Frequently Asked Questions
(Detailed information can be found on my blog at baldassinifineart.blogspot.com)
Where do you paint?
My home studio is a converted dry basement with about 2/3 of the space taken up by my work areas and studio storage. The ceiling height is only 8 feet so paintings rarely exceed 24 inches in height.
What surface do you paint on?
I prefer to paint on a rigid surface. For large studio work I use 1/2-inch MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). These panels are noticeably heavier than a stretched linen canvas of similar dimensions but they never warp and require no cradling. Sometimes I mount linen on panels and paint on that. For smaller or plein air pieces I use 1/4-inch MDF panels.
What do you use to prime your panels?
On panels only, I sand one side using 120-grit sandpaper, and apply two coats of Behr Premium Plus Ultra Pure white 100% Acrylic Latex house paint to that side and the edges, sanding in-between coats. Since the 1/2-inch panels don’t warp there there is no need to apply to the back. I tint the Latex paint with a touch of acrylic Raw Sienna so I can see the white oil ground that goes on top of it. When dry to the touch I apply two coats of Williamsburg Oil Painting Ground thinned with a bit of solvent to make it easier to apply. Then I bake the panels out in full sun which makes them dry to the touch in a couple of days instead of a week or more indoors. On the mounted linen panels I just apply two coats of Williamsburg Oil Painting Ground.
What do you use for an easel and palette?
My easel is an antique French-made upright floor design of unknown manufacture. It is large and heavy and features a machined steel hand-crank mechanism for effortlessly raising and lowering the transom that holds the canvas or panel. Under the transom is a built-in paint box on top of which I have added a larger modified transom that measures 12 x 36 inches. On top of that is a piece of 1/4-inch beveled-edge plate glass which serves as my palette. In between the transom and glass is a piece of photo-gray or neutral matte board whose value is similar to an under-painting grisaille. Rollover the thumbnail image at left to see it.
What colors comprise your working oil palette?
Arranged along top edge of my palette from left to right they are: Cadmium Yellow Lemon (Rembrandt); Cadmium Yellow Medium (Rembrandt); Cadmium Yellow Deep (Holbien); Raw Sienna (Williamsburg); Chinese Orange (Sennelier); Fanchon (Napthol) Red (Williamsburg); Quinacridone Magenta (Sennelier); Perylene Crimson (Williamsburg); Burnt Sienna Deep (Blockx); Viridian (Williamsburg); Ultramarine Blue Deep (Holbien); Indigo (Williamsburg); Warm Grey (Sennelier); Titanium Zinc White (Gamblin).
What colors comprise your working watercolor palette?
I use a Quiller Palette. Arranged from the top clockwise they are: Gamboge (Rowney); Olive Green (Winsor & Newton); Perylene Green (Winsor & Newton); Viridian (Rowney); Cerulean Blue (Sennelier); Winsor Blue Green Shade (Winsor & Newton); Ultramarine Blue (M. Graham); Perylene Maroon (Daniel Smith); Brown Madder (Holbein); Permanent Rose (Winsor & Newton); Scarlet Lake (Winsor & Newton); Burnt Sienna (Holbein); Raw Sienna Deep (Da Vinci) .
Do you use a medium in your oil painting?
I use Maroger Painting Medium from Old Masters, Flemish formulation. I also keep three large pickle jars of Odorless Turpenoid handy. One for dipping into — especially for the underpainting — one for cleaning, and one for pouring off OMS too contaminated to reuse anymore.
What brushes do you use?
My oil brushes are Winsor & Newton Monarch flats and filberts, sizes 0 through 12. I’ve recently tried some Princeton Art & Brush Co. short filberts and they’re quite nice, and use their No. 0 filbert like a script liner for detailing. For scrubbing in larger areas of background color I use old large discontinued Langnickel Series 404 filberts that can really take a beating.
What lighting is in your studio?
Primary painting lighting is is provided by two 48-inch overhead industrial light fixtures each fitted with two 8-Tru-Lite Full Spectrum (formerly Vita-Lite) fluorescent light tubes. These lights provide balanced 5700K, 2200 lumen light with a very high 92 CRI (color rendering index). 65-watt Phillips Daylight floods provide additional overhead lighting. Also, opposite my easel and drafting table is a large glass sliding patio-style door that provides ample east/south-east light most of the day.
Why do you paint tractors?
I express in paint what I am familiar with and what I can’t really express in words. In Boston, Mass. where I lived and worked from 1978 - 2005 I had coffee every morning at The Travis Restuarant, the only authentically European café in Back Bay. There I chatted, sketched, painted and/or shot a great many reference photographs. Those, along with similar reference from travels to European café venues, became the reference material for my Café watercolor series of paintings. Now I live in rural Connecticut where there are a great many farms and lots of tractors locally or just a short drive away, so I paint them instead. And, I really like tractors. The tractor is also a metaphor for hard work, and both physical and spiritual cultivation.
PAUL BALDASSINI FINE ART