So, I do art and stuff - general artistic / creative chat

I pretend to be an artist in real life, and a chum in the Frontiers section suggested we chat about our pursuits, trials and tribulations and whatnot.

I’m kind of a Renaissance man, which today I think is called a polymorph… polymath, that’s it! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: I do electronic music when I’m feeling brave, though a long stint as an itinerant engineer / producer left me with severely rusty fingers, and right now I’m terrible. I hope to get back to that stuff soon. I also write fiction - an example is bouncing around right now in the Origins section and might have to be moved soon. Oh lordy, so many ambitions from science, philosophy, history, the dreaded theology and politics… I have so many interests I’m spread a bit thin.

But among them is art. I work in pencil, graphite and colored, watercolor, acrylic and oils. My main focus for a couple of decades was aviation art, but I began to delve into all sorts of subjects. About twelve years ago, I got the bug to get back into it and bought more than $500 worth of water soluble oils as I wanted to get something I started with. And starting with oils is kind of a deep pool, but I loved working with them. Acrylics were cheaper and nearly as good, better in a few ways, so I went with them for many years. I discovered watercolors and I had an epiphany over them, and did some of my best work with them. But I played around with the water oils a bit, and had some fun rediscovering the good and not so good sides of that lovely medium.

Music distracted me for quite some time, and a few people discovered the quality of my productions and I made a portion of my income recording and producing some local talents, worked very briefly in a real studio until I got tired of being poor and got a real… government job, meh, so art took a back seat and the art stuff languished for a decade.

So writing my No Man’s Sky fiction, I used images from the game as illustrations, but I began running out of suitable subjects. And I got the bright idea to do some art for it, as I had hundreds of Ameribucks worth of supplies just sitting around doing nothing. And…

The water soluble oils smelled funny, the cheaper ones, Weber wOils which I noticed no one sells anymore. And they didn’t like diluting with water. And they didn’t want to clean up with soap and water very easily. And THEY STAINED MY BRUSHES! GRAH! And I mean stained.

I forget what the large brush is called, but it used to be a light golden brown. The smaller ones are all white synthetics, or used to be:weary:

So now I have the dilemma of deciding to bolster my tidy art bucket with some affordable but very good LUKAS Berlin water oils, which would cost me somewhere north of $120, or splurge on some Golden Open acrylics which are inherently slow drying with some oily tendencies but all the advantages of acrylics. Right now I’m a bit poor, so I’m sitting pat for now. I do have some superb watercolors to work with, and a bunch of surprisingly good Master’s Touch acrylics which I’m using on another painting for the fic, so I have options.

Here’s a (poor) example of what I used to do in aviation art.

And a sketch I did of the character MacBeth from Disney’s Gargoyles I never did anything with.

My dreaded water oil collection. The nasty Weber wOils are the top row. The rest are a mix of Cobra Talens which are great, Grumbacher MAX which used to be great but are succumbing to old age like the Webers, a couple of Holbein which are fantastic but a bit pricey, and a couple of Windsor & Newton which are wonderful. Not too expensive and quite lovely paints. The LUKAS Berlins I recently bought are very nice too, and almost half other brands.

And my “studio” space with my Master’s Touch acrylics.

Acrylicwise, I love the Master’s stuff, available at Hobby Lobby and is quite cheap while offering close to pro quality. Grumbacher is good, but I covet Liquitex Heavy Body, Utrecht for quality at a good price, LUKAS heavy body, cheap but high quality, the dreaded Windsor & Newtons, and the delicious Golden brand, particularly the Open slow drying acrylics.

In watercolor , I stumbled into Qor which has a lovely line, and there are some great watercolor brands out, but Windsor & Newton again seem to be the high bar and safe bet if you want the best.

Hopefully I’ll have some stuff to share soooon:sweat_smile:

So what’s your art story?


Well if that is a poor example, please, don’t show me your good stuff! I will never pick up another brush again. :wink: Seriously, nice work!


I have tried oil painting years ago but never progressed beyond the beginner still-life phase… Before I started working full time I enjoyed painting as well… now I just doodle. :laughing:

More on the impressionistic / abstract end of the scale, not naturalistic. I still have chalk/crayons and watercolours, and I had a beautiful set of primary colours Gouache (if you know that?) and recently I picked them up and the tubes turned hard as rock. :cry: Has anyone managed to revive dried tubes…?

The only recent “artwork” I have a picture of on my phone is this silliness :innocent:

(Those are specific characters from a game)


Those are super cute! And that pet rock of theirs… :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Gouache is a weird paint - and it’s pronounced “gwa”?? I’ve been saying “gwash” forever! Gah… :yum: Anyhow, it has a few different substances in them, possibly including chalk, and the gums used are likely a poor replacement with water. I’m thinking if you tried to dig some out, it would just end up like a weak watercolor. I have a few tubes of Grumbacher MAX water oils like that, only good for the trash or artistic paper weights. And who weighs paper these days?

And on that note, I’m beginning to think of just abandoning my aquatic oils. I smelled that funny rancid oil aroma last night after I made a late supper from fighting my paints that day, and I thought it was just a lingering smell. But then it struck me that I had washed as much as a tablespoon of paint down the drain, and that smell was thick over the sink… GRAH! I have several tubes of Grumbacher MAX that are aging almost as badly as the Webers, so I’m looking at as much as $180 to replace the stinky offenders, and the remaining Cobras still might smell funny. Or spend the $230 or so to get nice, safe Golden Open slow drying and non-smelly acrylics which are kind of like oils but have all the advantages of acrylics. Decisions, decisions…

But I won’t be able to afford anything for a while, so… I’ll suffer the stink. :woozy_face:

And I’m stuck on a small strip of sky right now which is being unruly, so I’ll have to slap that puppy into obedience somehow, so I can move on to more interesting things…


I can’t help feeling alarmed. If I were you I would definitely ditch the rancid water miscible oils!. They will probably eat through any substrate you use them on. There is also the effect on your health.

Aside from the possible health issues,I’m a hard-liner when it comes to archival qualities of painting supplies. I want the paintings I sell to others to last at least a few generations so they get their money’s worth. lol

You have no need to be self-deprecating about your skill as an illustrator (unless that is a a cultural thing?). These are quite good! And your strong drawing skills will serve you well as you move into more expressive painterly works. Every artist I have come across is self-deprecating about their own work. I think it is because since we painted it we only see what it could have been, and isn’t, while others who didn’t paint it, only see what it became without our mental image to compare it to. :smile:

I have tried a couple of water miscible oils and for those I preferred Winsor Newton. But they still don’t have the visceral feel that I need.
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t creating art. I remember as far back as age 3 messing with drawing and painting.

I have progressed through graphite, inks, watercolours, acrylics (OPEN acrylics are the best of these), oil pastels (aka oil sticks) and finally have come home to oils. Oils that are simply Pigment + linseed oil.

I say “progressed through”, but I actually suffered through over fifty years of trying to paint with acrylics. I have seen others do wonders with the medium, but it just doesn’t suit my impatient temperament. I would get a colour mixed and by that time the paint was already dry on the brush! In just a few seconds! I do believe that persisting with it taught me a lot about painting itself over those decades, but it was always a head-banging struggle. OPEN acrylics helped with that somewhat, but still they are not oils, and as you have discovered, neither are water-miscible oils.

I generally use a limited palette of three warm primaries plus three cool primaries and titanium white. And lately I have added viridian, and also dioxazine purple to my palette when needed. Some of the colours are opaque and some are transparent.

So from left to right on my palette I have viridian, ultramarine blue, quinacridone magenta, Cadmium red light (or orange), Cadmium Yellow light (or medium) and titanium white. and sometimes I put a blob of dioxazine purple below the viridian. Because red plus blue does not always result in purple.

I chose Gamblin oils after much research (almost) looking for a quality paint that didn’t cost the universe. Keeping the palette limited also limits the amount of money we need to spend on supplies.

I use the paint right from the tube or mixed with a touch of artists refined linseed oil. No solvents. None.

Since I paint every day, I keep my brushes sitting in the slower drying artists refined safflower oil when not in use, until they need a good cleaning.Then I clean them up with a mild solution of Murphy’s oil soap and water, and one more cleaning with “the Masters brush cleaner”, the white one that conditions the brushes…

I remember feeling so relieved to learn that you can start with only three colours plus white, if the colours are compatible. That kept the cost down while I learned how to mix any colour I saw from just those three primaries, plus use the white to help with the values. That goes for all types of media from inks to watercolours, gouache, acrylics and oils.

aaaand… this turned out to be a much longer post than I intended so I will stop there. Sometimes I think I should start a painter blog. lol

@AdaRynin Love the photo! Are they dolls or did you paint them. My eyesight is so bad (or you painted them so well), I can’t tell. lol


Those are made of wool (the photo is maybe overexposed)! It’s crochet/amigurumi style.


Ooh! How big are they? They are so cute!


About as long as a hand, 20 cm?
Make an image search for amigurumi if you like cute (and inspirational) things. :wink:


Well, rancid oil doesn’t have any health issues as far as I can tell. You can even eat rancid butter, if you want to, it just has that… taste. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: However, the archival quality thing hadn’t occurred to me…

Like you, I want my art to endure for a few months, so I’m rethinking money hoarding a bit. The Winsdor & Newton tubes have endured the decade of unuse so well, I’m thinking of switching to them exclusively, and most artists love them. I’m also thinking of skipping the Golden Opens, even as highly regarded as they are, and just sticking with the W&N oils for the slow drying thing.

Now I know why I passed over the Gamblins. While artists adore them, they’re the Aston Martins of paints, and quite pricey.

I bought some of the Royal Talens Cobras - sorry RT, my memory - in cyan, yellow and magenta to experiment with primary mixing. Keith Ferris, a famous aviation artist of amazing talent, learned in his youth as a lithographer that paintings didn’t always transfer to litho so well because of a few trouble colors. So he learned the formulas and ever after, only painted in CMYK colors, mixing literally everything including his own blacks. And I’m not a master mixer, so I’m still buying a fairly large color box. I have so many paints because the silly online shops like Dick Blick keep throwing in freebies with my orders. I keep seeing things that I know I didn’t buy, but that’s why. I’ve also done all I can to keep the “hues” to the essentials, since they’re made with other pigments, so why not buy those paints instead? Hues also might not mix as well in some shades. I’ll buy them on occasion.

I also tend to buy a few blues and greens because they all mix differently, and getting just the right blue-green sometimes takes a few tries. I should chase down a litho color formula chart, but I’m habitual and lazy. Because of my military art, I’ve taken to buying a number of browns and yellows because they make those muddy colors used in the militaries around the world a snap.

Stores seem to be out of a number of key paints until October, so looks like I’m making do for a while. I just need to either use cheap brushes with my Webers, or get some brush cleaner / conditioner, which I should anyway. Now, to see if I can get these woods right… :woozy_face:


The Gamblin’s oils are more of a mid-range price-wise compared to Micheal Harding Paints, Old Holland, etc. They have a high pigment-to-linseed oil ratio, and as far as I could ascertain, little to none fillers. Their high pigment count means that we use very little to create our mixes, and it gives us a lot more control over value, colour harmony and colour temperature.

I think the difference in our (yours and mine) preferences may have more to do with the way we want to paint.

If I read you right, yours is more of a photo-realistic (illustrative?) approach (please do correct me if I have that wrong!), while mine tends more toward abstract realism.(i paint mostly landscapes with trees in, and also abstracts that I kind of grow organically. (Somewhere on here is a post I made of a number of 6x8" acrylic studies I made of NMS landscapes from screenshots, too).
What we are inspired to paint, and the way we prefer to paint, make a lot of difference as to what tools and mediums we choose to use.
To give you an example of my way of painting, here is a photo of one of a series of studies I made of one of my favorite places, the gorges in Ithaca NY: “At the Brink”:

And here is a photo of a “still life” subject. (I dragged my easel into the kitchen, much thanks to the forbearance of my spouse, to paint this from life). lol
“Counter Reflections”:

Both paintings are with acrylics on (iirc) 16x12" canvas panels.
One day I will make larger studio paintings of these in oils (maybe 60"x48").

But these were made with Golden brand acrylics with a limited palette of three primaries plus white (as I stated above).

I tried to find a photo of the painting I sold last week, but I haven’t transferred it from my phone yet.

One final note: I have stopped using Blick as a supplier; instead I’m using Jerry’s Artarama for supplies lately. They have some really good sales on paints, and other supplies going on right now. The orders are packaged very well and delivered quickly (at least to here in Upstate NY).

Happy painting! :heart:

(Edited for typos)