David Palumbo paints exclusively in oils, and in part two of his series he shares his ideal tools, materials and studio setup for creating traditional art
David Palumbo’s studio set-up.
My philosophy for selecting tools is that they should usually be the best available, though in the end you can probably get the job done with just about anything. The surfaces I work on, the brands of paint I use, even the space in which I’m working, are all comfortable but not precious to me.
The one tool which I’m particular about is my set of brushes. These are consistent in brand, type and size, because the shape and feel of the marks are things I want to have as much control over as possible.
That said, I do have general preferences I’ve arrived at over the years. I tend to like working on rigid surfaces primed with subtle textural randomness, because it makes the brush calligraphy more visible and interesting. My palette is always evolving. At present it features almost no earth colours, despite their popularity. I find prismatic more versatile, capable of being bold when used pure and subtle when checked against other prismatics.
These tools are specifically arrived-at solutions to my own particular problems and habits. I always encourage artists learning traditional media to keep in mind that the tools which suit one artist may be completely wrong for another, so it’s important to experiment and find your own favourites. David is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist who works primarily in genre fiction and fantasy gaming. www.dvpalumbo.com
1 Preferred surfaces
Choosing a surface to paint on means balancing the considerations of texture, cost and convenience. Illustration board is popular because of its smooth absorbent surface and ease of trimming. I like Masonite panels, although wood panels, linen, paper and even plexiglass all work as well. All surfaces should be primed or gessoed before applying oils.
2 Preferred paints
Colour and feel vary between brands, but I typically use Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Scheveningen Yellow, Nickel Titanium Yellow, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Ultramarine Blue, Kings Blue Deep, Sap Green, Cinnabar Green, Phthalo Green and Lamp Black.
3 Solvent and medium
Odourless Turpenoid is my preferred solvent. For medium, I mix the Turpenoid with Linseed Oil at about a 50/50 ratio. I use my medium sparingly to loosen stiff paint. I also use it to “oil out” a dry painting’s surface, applied thinly with a clean, lint-free rag.
4 Preferred brushes
My brushes are always LoewCornell Golden Taklon, a synthetic hair brush designed more for acrylic than oil, but they have great snap, keep their shape, and are relatively cheap. I exclusively use flats, except for a round #2 for detail and occasionally natural hair mops for smoothing.
5 The studio set-up
I use a simple A-frame easel with six 100-watt daylight bulbs (three to a side). These are the same lights I use to photograph my work, so colour is consistent. I hang reference from a tripod next to my easel and keep fresh brushes in easy reach.
Take photos of your paintings
Next month A cheap rug keeps the floor clean Fresh brushes in easy reach Tripod for hanging reference Your lights don’t need to be anything fancy