What is Gesso and what is it used for?
Gesso is a primer that is used on raw canvas to prepare it to accept paint. Any canvas or canvas panel that is sold will already have at least 2, sometimes 3 layers of gesso on it. It is a bit thinner that white paint, but you can paint with it. I paint with it on my television show because it doesn’t dry out so fast under the hot lights.

Will I be able to paint if I can’t draw?
Absolutely you will be able to paint. I can’t draw worth a hoot. I will usually sketch on a canvas prior to painting, but sketching is a very loose way to draw.

Can I use the same brushes that I paint with oils for acrylics?
No you can’t. Oils leave a residue on the bristles that make acrylics difficult to adhere to. You can use the same type of brushes, but get one set for oils and one for acrylics.

Do the numbers on the brush handle represent the size of the brush and is that number universal?
Yes the number does represent the size of the bristles for that manufacturer. They are not universal in all brushes. The manufacturer can put any number on it and that number would be a certain size for them.

I can’t get my liner brush to work properly. What am I doing wrong?
3 things have to happen to effectively paint with liner brush. First, you must thin down the paint with water to get an ink like consistency. Second, you must turn you brush into the thinned out paint like a mop. Once the brush is loaded with paint, drag it out of the paint to get a point on the bristles. Finally, hold the brush on a angle so the bristles are lower than the handle. This will ensure that gravity will cause the paint to run to the end of the bristles.

Is there a piece of glass in your palette?
Yes there is a piece of double strength glass in my palette. The Sta-Wet System I use comes with a sponge that fits into the palette along with some special paper. How the system works is that you soak the sponge in water and place it into the bottom of the palette. Then you get a piece of paper wet and place it on the sponge. You then can put your paints out on the paper. The sponge keeps the paper wet thus keeping your paints wet. Eventually the sponge will deteriorate and you will have to replace it. The paper is only good for one painting and soon you will have to buy more.

I use the glass because I don’t want my mixed paint to stay wet, I’m done with it. However, I fold up a piece of paper towel, spray it with water and squeeze my paints onto it. That keeps my bulk paint wet.

When I’m done with a painting, I simply spray some water on the glass, get a razor blade scrapper and scrap off the dry paint. I then have a clean surface to paint on again.

Do I need to stand when I paint?
Not at all. You can stand or sit, whatever is comfortable for you. I just got used to standing because of all my classes.

How and where do I sign my painting?
I get asked this all the time. Normally you would sign a painting in one of the lower corners of the painting. Generally an artist will sign their name with a liner brush with their choice of color. You can also use an Ultra Fine Tip Sharpie. It has a metal stem so it won’t blot if you push too hard. Remember not to sign it too low in the corner because if you put a frame on it, it could cover up your name.

Will your techniques work if I use acrylic paint from a bottle?
Not very well. My techniques are based on using paint from a tube. The paint in a bottle is a craft paint and has a much thinner consistency and doesn’t bode well for fine art.

If I’m not happy with a painting I did, can I paint over it and start again?
Yes you can. I have sold a painting or two that has a couple of paintings on the canvas. You can use gesso or you can even use flat interior house paint to cover a less than masterpiece!

Do I need to varnish my acrylic painting when I’m finish?
You can if you wish, but it is not necessary. Acrylics are self-sealing and don’t require a varnish.

Can I use your techniques if I paint in oils?
Most of my techniques transfer to oils very easily. However, because oils stay wet for a period, you may have to let them dry before you attempt some of them. Oils you paint wet paint on wet paint, acrylics are normally painted wet paint on dry paint.

All I hear about acrylics is that they dry too fast. Is there a way to stop that from happening?
Yes you can slow down the drying time with a mist spray bottle with water. Simply mist over an area that you want to keep wet for a while and brush the moisture back into the paint. There are times that it doesn’t dry fast enough and I have to use a hair dryer on the painting. Don’t get the idea that the paint dries seconds after you apply it. It usually dries within minutes depending on how thick you are painting.

I notice that sometimes when I am painting the canvas shows through the paint. The more paint I add, the more the canvas shows through. What is happening?
Two things could be happening. First, you may not be applying enough paint to cover the canvas. Secondly, if the first layer of paint is starting to dry and you put more paint on top of the first layer, you will start to lift the first layer off and the canvas will become visible. The more paint you apply to the canvas, the more you will lift off. To remedy this, dry the paint and then you can put additional paint on the canvas.

What brand of acrylic paint should I buy?
Understand that there is two quality of paint, student grade and artist grade. The student grade has much more filler and less pigment. The artist grade has much more pigment and less filler. Basics is a popular student grade paint. Liquitex, Galeria, and Finity are examples of artist grade paint. As is everything else in life, buy what you can afford!

Can I mix different brands of acrylic tube paint?
Yes you can. Be sure to stay within the quality of paint you are using such as artist grade with artist grade. Problems can occur when you mix artist grade with student grade.

Should I paint on canvas paper, canvas board or canvas?
I believe they all have a place. Canvas paper is great to practice techniques on. Canvas boards or panels are great to do paintings on. When you want to get more serious or more confident with your painting, paint on canvas. They get more expensive going from paper to board to canvas. Again, it is what you can afford to paint on.

How many brushes will I have to get?
There is no answer. Some artists use dozens and others just a hand full. I think in the beginning, it is only necessary to use a few until you become more proficient with the techniques. Then you can add more as you progress.

How often should I clean my paint brush?
Cleaning is very important. Through a painting, cleaning between colors if enough. At the end of a painting session, it is a great habit to get into to thoroughly clean out your brush with soap. Don’t leave paint in your brushes for extended periods of time.

How do I know when my painting is finished?
The best answer I can give is one that was given to me when I asked that question at a work-shop years ago. When you step back to look at your painting and something doesn’t jump out at you that is wrong within 10 seconds, you are finished. When something is not right within your painting, you should see it very quickly. The longer you look at your painting, the better chance there is that you will invent a reason to go back to change something that was probably fine to begin with!

I have noticed that you don’t paint with black, why not?
I do paint with "black", just not from a tube. The color black can be made from any number of combinations of colors. The problem is that you don’t have any idea what colors your paint manufacturer used to achieve their black. If it isn’t made from colors that you are using in your painting, the black appears to be a "foreign" color, it stands right out as there is no color harmony to it. You will need a dark color sometimes so I use the color combination of 3 parts Ultramarine Blue with 1 part Burnt Sienna. This will make a black that incorporates colors that are in most of my paintings. This black settles in with the other colors.