“Ben, Anna & Charlie”

My latest portrait commission, Ben, Anna & Charlie.
My latest portrait commission, “Ben, Anna & Charlie”. Photograph by MooseNChick. http://moosenchick.com/about/moose/

The painting above, “Ben, Anna & Charlie” has been a very special commission for me on many levels. The children (and their parents) are all close to my family. Anna was one of my first art students and the boys are both good friends of my son. I began this painting over a year ago and shortly upon starting it I lost my mother. I am grateful to my clients for being so supportive of my work and of me during that difficult transition. Working on their painting became very therapeutic and when I look at it now I see a lot of growth in me, both from a technical standpoint as well as emotionally. I would often catch myself smiling back at them as I painted each of their faces. And I am sure I will miss seeing them everyday in my studio now that it is finally going home.

I want to formally thank Stacy & Brian for allowing me the privilege of painting their beautiful children. Your family has been quite a blessing to me. Thank you!

Technique Tuesday: Cleaning Up Your Act {and Brushes}

Last week I brought you Teresa Fischer’s20140114-090741.jpg tip to clean your brushes with walnut oil. And because I had begun to hear similar things from other artists and because even Rosemary herself of Rosemary & Co. recommends cleaning your brushes with oil, I had decided to try it for myself. Then last Friday at my weekly class with Rob Liberace, my art cohort Carter Corbin brought in this product called Jack’s Linseed Studio Soap and offered to let me try it. When I looked at the bottle I instantly remembered that I had a little sample of it waiting for me at home that I had never opened. So thanks to Carter, I then did something I never do after workshops & classes, I actually cleaned my brushes. It was such an amazing experience with this product! It is all natural, made simply of linseed oil & soap. And like conditioner on hair, my brushes eagerly soaked it in. I am proud to say I have officially reformed my ways and now clean my bushes everyday with a combination of Teresa’s technique (wiping the color off with oil in between uses) and then using Jack’s Linseed Studio Soap at the end of the day to thoroughly clean them.

Goodbye stinky, toxic OMS! Turns out I never really needed you after all.

I want to thank Teresa & Carter for opening my eyes to this new Technique Tip and also Susan Gallagher O’Neill for serendipitously picking me up a large bottle recently at our local art store. I have the best art friends!

Technique Tuesday: Teresa Fischer’s “Go To” Brushes and Brush Cleaning Method

"Peculiar Pachyderm". Oil on panel. Artist, Teresa N. Fischer.
“Peculiar Pachyderm”. Oil on panel. Artist, Teresa N. Fischer.

One look at Teresa N. Fischer’s paintings and you know you are seeing something revolutionary in the field of still life painting. Her theatrical and witty compositions are often clever observations of childhood experiences, inferred by the juxtaposition of antique toys and other still life objects. One has only to look at her painting “Peculiar Pachyderm”, one of my all time favorites and a finalist in The Artist Magazine’s 30th Annual Art Competition, to feel and see the magic in her work.

Teresa is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design where she met her husband, the illustrator Scott M. Fischer. She is an award winning member of both the Oil Painters of America and the International Guild of Realism and has been a finalist many times over in the Art Renewal Center’s, International Salon.

I had the immense luck of meeting Teresa several years ago and instantly found a nurturing and supportive friend who was willing to share her experiences with me, have studio chats via Skype and even meet for dinner on the occasion she’s in town for one of her openings at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

In keeping with Teresa’s generous spirit, she is actually sharing two Technique Tuesday tips with us today! Hooray! Here is the first:

“These are my two favorite brushes that I use. Robert Simmons white sable series 721 one strokes (a long bristled flat) and series 750 script (a longer bristle liner round).

I don’t use a lot of small round brushes for my fine detail work. For me I find them difficult to use. They either don’t keep their points which can be frustrating or hold enough paint. With the 750 script I can pull a very clean thin line, and the point gets really thin which allows me to do very tiny details. In this one brush I have a greater choice over the thickness of those details or their size.

Of the series 721 one strokes (flats), again I prefer the longer bristles. I like the spring of them. Shown in the picture (above) is the 1/4″, my other favorite size is the 1/2”. This is my work horse brush. I lay almost my entire underpainting with these two sizes. I can block in bigger areas and turn it on edge and drag a very nice clean line. I find that very versatile. If I get too caught up and tight, I grab the one stroke and start blocking and chiseling the form. It feels more like I am sculpting with paint.

Robert Simmons white sable series 721 one strokes flat and series 750 script.
The other thing I do is I rarely use turp to rinse my brushes. During a painting day I use walnut oil to rinse my brushes. Mainly to try to be healthier and my brushes seem to like it. At the end of the night, I give them a rinse in turp or OMS, them wash them using either Masters brush cleaner or even Palmolive dish soap. Because the walnut oil is a little more expensive I don’t want any to go to waste , so I utilize the two jar system. After the oil settles, the oil and sludge separate.

Teresa Fischer’s brush cleaning method using walnut oil. Notice the pigment “sludge” left on the bottom of the jar as a result of cleaning her brushes.

I then carefully pour the clean oil off into a empty jar. I clean out the sludge that is left with a napkin and the end of a brush handle to swirl it around with. And as you can see, my favorite jars to use in the studio is salsa jars.”

Here Teresa is pouring the purified walnut oil back into her jar for reuse. She then wipes the left over pigment out of the jar for reuse later.

Thank you Teresa for sharing both these wonderful tips and your amazing art work with us today!

Teresa’s painting, “Carrot – O” was recently featured at the 15th Anniversary Show at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacremento, CA. Here is a link to her really informative blog post detailing its creation. Enjoy!

“Carrot – O”. Oil on panel. Artist, Teresa N. Fischer.