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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

Month

August 2016

Monthly Review – paintbrush cleaners

paintcleaners

What put me off oil paints initially was the fight to get my brushes truly clean. I tried a few tips (and stained a few sinks!) before finally discovering what worked best for me. I used to keep a set specifically for using oils and always found there’d be trace amounts of paint left behind on them,tainting the colour I was trying to create. Some people swear by washing up liquid, but as I often work with small brushes for fine detail, I find the condition of my brushes just as important as the removal of paint. In this months review I’ve brought you three of the best conditioning cleaners, their strengths, downfalls, and where to get your hands on them!

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Name: Water washable oil brush cleaner

Brand: Daler Rowney

Price: £5 – £6:50

Stockists: Jackson’s Art Supplies

Rating: 3.5/5

Benefits:

  • Low odour (solvent free)
  • Biodegradable
  • Conditions brushes whilst cleaning, using natural oils

Negatives:

  • Slightly tricky to pour (if pouring into smaller pot)
  • Can separate slightly
  • No longer stocked in high street stores such as Hobby Craft/The Range

How to use: As this can slightly separate be sure to shake first, then pour a moderate amount into a smaller pot. Wipe excess paint off your brush using tissue/paper towel before swirling your brush around a few times in the cleaner. Tap off excess before swirling in a jar of water and drying on paper towel.

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Name: Turpenoid Natural

Brand: Weber

Price: £5 + depending on size (236ml shown in photo)

Stockists: Jackson’s Art Supplies , Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

Benefits:

  • Low odour
  • Doesn’t separate
  • Conditions brushes whilst cleaning
  •  Nontoxic
  • Can double as a medium

Negatives:

  • No longer easily available in high-street stores such as The Range/Hobby Craft
  • Tricky twist cap (though good if you have inquisitive children!)

How to use: I pour a little into a separate pot, wipe the excess paint off the paintbrush wish paper towel, then swirl the brush a few times in the cleaner. You can either wipe with a paper towel and carry on, or swirl in water then dry (as I do)

cleaner3

Name: The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver

Brand: B&J

Price: £4+ depending on size (Available in 4 sizes, 75ml shown in photo)

Stockists: Pegasus Art , Jackson’s Art Supplies , Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Benefits:

  • Suitable for all paints, not just oils
  • Conditions brushes whilst cleaning
  • Beautifully presented
  • no odour
  • Cleans incredibly well

Negatives:

  • One of the pricier cleaners
  • Some waste, as you have to wipe away left over paint grime from the top

How to use: Wipe off excess paint from brush, swish in water then carefully rub in circular movements on the solid block of cleaner. Swish brush in a clean jar of water before drying with a paper towel.

winner

And the winner, by the tiniest whisker is… Weber Turpenoid Natural! Whilst I noticed how conditioned my brushes were, and how well The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver cleaned my brushes, I found Turpenoid Natural lasted longer and cleaned just as well. However, if you’re looking for a universal brush cleaner, as opposed to just oil cleaner, I would highly recommend giving The Masters a try.

Happy painting!

 

psst! Now that you’ve got the cleaning up afterwards sorted, why not head on over to these tutorials for some inspiration?

Painting clouds with oil paints

Treetorial

 

 

Finding inspiration

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I have two ‘go-to’ ways of working, but I find the easiest and most relaxed to be working from a photograph. By working this way you don’t have to worry about changes in light, or changes in position, and are free to re-visit your piece at a pace to suit you.

There are many websites offering royalty-free images (some you pay for, others you don’t) but inspiration for your work can be found in unexpected places. The other week I visited a garden centre, which always offers a huge range of sometimes unusual, stunning flowers and plants. Build yourself a collection of photographs you’ve taken and store them in a file that you can revisit when in need of a quick reference image. This can save huge amounts of time searching for reference images on the internet. My own file has grown over the years and is organised into sections for easy navigation, including ‘plants & flowers’ ‘people’ ‘places’ and more.

Inspired by my recent trip I decided to create a painting that centred around a floral theme, using my favourite variety: the daffodil.

‘I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.’

Williams Wordsworth, 1802

celticfairyc

 

Five fabulous florals to check out (click title to open new window):

The Last Flowers by TanyaShatseva

Alice and the Flowers by thedancingemu

When Flowers Dream by Puimun

Withered Flowers Illustration by Urielstempest

Watercolor Flower 4 by faegirlmara

 

Treetorial

via Daily Prompt: Paint

Like art tutorials? Follow my blog for a monthly ‘how-to’. You can discover more lessons in ‘Accurate drawing for beginners‘ and ‘Painting clouds with oil paints‘.

 

portfolioimage3
‘The Magic Forest’ Hanna-Mae Williams

 

Welcome to August’s tutorial! This month I’ll be showing you how to paint background trees using water-mixable (or regular if you prefer) oil paints.

You will need:

  • Oil paints in various shades of brown  (I used burnt sienna, raw umber, and burnt umber) white, yellow ochre, crimson, and sap green
  • Liquin original
  • paint brushes (including one flat)
  • paper or canvas suitable for oil paints
  • paint brush cleaner
  • paint palette

 

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Step 1

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Mix burnt sienna, some burnt umber, and a small amount of Liquin to get a medium brown.

Step 2

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Paint a general tree shape – straight and flaring slightly at the bottom. Don’t be afraid to apply the paint thickly, this will add to the texture we’re looking for (see picture below). This is also why it’s important not to over-do the liquin – you need only enough to slightly lubricate the paint but retain the thickness.

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Step 3

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Tidy up the edges of your tree using a smaller brush, but don’t be too worried about lumps and bumps. Real trees are never perfectly straight! Again, don’t be afraid to add quite a lot to your brush (see below) this will help with texture.

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Step 4

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Now we’ll be using the flat brush to add white (zinc white is less intense than titanium white, which is preferable right now as we want the white to blend a bit with the brown). Use a dry brush (no thinners etc from now on) and lightly dab on the left of the tree and drag across. Do this all the way down your tree.

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Step 5

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With a small, clean brush loaded with white, now’s the time to add the real highlights. Dab white (avoiding merging with the brown) over the marks you’ve already made.

Step 6

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Using your darkest brown (raw umber) and using a clean, dry brush, dab this colour near the roots, up the left, and between the gaps all the way up your tree. Don’t worry too much about colours merging.

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Step 7

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Now’s the time to use the more interesting colours. It may seem a little unusual, but if you truly observe nature you’ll notice the unexpected variety of colours! Using the same brush as in step 6, take a small amount of ochre and dab lightly up the right side of the tree, towards the centre (see below). Unlike with the browns, a more light-handed approach is needed with these more vibrant colours. The aim is to make them blend in naturally, rather than to stand out.  

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Step 8

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Dab the crimson around the root area and up the left hand side of the tree, partly covering some of the darker areas. You just want to give a hint of red.

Step 9

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As with the crimson, the green should be subtle. Think of where you would find moss growing on a tree and lightly dab these areas.

And there you have it – how to paint background trees using oils!

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Having trouble getting your brushes fully clean? No problem, read my review on the best brush cleaners out there! Monthly Review – Paintbrush cleaners

First glimpse of my Eco wear and some photographic inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of Heidi Adnum’s book ‘Taking great photos’ and have been experimenting with putting the techniques to the test. After owning my digital camera for a few years now, I’ve finally (on Heidi’s instruction) actually read the manual! Such an obvious tip, yet one that’s so often over-looked.

I was amazed at just what my camera could do, so decided to play around with the settings to take photos of my handmade clothing for the ‘Eco wear‘ section of my website. Oddly enough, I found myself drawn to the accidental ‘romantic’ effect that occurred when I set my camera to shoot in cloudy conditions. I liked the soft, sepia feel.

 

sepiaskirtduo

Before doing my own shoot I decided to browse the web to get some inspiration from other designers and see how they go about displaying their items. I came across some really creative examples that also showed their work clearly. Here are some of my favourites:

augblog1 Leiladelle – I love the simple but endearing use of paintbrushes here. It adds a sort of playfulness to the image without taking too much attention from the skirt. In her shop she uses models, intriguing backgrounds, and cute props.

 

 

 

 

augblog2 Indigenous Revival – I was drawn to this image because of the use of lighting. The flare adds a sensual softness to the image. In her shop you’ll find natural and neutral backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

 

augblog3 Piel De Lobo – Aside from the fact that this Folksy shop contains real works of art (such as unique prints) I love the way the photographer has made use of a more ‘industrial’ style background to add a certain ‘feel’ that compliments the style of clothing.

 

 

 

 

augblog4 Rooby Lane – The use of a neutral background in the majority of the images in this shop gives it a professional edge, and importantly allows the clothing to speak for itself (something which is so important with the amazing and often detailed patterns you’ll find in this shop)

 

 

 

augblog5 Ellie Ellie ltd – This is just one example of the clever use of props to add just enough interest to a photo. All of the photographs in this shop look professional, with clever use of minimalistic elements.

 

 

 

 

augblog6 Ninety5Prints – I included this shop as it perfectly demonstrated something mentioned in Heidi Adnum’s book – making use of natural, neutral backgrounds and opting for wooden coat hangers. Small details that make a huge difference. The fact that the majority of tops in this shop are displayed in this similar way also demonstrates another thing mentioned by Adnum : consistency. This can help people to identify your brand.

 

augblog7 From Rags To Bags – The odd one out! Yes, not clothing, but I couldn’t not include this one. I love the feel this rustic-looking chair adds to the image. A wonderful example of how carefully chosen props can communicate and give a certain undertone.

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