Going somewhere fun this summer? Or, having a productive stay-cation? Draw, paint, or mix up your media on a postcard-sized paper and mail it to Wet Paint! We’re putting together an exhibition of mail art from our friends and fans wherever they may be. As postcards arrive, we will photograph them to share on our social media pages and then display them in our storefront windows. At the end of the summer, we’ll host a public art opening here at Wet Paint for all of the contributing artists!
There’s no limit to how many postcards you can send, but in order to participate, postcards have to arrive at Wet Paint via our friendly postal carrier – – no dropping them off at the store! Don’t forget to sign your postcard(s) and let us know how to reach you. We want to make sure we’re crediting you when we post the work online and we want to be able to contact you with details about the end of summer art opening on August 29th. General Guidelines:
-We are a family-friendly shop, so please tailor your images & words to be suitable for viewers of all ages.
-We reserve the right to not display postcards that we feel are inappropriate for this activity.
-All artwork must be original.
-In order to have your postcard displayed in our end of summer exhibition, you’ll need to have it postmarked by August 21st, 2015.
-All participating mail art must arrive at Wet Paint via US Mail.
-Keep in mind that postcards will “wear” a bit depending on how far they travel- which is part of the fun of mail art!
-Contact your local post office for shipping and postage information.
-Send one or send one every week! We’ve got big windows!
Note: If you are willing, Wet Paint will be up-cycling the postcards (mounting on Strathmore cards) to then donate to Women’s Advocates. Please let us know if you DO NOT want your postcard donated. More info about the end of summer exhibition and opening on August 29th to follow.
Wet Paint Address:
Wet Paint Summer Postcard Project 1684 Grand Ave St. Paul, MN 55105
It seems like not too long ago fluorescent colors were a big no-no in the art world and art materials industry. There was no way you could make those colors be eye-popping and archival at the same time. But now, the concern over light-fastness seems to have been beat out by the popularity of hot fluorescents. Nearly every country participating in this year’s Winter Olympics donned fluorescent accented gear. In these grey days of the never ending winter, joggers along Summit Avenue light up my day not just with their athletic determination to weather the weather, but their fuchsia and chartreuse shoes, mittens and ear warmers. It seems that there is life out there and it isn’t all bleak.
With the need for some sun scorching color, let’s throw archival concerns into its own corner for the moment. Let’s embrace Golden’s High Flow Acrylics in fluorescents (duly noted “Lightfastness Poor” on the label), and Sakura’s new Gelly Roll Moonlight fine point pens, and Faber Castell’s soon to be released fluorescent Pitt Pens and Speedball’s new fluorescent & Night Glo screen and block printing inks. And let’s not forget the fluorescent paint markers from Montana and Molotow, the neon Sharpies and the Bistro Chalk Ink markers as well as the UV-reactive, professional grade, Irojiten colored pencils from Tombow. With all these neon marks, we could generate enough heat to melt this ice jam and have art spring us into the next season.
Sometimes 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.
One 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.
If you were to ask Darin, General Manager at Wet Paint, what customers ask for the most that we don’t provide, it would be “classes.” Besides not having classroom space, we at Wet Paint also believe the Twin Cities offer many options for further artistic learning. We have come up with some unique partnerships to connect those who manufacture art supplies with a number of organizations to bring new learning experiences to our customers and our community. There are a number of classes and workshops we have helped develop this October featured at existing educational venues with our friends in the art materials industry, our customers and the Twin Cities community.
St Paul Community Education still has space open in “Almost Intermediate Drawing & Color Pencil” with Mary Esch. An internationally recognized artist who has art in the Walker Art Center’s permanent collection, Mary Esch worked at Wet Paint a long, long time ago. This is a hidden gem of an opportunity to work with this talented artist at Community Ed prices. The class is held Monday evenings at Creative Arts High School.
Another Community Ed opportunity is “Open Studio Painting” with Dan Mackerman starting October 9th at Edgcumbe Rec Center. Professional artist Mackerman will help beginning artists decide which is the best wet media for them. This is a way to experiment with watercolor, acrylic and oil without having to purchase 3 ranges of color.
Brian Buell, president of Logan Graphic Products will teach a ½ day class on DIY mat cutting. The class, held at Macalester College on October 26th, will take you through border calculation, mounting and cutting both single and double mats. Brian comes armed with mat cutters and materials for everyone in class to have hands on training. This workshop is also part of St Paul’s Community Ed. Click here to see the entire Community Education Catalog!
Wet Paint is pleased to bring Susan Rostow, founder of Akua Inks to the Twin Cities. Susan became concerned about health safety issues surrounding printmaking and created soy based printing inks which are highly regarded in college printmaking departments. Besides offering a free talk at Wet Paint the evening of October 11th, Rostow is teaching a workshop at Highpoint Center for Printmaking on Saturday October 12th. At this writing, there are still some spots open in this workshop. Read more here!
Yuming Zhu, master of Sumi painting, has come to the Twin Cities for a number of years doing demos at Wet Paint and teaching workshops at some of the art centers in the area. October 29 and 30, Yuming will teach a two-day workshop called Golden Leaves at White Bear Center for the Arts. Yuming is a mesmerizing teacher and quite witty, too. This is a way to experience White Bear Center for the Arts’ new building which I saw last week and it is fantastic. Read more here!
All these classes have fees and registration through the organizations presenting the classes and workshops. Wet Paint is happy that we can pool our resources and bring these opportunities to our community.
Once the Minnesota State Fair is over, Wet Paint, Grand Avenue and Saint Paul is buzzing with the excitement of the Back to School season. And after you settle into the fall semester routine, make sure you have set aside time for art classes. A favorite school for many of our customers is the Art Academy here in St. Paul. For 20 years, the Art Academy has leased space from educational institutions. Early in 2013, they moved into their own space at 651 South Snelling.
We are raffling off free tuition for one class for the fall term 2013 which runs eight weeks from September 30th through December 8th. It is for any class (except the figure drawing class or co-op). This is a $180.00 value. The drawing will take place Friday, September 20th at 10 a.m… You will be notified by phone or email. Of course, this raffle is only open to anyone who can attend a class in Saint Paul.
The Art Academy opened in 1993 and celebrating its 20th year. Director Jim Robinson came to the Twin Cities from Chicago with a degree from Columbia College to study at Atelier Lack. As he read art history he questioned trends in kids’ art instruction. “When I was growing up, children’s art education had dwindled to craft-based “creative” exercises. Skills weren’t being taught. I wanted to create a program with a focus. I believe kids have an innate capacity to draw and paint exceptionally well, and I constructed a school so those natural abilities can blossom.” To support that idea, Robinson researched Renaissance teaching methods and has patented a method based on those ideals.
The Art Academy has taught thousands of children (and adults) drawing and painting skills. Although the school is structured with classes, it offers a Montessori model. Students work on individual projects at their own pace. Instructors teach 2 to 7 students at a time. The atmosphere is supportive and positive, fun and non-competitive. Similar to the Suzuki violin method, Robinson does not believe that the sole purpose of instruction is to train professionals. “In any art school, only a small fraction of students pursue fulltime careers. Equally important is to build confidence and an appreciation of art that fosters individuality and nurtures kids to become well-rounded adults.”
What also develops over time is a community of students and teachers spanning generations. Kids return year after year, forming long-term relationships with Robinson and his staff. Many have become apprentices and teachers at The Art Academy. “By structuring the school around a Renaissance studio we were able to help students acquire successful life skills to carry into any path.”
This is a great opportunity to learn or improve your drawing skills. You can see the proven results of their methods to teach representational drawing and painting skills at their website www.theartacademy.net. Get into the swing of the back to school season and add an art class.
“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.
When 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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, 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.
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!
Back in the 1970s, if you were a serious art student, it was standard to carry a black bound sketchbook just like your professor. Besides being the repository of your sketches and notes, the binding gave you the sense of this being a permanent record, a uniform format that would be the historic record of the studies for your artwork. As this tradition continued through the decades, the black sketchbook began to evolve. Some artists didn’t like the roll of the page caused by the binding, so paper manufacturers started providing the field sketchbook: the same hard black leatherette cover but with spiral binding. Others introduced micro-perforated sheets that could be torn out discreetly. In doing so, the original intent of the bound book changed over time. The book could now be easily edited; pages torn out and discarded instead of kept archived in place and in sequence.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of the black sketchbook made it quite a commodity item for the pad makers. Unfortunately, in order to compete with each other, this meant that many black sketchbooks began to come out of Asia with lower and lower prices and with paper of the quality of a cocktail napkin. This devolution of the quality of the black bound sketchbook only took into consideration that all art students and most artists wanted this product. They had lost track of the purpose of the book … They ignored the fact that paper quality could affect the drawings made on their pages. They totally missed the trend of artists working in mixed media which requires heavier and better paper. They didn’t notice the growing movement of sketching as an art form where the final work is kept within the sketchbook itself. And they lost sight of the vital role that the black sketchbook could play as a place to record ideas, document the creative process, and archive one’s development as an artist.
As an industry, art materials has been ripe for the return of a quality black bound sketchbook and in 2011, Stillman & Birn did just that. Michael Kalman and Oscar Hernandez are the founders of Stillman & Birn. Michael is the nephew of the original manufacturer of the first black bound sketchbook in 1958. Michael and Oscar believe that artists need sketchbooks that are the same caliber as any of their other art materials. Stillman & Birn understands that all artists don’t work alike and need papers with different surface qualities, different weights, different levels of whiteness, and of course, different sizes and different bindings. They have listened to artists and worked to provide them with a line of bound sketchbooks that is as diverse as their needs. Stillman & Birn has sourced the finest quality papers from Europe and then bound them under the strictest quality control in the United States. They’ve mastered the challenge of featuring heavier papers in bound books in addition to spirals, and, most remarkable of all, their bindings will actually allow the pages to lie flat and satisfy the sketcher who wants to work across 2 pages.
Stillman & Birn is a supplier that truly wants to provide artists with the best possible product they can afford and Wet Paint has worked closely with them in the improving of their product and the development of new items. Their commitment to the artist shows not just in the sketchbooks themselves, but in the amount of information that is provided on each book.
Wet Paint has stocked the Stillman & Birn books since their first manufacture run. The Wet Paint staff personally endorses this line. Justin Terlecki only uses Stillman & Birn sketchbooks now and says, “The Alpha and Beta have wonderful paper in them that is suitable for fountain pen sketching. The paper takes the ink beautifully and produces nice clean lines that don’t feather. The paper is also heavy enough that your drawings do not bleed on the other side. When you hold one of these books in your hand, you can tell that they are no ordinary sketchbook.” They are Liz Carlson’s go-to sketchbooks too. She uses the Alpha series because “the bright white tone of the paper is perfect to show off color media.”
Last month Stillman & Birn began shipping their new “Zeta Series” sketchbook to meet the demands of artists wanting a 180# heavy weight, natural white, smooth surface in both hardbound and wirebound books. And in June 2013, Wet Paint will have 22×30” individual sheets for each of the 6 papers featured in Stillman & Birn’s sketchbooks. This enables the artist to move from their sketchbook to a larger format without having to adapt to different surface qualities. Later in the year, we will have sampler sketchbooks which will include pages of all 6 papers so people can experiment will all the surfaces in the series.
Visit Wet Paint in person or online to see the entire line of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. And visit the Stillman & Birn blog to see more examples of what artists are doing in their books.