Although it has been over ten years since I attended my very first painting convention, I will always remember the feeling of anxiety that overcame me as I struggled to select only the most essential supplies to accompany me on my adventure. I was convinced that the omission of even one brush would result in a painting disaster. Unfortunately, during my very first painting class, it quickly became apparent that I had dramatically overpacked my supplies. Surprisingly, I had brought so many things to sift through, that finding any single object became nearly impossible. Imagine an overeager puppy digging in soft dirt-as l dug through my cavernous painting tote, stuff was literally flying everywhere, but I could never get my hands on what I needed! Over the years, I have subtracted a ton of nonessen-tials, I have included some things often overlooked, and I have created a packing list that I use whether I am attending a local class or a regional convention. For the purposes of this article, my selection of essential supplies and brushes is in response to those vague words listed in every convention catalog that instructs you to “bring your usual painting supplies.” Hmmm…and just exactly what might those be? This inventory is merely a starting point. Many of you will have certain things that YOU consider to be essential – add them to the list! I wholeheartedly encourage you to take my list and transform it into your list.
You will need a flexible brad notebook with clear sheet protectors labeled and containing the following supplies:
□ Gray and white graphite and blue Chacopaper
□ Palette paper: several sheets of small wet palette paper (acrylics) and several loose sheets of waxed palette paper (acrylics and oils)
□ Several strips of removable painter’s tape applied to sheet protector pages (not the whole roll)
□ Tracing paper: several loose sheets
□ (In pockets): Two basecoated pieces of poster board or mat board — one in a light color and one in a dark color. Use them as a practice surface to experiment with a new technique before painting on the actual surface.
□ Full roll of lint-free, absorbent paper towels
□ Painting apron
□ Small wet palette in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag (acrylics)
□ Small-lidded container for thinner or turp (oils)
□ Water basin in plastic bag with twist tie (acrylics)
Small Tool Bag
□ Brush cleaner (liquid or bar)
□ Double-headed stylus (some surfaces are too delicate for the small ball tip usually found on a single-tip stylus)
□ Eraser (I prefer a white, retractable stick eraser)
□ Flexible bead clip or holder (to display project photo)
□ Highlighter pen
□ Paint bottle opener (acrylic classes)
□ Pencil (writes smoothly on tracing paper and surface)
□ Permanent marker (for marking supplies received in class)
□ Plastic palette knife (gets through security)
□ Ruler (6″) or triangle (for creating straight lines)
□ Several empty paint cubbies
□ Small plastic pencil sharpener
□ Small square each of medium- and fine-grit sandpaper
□ Soapstone pencil or white chalk pencil (writes on dark surface)
□ Clear cellophane tape
□ Cosmetic wedge sponge
□ Cotton swabs (or damp brush to remove errors)
□ Handheld fan
□ Magnifying glass or “cheaters”
□ Small clip-on light
□ Small sea sponge
□ Snacks (any excuse to bring chocolate)
□ Water conditioner —i.e., Easy Float (acrylic classes)
Important Note About Brushes
Much of the success achieved in a painting class rests on bringing the specialty brushes requested by the teacher. Every convention catalog includes a section listing each teacher (or class number) and the specific supplies necessary to paint the project. Before you pack any other brushes, make a list of all the brushes required for each of vour classes and gather them together. Leave out the duplicates. What you now have collected are the brushes that are actually the essentials! If there are brushes required that you don’t have in your personal assortment, contact the teacher and inquire about the availability of loaner brushes for use in class. If no loaners will be provided, ask if the specialty brushes will be available to purchase before class and plan to buy what you need. In reality, the special techniques that you have signed up to learn are more easily achieved when both you and the teacher are using the same brush. Painters, let me assure you, it is not necessary to bring every brush you own to class. Select a book or easel brush holder that stands upright when open. Arrange your brushes in the holder by type and then by size.
How can I avoid accidently picking up brushes that don’t belong to me? Buy a roll of brightly colored duct tape. Cut a narrow strip and wrap it around the end of the brush handle. Now you can easily identify all your brushes.
How do you carry your painting supplies? Currently, I use a small rolling suitcase. When flying, I always bring it onto the plane and store it below the seat. I’d rather loose my clothes than my painting supplies!
Sixteen/ Essential Brushes
□ Brush holder (book or easel holder is best)
□ Filberts: #4 and #10 (can be used for basecoating)
□ Flats or angle brushes: 1/4″, 1/2″, and 3/4″ (exclusively for sideload floats and never for basecoating)
□ Flats: #6, #12, #16, and #20 (for basecoating)
□ Liners: #10/0 mid liner and #1 (in pristine condition)
□ Mop brush: 3/8″ and 3/4″
□ Rounds: #4 and #6
□ Scumbler, crescent, or dome: medium or large (to drybrush, diminish a harsh line, create bull’s-eye highlights, soften cheeks, or to help extend a float — I call this a “rescue” brush)
□ Specific specialty brushes requested by each teacher
Surprised? The list consists of a mere sixteen brushes. And do you want to know the best part? Because I have streamlined what I bring to a painting convention or class, I have plenty of room to bring home treasures, and you will too!
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