Friday, December 17, 2010

Keeping the tools ship shape

What is the best way to clean a brush?

After years of cleaning brushes and all the different methods I have tried, (brush soaps, shampoo, conditioners, oils…etc., the method illustrated below is the quickest & simplest method and will keep your bristles in beautiful shape and flexible for a long and useful life.

One note about the lasting quality of brushes: if you paint on a rough, course linen or canvas, your bristles will wear down, much like running acarrot over a grater. Your brushes will wear regardless of how you clean them.

First wipe the excess paint from your brush using a rag or paper towel.
Next, use your cleaning solution, thinner. I like Gamsol, as my thinner-cleaner solution as the emissions from this solvent is lower than other mineral spirits.
Swish the brushes in the Gamsol and get the majority of oil paint off. Do not scrub the brush- just swish them with some vigor.

Now- it gets easy- set the brushes in a solution of concentrated Simple Green. You want to place your brushes so the brush-handle rests against the side of the solvent container (as shown below). This will keep a minimal amount of pressure on the bristles and they won’t loose their original shape.

You will want to make sure the bristles and the very bottom section of the metal ferrule is immersed in the Simple Green. Do not let any part of the wood handle to be in contact with the Simple Green. Simple Green is very effective in removing paint and it will also remove the paint from the handle and the glue attaching the ferrule to the wood handle.

I leave the brush in this solution overnight and then rinse under cool water the next day. (I have left my brushes in Simple Green for days, with no damage)
When rinsing your brushes, do it under a good stream of water and press the bristles against the bottom of the sink, again do not scrub it. If it seems there is still paint left up in the ferrule, put the brush back in the solution for another day. Paint trapped in the ferrule will cause your bristles to eventually fan out and loose their shape.

When you are satisfied the bristles are clean, tap off excess water and leave to dry in a horizontal position where air can circulate all around the brush. Your brushes should be dry by the next day and ready to use. Note, some pigment colors will stain the bristles, and this does not affect the life or flexibility of the brush.

Note: You can also remove dried on paint from palette knives in the same way. Leave only the metal blade in the simple green, you will be able to wipe the built-up paint off after leaving them soak for overnight, maybe longer if you have a lot of build up. Remember… don’t let the handle be in contact with the Simple Green- only the blade.

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Let’s talk about brushes. Students ask me what to look for when purchasing brushes, as there are so many out there to choose from.

A good oil painting brush is your tool. A brush should lay down paint on the canvas, not drag or scrape it. Many of my students show up to class with a handful of brushes, which are “over the hill”. It is frustrating for them, because the paint won’t come off the brush and lay over the paint layer under it. Brushes do not last forever, but with good care they will live longer. I will cover cleaning in another post. Hey, but don’t throw out your old brushes. I like to use my old brushes for other uses, like paint touch ups on walls, cleaning lint out of sewing machines, crafts, scouring drain openings… use your imagination, there are many useful ways to use that old brush.

"Over the Hill Brushes"

My favorite overall choice is a filbert bristle brush, second is a flat. That said, there are many different brands and quality of bristle brushes. Remember, this is one of your most important tools (next to your brain). Just like a chef needs a good quality knife that cuts with ease, you need a brush that will apply the paint without a fight and keep the process fun.

This is what I look for in a brush.
Flexibility: A good bristle brush should have flex and be long enough to bend in the middle.
There is a difference between flex and soft. A soft haired brush, as in sables, is good for softening edges in oil or in painting with watercolor. I prefer a natural hog hair bristle brush for the majority of my oil painting applications.
If the bristles are too stiff the paint will not leave the brush and lay paint over the layer underneath, it will merely scrape it. Your painting will look thin and anemic and your colors will be dull, not luminous.

Dimension: I choose filberts that have a thin profile. This allows the brush to be used as a drawing tool as well as for layering of paint. If the brush is too thick, you loose the ability to make beautiful thin linear notes as well as overall control. Notice how much thinner one brush is. These two new brushes are both size 8, by different manufactures.

Flats vs. Filberts: I really like flats when I am working with square shapes or wanting a sharper edge. Filberts are the brush I use 90% of the time.
Notice how the paint layers differently with a flat versus a filbert. The filberts add layers without a hard edge. Also shown is the path of each brush as it paints on a clean canvas. The flat & filbert brushes used are both size #6.

Remember: Our tools are an extension of our desire. Choose the best and make a beautiful mark on the World.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


During this time of year I took a look back and reflected on things past that have made positive impacts on my life and led me to the path I am on – making art.

As an artist, I realize how wonderful it is to wake each day, knowing that today will be unique from any day before it and that I will loose myself at some point into the “zone” of creating.

For the freedom to create is a glorious gift. I am very grateful to my Mother, who engaged me in art, as a child. It is because of that exposure, that I am an artist today.

If you are a Parent, Grandparent, Uncle or Aunt, and have the opportunity to introduce art to a young person, please do not hesitate. Sometimes the most insignificant exhibit, play, musical performance or book can make a significant impact on their attitude to art as they grow to be adults.

This year, I received many emails with request for more classes or more blog postings; it was amazing actually, that so many people even look at my website or blog. So, with that discovery, I am resolving to make regular posts on my blog this year. Anything from new discoveries, pigments, exhibits, workshop exercises, mixing color… just about anything current that I think will be of benefit. On this posting, I have just listed 3 new workshops for 2011. Look to the right for the Workshop link.

Thank you for being part of my artistic world and I encourage you to keep striving to squeeze more art into each day.

Thank you again for visiting my Blog.



2011 Workshops


STUDIO PAINTING- Dynamics of a Strong Painting 3-DAY Workshop Class full
Dates: May 25-27 Wed- Fri. 10am – 4:30 pm Cost: $395.

This 3-Day Workshop will utilize exercises toward a goal of developing strong paintings. We will be working in the studio of the Southern California Artists Association located in Laguna Beach. Areas of concentration will be focused on composition- values- color.

12-Student limit. $100. Deposit requested upon sign-up. Please call to ensure space availability (949) 496-2993
If you need to cancel a class, your deposit will be refunded, provided you notify me 2 weeks prior to the beginning of the class. After this date refunds will only be granted if there is a waiting list. Deposits may apply toward another class in the future.

Mail deposit to:
Robin Hall Studio
P.O. Box 2952
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624

Please look for further announcements of classes. As we get closer to Spring (a season of more cooperative weather), I will post Plein Air workshop and their dates.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Robin Hall will have a exhibit of new paintings at the Oceanside Museum of Art. The exhibit "IMPRESSIONS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA" runs from May 25, 2010 through July 11, 2020.

OMA Groves Gallery, May 25 – July 11, 2010

Impressions of Southern California presents captivating views of San Diego and beyond from the illimitable coastline to dense urban landscapes that color the city. Orange County artist Robin Hall and San Diego artist Jeff Yeomans will display new paintings of Oceanside inspired by the recent transformation of urban development in the area as well as endearing scenery from Southern California. Meet the Artists Robin Hall and Jeff Yeomans on Saturday, June 12 at 1:00 p.m. and hear them discuss the artistic process behind their artwork at 2pm. Wine and nibbles from 1 to 4pm. The talk is free with museum admission and complimentary for OMA members. Impressions of Southern California will be on view May 25 through July 11, 2010 in the Oceanside Museum of Art Groves Gallery.

The focus of Robin Halls work is capturing the saturated light of California and the drama it creates on surfaces and architecture; giving more attention to how color and edges are affected by light and its absence. Hall’s paintings have been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries including the Laguna Plein Air Invitational at the Laguna Art Museum in 2009, and Sites of Southern California at the Bowers Museum in 2004.

California contemporary painter Jeff Yeomans paints to document California now, to remember the culture and “fabric” of the region. His work ranges from coastal studies to figurative work and urban landscapes. Yeomans recently had his first one-man exhibition at the San Diego Art Institute and in October 2007 Yeomans completed a commission for the Naval Hospital in Balboa Park, San Diego.