FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where do you paint?
My home studio is a built out 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 all the large paintings are 24 inches or so 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 using the Ultralight MDF and high quality portrait grade Belgian linen. For small outdoor studies I use 1/4-inch alkyd 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 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 two coats of Williamsburg Oil Painting Ground with a cheap 3-inch disposable brush thinned with a bit of solvent to make it easier to apply. Then I go over the whole thing with a 6-inch high density foam roller, evening out the ridges from the brush marks until the surface is consistently smooth. 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 the two coats of Williamsburg Oil Painting Ground, prepared as above.
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. To the right of the easel is large glass covered work table for paint, brushes and other tools with storage space underneath for other art materials. Rollover the inset image above to see the set up.
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); Opera (Holbien); Perylene Crimson (Williamsburg); Viridian (Williamsburg); Ultramarine Blue Deep (Holbien); Indigo (Williamsburg); Warm Grey (Sennelier); Cool Grey (Sennelier); My white is Brilliant Yellow Extra Pale. When neccessary I also make use of Manganese Blue (Old Holland); Turkey Umber (Williamsburg); Burnt Sienna Deep (Blockx). I use Titanium Zinc White (Gamblin) for the purest specular highlights.
What colors comprise your working watercolor palette?
Arranged around a ceramic Quiller Palette. 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?
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?
Oil brushes are Winsor & Newton Monarch and/or Princeton Art & Brush Co.filberts and some flats, sizes 0 through 12. Most paintings 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 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. I photograph all of my work outside in bright overcast ambient light.