Great Deal on Prismacolor Colored Pencils!

Jerry’s Artarama

Jerry’s has an amazing deal on the set of 132 Prismacolor colored pencils.  My husband, being the wonderful man he is, told me to order them since the sale was so spectacular.  I’m so excited to get my favorite colored pencils at such a discount!

I’ve reviewed several colored pencil brands here.  If you’re interested in my opinion on various brands, just type in colored pencil reviews in the search bar.  I confess, Prismacolor are my personal favorite.  They are so creamy and blend beautifully!  There is very little dust with Prismacolors, unlike less expensive brands.  While I don’t have Faber Castile Polychromos, so can’t speak to their performance, I’ve heard they are also wonderful pencils.

If you’re in the market for colored pencils and want to try them before you buy a large set- purchase a few of the brands you’re considering open stock.  This means you can purchase the pencils individually.  Buy colors you use often.  You’ll use them up then, no matter whether you buy the larger set or not.

Here are a few colors I find very versatile:

  1. Sap green
  2. poppy red
  3. New gamboge-yellow
  4. deep purple
  5. Pink
  6. white
  7. a rich, deep brown

These are colors I use often, yours will likely be different.  But if you purchase pencils in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet-in you’re preferred variation-you’ll have a good variety of colors you’ll use often.  A couple from one brand, a couple from another and you’ll be able to decide which you prefer without purchasing a whole set.

Remember, it’s not only the colors and easy layering you’re considering.  How does the pencil feel in your hand?  Is it comfortable for you to hold for extended periods of time? Does the pencil roll away from you when laid down?  Is that a deal-breaker for you?  How about sharpening? Does the pencil hold it’s point?  Does the point break easily?  Are the cores to soft or to hard for your particular style of coloring?  How well does the color layer?  How about color variation with one color?  Does it transition from light to dark seamlessly with altered pressure?  How does the color blend with baby oil, mineral spirits or a blending pencil?

These are some questions you might ask yourself when evaluating your colored pencil options.  I have many brands of colored pencils, in all price points.  Here are several posts about colored pencils.  Please check them out for more information on both pencils and techniques.

Colored Pencils, part 1

Colored pencils, part 2

Colored pencils, part 3

Colored pencils, part 4








Air Fryer Love!

My dear husband gave me an air fryer for Christmas.  As we were leaving on our trip, I didn’t have the opportunity to use it.  I’ve made up for that these past few days. So far I’ve made onion rings, French fries, fried dill pickles, mozzarella sticks, and chicken nuggets.  All were very good.  I found the double coating of the mozzarella sticks and pickles to be quite messy, but worth the effort.  My next attempt will be fried chicken.

This is significant as I haven’t made fried chicken since it blew up in my face.  It cause second and third degree burns in my eye, on my face, on my arm and down my leg.  Fortunately, my eye doctor was an army doctor prior to private practice.  He dealt with many burns of the eyes and was able to treat me without any lasting effects.  The scars on my face have all but disappeared, the scars to my arm and leg are of no importance to me and quite minor, all things considered.

The air fryer has taken away the possiblility of injury and the results are quite tasty.  Much healthier than true deep fried foods with very little oil used.  If you enjoy fried foods, but don’t care for the calories.  Or if the realities of greasy food on the stomach are troublesome, the air fryer may be the answer you seek.  I highly recommend it.

Weekly Techniques Challenge: Week 48


Water-soluble crayons.

These are some of the most versatile media you can have in your art practice.  The above links are part of the Get to Know Your Supplies series.  Listed in the links are a variety of brands and 20 different techniques you can do with them.  Our challenge this week is to use water-soluble crayons in 5 different ways.

When we purchase a new medium for our art room, it should play well with what we already have.  Multiple techniques from one supply expands our creative possibilities and if you can combine it with others, your options increase even more.

Product review:  I confess, I have four or five water-soluble crayons of different brands.  One set is in my travel art kit, Reeves brand, and another set in my bible journal kit, Faber Castell childrens gel sticks and an off brand metallic set.  Both are kept in plastic tool boxes filled with supplies specific to their purpose.  Then I have two sets in my watercolor cupboard-one is Lyra and the second is Gelatos, found hugely discounted on clearance-which holds all my water-soluble media.  These I use in my everyday art practice.  The Reeves brand is less vibrant than the others, but are suitable for all the techniques.  I enjoy the metallics quite a bit, and the other brands are all comparable to eachother.  Any of these will work well for you, if you wish to purchase some.

Spend some time learning how to use the supplies you have. Experiment by combining them with others.  What works and what doesn’t?  Gelatos can be used as a base coat under acrylics, can be used with pastels, added to gel or matte medium, added to gesso, made into sprays with shimmer added or color texture paste to use through stencils or with a palette knife.  Have fun playing with water-soluble crayons this week.




My Art Journals, A Review

While cleaning my work room, which is still in recovery mode following my several day marathon session, I noticed just how many art journals I have.  It was quite astonishing, really.  So here’s a rundown of my journals, which will give you ideas and options for your own.

  1. Emotional journals.  These were made to work through experiences in my life.  I made several while going through the grieving process after my brothers’ sudden death.  These journals were made in the 5 dollar sketch books found at Michael’s.  I did glue some of the pages together for sturdier paper.  I gessoed some as well.
  2. Techniques practice journal.  These journals are filled with different materials and techniques.  These journals are solely for the purpose of getting to know a supply.  What it does, what can be combined with it, how it reacts to various glues, heat, how it behaves with other mediums
  3. Some are for working out a design. I experiment with color combinations,  composition, etc. for projects I intend to make on a canvas or another substrate.
  4. Art supply comparisons.  I may have eight different brands of watercolor paints, for example, and I want to compare them to each other and record my results.
  5. Paint Mixing recipe books.
  6. Color swatch books- for all my media
  7. Hand lettering journal.  Pages filled with different styles of hand lettering using different pens, markers, etc.
  8. Words and Quotes journal.  Filled with quotes I find inspirational, funny, etc.
  9. Sketch book journals.  I have one filled with faces, eyes, noses, ears and hands
  10. Fashion journal.  Various types of clothing and accessories.  Sketches, magazine images, sewing pattern images, etc.
  11. Doodle journal.  Patterns, shapes, combinations, etc.
  12. Bible study journals.  Word studies, history, geography, manners and customs
  13. Bible journals.  Character studies, study of a particular book or theme, verses
  14. Prayer journal.  Specific people and situations
  15. Gratitude journal- things I’m thankful for
  16. Travel journal- where we’ve been, what we saw, when we traveled, receipts, brochures, ephemera and memorabilia
  17. Junk journals- made from recycled junk mail, packaging, cereal box chipboard, brochures, etc.
  18. Holiday and Vacation journals.  Specific memories, photos, menus, special activities
  19. Art journals-pages and layouts using techniques and art materials
  20. Theme journals.  Journals around a specific topic, subject or theme.  Women of Strength journal, Grandma-Greats Influence, Gardening and home decor journals
  21. Written journal.  Traditional hand written journal about daily life
  22. Dreams journal- both my hopes and dreams for my life and actual dreams I’ve had
  23. Fantasy journal- imaginary characters, environments, locations, stories
  24. Bible journaling-art work added directly into my bible
  25. Tag journals- one art material, all techniques.  Kept on large rings, hanging from my peg board.  I have several of these

Some of these are purchased journals.  My preference is the Strathmore Visual Journals with the watercolor paper.  I use the 140 lb paper for art journaling and the 90 lb paper for color mixing books.  I use both the large and the small journals.  I normally purchase several at one time to reduce the cost per journal and to receive free shipping.  And I don’t ever want to be without some of these journals on hand.  (You know how we artists are-What if I RUN OUT?!? That would be catastrophic!!).

Some journals are inexpensive sketch books. Others were made in composition books with four pages glued together to make one, then gessoed.  My traditional diary-type journals have all been purchased at second hand stores.  They are often .50 cents for a lined journal.  I have occasionally found a few pages were written on by the previous owner, and simply glued them together and gessoed over them.  These are very frugal options for a brand new art journaler.

Still others were made from recycled materials like old Manila file folders, cereal box chipboard and junk mail.  These are, by far, my most used journals.  I have, I’m guessing, made between 75 to 100 of these.  In all sizes and shapes.  They are inexpensive, easily made and incredibly sturdy to use.  They can handle any wet media I throw at them, hold up well to heavy embellishments and are so much fun to make!

Old books are also great for art journaling.  Again, I usually find these at second hand stores.  I often glue a few pages together for added strength, and remove some for expansion.  I save the removed pages for other projects.  I also add gesso to the pages as prep.  I have a few old book journals, none of which cost more than a buck,  but they are of a smaller size so I often use them for techniques practice.

Loose leaf journals.  These are journal pages made on a piece of paper, paper bags, drop papers, scrap papers, etc.  I have several loose pages which I hold in a plastic expandable envelope.  (I also use the plastic envelopes to hold projects in progress.)  I have gathered pages together and used metal rings to hold them.  I make a front and back cover from recycled chipboard for loose leaf journals.

One terrific option for loose leaf pages is an inexpensive watercolor paper pad.  I have rarely recommended Michael’s house brand Artist Loft, but their watercolor pads are about 5 bucks and the paper is perfect for art journaling.  You can fold the pages in half, combine three or four into a signature, add the signatures into a cereal box chipboard cover and you have a few perfect small art journals for 5 bucks.  Leave the paper loose and use the full sheet, add three hole punched edge and use book rings to hold the pages together.  Again, add a cover if you want.  Very frugal but outstanding option for art journaling.

The tag journals are normally made from recycled Manila file folders.  I have also made a couple from clothing tags.  Either works well once I’ve prepped them with gesso-if needed.  Some techniques don’t require it.  I’ve also made journals from dried up paint stained baby wipes.  Again, very easy to make and they held up pretty well.

As you can see, there is a huge variety of options for art journaling.  I’m sure there are even more than these listed.  These are just the ones I have personally. Oh, wait, there’s one more!   I have a small moleskine journal which I carry in my purse for sketching on the go.  I have not used the moleskine journals as art journals yet, as I only have the one, but this is another option for you.  Some people just love these journals, while others don’t seem to be thrilled with them.  Mine is perfect for the sketching I’m doing and I have no complaints about the journal at all.

I hope this review of my own art journals has given you some useful information for choosing yours.  There are many options available, at different price points.  And, as usual, I have several free or very frugal options for you to consider.


Hold the Phone! Waterproof Pens!

My husband bought three boxes of pens for me last year.  They were a box of 12 for .50 cents.  So I have 36 pens for 1.50.  While cleaning my work room yesterday, I found the boxes of pens in my storage totes.  They are paper-mate gel-roller pens.  It says New Nouveau on the box.  They are black, 0.7 fine point, 673-01 product number.

I’ve mentioned I’m having trouble with bleed through on my bible pages from black pens.  The ones that don’t bleed through are dried up.  So I thought, why not give these pens I found a try.  Well, I have been thrilled with the results!

I used the pens over dried watercolor images and they write beautifully with no bleed through.  I drew all over a page and filled in with watercolor paint.  I wrote quotes and verses on the page and did a very wet watercolor wash over the entire page.  I didn’t have any ink running or smearing. There may have been a tiny bit of graying around the writing on one word, but I suspect that was because the ink wasn’t completely dried when I painted over it.  Which really only takes a couple seconds to dry.  I just had the loaded brush in my hand already and painted immediately.

I found the paint covered the writing enough that I went over it again once the paint had dried. This is a personal preference, it’s not necessary.  I just like really dark writing.

As I mentioned, my husband found these at a discount outlet.  I hope they’re still available, because they ROCK!  But I know others have struggled with bleed through and ink running, so I thought I’d share this great, and cheap, find.

Here’s a Heads Up

This is an important tip when buying art supplies.

Art materials marketed to crafters will cost more, in general, than art materials for artists.  And the amount of product is often less.  I’ve noticed some of the sizes of the crafter-focused products would be a sample size in artist products.

I have been shocked by the price of art materials marketed to crafters.  Both the Jane Davenport and Prima sets of 12 half pans of watercolors in adorable metal tins cost around $30 bucks.  A set of 18 half pans of Marie’s watercolors from Jerry’s Artarama is 20.79.  They come in a plastic folding palette with a water brush, sponge and glass mixing bowl included.  What does this mean?  All of these products are excellent quality for student grade watercolors.  But the cost difference is significant.  My favorite student grade watercolors are Van Gogh.  At Dick Blick the set of 12 half pans of Van Gogh, in a plastic palette with a brush included is $24.74.  And these are terrific watercolor paints.  If your heart is set on the cute metal palette you can buy one, with 12 empty half pans included, on Amazon for $8.99.  (You can also add a middle row of pans to these metal palettes, which I’ve done.  All you do is bend the metal rails around the original pans to hold them securely.  Add a chunk of magnet to the bottom of the pans you’re adding and put them in the center.  This gives you more options for traveling or plein air painting.)

Even cheaper-buy a set of tube watercolors.  You’ll get a lot more paint this way.  Marie’s watercolor paints, 18 tubes, 12 m.l. each, currently on sale at Jerrys for $5.48.   Yes.  That’s FIVE DOLLARS and FORTY EIGHT CENTS.  Buy a cheap plastic folding palette for around $3.50.  (These inexpensive palettes are honestly my most used watercolor palettes.  I love ’em.  I have several large, high quality palettes but they take up so much space on my table I perfer the smaller ones.) You’ll have great paints and a good, portable palette for next to nothing!

If you’re thinking of buying art supplies for a loved one this holiday, consider the cost for cute.  The products are perfectly fine student grade products.  Not saying they’re inferior in any way.  And they are marketed brilliantly.

look at the Jane Davenport stuff and I want all of it.  Even though I have an abundance of artist grade materials and supplies that are better quality and will do the same job.  I can paint my own napkins, sketch my own faces, paint my own images…I don’t need any of her stuff.  But the packaging is delightful!  And my heart yearns.

If you’re actually trying to get high quality art supplies on a limited budget, skip the cute and focus on practical.  Don’t buy the gesso marketed to crafters, get good quality gesso in larger quantities for less at Blick’s or Jerry’s.  Buy good quality watercolor paper-Fabrianos-for less money than the famous crafters brands.  Buy excellent quality brushes-both watercolor and acrylics- for less at either Blicks or Jerry’s.

Check out my series Get To Know Your Supplies.  I have recommendations on all sorts of paints, papers, mediums, pastels, whatever you’re considering.  I have cost effective options for every type of media you can think of.  Each used by me in my own art practice.  No one has ever given me free products to try or sponsored my site.  (Not that it would make a difference in my honest reviews.)  But I want you to know I’ve spent my own hard earned money on this stuff, just like you do.  I won’t give a product a good review unless it’s a good product.

But if the cute stuff inspires you to create, there’s value in that too.  If the packaging makes you so excited you can’t wait to dive in and get messy-it may be worth spending the money on. The materials are only valuable if you’ll use them.  If you buy the best quality stuff at a great price point but will just leave it sit on a shelf, that’s not a good value.  Its better to spend your money on something you’ll use.  

Give that some serious thought.  I have stuff I bought that I’ve never opened.  It’s great quality, bought hugely discounted, but I’m not inspired to use it.  I also have so much watercolor paint, I could probably paint all day, every day, for the rest of my life and not use it all up.  I have less acrylic paints, because they have a shelf life.  (Watercolors can dry up in the tube and you can cut the tube, plop the dried paint on a palette and reactivate with water.  There is no waste with watercolors. This is a frugal medium.  Watercolor brushes will last a lifetime if you care for them.  So it’s buy once and done.  Spend your money on good paper for watercoloring.  It makes all the difference.  More important than paints and brushes.)

So take all this into consideration when purchasing art supplies.  Are you wanting the best quality materials for the best price, or are you inspired by a brand or packaging?  If you’re purchasing for a new artist/crafter and want the most products for your money, check out my recommendations.  If you’re shopping for an established artist or crafter, consider their wish list.

Brushes! Brushes! Brushes!

My order came from Jerry’s today.  I have 33 or 34 new, pristine paint brushes for acrylic painting.  It feels like Christmas!

I had removed the popped, misshapen and destroyed brushes earlier this week and now I have a collection of new, firm bristled brushes in all types and sizes.  One of my small frustrations with brushes is there is no industry standard for size.  Here’s an example of what I mean:

A  #10 bright in Simply Simmons X-tra firm is 3/4th of an inch wide and an inch from ferrule to toe (the tip of the brush).  In another brand of brush, a  #10 bright is 3/8ths of an inch wide and a 1/2 inch from ferrule to toe.  In the Simply Simmons line that same sized brush is a #4.  A #8 round in another well-known brand is a #4 round in Simply Simmons.  A #16 round in yet another brand is a #6 round in Simply Simmons.

I mention this because we don’t all have access to the same brands of materials.  Clearly Simply Simmons has larger sizes than several other brands.  Normally in my art practice I just grab whatever brush I need and pay little, to no, attention to the size of that brush.  My focus is more on the type of brush I need for the results I want.  But should you come across any of my tutorials which mentions a specific size, that is based upon the brand of brush in my hand and not the industry standard.

I’ve actually spent some time searching for the sizes of the brushes made by the various companies.  I found a chart from Dick Blick which shows the sizes for their rounds and a mixture of other types.  The #10 round in Simply Simmons appears to be the same as a #18 round in the Dick Blick brand.  Maybe this should be a project for me.  To make a list of the actual sizes of the paint brushes in the various brands and what their listed size is. That might be helpful for those who have access to different brands in their area of the world.


Some Common Painting Terms and Their Meanings

Earlier I posted about my favorite brand of acrylic paint brushes, Simply Simmons X-Firm filament long handled brushes.  There are a couple reasons I really like these brushes.  I have never had bristles fall out of these brushes, they are inexpensive when compared to other brands which preform the same way, they are easy to find in most big box stores.  And I like their authority.

  1. Authority.  Which means the firmness of the bristles are “the boss of” my paint.
    1. Because I use professional heavy body acrylic paints, they are thick.  With soft bristles you need to over thin acrylic paints, either with a medium like Golden’s Acrylic Glazing Liquid or water.  (Use to much water and you’ll have underbinding.)  Either way, your paint is thinned and becomes a glaze.  Since I want my paint thicker, I need a brush which can handle it.
  1. Underbinding.  This is when the paint is thinned to much with water.  It becomes unstable on your canvas which means your work may not last.
    1. Acrylic paint uses a polymer emulsion as it’s binder.  Which means it dries to, what is essentially, a plastic.  Add to much water and you effect the binder properties.  Which means it’s possible your paint will actually fall off the canvas at a later date.  Or perhaps it will bubble and blister.  Change its lightfastness.  Something may happen which is unexpected and not your desired result.
    2. I have been delighted with Golden’s Acrylic Glazing Liquid.  It thins my paint effectively, prevents it from drying out to quickly and has become an essential in my painting practice.  Other brands with similar names are not the same product.  Be aware of that and read the labels before you make your purchase.
  2. Drag.  This is the ease in which the paint leaves your brush and applies to your canvas.  Artists have their own preferences for paints and part of that preference is based on the paints drag.
  3. Paint Grade.  This refers to the amount of pigment, the types and quality of pigment and the quality of binders used in the production of the paint.  You have two basic grades of paint:  Professional and Student Grades.
    1. Professional paints have higher pigment loads.  This means there’s more color and less binder within the tube of paint.
    2. Some pigments are expensive which is why professional paints are divided into levels.  Here is a post explaining how to read a tube of paint.
    3. Student grade paints are, generally speaking, non-toxic for normal use.  They often use hues (substitutes for the actual pigments) which are both less costly and safer for beginner/student use. (Obviously wash your hands, don’t eat paint, don’t sand dried paint and breathe it into your lungs-you know, common sense stuff.)
    4. Student grade paint has pretty much the same tinting strength across the board, while the tinting strength of professional paints varies tremendously.
    5. You will need less paint for good coverage with professional paints than you will with student grade paints.  I have found I often need to go over an area of a painting several times with student grade paints to achieve the coverage I want.  This is because of the pigment amount within the paint.
    6. I find transparency is much different between student grand and professional grade paints.  While there are transparent professional paints, and your paint tube will tell you that, I find student grade paints to be-in general-transparent.  This can be very helpful if you are wanting to create paintings using glazing.  Glazing is accomplished through transparent application of color, over top of each other to develop depth.  Glazing is also another way to blend your paints.

The reality of painting is this:  if you are enjoying your experience and your results, you have the materials you need to be using.  If you’re struggling in some area, you might want to consider your materials.  Surprisingly enough, poor results are often the result of the products used rather than the talent of the artist.  Unfortunately most people blame themselves first, rather than investigating the other possibilities.

I am the most vocal advocate of respecting your budget, and I will stick with that.  However, you can respect your budget and still get materials you will be happy with.  In my opinion, it is better to purchase higher quality materials if you’re unhappy with your current results.

In watercolor painting, spend your money on good quality paper over your paints and brushes.  In acrylic painting, in my opinion, it’s better to buy six tubes of professional grade paint-a warm and cool of red, yellow and blue along with a quality Titanium white rather than spend the same amount for 40 tubes of student grade paint.  You can mix all kinds of colors with an expanded color palette.  This will improve your color mixing skills and make you a better artist.  It will also save you a ton of money in the long run.

If you are struggling with your canvases, purchase a quality gesso and prime them before you use them.  Even if it says they are pre-primed canvases.  This has become my standard before I use any of my canvases as I was frustrated with my results without this step.  If this doesn’t work, switch to a different brand of canvases.

There are many ways to create art and many materials with which to do it.  With my paintings, I want predictable results every time.  I don’t want to wonder if my paint will stick to my canvas, leave my brush or won’t cover well.  I don’t want to wonder if my painting will fall off the canvas in six months or if my brush bristles will shed all over my work.  This is why I carefully spend my money on supplies that preform well for me and give me the results I want.

Jerry’s Artarama Brush Sale!

Edited to add:  This sale is over.  Jerry’s always has really great sales going on though.  Don’t forget to check out Retail Me Not for any coupon codes to further save money on your order.

My acrylic paint brushes are old and well used.  After Scott noticed my frustration with my trashed brushes, he told me to get whatever I wanted.

His suggestion sent me searching for my favorite brushes at the cheapest price and that’s when I found the sale at Jerry’s.  Here is the link to my preferred brushes.

Obviously I ordered the minimum I needed to create my work.  Even a terrific sale can be expensive if you’re not careful.  I ordered one of each and two or three of my most used.  With the coupon code, WELCOME10J, my final order was significant but reasonable.

Unfortunately, the sale ends today.  Sorry about the short notice.  I wasn’t aware of the sale until yesterday when I placed my brush order.  Nevertheless, if you need great acrylic brushes at the best price I’ve found, check out Jerry’s sale.

Daily Art Challenge: September 30

Our challenge today is skin tones.

Cinnamon Cooney, the Art Sherpa, has given three very simple recipes for mixing light, medium and dark skin tones.  She also has a quick tutorial on how to mix these skin tones.  Here is a second helpful tutorial from Cinnamon.

Here are the colors used to mix:

Light Skin Tones:

  1. Titanium White
  2. Yellow Ochre
  3. Quinacridone Magenta

Shadow colors:

  1. Burnt Umber
  2. Ultramarine Blue

Highlight colors:

  1. Naples yellow
  2. Titanium white

Medium Skin Tones:

  1.  Raw Sienna
  2. Yellow Ochre
  3. Cadmium Orange

Shadow colors:

  1.  Burnt Umber
  2. Ultramarine Blue

Highlight colors:

  1. Naples yellow
  2. Titanium White

Dark Skin Tones:  Do Not Use White with Dark Skin Tones!!

  1. Burnt Umber
  2. Cadmium Orange
  3. Yellow Ochre
  4. Burnt Sienna

Shadow colors:

  1. Ultramarine Blue
  2. Alizarin Crimson (hue)

Highlight colors:

  1. Naples Yellow

The first thing we do when mixing up skin tones is to mix an amount of the base color, called the Master Recipe.  You can write the formulation for your Master Recipe down on index cards or in your color mixing book.  If you like your base colors, you’ll want to know how to reproduce them again for future paintings.  It’s also helpful to be able to duplicate the color should you ever need to repair or touch up your paintings in the future.

Always mix more paint then you think you’ll need.  Once you have the master mix, you’ll pull out some to make the shadow color and another pile to make the highlight color.

It takes time to mix skin tones.  Expect that and moisten your paints on your palette as needed.  Using Golden’s liquid glazing medium is also tremendously helpful in keeping acrylic paint from skinning and for increasing its flow.

Which brings me to another point:  consistency.

Consistency means a couple different things in your paintings.  It can mean you use the same colors for shadows and highlights with each painting.  Some artists do that.  They have standard mixes they use over and over again.  This is helpful because they know what colors they used should they need to touch up or repair damage.

Another way consistency matters is when you’re mixing paint recipes.  Be sure to use the same amount for one “part” every time.  If you get in the habit of using the same size bead of paint as one part for your recipes, you’ll be more likely to duplicate the colors later on. Write down the paints used and the measurements for easy duplication later.

I also recommend using a palette knife for mixing.  Mixing with your brushes tends to force the paint upward into the base (or heel) of the bristles and into the ferrule.  This is not good for brushes and will damage them, no matter how well you clean them out afterward.  You simply cannot get every bit of acrylic paint from the bristles when it’s been forced into the ferrule.

There are books with hundreds of color mix recipes available.  Walter Fosters books are easy for beginner paint mixers to understand and to follow.  I have these three:

  1. Color Mixing Recipes for Portraits
  2. Color Mixing Tecipes for Landscapes
  3. 1500 Color Mixing Recipes for oil, acrylic and watercolor

The first two books have over 500 recipes per book.  Obviously the third has 1500 recipes.

I have formulas for hundreds and hundreds of colors I can duplicate at will.  My color recipe books are consistent, easy for me to understand, laid out in a user-friendly way and treasured in my art practice.  The reason we’re using Cinnamon’s color mixes today is because she has given very simple and straight-forward mixes anyone can duplicate.  My own color formulas for skin tones are much more challenging for anyone unfamiliar with my measuring methods to duplicate.

And Cinnamon has a you-tube video showing exactly how she does it.  Which is incredibly helpful for those who are not familiar with color mixing.

Now, where were we before I fell down the rabbit hole?  Oh yes, mixing skin tones:

Once you mix your Master Recipe for your chosen skin tone, you’re ready to go.  You’ll mix the shadow color and the highlight color as well. Darker colors tend to be a bit transparent. You may need to go over your darker skin tones a couple times to get good coverage. It is also important to remember, with dark skin tones we do not use titanium white for lightening up the highlight color.  White will provide an ashy-grayish unhealthy look in dark skin tones.  Not the result we want.

I never use black when mixing skin tones.  (Honestly, I rarely use black for anything other than when I want to paint on a black background.)  I find black deadens a painting, which is why my blacks are chromatic blacks arrived at by mixing colors together to make a rich, lively “black”.

Now, since our challenge today is to create skin tones, let’s get to it.  You can use the above recipes or you can create your own.  But do try to take some time to explore mixing your own skin tones.  The vibrancy and richness of color mixed skin tones simply outshines any purchased tube of “flesh tone” paint you can find.  (That stuff is truly horrific.  I had a couple tubes of skin tone paint which came in much larger paint sets.  I can usually make any color better by mixing others with it, but the color of these “skin tones” were so unnatural and disturbing I threw away the tubes of paint.  I didn’t want that stuff in my work space.)

Grab your color recipe book and make some additions.  Write down the colors and the amounts (parts) used to create your skin tones, shadows and highlights.  Having recipes available to mix for portraits is a real advantage to any artist.