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An Artist Searches for Tools and Implements

While growing into the kind of artist you want to be, there will be times when you will find gaps in the commercial art world.

Such surprises are good, as to my mind, it means you are on the path to seeking what kind of artist you want to become. Some great masters have done the same thing, so if you find a gap that you feel will fill your art stores and style with better pictures, you are not alone.

As artists, I find that we have to learn how to make such items or implements ourselves. We end up creating our own pigments, drawing tools and paint supplies because we are starting to improve our work quality at the easel. Some artists, maybe even yourself, feel sharing your idea can make lots of artists' lives better by using your idea or product. Here are a few things you can do to push your idea, design or development into the artist studio:

  • You can teach your implement designs to other artists how to make such items.

  • You can create your implements and sell them to other artists on your website or blog page.

  • You can pitch and sell your designs to a company you feel works hard to keep the artist at the easel instead of the mortar and pestle bord. If done correctly, you can create more art and fewer items to make your artworks.

Actually, art products never used to be prepackaged. Most were made in house by the master artist for notable commission works, but paints, implements and other such devices used by the master artist were produced mainly by artist apprentices more often. Artists apprentice would learn how to create artists supplies while also learning how to draw, paint, and become a better artist as a pupal underneath a master artist.

Over time pigment shoppes popped up around or near artists studios so that the artist, but more likely it was the apprentice, would pay for or request pigment options. These enterprising pigment merchants started offering pre-ground pigments, a small fee that was time-saving for artists and their apprentices. You could say the apprentice was slightly nudged out of a large part of their job by these astute merchants who offered more and more time-saving options like making pens, pencils, crayons, studio furniture and a myriad of other cool art gadgets. This artist material shop and artist relationship became so much the norm that artists stopped making their tools or supplies and started requesting the merchants to make items specifically for their needs.

Pictured below I am in Paris, about a 1000 paces from the Louvre. In the same shop that most of my preferred paint brand was created, and crafted a few of my mentor artists such as Henry Matisse and Pablo Picasso and master chemist Gustave Sennelier.  I was thrilled because My wheel chair would not fit in the door, and they let me in and sat me down while they reset my chair so I could come in the shop. They made me a few pigment paints in house and gave me a short tour. Probably in the top five best days in my year of 2018. I know its not the most flattering picture of my self. But I  am so happy in this picture, I think I look fat with joy. 

The foremost brand of paint I use has such beginnings called Sennelier. In the late 1800s, Gustave Sennelier opened up a paint shop almost across from the Lovere. Unable to satisfy his or his clients' paint standards, he began to make his paints catering to the artists who frequented his shop—artists such as Henry Matise or Pablo Picasso. Due to artists' needs, new mediums were born, such as the oil and chalk pastel. Sennilier is well known for their pigments' clarity as they use safflower oil and lavender essence as bases and thinners to their paints.

If you would like to try their paints, know they are a bit spendy, but I feel worth the higher price. I am permanently in love with their cadmium colours, especially their cadmium lemon yellow. But some of their pinks, such as PR132, could use some work. I recommend getting just the Pr 132 pigment from Grumbacher, but not their oil paint form. Why? Because Pr 132 made by Grumbacher-their Thalo Red in oils uses linseed, not safflower oil, which changes the pigment colour to a definite cold coloured red which is so disappointing.

As an artist, I like flex colours or colours, which naturally out of the tube can be interpreted as both a cold and hot colour.


What this number-letter stuff have to do with pigment?

Artists paints have a chemical composition, and index names are given a lettered and numbered name, like PR132. This system helps artists understand the colour of the pigment and what colour the artist is purchasing more effortless. Trying to remember that Vermillsioan red, in one brand of paint, is actually English Brick red in another brand can be a real headache. Knowing the paint's chemical and index number is essential to understand as you experiment with paint brands to prevent such mishaps and expensive mistakes.

Click on the Pantone above to get to a web cite full of information on this system, and what colour are right for you and your pallet.


A few things the Art Market Lacks

I have a few ideas I feel are gaps in the commercial art market and would make creating works easier and cater to my art style. But I also sense that I am not the only artist who works this way or that artists would not benefit from some of my ideas being available on the commercial market or an excellent art-making products page.

Just before going up to the top of the tower. We got a pass and and the elevator to our selfs, which was nice because we got to enjoy the view from the elevator.

Can't Find Collapsible Viewfinders

Viewfinders/Visualisers are essential tools in any artists toolbox, especially if you like to paint cityscapes or landscapes outside.

It's not like they have not been made before, and most artists attach a framed scrap of matt board to the side of their easel.

Check out my blog post and make your Visualiser today!

But for me, I like mine to be a separate and more maneuverable piece of furniture than the attached to easel version most commonly used today. Vincent Van-Gogh had one such device, and so too did countless other artists such as Pissarro or Albrect Durr. I have made my version based on Van-Gogh's letters to Theo and the movie "Loving Vincent".

I weep like a baby every time I watch this movie. Its soo sad, and you can feel his paintings. I get the chills just watching the trailers. Its worth the watch if you have a few hours to spare

I sense this more collapsible studio to field furniture has fallen out of fashion. Younger artists do not know or have access to knowledge about such devices used by the masters listed above without taking the time to research how did their mentors "did it".

This research is more or less why I stumbled on such a valuable tool to support my devices, such as a Visualiser. Due to the lack of such a thing on the market, I made one myself. I think this is a shame, as there is quite a lot of money to be had if someone would make one that attached to a collapsible tripod. Merchants could even sell them as part of a packaged set with a Plein air field easel. Perfect for the outdoor artist just starting.

Since making the one pictured, I have made two others with better design features and made out of better materials. Maybe one day, I will be making these visualiser's like a sidebar to support my art habit. But for now, I need to find an innovative carpenter willing to take my designs to the subsequent Visual level to up my Viewfinder game.

Wanting to go Woodless

I love woodless pencils and coloured pencils! They are totes my goats the best thing in my drawing world. I love how heavy and powerful they feel in my hand, and best of all, no scary Exacto knifes! All I have to do is bring a sand block, and boom! I am ready to make art.

Have wood pencils and want to know how to get that artists tip? Cheak out my blog post:

There is nothing worse than having to hand over your sharps because you forgot they were in your art bag, have a pencil break, and need that sharp back to get back to your artistic creations.

Wood pencils are delightful for writing and detailed work, but if you want to have all your pencils keep an artists tip, you may be in some bad luck. To get an artists tip with a wood pencil, you must shave away quite a lot of the wood from the pigment stick inside the wood. This artist tip requires an Exacto knife; no pencil sharpener will get an artist tip on a pencil. Well, save for one called the Hovel, but if there is security where you are, they may baulk at it, and if that Hovel is taken away, you'll lose 50 dollars down the drain for a fancy pencil sharpener.

So I want to go woodless! But, high H pencils are only offered on the market as wood pencils. I feel manufactures could easily make this change if only they tapped into this artist supply market. We could save a few trees, make great art, keep people and fingers secure from harm, and take care of our artists need to support such a threatening device in their art boxes.

On that note, more range in hardness to softness scaled coloured pencils. All graphite pencils range from 9h-10b pencils. How come coloured pencils are not done the same way? It's virtually the same process, and I am sure there would be a few lightfastness issues that may need to be addressed, but this idea is excellent! Sell one colour, say Prussian blue, but in hardness to softness levels in a set. You could do this with every colour you create, and there would be a market for such items as these. I know because I would be one of the first in line to buy every colour and then create a set custom set of coloured pencils I would use regularly. Plus, the pencil method has been in use and is well known for ages, but no one has taken this idea to the coloured pencil market. Most Coloured pencils are 2h-2b in hardness levels, and the hardness level is usually not advertised by the company unless you research your products reasonably thoroughly.

"The flight of Love" Pictured below using woodless and wood graphite pencils

If this idea went woodless, I would be all the more pleased with the brand that decided to take up these small ideas and made them into reality. I could learn how to make them my self, but I would need a studio with an air ventilator and maybe a kilim. So, if I do, these tools will be when I purchase a house and design my dream studio in the back garden. Until then, I will work small and with what is on the market or meet my version of Gustave Sennelier.

Want help making your artist tools, devices and other goodies to fill your studio and canvasses with exotic adventures? Try these. Just click on the link, and it will send you to the place you can purchase your book.



Citations and References


Don't forget to check these out there are some cool articles and websites for you to look through to get your history and pigment game alive and kicking.

Gallery, King’S Framing Art. “Evolution of Professional Artist’s Basic Art Supplies.” King’s Framing & Art Gallery, 30 July 2020,

O’Hanlon, George. “Artists Materials - Traditional Oil Painting: The Revival of Historical Artists’ Materials.” Natural Pigments, 6 Oct. 2013,

“A Real Squeeze Paint in Tubes.” Christies, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

“Sennelier since 1887.” Sennelier, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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