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The Tool for the Job

When I was little, one of my favorite places to be was in my Grandad's wood shop. The walls were lined with tools hung up in orderly rows, eau de fresh cut wood filled the air, and the wonderful old fashioned black stove kept it cozy and warm. I loved watching him work. I remember being fascinated by all the different and specialized tools. What was each one for? Why did he need so many?

Now, looking back, I have to laugh as I look over the vast number of brushes and paint tools I own. When you begin painting you have no idea how much a different brush can help or hinder your efforts. Too soft, and it won't scoop up the paint, too stiff and it will just carve through the first paint layer when you apply paint on top. Brushes in different sizes, shapes and bristles all lead to a different experience. Much of what I've learned has been through the time honored method of trial and error. Below you can see my indoor studio set up and some of my tools.

As I watched the Olympics last night, the announcers talked about how changes in the athletes' clothing and equipment have led to faster times and more daring maneuvers in skiing and snowboarding.

The world of art supplies has also experienced big changes over the years. Originally oil paint was stored in little bladders which were punctured with a tack to open them. But there wasn't any way to close them to prevent the paint from drying out. This led to painters painting in color patches to use all the color they needed at once before it dried up. The bladders also were hard to carry anywhere as they were prone to bursting.

To view a wonderful photo showing the development of the tube from bladders to tin- visit Winsor and Newton.

In 1841, John G. Rand, an American portrait painter, invented the first tin tube with a screw cap. Eventually the tube caught on and for the first time easily allowed painters to travel and paint outside. They could use any color they wished, at any time. Add in the invention of brighter and more permanent pigments and this led to making the Impressionist movement possible. The Impressionist painters embraced the new bright pigments and were able to paint outdoors on location to truly capture the sense of light.

I'm so happy to have access to modern paint tubes and the huge color range of permanent pigments we have now!

Island Garden, 16" x 16", Oil on board.

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