McLean Art Society


PAINT: What are the best oil paints?


I bought oil paint in 200ml tubes not knowing how much paint it took to do a painting. The paint keeps separating in the tube and repeated squeezing has caused metal fatigue and paint leaks everywhere. My questions are: what is the best size tube to buy and what are the best buttery paints that don’t separate?


Most of mine are 37-40ml, it’s the most common, and a couple that I use a lot of are 75ml. This lasts a long while. But I paint small and thinly. You might need to buy more often if you paint thick and large.

Brand is pure preference. You have to try and see what you like the best for color and texture. I use different brands. Avoid student grade, it’s too much filler. Best quality is probably Michael Harding, pricey though. Gamblin is also great. Williamsburg is good, but I don’t own any. Then below that Winsor and Newton, Rembrandt, Holbein — mass produced but fine too for most painters.


FRAMES: Where can I get frames?


None of my paintings are framed and frames are so expensive.  Are there any reasonable sources for frames?  What do you use?  How to you account for the cost of the frame in the cost of your artwork? 

VARNISH: Yes or No and with What?


I recently varnished many of my more than 6 month old oil paintings and love the results. I used Gamblin Gamvar Gloss which was super easy to apply and dried in short order. It said it could be applied as soon as the oil is dry but I have also heard you should wait six months. Which is correct?

PAINTER'S BLOCK: How do I get unstuck?


I have a tough painting on my easel.  Just the underpainting has been done.  I have painter’s block and haven’t touched it in four months.  Does this ever happen to you?  How to you get around it?


Just set the painting aside and knock out some simple pieces that only take 3-4 hour for an 18×24 canvas and get the juices flowing again.  Paint 100 trees, 50 clouds, or 50 waves crashing on each other.

EXERCISE: How do I strengthen my arms?


When I paint for a long time my arms get real tired.  What is a good exercise to strengthen my arms so I can paint for longer?


Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.  Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-pound bags. Then try 50-lb potato bags and eventually try to get where you can lift a 100-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.  (I’m at this level!).

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

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