Tis a poor craftswoman who blames her tools…

April 7th, 2011


Bamboo brush carriers are the best.





Anything you can do
needs to be done,
so pick up the tool of your choice
and get started.

Ben Linder

Perhaps it’s frivolous to write a quote about art tools while quoting Ben Linder, but I know that he would undoubtedly have approved of choosing the appropriate tools to get the job done, and also in protecting them.

Having lived for a time, as he did, in the Nicaraguan rain forest I know how very important it is to protect the tools you have since they’re impossible to replace when you’re several days worth of muddy slog away from an art supply store.

And after many years of traveling I’ve finally found my own best traveling studio supplies, whether back packing or riding a horse, plane, dugout canoe or train. I am mostly a studio painter, but I connect more deeply with the places in which I am traveling when I work on plein air (outdoor) paintings. And seeing the world feeds my heart and soul.

I try to keep my traveling studio as simple as possible. I spoke about paints in my last post. Now: brushes. I’m darned picky about my watercolor brushes. I do invest in good ones. And sadly, I ruined several before I discovered this carrier made from handy-dandy, durable bamboo. I’ve made brush carriers out of paper towel rolls, plastic tubing, folded cardboard and more, but finally I was sent a free bamboo brush carrier by ASW express after spending more or less a gajillion dollars on other art supplies. It’s worth it’s weight in cobalt blue. I haven’t ruined a brush since I began using it. They’re very reasonably priced if you want to buy one, but a clever person could obviously sew one from a bamboo place mat.

The brushes that I find most durable, fat bellied and springy are the platinum Series 24 squirrel hair/synthetics by Daniel Smith. They have a great point, hold a lot of wash and are fairly inexpensive.

Another great compact and safe alternative for brushes are the various traveling brushes. My first were from Daniel Smith and they are still excellent. The brush handle unscrews, revealing a handy little hiding place for the fibers. They’re quite nice. I’ve had them for years. But for that sort of brush I now prefer this little Isabey. (see pictured) It’s a squirrel mop with some good energy in the fibers, a nice fat belly that holds a lot of wash, and a wonderfully fine point. If you’re doing small work it is all you need.

Sometimes I find it adequate to paint on nifty little postcard sized blocks. I’ve use 140 lb cold press paper in a variety of brands: Arches is my favorite, but Lanquarelle makes a very nice one as well. When working in this mini size most

Painting at Machu Picchu in 2006 with the Artists Journey group I organized.

of the brands are adequate. I just found out that Arches is making a cold press block that’s  5.9″ x 11.8″ Quite exciting! You can order them for the exact same price from either Dick Blick or ASW. There are probably other places you can get them, but those are two of my favorites on-line supply sources.

Want to go to Machu Picchu with me? I took a great group of artists in 2006 and another group in 2010. I’m not going this summer, but perhaps next. C’mon down!



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