Tra­di­tional tools

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

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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.dv­

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

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