Frequently Asked Questions

RECENT UPDATES:  What Studio lighting do you suggest?

This is going to be an often updated post and in it I will be covering answers to some very important FAQ's. At first I will answer the most frequent and then, progressively, the more niche questions.

If you have a suggestion for a new FAQ please leave it in the comment section!

Materials

  • Q: What is a plumb line?
  • A: A plumbline is made by tying a weight to one end of a piece of string, usually no shorter than 30cm or 15 inches. When held aloft the weight is pulled downwards by gravity leaving the string to show a perfect vertical axis. It is useful when making comparisons between points along a vertical axis when drawing


  • Q: What paint brushes do you use?
  • A: 1. Blick Wonder White Synthetics, long handle. Filbert 2-6, round 1-6. 2. Rosemary Brush Co. Eclips Combers, flats 1/8-3/4. 3. Utrecht Manglon Synthetic Brushes. Flats 4-8, round 4-10. Links below:

https://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-scholastic-wonder-white-brushes/ 

https://www.rosemaryandco.com/eclipse-combers

https://www.dickblick.com/products/utrecht-manglon-synthetic-brushes/ 


  • Q: What is PVA and how do you use it to prepare a piece of paper for oil painting?
  • A: PVA is short for Poly vinyl acetate and it is used as a barrier, or size, between linen or paper instead of rabbit skin glue. Remains flexible and won't yellow, shrink or swell. PVA size, as sold by Gamblin, is just PVA mixed with distilled water to make it thinner and easier to apply. The last thing I'll say about it, and it is very important, is that it is hydrophobic. This means that it does not respond to atmospheric moisture. In brief- that is a good quality for an oil painting ground to be.


  • Q: What medium do you use? When and why do you use it?
  • A: A medium is essentially a substance painters will use to augment the performance of their paint. Do you want your paint to dry more slowly? There's a medium for that. More quickly? There's a medium for that. And on and on from there. Because of this it should be understood that you don't have to use any extra medium at all if you like the performance of your paint just as it is. I use cold pressed linseed oil with no other additives. I use it very sparingly as it will extend the drying time of the paint and also can make it very slippery to the brush and harder to manipulate. There are many reasons why I will use it when painting: 1. to spread the paint a little bit more quickly if I am covering a large area 2. To adjust the consistency of the paint if, for instance, the paint is too stiff to make the kind of sharp detail I am trying to make 3. To "oil out," a painting... 
  • A: About using thinners in medium such as turpentine or white spirits, etc... These thinners alter the performance of the paint by making it very fluid during application and then quickly evaporating thereafter. This has some advantages for an oil painter, namely the paint isn't super slippery later on in the painting session. However- these additives are TOXIC. After evaporating from your painting they are in the air in your studio and eventually, to a greater or lesser extent, they get into your body. That process of evaporation doesn't end once the paint film is dry, the surface of the painting will continue to off gas for quite a while longer (though at a much lower rate). Unless you are able to work in a very well ventilated studio I recommend that you not use these thinners in your painting process. Otherwise, from an off gassing perspective oil paint and linseed oil are safe to use indoors (to the best of my knowledge). 


  • Q: What are paper do you use in your drawing tutorials?
  • A: Mostly Stonehenge, made by a company called Legion. The version that I use is 120 lb. Try this link if you are in the USA. And this link if you are in Europe.


  • Q: What pencils do you use?
  • A: My go to for mechanical pencils is the Pentel 120 A3DX and I use all four sizes- .3mm, .5mm, .7mm, & .9mm. For wood pencils I prefer two brands/models, the Tombow homo-graph and the Mitsubishi Hi-uni. The leads in these range from 4H-4B. For .9mm white chalk I also use the pentel 120 A3DX with Bohin ceramic chalk refills.


  • Q: How do you decide which pencil to use, when and where? 
  • A: The various hardnesses of graphite pencils indicate how dark or light a value that pencil will produce. A harder lead (4H) will produce a light value whereas a softer lead (4B) will produce a darker value. Mechanical pencils have different sizes, .3mm - .9mm. When choosing which size to use I take nostly into consideration what size is the shape that I am drawing. Also, I will consider what the grain of the paper is. A smaller diameter of lead will be required to "fill the holes," of a very fine toothed paper. 


  • Q: What linen/canvas do you paint on?
  • A: For starters I almost always use an oil ground on linen support, sometimes with that linen adhered to a panel. Sometimes I will paint on an acrylic ground on a linen or hardboard panel support. A widely available linen with oil ground is made by a company called Claessens, the item description is 13DP.


  • Q: What palette do you use for oil painting? 
  • A: Flake White and Ivory Black from Williamsburg Oil Colors. Vermillion Extra, Alizarin Crimson Lake Extra, and Old Holland Yellow-Brown from Old Holland. Another color that you will often find in my basic palette is Raw Umber. If I use a more extended palette I will incorporate some of the following: Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Light, and/or Viridian.


  • Q: What brand of Egg Tempera do you use when you incorporate it into your drawings?
  • A: It is a Titanium White made by Sennelier.

Studio Gear & Set Up

  • Q: What artificial studio lighting do you use?
  • A: My studio light is a Aperture Light Storm 120d Mark II with a 36in. white interior soft box on a C-standwith an adjustable horizontal arm. I have a sandbag on the bottom of the C-stand for ballast so that I can hang the light/soft-box directly over, and just in front of, my easel. All of these products are available at bhphotovideo.com in the USA. If you live elsewhere in the world try contacting your closest audio/video/photography equipment store and ask about "professional video lighting." 


  • Q: Where can I get high quality plaster casts of classical sculpture for drawing and painting?
  • A: For starters let's be super clear- ONLY good quality casts are worth buying. There are many places to get plaster casts some may be good some not. The 2 shops that I am going to recommend are manufacturers that I know and trust. Thor's Cast Collection is the first and Felice Calchi is the other. Both are in Italy and are used to selling and shipping internationally. 

Mentorship, Teaching, Tutorials

  • Q: How do I get to most out of these tutorials?
  • A: Most patrons will do what is called a "draw along," or a "paint along." Using the model packs that I provide with each tutorial you can make your own original work or even use the same source image and make a replica of the one in the tutorial. This way you are watching, listening, and making a practical application of the lesson. In my opinion this will provide the highest level of assimilation of the material. Also, make sure to download the vocabulary PDF at the bottom of this page- it's so important!


  • Q: I am a beginner, what videos should I start with?
  • A: I recommend to start with the Drawing Essentials series. They are necessary for everything that comes after. In addition, and for portraiture specifically, the Center Line Construction workshop is super useful.


  • Q: Are there any places available in the Mentorship Tier, Mentorship+ Tier, or the Student Tier?
  • A: Usually 1 or 2 places come available each month and they are quickly snapped up. I have tried to have a waiting list in the past but it rarely works- I would send out notifications to the people on the list and before those people could get to the pager and sign op the place would be taken by someone else. My best advice it to keep an eye out for any email announcement and don't hesitate when you get the chance!


  • Q: What differentiates the more academic method, like that of the schools in Florence, in relation to the more American method (Loomis, Watts, Reilly, Proko ...)? What made you choose the traditional classical method?
  • A: I can't speak to the other methods with too much depth of familiarity. I think though that each one has a different ideal end product in mind. That then will inform all of the advices and procedures that they recommend. Everything from paper & pencils to brushes & medium. For a student you have to look to the work of the instructors and graduates to understand if it is the aesthetic that you aspire to. 

Recommended Books, Resources

  • Q: What books do you recommend?
  • A: Lets start this with a short but important list- 
  • 1. Harold Speed's Practice and Science of Drawing 
  • 2. Elliot Goldfinger's Human Anatomy for Artist's 
  • 3. Cyril Pierce's Composition: An Analysis of the Principles of Pictorial Design for the Use of Students, Art Schools, Etc. 
  • 4. The Artist's Handbook by Pip Seymour 


  • Q: What digital resources do you reccomend? 
  • A: I will continue to add to this list as I think of other resources-
  • 1. The "L'ecorche" app produced by Scott Eaton is available on the apple and android app stores.
  • 2. Ecorche Assistant app is, I think, only available on apple devices and is really great.


  • Q: Can I use images from the model packs that you provide on Patreon for making my own artwork that I will then put on the market for sale?
  • A: Yes. All of the models that I work with and provide images of for student use have signed releases for their image rights, as it pertains to the images I provide. You may use them to make drawings and paintings. However it is not okay to distribute them as photographs- that usage is only provided for me, here on Patreon. 

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