Frequently Asked Questions
(More information can be found 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 studio work I use 1/2-inch Trupan Ultralight MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). These panels are 1/3 the weight of commercial MDF, never warp and require no cradling. I also paint on mounted linen panels which I make myself. For small outdoor studies I use 1/4-inch primed 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 Premium 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 primer 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 three 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 three 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 neutral gray matte board whose value is similar to an under-painting grisaille. Rollover the inset image above to see it.
What colors comprise your working oil palette?
Arranged along top edge of my palette from left to right are: Cad Yellow Lemon (Rembrandt); Cad Yellow Medium (Rembrandt); Cad 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); Manganese Blue (Holbien); Ultramarine Blue Deep (Holbien); Indigo (Williamsburg); Warm Grey (Sennelier); Cool Grey (Sennelier); Titanium Zinc White (Gamblin).
What colors comprise your working watercolor palette?
I use a Quiller Palette. Arranged from the top clockwise are: Gamboge (Rowney); Olive Green (W&N); Perylene Green (W&N); Viridian (Rowney); Cerulean Blue (Sennelier); Winsor Blue Green Shade (W&N); Ultramarine Blue (M. Graham); Perylene Maroon (Daniel Smith); Brown Madder (Holbein); Permanent Rose (W&N); Scarlet Lake (W&N); 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 can’t imagine oil painting without this magical medium and its handling properties and set up time, especially on mounted linen. The only downside is that it’s very smelly. I have adequate ventilation so I can deal with it. I also keep three large pickle jars of Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS) handy. One for constant dipping into — especially for the underpainting — one for cleaning, and one for pouring off OMS too contaminated to reuse anymore. When the completed painting is fully dry I varnish it with one coat of Old Masters Mastic Varnish.
What brushes do you use?
My oil brushes are Winsor & Newton Monarch and/or Princeton Art & Brush Co.filberts and some flats, sizes 0 through 12. Most paintinge are completed with only a No. 0, 2 and 4 Filbert. I blend with old discontinued Langnickel Series 408 LT Regis brushes, sizes 2 and 4.
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 daylight floods provide additional overhead lighting. Opposite my easel and drafting table is a large glass sliding patio-style door that provides east/south-east light most of the day.