy their work, it would have been Facebooked, Tweeted, Pintersted, Tumbled, blogged about, You Tubed and most importantly of all – viewed by such a diverse range of people, that somebody, somewhere would have appreciated their art and turned them into the Justin Beiber of the day.  (Talent + You Tube = Success.)

We could go year by year, century by century highlighting the struggles and triumphs of each great artist of their respective time periods, but you will see the same theme repeated over and over again.  Art was created, people viewed it.  No matter what is going on, from hunting with spears to reading a Kindle on a bullet train, art shows up in one form or another, is enjoyed, critiqued, and viewed.  It has always been and will always be a vital part of our culture and society; and that is where websites for artists come in.

Websites for artists are places where artists in any medium can post their work.  This is of vital importance to an artist because there are hundreds – if not millions – of very talented artists.  These artist lack one thing that Warhol, Michelangelo, Monet and even Tuk-Tuk had in common: recognition.  What makes one artist better than the other (ok, besides talent)?  The one that people actually know gets the glory.  The one that people have never heard of gets Kraft dinner.

Websites for artists allow struggling artists to preset their gifts to the world in a medium that allows for millions of viewers 24/7.  Websites for artists gets them noticed, appreciated, and gives them a place to point to when they boldly walk into (sneak into?) that party where the talent scout is the guest of honor so when they have got his or her attention (dressing up as a waiter, causing a diversion by bringing their supermodel girlfriend in the plunging red dress, etc) they can slip that scout a note with their website on it and perhaps become the next big thing.

We always have and will always have art.  We always have and will always have artists.  How fortunate in this digital age that artists can have websites for artists so they can share, promote, and show their work on a global stage.  Goodbye selling and busking in the art district.  Hello great big world.

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