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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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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!