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Community Enthusiast Events at Wet Paint Professionals

Winter Thaw at Wet Paint

bcutts11Mother Nature has given us a nasty New Year’s gift of sub-zero weather.  It is over and we do hope you get out of the house and studio and come and see us at Wet Paint.  We will be heating it up more than usual this Saturday with our friend Bonnie Cutts.  Bonnie is our regional working artist for Golden Artist Colors and she can raise the temp on your artistic flow through her creativity, enthusiasm and product knowledge.  Bonnie will demonstrate Golden Artist’s Colors newest product line, High Flow Acrylics.

bethbonniedoodle
Beth’s doodle with High Flow in a paint marker (yes, that is Bonnie’s picture)

Golden looks at how artists use paint today and formulate their lines to better meet their demands.  They took a limited market product in their airbrush color and transformed it into High Flow so it can be used with airbrush, empty paint markers, technical pens, as well as your more traditional painting tools.

If you’re a seasoned Golden Artist Color enthusiast, you probably wonder what the difference is between High Flow and Fluid.  Bonnie will not just answer that question but let you test the product side by side along with its application to different acrylic grounds.

Darin, Wet Paint’s General Manager, considers Golden’ s High Flow to be one of the hot products of 2013. I just loaded an empty paint marker with some High Flow and it’s quite a bit of drawing fun.

Get those artist juices flowing again.

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Community Enthusiast News & Media Professionals

Painting the Place Between

We are having one of those truly Minnesota weeks where we transition through a wide range of seasons in short order. Just days ago I moved through three different weight coats in one afternoon. By the end of today’s lunch, I had shoveled my sidewalk twice. What was falling from the sky on my way to Wet Paint wasn’t really snow or sleet or rain or hail. If we lived in Iceland or Greenland or Sami country, we would have an exact word for it. And the meteorologists are bracing us for sub-zero temperatures by the weekend. So we figure out how to navigate through our new landscape and still get back and forth to work and get all that holiday shopping done.
Looking at snow I like to focus on the shadows. Years ago, Art Graham added Ultramarine Violet to his watercolor paint line. It seemed odd to me he would add this one color. He told me it was for painting shadows on the snow. Holly Swift’s paintings, currently at Macalester’s gallery, have these haunting violet iridescent passages which remind me of the same unexpected coloration that you don’t see in the landscape until you really look, and then you do.
By Friday we will be in our seasoned Minnesotan zone, ready to weather it all to the Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown Saint Paul to attend the premiere of “Painting the Place Between.” A documentary film by artist Kristen Lowe, it features four of the Twin Cities’ finest landscape painters, Betsy Byers, Jil Evans, Holly Swift and Andrew Wykes. From the video clip I can tell these are the stories of real people weathering their life, their art and their craft in the Minnesota landscape. They split their time between the plein air and the studio with finished works that approach the abstract but are true to “the place between.”
You can still get tickets for Friday’s premiere. Before the showing, there will be a reception with the artists. It should be a great landscape of a weekend.

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Community Enthusiast News & Media Professionals

Wet Paint loves Holly Swift’s New Show at Mac

When you’ve had too much of the seasonal  events get yourself over to see Holly Newton Swift’s exhibit at Macalester College.  It’s a 2 block walk from Wet Paint and worth every step no matter what the weather.

The show includes sketches and fully executed works both in drawing and painting.  Swift studies the landscape and its trees, branches, boulders, water and snow and thoroughly investigates her materials, charcoals and oils, with the same depth.  Her understanding of  subject and materials masterfully comes together in compositions that reinforce both.   She makes the most amazing colors zing out of a palette of greys.

This is another show that confirms Macalester has built a quality space in their newly renovated Law Warschaw Gallery, Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center.  Swift’s paintings just sing in this gallery.  It feels museum-like yet  intimate with soaring ceilings that  never seem to dwarf the art on display.  Its greatest downfall as a college gallery is their limited hours.  Check before you go.  (They will be closed this Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday but open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4. )

You can have another view of Holly Swift’s work through Kristen Lowe’s film “Painting the Place Between.”  Swift along with Betsey Byers, Jil Evans and Andrew Wykes are the four featured landscape painters in the film that will debut at the Fitzgerald Theatre in Saint Paul on December 6th.We have tickets for sale at Wet Paint for this screening.

Woodlands and Waterfalls  by Holly Newton Swift is on display until December 15th

Law Warschaw Gallery

website: macalester.edu/gallery

email: gallery@macalester.edu

phone: 651-696-6416

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Enthusiast Professionals Students

Why Wet Paint Stocks Aerosols and Paint Markers

8E8C1934smSometimes when I look around Wet Paint I am surprised at what products have emerged over the past decade as serious artists’ materials.  I never expected to be selling aerosols.  I never imagined professionals choosing paint markers over a tube of paint.  And like earlier movements in contemporary art, artists’ influences today come from outside the traditional educational venues and with them come different materials.  And in our quick response culture, art materials manufacturers have been able to take commercial technology and marry with fine art material attributes.  So we have spray paint and paint markers that have artist palettes of colors.  They have made the colors more light fast and permanent.  They have altered viscosity to move the colors faster or slower.

8E8C2931smOne thing that makes paint markers and aerosols alike is that they have built in delivery systems.  You no longer need a brush.  While I personally find brushes to be the most beautiful of all art supplies, they are that additional step between the artist and the art.  I believe this immediacy and directness is why these “new” paint mediums are so popular with painters and sculptors and printmakers and calligraphers and artists of every persuasion.

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Enthusiast Professionals

Why Wet Paint loves Gil

gilNearly 30 years ago I met Gil.  Gil was selling art supplies at a store in Berkeley.  Next time I saw Gil, he owned an art supply store in Palo Alto.  Both of us being independent art supply retailers meant we had a lot in common.  What we didn’t have in common, we have in a friendly way, argued about over the years.  Gil likes to travel and spends lots of time in Europe.  And during those trips, he has found some great art supply lines that no one was importing into the United States. So we share our retailer woes together plus Wet Paint buys Gil’s Kunst & Papier books and Fibonacci brushes.

Justin with his Kunst & Papier sketchbooks
Justin with his Kunst & Papier sketchbooks

Kunst & Papier is a German line of sketchbooks and journals.  They were designed by an artist because he couldn’t find a sketchbook to meet his own needs.  The Wet Paint staff heartily endorses this line through their own personal use of the product.  All of the sketchbooks are made with beautiful, quality paper.  They respond to a variety of media and of different artists’ touch very well.  The binderboard sketchbooks are their signature line.  With a highly flexible spine these books have a great lay flat quality. No more using the side of your palm to hold the rolling paper flat.  With plain bookboard covers, they are plain and simple in appearance which then can become the substrate for the artist to personalize.  Newbie at Wet Paint, Chris, likes the subdued appearance which you can “make your own without defacing the book.”  Both Liz and Justin rely on Kunst & Papier because their books are so well made they “wear well” and hold up to hauling them around with you.  Even K&P’s simplest soft-covered sketchbooks that have few sheets and staple binding meet the discerning eye of Virginia who applies a wide range of media to their pages.  Everyone feels they are just the most esthetically pleasing line of books, to the eye and to the touch.  They look good. They have a wide variety of sizes.  They have great paper.  They are well constructed.

Gil with a handful of Fibonacci brushes
Gil with a handful of Fibonacci brushes

A few years back Gil visited Wet Paint with the Fibonacci line of brushes he found during his travels.  The jaded Wet Paint staff, who have seen and tried just about every brush currently made, all wanted their own Fibonacci brushes.  Beautifully crafted with synthetic blended heads in a vast assortment of sizes and shapes for water media.  So what’s with another line of brushes?  Liz likes the comfortable, well balanced handles.  Verra likes the great snap of the hair. Justin likes the fact they hold their point for a very long time.  Steve likes the crispness of the lines they make. Another esthetically pleasing, well-crafted tool.

When you handle lots of art materials, you just know when you pick up the good ones.  These are them.

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Community News & Media Professionals

Why Wet Paint loves Greg Graham

Greg at the paper counter at Wet Paint
Greg at the paper counter at Wet Paint

Twenty years ago I hired this guy not just with an artist’s attitude but a New York artist’s attitude to boot. I never imagined Greg would turn into a long term employee and be so devoted and committed to Wet Paint, our employees and customers. Greg has grown into a key manager at Wet Paint, keeping the front of the house well stocked and staffed. He is passionate about art materials and loves to share his extensive product knowledge with staff and customers. I am constantly amazed to hear Greg speak of a customer and the products they use; how they use it, and where they are showing their work.

"In Progress" enamel on panel by Gregory Graham
“In Progress” enamel on panel by Gregory Graham

And now Greg’s clientele has the opportunity to view his new work at the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center’s Atrium Gallery. The show includes 60 paintings (yes, 60) ranging in size from 4”x4” to 8”x10” (yes, inches). As a true art supply junkie, they are enamel over acrylic on Ampersand panels. He is currently using the Princeton Select 3750 series of brushes.

So join Greg at the reception for his show this Friday evening, October 4, from 6-8 p.m. I know he will love to see you and talk shop.

Check out his website www.gregorygrahamart.com

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Community Professionals

Artists and Healthcare or Why Wet Paint likes Springboard for the Arts

Springboard for the Arts' Guide to Healthcare for MN artists
Springboard for the Arts’ Guide to Healthcare for MN artists

Early on I decided that Wet Paint should offer health insurance benefits to our employees.  I concluded that our artist employees did not necessarily put insurance high on their priority lists.  Recently I have been reading biographies of Abstract Expressionist  artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, Joan Mitchell and Rothko who all seemed to have total disregard for living healthy lives and anything as mundane as insurance.

As of January 1, 2014, everyone, artists included, will need to have healthcare insurance.  The Affordable Care Act has added a number of players into the world of paying for healthcare that is complicated enough to try to figure out without the Federal and State governments being directly involved.  Everyone from the evening news to insurance brokers, business associations, payroll services, and accountants want to tell you what you need to do.  Most of what they have to say is a lot of administrative goop in a language foreign to most average citizens let alone artists.

There is a bright light to help artists out.

springboardlogoSpringboard for the Arts, a non-profit organization, provides professional services and resources for artists.  They have two programs for artists to navigate health care, health insurance and the Affordable Care Act.

Firstly, they have written the most comprehensive, readable booklet on insurance and healthcare options I have ever read.  They are available online with practical information on actual services available in Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas and Wisconsin.  Here is a link to these documents http://springboardforthearts.org/health/guides-to-healthcare/.

 

Secondly, they are hosting a free Artists’ Health Fair on Saturday, October 10, at Open Book in Minneapolis.   This is a great opportunity for artists of all forms and their families to gain an understanding and make considered decisions about their insurance and healthcare.  You can RSVP for this event at http://springboardforthearts.org/health/health-fair/.

Take care of this business so you can get back to making art.

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Professionals Students This just in! New products we are excited about

Why Wet Paint Stocks Holbein Acrylics

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” Edward Hopper

This quote from painter Edward Hopper encapsulates the ongoing dilemma of describing your paintings with words. No matter what you say about your subject matter, your colors, the texture of your paint, you come up short. Talking about the paint itself is a little easier but tends to draw upon descriptors that may sound foreign to the untrained painter. There are artists who view paint as mere pigment to extend with water and get some color on their image. Then there are painters who can sense the difference in paint lines, from the way it comes out of the tube, to how it grabs onto a brush and then how it releases onto the canvas. And how colors mix varies from one manufacturer to another, how much elbow grease it takes to blend yellow and red into orange.

HAU_romance7When companies come to Wet Paint and offer a new acrylic line, we shuffle and make excuses like we don’t have the space. What it really comes down to there often isn’t that much difference from one brand to another. So along comes Holbein, a favorite manufacturer partner of Wet Paint’s with a newly formulated line of acrylics. We were very pleased to find out that they have developed a line of color that is not a “me too” replicant of the category leader. The Holbein Heavy Body Artist Acrylic has some unique properties to claim a position of their own.

Virginia trying out the new Holbein Acrylics
Virginia trying out the new Holbein Acrylics

Greg Graham, painter and Wet Paint Floor Manager, got the opportunity to play with these new acrylics. He felt the paint’s consistency is softer, even silky, under the brush, but not slippery, compared to other acrylic lines. “It reminds me of Lascaux which, unfortunately, is out of many acrylic painters’ price range.” It feels a little more like oil paint and does seem to have a longer working time. It didn’t tack up as quickly as many of the other acrylics. If you like to paint directly from the tube rather than using additives, gels and mediums, the Holbein acrylic has a great feel under the brush. Virginia McBride, another Wet Paint staffer who is more of a drawer than a painter, found the silkiness when mixing colors very enticing.

The new Holbein Acrylic
The new Holbein Acrylic

Holbein is offering a range of 113 colors in acrylics. Their color selection contains many pigments you find in their oils and watercolors. Manufactured in Japan, the Holbein palette not only contains traditional Western palettes from the Renaissance through the Impressionists to the Moderns but includes colors friendlier to an Asian esthetic. Some favorites from other mediums that are unique to Holbein are their classic mixed colors like the Compose Blue series and the Luminous colors of Violet, Rose and Opera. Like their oil paint, Holbein’s acrylics have a consistent body and sheen from one color to another.

The new Holbein Heavy Body Artist Acrylic is a painter’s paint. We are happy to add this color line to our selection at Wet Paint. This fall is a great time to try them out. They are on sale and there is a free tube of Titanium White with a purchase of 5 tubes of color.

Every day is a good day when you paint.

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Professionals Students This just in! New products we are excited about

Why Wet Paint stocks Masterpiece Canvas

Display of Masterpiece canvas in Wet Paint
Display of Masterpiece canvas in Wet Paint

I have had about 50 years personal experience with canvas as a painting support. The first 20 as a painter, the next 30 mostly as an art supply retailer. Some of the historic canvas prep techniques I learned in school aren’t taught anymore and many of the materials used aren’t readily available. There are a number of reasons for these changes. First, many painters want to spend their time creating rather than preparing. Second, many don’t have the access to tools and space for stretcher building and canvas stretching. Third, pre-made stretched canvases are now available at a much higher quality.

Wet Paint staffer, Meg Nelson, holding one of the small size canvases
Wet Paint staffer, Meg, holding one of the small 6×8″ size canvases

Since 1965, Masterpiece Artist Canvas has been improving their stretched canvases to earn their reputation for professional quality today. Artists used to build their own stretched canvases so they had control over the end results. Masterpiece has built into their everyday production the features that artists could not find in “ready-mades” 20 years ago. They offer 3 profiles of bars, all of which keep the canvas surface away from the wood so it doesn’t show through one’s paintings. All the stapling is done on the back so the edges are smooth to be painted or for ease of framing. Corners of the canvas are folded and not cut so the painting can be taken off the stretchers, rolled, shipped and easily re-stretched. They also automatically add cross braces to canvases 24” and larger to keep the wood from twisting and surface from warping. Masterpiece’s stretched canvas range includes 10 different canvas surfaces to give the artist the right ground, weight & texture for their medium and technique. And they offer 130 sizes from 4×4 to 72×96. All in all, that means that artists now have access to over 3000 different stretched canvas options.

Wet Paint staffers, Chris and Justin, holding a giant 48x72" stretched canvas
Wet Paint staffers, Chris and Justin, holding a giant 48×72″ stretched canvas

Masterpiece is also the only company I know that is obsessed enough about stretched canvas to offer artists dimensions that employ the golden ratio. The golden ratio (or, as in the case of canvas, the golden rectangle) has been used in art and architecture throughout history (DaVinci, Dali and others) to achieve what is believed to be the most pleasing proportions to the human eye. So you may want to try an 18×29 rather than an 18×24 canvas and see if it makes your painting more pleasant. Of course, now that you no longer have to spend your time stretching your own canvas, you have time to paint both an 18×29 and an 18×24 to compare the two.

I know somebody out there is tsk tsk-ing that many artists don’t prep their own surfaces, but there’s a lot to be said for pre-stretched options. Come in and we can talk about how much fun it used to be to prepare rabbit skin glue and apply white lead with a painting knife. Come in and I will to tell you about the 6 canvases I stretched during a tornado (they always had a life of their own.) The bottom line is, most artists stretched their own canvases because it use to be the only way to get the size and surface that they needed. We have a lot more options these days thanks to Masterpiece Canvas and that gives us lots more time to just be painting.  Until July 3rd, all Masterpiece Canvases are 50% off MSRP!

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Professionals Students This just in! New products we are excited about

The Story of the Schmincke Half-Pan Set

Schmincke set color comparison: old set colors on left, new set colors on right
Schmincke set color comparison: old set colors on left, new set colors on right

Editor’s note: Since 2013 we’ve done a series of custom sets and the current can be found here.

If you have shopped at Wet Paint in Saint Paul during the past 25 years, you know Darin Rinne, our General Manager.  And you know Darin loves to tell a story.  And I’d bet he’d tell you his favorite story is about the Schmincke Half-pan Watercolor Set.  About 10 years ago, the U.S.  importer of Schmincke color offered Wet Paint a deal on their 12 color half-pan set.  We could give our customers a professional grade watercolor in a metal box at a comparable price to the competitor’s student grade in plastic.  The only hitch, we had to purchase 100 sets.  At the time, it was a big investment for Wet Paint, but we went for it anyway.  The set was such a success; we ordered the set 3 times.  Each time, the tin was a slightly different model. The fourth time around, no more were available.

The story continues and now Schmincke has a new importer in the U.S. but no watercolor set we felt met the criteria for our customers. Marcus from Schmincke in Germany came to visit us in 2011 and asked how he could improve their relationship with Wet Paint.     Darin and Greg Graham, our Floor Manager, worked with Marcus to put together a selection of warm and cool colors of their choosing which would be affordable and still a workable palette.  They found an appropriate tin with space to fit another 6 colors for expansion.  We worked with other independent art supply stores to meet the manufacturer’s custom run commitment. The set was so well received by our customers, that we needed to order more custom runs.  And we worked again with Marcus to develop a Schmincke Gouache set to complement the watercolors with a palette selected by our friend Roz Stendahl.

As we started seeing the end of our inventory, Schmincke informed us our tin was no longer available. Being such a successful program, Marcus and Darin worked up a 2013 edition which just got shipped to Wet Paint last week.

Liz Carlson holding the 2013 set and her color chart
Liz Carlson holding the 2013 set and her color chart

Liz Carlson, urban sketcher and Wet Paint sales associate, got into the act by creating a new palette of colors for the new edition.  The colors in the 2013 set are more transparent than the original selection.  It is a stand-alone palette of colors but has no duplication from the original selection.  The new tin is a longer box that has enough room to hold a standard length brush (or a pen) or 2 travel brushes.  And it comes with 12 empty half-pans.  So a painter could include the colors from their studio palette, include the colors from the original Schmincke Half-Pan Set or expand their palette in a completely unique way.

The new 2013 Schmincke Half-pan Watercolor Set!
The new 2013 Schmincke Half-pan Watercolor Set!

Kate Katzer, Wet Paint’s framer and web sales associate, is very excited, almost giddy in fact, about the new Schmincke Half-Pan Set’s arrival.  She has a number of web customers disappointed they missed the original set.  She likes the fact that the palette of colors is chosen by a working artist rather than a marketing department.  Liz Carlson’s color selection is appropriate for the plein air painter, the sketcher, landscape painter or portrait artist.  The colors are for warm weather, vibrant and fresh. There is a story behind each color selection.  For example, Liz picked Mountain Blue because “it isn’t as bossy as Ultramarine.”  She likes Cobalt Turquoise and Transparent Orange because they mix well to make great middle tones.

Wet Paint is pleased to offer our customers the 2013 edition of the Schmincke Half-Pan Watercolor Set.  Schmincke makes the best half-pan watercolors on the market.  We have made a unique color selection you won’t find anywhere else.   This set is priced ridiculously well.  And the box wraps it all up as a beautiful object in itself.  This is a watercolor set for those with great taste and an understanding of value & quality.  We have worked hard to bring you a unique, professional grade product at a very affordable price.  Visit our website to purchase and see the entire list of colors in this set!