Impasto – Painting with a knife

Yes! That is the term used for a painting technique – ‘IMPASTO.’ Impasto technique in simple words is painting with a knife. A painting knife is different from a regular knife. The blades come in different shapes and sizes to create different textures. You could relate better if I named a famous artwork created with this technique – ‘Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh.

Impasto technique is commonly used in paintings of the ‘Abstract and Impressionist styles’. Instead of using a brush to apply paint on the canvas, we use a knife. It is a metal piece (flat) not exactly sharp but more of a shaping tool with a wooden handle. We can create a variety of textures using it. The texture created will depend on the pressure applied and how the knife is held by the artist.

Showing textures of Impasto
Holding the Knife to Paint

Hence, the texture created by two different people using the same materials can be different. The method of application is what matters. This method is not exactly taught. The artist must try different strokes to see which one he/she is most comfortable doing. Like they say each one of us has that one special movement in which, only we can do best.

Demonstrating the Impasto method
Painting on the canvas

Initially, when I learnt this method during school days, we referred to it as ‘texture painting.’ This term expands the scope to use other tools for application to create textures with paint. For example, we can use the blade of a cutter or a simple piece of ply laminate. These can be sharp, so please be careful while using them. Ever noticed a worker applying a white base (putty) or cementing the cracks in the wall?

Variety of Painting knives
Different blades of painting knives create different textures

I know, to be safe please use knives and not these other things. All I meant was that we can create textures with anything, even combs. It’s like the application of icing on the cake. In this case, think of paint as the icing that we are using. I gave that connection on purpose. The consistency or feel of how the paint should be for a good output can be understood through this connection- soft, quick drying and thick.

Painting with a Knife

This painting technique gives a 3D-like output. There is no need to paint various layers. We only need to give a background colour to the canvas and then we can paint directly on it. Impasto is originally done with oil paints. But it’s expensive and takes very long to dry. I have tried this method with gouache paints (on paper) as well as acrylic paints (on canvas). Both work very well in their way. The paint dries quickly and the artwork can be completed in one go. We also get various mediums that we can add to acrylic paint in order to enhance this work.

My Painting using the Impasto Technique

Textures can also be created with ‘Guesso’ at the beginning for the background and then painted. However, most of the time we just directly apply a nice rich thick coat of paint directly to the canvas. Please note, this method uses a lot of paint. So make sure you are stocked up with enough paint in the colours that you need. The exact amount depends on the artist’s usage but the amount of paint that is used in a painting with this method is almost 3-4 times more than a regular method.

A trending art that uses this technique but with different material is ‘Russian Sculpture Art’ or ‘Russian Sculpture Painting.’ Readymade ceramic pastes in various colours are available in the market. These are used to make florals. Do check this art on the internet if you heard it for the first time. It isn’t exactly sculpting but it uses ceramic paste with the painting knives.

Try different textures on small pieces

And finally, where will I get these knives? In earlier days artists would make their knives but we are in the modern world now, right? That means it is available at almost all stores selling art material. It is also called a ‘palette knife’. It is barely sharp enough to cut the paint. So even children can use it under their parent’s or teacher’s supervision. Go ahead and try a new technique of painting this week! Have an Arty Week ahead!

‘Still Life Painting’ – by Guest Blogger Dr Shaazia Hawai

Bold and expressive brushwork to convey the beauty of the mundane ordinary subjects around us is what I love to do. Hello! I am Dr Shaazia Hawai, a dentist by profession and an artist at heart.

Art, for centuries, has been a means to express individualistic creativity. To me, art is a language that I intend to speak fluently. It thrills me when I see someone who has mastered the language of art. It intrigues me when I discover someone adding new layers to its tapestry of possibilities.

Being a dentist, I was miles away from indulging in anything creative. Science and Art are very different after all. I started painting as a means to explore my creativity after a visit to an art supplies store.

I felt overwhelmed looking at gorgeous landscapes, realistic portraits and stunning abstracts. ‘Still Life Painting’ or ‘Object Drawing’ had this strange attraction for me. It was something that I felt I could dabble with. And that is how my journey as an impressionist still life artist began.

I enjoy painting with acrylics as the medium is versatile and allows room for experimentation. Painting still life has its advantages like the subject doesn’t get tired, doesn’t move and it’s so easy to procure ( just raid your kitchen). I suggest painting one new object daily.

For the initial few months, I used to paint only in my spare time. As time progressed I started dedicating more time to paint because I was enjoying the process. I set up a small workspace in the corner of my bedroom for painting. That really kickstarted the daily morning ritual of painting. The ritual then became a habit. It got me focused and gave me clarity with regard to what I needed to do with my art.

If you are beginning your journey as an artist my suggestion to you is to form your own daily routine. I saw massive progress in my painting style and brushwork with this system of practice. I started posting my artwork regularly on social media.

I was approached by an art supply store to conduct online workshops for them. I had not learnt painting the formal way and so teaching art or even painting in front of a live audience gave me goosebumps. Overcoming my fears and conducting the first workshop was a game changer for me.

Not only was the workshop a success, but I also had a blast interacting with fellow artists. This gave birth to my Saturday live paint-along sessions on Instagram. I still conduct them. You may drop by and check my page to join the party.

The idea of being around like-minded people enhances creativity. We challenge and help each other by supporting the artist community.

My paintbox consists of primary colours (red, blue & yellow) and white. A few flat and round brushes ( I use mostly 6,4,2 flat brushes & 6,2 round ones) a substrate on which you will paint ( paper, canvas, wood, cardboard, etc)

A great tip that I have learned is that – acrylic paints tend to dry dull if diluted with water, so I usually use a medium (gloss/matte) to increase the flow of the paint and limit the use of water to only for cleaning brushes. (Note: Wash brushes immediately while painting with acrylics)

Let’s Paint ‘A Pear’

It is best to simplify the object. A pear looks like an alphabet ‘A’ or a triangle over a circle. After establishing a loose sketch, I apply a thin wash of neutral colour. This underpainting helps eliminate the whites of the paper and creates depth in the painting. Next, I establish the dark tones in the painting and paint from dark to light. You can also paint from light to dark. It depends on your chosen medium.

A loose brushwork like mine can be achieved by holding the brush at its tail end. Then I add the highlights, background and fine details to bring out the likeness of the subject. One can always add more details and finer brushwork to make the subject more realistic. But if you prefer an impressionistic style like me, leave it in a loose expressive state.

I am a firm believer in what Van Gogh said, “Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.” An artist paints from his soul to produce magic on canvas. That’s why a true artist’s work is easily recognisable such as Van Gogh’s starry night, Monet’s lilies, Cezanne’s still life & Klandinsky’s abstracts.

My suggestion to all beginner artists is not to copy styles or trends on social media. Paint what your heart desires, and you will make mistakes but keep practising because Bob Ross said, “There are no mistakes in art, only happy accidents.” And as you embrace these happy accidents, you will evolve as an artist.

Dr Shaazia Hawai is a dentist, who spills her love for colours onto the canvas. She is also adept at Arabic Calligraphy and Paper Quilling.

Getting to know ‘The Washi Tape’

The title says it all ; this is a all you want to know kind of post and it is all about ‘The Washi Tape’. Ok! What is so special about it? Fine! It is just another tape, so use it as one. True! I think it is a door to creativity. Especially for storytellers who cannot draw well but have so much to say and share.

What is Washi Tape?

The name literally translates to Japanese Paper Tape. In India we have been using paper tapes for painting jobs. It is usually to protect an edge from unwanted paint. It is often referred to as masking tape. However Washi Tape is way better in terms of quality. It was originally used for Arts and Crafts. I think it is a must have for everyone, for students and professionals both alike. If your children are in school and have to do a lot of projects or journals, you will definitely agree. I just love them.

Washi Tape
Photo Courtesy- Downloaded from Unsplash – Photo by Sticker Mule

What is so special about it?

The paper is different. It is strong and stiff like a tape but light and semi transparent like paper. Layering is possible. Next, the glue is very good to stick it smoothly on a surface. At the same when we remove it, it will not leave any stickies or damage the surface. Comes off very easily. The glue can be easily cleaned with soap and water, if any. Last but not the least we get them in a HUGE, yes HUGE variety of colours, sizes and designs. We can cut and use them as stickers too!

Japan Washi Tape Idea
This is a portion of my collection – An idea on how to use it

Where will I get them? What is the price point?

It is a Japanese Tape so obviously it is available at stores that sell art craft materials and stationery from Japan. I bought mine during my visit to Japan. I have original Japanese Washi Tapes from The Japanese Paper Museum. In India, we now get them online as well as at all Art and Craft stores. We do get products that may not be the original one from Japan but are referred to as Washi Tape only because they are decorative tapes made from paper or titled so for search engines.

Washi Tapes are available in different sizes (broad) and usually bought in combos. Depending on themes, designs, colour matching and so on. It all depends on how you wish to use them. The prices are also offered like wise. The more you buy, the higher discount. For example INR. 30/- for one or 6 for INR.120/- It is an example, actual price may vary but is approximately in the same range.

How to use them?

  • As a regular tape in your diary to stick or attach something
  • As a decorative tape for borders, arts crafts, projects. journals, diary, your writing book, greeting cards, memory journals and more.
  • As a protective edging tape while painting surfaces. We tape the surface we don’t want the colour on. So when we remove the tape the extra colour or resin is removed and that surface is clean.
  • To create effects in some abstract geometric art
  • Labelling products
  • Marking a straight line while painting or drawing

Special Tip – A new Tape may have strong glue that may erode the paper surface a teeny bit. To avoid that simply paste the tape on the paper and lift immediately once or twice. Then stick it. Now when we remove it, the paper will not erode.

Removing Washi Tape
A photo to explain the special tip

Paper Tape can be used on any surface for edging or protecting the edge or surface. I used it to protect my coasters while coating resin. It works well with liquid paints as well as spray paints. It is an essential for re- furnishing and re- painting jobs. The plain colours are cheaper than the fancy ones.

Yes! I think they are totally worth the investment. There are ample ideas on creatively using them shared on Social Media. Take a look to get started. I have covered all the important information for a crafter or artist in short. If you wish to know more, you can always search online. Do check my Pinterest Board – Washi Tape Ideas to get started. I have pinned 50 different projects or ways one can use Washi Tape.

Valentines Day tomorrow! You can buy Washi Tapes and make your last minute preparations like a pro. Have an Arty Week!

Link to my Pinterest Board –

Art Project : Set of Coasters

Hot or Cold ? It is a good idea to use coasters when you want to avoid marks on the table that happen because of the condensate on drinks. I like customised or things made especially for me. Buying a ready coaster off the shelf was boring, making one myself sounded more fun.

That is why I decided to make my own coasters. And what is a project without a challenge? For this project, my challenge was to clear coat the coasters. The first thought for anyone when I say ‘handmade coasters’ is to think of them as school crafts made by children. This isn’t that. We want something professional looking and long lasting. Just because it is handmade does not mean it should be any less. Isn’t it?

Blue Handmade Coaster Set
This is the handmade Coaster Set that I made

These are coated and exactly like those available in the market. They are durable and stand various temperatures. The coating protects the colour and design as well.

Materials Needed :

  1. Pieces from MDF Board – These could be any size and shape. We get ready ones at all art and craft stores. The quantity depends on your table. I picked six square shape boards of 3.5 x 3.5 inches
  2. Chalk Paint – I picked the frozen blue shade of chalk paint by a company called ‘Little Birdie’
  3. Acrylic Paints – I used acrylic paints in bottles. Pearl finish teal blue and regular finish persian blue colour. One has a glitter finish while the other has a plain finish. The brand for my acrylic paints is ‘Fevicryl’
  4. 3D liner White Pearl by ‘Fevicryl’ for highlights (optional)
  5. Permanent Markers to draw or outline the design
  6. Design Stencil – You can use a readily available one or make one with paper yourself for the design. To get the exact same design on all coasters it is important to have a stencil. It makes replicating the design easier.
  7. Acrylic Varnish – I used the spray from the brand ‘Camlin’
  8. Art Resin – comes in two bottles (resin + hardener) to be mixed and used. The resin to hardener proportion is different for different brands but will either be 1:1 or 2:1. This is for the coating. I used epoxy art resin by the company ‘Little Birdie’

Method :

MDF Board is thick board made from wood fiber. For art and craft the material is handled just like plywood or wood. Ready pieces of different shapes and sizes are available in the market for various arts and crafts. For coasters they are available as multiple packs or single pieces, with and without a stand to complement it. The choice is yours.

MDF Coasters to paint
MDF Board Pieces in Brown and Blue Chalk Paint

I had picked six square shaped board pieces with rounded corners. They don’t have a wrong side or right side. We can paint on either. Select the side you feel looks good and make that the top side. I painted them on both sides with chalk paint using a flat brush.

First coat of chalk paint
Applying the first coat of Chalk Paint

What is chalk paint? Most acrylic paints leave a self texture and gloss after drying. Further, we need to prime the base before using them. Chalk paint is also an acrylic paint but it gives a matt finish and better coverage. There is no need to prime the base. Can be applied directly to any wood or wood like surface. I have applied two coats of chalk paint on both the top and bottom of all coasters.

It is quick drying. An interval of 15-20mins between coats is sufficient for it to dry. On the side rim as a dark colour and just to have a contrast I applied Persian blue colour from the acrylic bottle paints. These are liquid and of pouring consistency. Work very well for Dot Painting as well.

Chalk paint two coats
Dried vs wet Chalk Paint after Two Coats

After drying I secured the stencil with a paper tape on the top side of the coaster. I traced the design using a blue permanent marker. Did this for all the coasters. Painted the design using acrylic paints in bottles. Highlighted using a 3D liner – white pearl colour. You can use the permanent marker on dried acrylic paint for touch up of the design.

Stencil for coasters
Tracing the Stencil with Permanent Marker

Now we need to let this dry completely. Acrylic Paints are fast drying. We may feel it is dried after an hour but before the next process let it dry completely to the last particle for at least 24hours. Apply two coats of acrylic varnish after that and leave it for another day 24hours after that. I sprayed varnish on the backside as well. Makes an easy clean surface in case it gets dirty.

Acrylic varnished coasters
After Varnish. Note the Gloss and Texture of the Surface

It is usable after this but I wanted to coat it with resin. Resin is a thick clear coat making it durable against extreme temperatures and gives a reflective glass like finish. Even a small piece of dust will sit and stick to it. The acrylic varnish makes it easy to clean the dust and locks the paint. That is why, the colours don’t smudge or bleed when we pour the resin.

Now for the challenging part – applying the coat of resin. Working with resin can be messy. The clean up is very difficult. Make sure you do this at a place well protected with paper or plastic for any unwanted spills.

Resin is like lacquer. Art resin is a slightly milder form and better to work with at home. Use masking tape or paper tape and pack the edges of the coasters. So in case the resin spills you can remove it with the tape after it dries. Put the coasters on a levelled lifted surface. I placed a paper cup upside down and put the coaster on it.

Wear silicon gloves or plastic bag as gloves. Resin sticks to the hand. It becomes sticky and is difficult to remove. In case you get some on your hand while working use an alcohol based solution or acetone or sanitiser to remove it. It does not go with soap water. I haven’t clicked pictures of the process as both my hands were occupied and I couldn’t touch the camera with dirty hands.

In another paper cup I mixed resin in the ratio 2:1 (resin to hardener) as mentioned in the description on their bottles by ‘Little Birdie’. The next process is same for all resins. We have to stir it continuously using a wooden stick for 3 mins till it becomes transparent and then pour on the surface to coat. 40ml + 20ml = 60ml was sufficient to nicely coat six coasters. The proportion has to be correct else it will not harden upon drying.

I poured the resin mixture at the centre and spread it to the edges using another wooden stick. The excess drips. I cleaned it using the stick. It is a self setting liquid and any craters will level out as it dries. Lightly pop the bubbles that come up using the pointed side of a toothpick. Also use a heat gun or a hair dryer or blower over it once. This pops the bubbles too.

Let it dry in a dust free environment. It gives out a mild smell or fumes as it dries. Hence best to leave it at a spot not frequented by anyone. It takes 12 hours to set and 24 to 48 hours for curing. The surface will be hardened, clear and reflective like a glass. Easy to clean and protective for coasters. We get food grade resin also. They use it for making trays and other kitchen items.

Handmade Coasters
Resin Coasted. The Coating is about 1-2mm in thickness. Note the Reflective and Smooth Surface.

Think creatively and make your own design. Coasters made entirely from resin using silicon moulds and fluid art as also popular. They mix a paste called resin pigment to add an opaque colour, alcohol inks for transparent colours, decorative elements like glitter, stones and dried flowers to the resin and make many artistic home decor items.

Do try it out and share your experience. Have a creative weekend!

Note: This is not an advertisement or paid promotion. I bought the materials, made the coasters and clicked the pictures all myself. Kindly do not use without permission.

Playing with Colours and Textures

On my way home, I stopped to grab a coffee at my regular coffee joint when I peaked at the new poster coming up on the notice board. It was a poster of an Art Exhibition coming up at the display gallery on the first floor. The exhibition was by a five-year-old artist.

Wow! At that age, I didn’t even know how to spell art or write anything. A little girl, just five having an entire gallery display, a solo artist. Did I wonder how? What? Why? When? Who? My mind began to run at the fastest speed that I had known.

Modern Art, Abstract Art and Contemporary Art these terms are used together or in place of the other many times. This little artist was into Contemporary Art. Her guardians were organising her show. She was trying for the world records as the youngest artist to have a solo art show.

I don’t know if she made it but it got me my topic for this post. Yes! We will be discussing Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Abstract Art in this post. Are these the same? Not really. Honestly very few people understand these or know. It is more about visual appeal. If they like to look at it, they buy it. Simple!

Abstract Art
A square tile of my Abstract Art

Modern Art is a term used for the thought process. The artist is painting something that is not restricted by the traditional boundaries of the past. Abstract Art means it doesn’t resemble anything in form as such. Contemporary means more of the style of today. As art styles evolved every landmark change coined a new term. More like the terms are used for the art style in a particular era.

Modern Art is better defined in terms of shapes and textures. It looks more like patterns and designs. Contemporary Art on the other hand is more abstract than modern Art. Modern Art is a style popular in 1860s to 1970s. Contemporary Art is more as today’s Art style.

The key point in selection is the colour scheme. This art goes well with today’s modern contemporary interiors. It doesn’t represent or mean anything. Just adds a look and feel to the whole place. Many people like to purchase Art that doesn’t have an exact defined meaning.

Highlight a Wall with Abstract Art

This Art looks better on a nice big canvas. Reprints are easy. Selections are quick and simple – most of the times people just go with what their interior designer suggested. And the prices are affordable. Art galleries also like to stock more of these because it is a fast-running product for them.

Abstract Art
One of my artworks shown in an actual space – Living Room

Jokingly I am sure at least one person looking at it will be like “Hey! I can paint that!” Haha! True and False both. True because people think it is easy I can dip a brush in colour and run it on the canvas and call it Art. False because you can’t recreate the same thing. Your Art will always be different. Interesting! Isn’t it!

Abstract Art is all about shapes, textures and colours. It completely depends on the artist’s aesthetic sense. The Art can be geometric or random. The artist paints a mood, an emotion or a feeling using colours and creating textures with brushes, hands or tools. Big bold strokes and striking colours are my style.

Abstract Art
Two of my artworks shown in a commercial space – Work Desk

There is no good or bad here. One either likes it or doesn’t like it. No two ways about it. One cannot say if this was like this maybe it will be better. Here it is an artist’s call when to say complete. It must be visually appealing. This Art gains meaning when it is installed in a space. It is more like it completes the space and gives the look to a place. What one feels is too much may be perfect for another. Always to your taste!

Abstract Art
One of my artworks – square prints – Bathroom

‘Dream of your Art and Paint your dream.’ All in all paint whatever comes to your mind with complete confidence. To get that beautiful artwork preferably paint on a canvas in acrylic colours. This gives a lot of options in creating different textures. You may want to read my previous post on painting with acrylic colours to know why it is a preferred medium to paint. View Post on Acrylic Colours.

Modern Art
Two of my artworks – Bedroom

No one can teach anything here, we paint what comes to us naturally. We can browse the internet and look at paintings by famous artists for inspiration. The technique is we paint directly with colour. No erasing, going back and forth or smoothening or anything. And paint in layers. One colour over another is completely ok. No need to blend.

I have made abstract modern art designs for my products at my Society shop and Redbubble shop NMARTWORKS. Here I am sharing some printable posters with my Art which would make suitable Wall Art pieces for residential as well as commercial spaces. These are more on the lines of contemporary art. These artworks have been created digitally for prints in different sizes but exactly on the lines of how we would paint them offline.

Have an Arty Week!

Let’s get you in a Frame! Selecting a suitable Frame for your Art and Creating an Art Wall

Looking for some Art to up the aesthetic appeal of your space? You did a search and found something that you just couldn’t take your eyes off. “It is so me! I think it will look fantastic on that wall in our room. Just what we needed!” Ta-da! Bought!

Now comes the difficult part – selecting a Frame that goes with it. The task isn’t as difficult as it seems but many people find it stressful to make up their minds while selecting a Frame. A lot of questions and confusion. Have I made the right choice? What if I had selected another Frame? Matt or not? Vintage or Classic? Metal or Wood? After all, the Frame can make such a big difference to the final look.

Shipping Framed Art can be difficult which is why most Artists sell their Art unframed. I am an Artist and I also sell most of my Art unframed. I do upload Framing ideas on my social media accounts regularly so as to assist potential buyers. Framing is an additional service that I provide to close friends & family as well as local buyers upon request. At online shops, my Artwork is shown with and without Frames so the onlooker can imagine how it would look once it is framed. I usually show Frames that are common and easily available or standard market Frames.

With the advent of 3D and AR (Artificial Reality) a cool new feature will soon be available – We can scan our wall or space using the camera in our phone and the software will project and show us how the Art will look framed on our wall, like on that wall in your house, like what if you bought it and put it there how would it look? All this in real-time before buying. Although it seemed unbelievable at first, this feature is currently in the beta testing phase and very much implementable.

Art is to everyone’s taste and choice. It isn’t a one shoe fits all formula. Some may like a minimal wall with just one big Art while others may want many Frames filling up the whole wall end to end. I totally agree ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’. I am not an expert at Framing but I can definitely share whatever I have known or learnt so far about ‘Making an Art Wall and Framing your Art’.

These are basically ideas and suggestions that would help anyone make a simple ‘you cannot go wrong with this’ kind of choice. It works best for people who wish to decorate their spaces with Art but on a budget. Yup! Definitely recommend expert help from a professional if it suits you. Even then this information will help. When the Frame maker asks you questions to understand your requirements, you would know what exactly is he talking about. So here’s answering some of the questions I usually come across about selecting Frames and putting up Art on the wall.

1. Edges of the Art – A minimum of half inches on all the sides gets enveloped into the frame. Even in a plain classic thin black or white frame without matting the edges get hidden into the portion of the frame. An artist paints these edges knowing well that it will get covered up or may leave a white border edge for it.

Framing Art
Two Artworks – One painted to the end and other with white border left out. Thick white panel is the Matt Board.

If the Art doesn’t have a blank border and you don’t want to cover up the edges then select a Floating Frame or a Sandwich Glass Frame. In a floating frame the Art is put above the matt making it look like it is floating, while in a double wall glass frame the Art is sandwiched between two glass panels. Only the glass touches the frame and the Art looks floating. See the picture below.

Wall Art
A double wall glass frame giving a floating effect.

2. What is Matt – A Matt or a Mat or a Mount is an additional border around the Art cut from a sheet of paper or board. Although it has a decorative purpose, it is more to preserve the Art by avoiding direct contact between the Art and the edges of the frame and glass. They recommend using an acid free material for it. A window for the Art is cut out. We can have any colour mat. Black, white and off – white are standard colours.

Frames that are available at shops include a mat or we can make one from paper sheets available in the market too. A mat is preferred for photos, prints and Art on paper that is otherwise small. The matt makes the frame look bigger while keeping the focus on the Art. Art Galleries and Museums have Artwork with matts.

There are double matt frames too. It means the Art encased in the first matt and then another matt and finally the frame. Looks like multiple frames inside each other. Ready Frames in the market will have only a single matt option.

Framing  your Art
Half inch Black Frame with One inch Matt on all sides

3. Size of the Art – How big is the wall? What is the size of the Art? Take a scale (ruler) and approximately measure the size of the Art that you will be putting up. How much space you want to cover or leave out? In case you are going to put up multiple Frames then space them out well. How many of them are landscapes and how many portraits? Visualise!

Placing a paper of the same size as the Art on the wall to visualise the Framed Art can help map the space for a beginner. Any Frame adds to the size of the Art and if you get a frame done with matting, it adds even more. The chances of a miscalculation in the size can be reduced if we understand this.

Explaining it with the help of an example : Let’s take an art on paper that has a finished size : 8 inches width and 10 inches height. We find a Frame of 11 x 14 inches. So for the 3 inches in width and 4 inches in height we can add a matt OR we add 3 inches equally and get a custom Frame of size 11 x 13 inches.

Art Wall
All the frames have same size plain black simple classic Frame. No Matt.

Even without the matt, it would be about 8.5 x 11 inches. The Frame moulding would add about an inch or more depending on its design, bevel and thickness. Always check the finished size written in the info when buying a standard market Frame. As for custom framing, you can control this better. This applies for all paintings on canvas or on paper, photos and prints that you can Frame.

It makes complete sense in buying the Art first and then selecting a suitable Frame. Also always calculate an approximate finished size on the wall before clicking the purchase button. We may not be able to make an exact calculation but the nearest can be rounded off to the next number on the higher side to avoid any bloopers.

4. Matching the Canvas with Frames – A board canvas needs to have a frame. With glass or without is ok, but a moulding around defines the Art. Paintings with acrylic paint can be used as wall mounting Frames. In this case the wooden frame in the stretched canvas is itself the final frame and it can be hanged on the wall directly. In case you wish to frame such a canvas you would need a Box Frame because this canvas is 1 or 1.5 inches thick like a box. For a canvas we have to consider the thickness also. The glass must not touch the canvas. A regular Frame wouldn’t fit so we would have to opt for custom framing. That is why wall mounting canvas frames are popular.

Ready standard size Frames work best for prints, art and photos on paper. They have a chart with common sizes for photos and A4 or maximum A3 size. Frames for Art larger than that may be difficult to source. The cost of framing an oil painting is the highest. It is high maintenance and must be done by a professional so that it is airtight and avoids contact with the glass. Even if it is custom framed, it needs a very experienced Frame maker or the Art can get spoilt.

5. Glass or Acrylic – Here they don’t mean the Acrylic paint. They are asking if we want the transparent panel in the frame that is made of glass or acrylic material. Acrylic is lighter in weight. It is cheaper too. A glass Frame will always cost more. The advantage with glass is that it doesn’t develop scratches. Acrylic does not break or chip off easily. Most over the counter Frames that are available for prices as low as a few dollars have acrylic panels.

Art Wall
Art Wall : All of them have a Matt and different Frames.

6. Material and Type of the frame – It can be metal, wood or plastic? Vintage or Classic? Thin or thick? This selection is based more on the look and the cost. Only thing to remember is that the Frame shouldn’t be more than the Art itself. We want to Frame the Art to preserve it longer and be able to hang it on the wall. Other than that the Frame should add to the decorative factor of the Art and not the other way around. A simple suggestion would be to consider the other factors of the space. Some frames may look too heavy or cheap and not in sync with the other things around. A simple elegant black or white Frame with or without a matt or a nice wooden Frame in dark or light brown polish that matches the rest of the room works very well.

7. Changeable – Frames where we can remove and change the inserted Art by opening them are changeable frames. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting a Frame and putting a nail each time, this is also a good option. Also when you want the same Frame for all the Art on that wall, one would opt for a changeable Frame. In future when you buy new Art you can use the same Frame and all of them match each other. This is because if we buy Frames over a period of time then there are chances that all will not be the same. Besides it is a one time investment. In this case the frames should be more sturdy and of good quality to last for years.

Frames for Art
Changeable Glass Frame made of Plastic.

8. Hooks to hang the frame – Don’t miss this out when selecting your frame. Some Frames have movable hooks, some have a single hook, some double and the distance between these hooks matter. The hook may be small or fitted to the same level as the frame or could be coming out a level higher. These things we can’t determine while looking at the Frame in pictures. Only when we actually go to put the Frame up on the wall we realise that the Frame doesn’t sit well in place and it is because of the hook.

That was the hook on the Frame and now to put it up on the wall, we have to put a suitable nail. Now a days we get adhesive hooks that stick to the wall. No need to put nails that damage the wall. Works best if you don’t want to put a nail in the wall but select these as per the weight of the Frame. The options are vacuum hooks, velcro hooks and hooks with tape or adhesive. They will not damage the wall and no need to drill either. They are called ‘no nail or no damage hooks’.

Photo Wall
Photo Wall with different sized Frames on a printed Wallpaper background

9. Selecting the Wall – What I have learnt is that the Wall stands out when it’s made into an Art Wall. Basically when you want to highlight a particular wall or want a wall to grab attention in a room, it is the wall to select and make an Art Wall. Single large Framed Artworks on a single colour painted wall work best for abstract or modern Art. These look beautiful on wall mounted canvas without any frame or glass.

A small cluster of about two or three same sized Frames on a wall gives a classy contemporary look. The only big no-no here is having Frames on all the walls in a single room. That makes it look like a library or a museum or an Art gallery. The walls of staircases and passages are good for memory walls or photo walls. A little light that illuminates the Art is better than a dark space. Then again it is more to your taste.

10. Wallpaper and Decals : Often used for a photo wall. For a nursery or a commercial space it would be a good idea to have Framed prints or posters and decals around. Decals are vinyl stickers that we can stick on the wall. They are available in many designs. Having a nice background with a printed wall paper and Art frames on it also look good for some Art. Mixing these along with Art give a very different new look. It isn’t the traditional style and may not appeal to some.

I hope this clears most of the doubts on Framing and creating an Art Wall. If you have time, please visit my Pinterest account. I have an album for ideas on creating an Art Wall. Have an Arty Weekend!

Photo Credits: Pictures that I have clicked have my name and the others are from the WordPress Library.

Selecting Art Materials : Canvas and Paper, Paintbrushes

Most of the people I know buy brushes that are labelled as watercolour brushes and art paper that is mentioned as suitable for watercolour at the store and they are sorted. “Look! the company says I can use them for watercolour painting, so I bought them.”

They bought it either because someone told them, they saw someone using it or the brand company had written so on the product. Very few people bother to find out the product details and know if it is the right product for their use. Many a times we don’t want to stock different materials for different Art and so we use the same brush or paper for all. The selecting pattern is same for them and so I grouped canvas and paper with paintbrushes.

For beginners it really won’t matter; however artists and professionals will be equally choosy or selective about these materials. It makes a difference in their work and once we are used to a particular one, we only use that. Most artists start off with the trial and error method and once they like a particular brand or product, they stick to it.

Different kinds of brushes, what they are called and their suggested uses are printed on packs. As always a lot of information is available on the Internet. So I will not get into repeating that printed knowledge.

We have discussed ‘Selecting Art Materials’ in our previous posts. On the same lines I will share about selecting paintbrushes, art paper and canvas in this post. I do not endorse any brand and this is not an advertising or promoting post. I share about my understanding of these materials so that it helps others make an informed purchase decision.

Selecting a Canvas


Any surface we paint on is called the canvas. So if we are painting on fabric or wood or paper, all of them are actually our canvas. However when we go to an Art store and ask for a Canvas we usually get this fabric like drape wrapped on a board called BOARD Canvas, a stretched drape pinned to a wooden panel frame called STRETCHED Canvas and a ROLLED Canvas which is a roll of the drape. All three have the same material, only the mounting is different. Once the painting is complete we have to get it framed before hanging the painting on the wall.

The board canvas is a hard and flat painting surface, the stretched canvas is mounted on a frame and has a slightly bouncy feel while the roll canvas more floppy like a loose fabric. A stretched canvas can be directly hanged on the wall using the existing wooden frame. Hence it is also called wall mounting canvas. A canvas sheet that is cut from the roll will have to be stretched or mounted before painting.

Canvas was traditionally used more for oil painting. Earlier when I learnt mural painting we would have to apply oil and colour to prime the canvas. Now a days canvases are already coated and primed. Cotton is the main fibre of a canvas. Did you know? We also get paper sheets made from cotton linen pulp which are used as canvas for oil painting and acrylic painting. They are like a sheet cut from roll canvas: have the same texture and feel but are relatively sturdy and stiff like paper.

All of them will be acid free and primed and have some treatment or coating for protection against pests. It really won’t matter which one you buy, almost similar. Only the tension of your canvas will differ. That would be the basis of your selection. If you are using them for acrylic painting a canvas primed with gesso works well. You can use others too. If you are into oil painting you may be more selective while choosing the canvas.

Not all art supply stores stock all sizes of canvas. It is a good idea to buy the quantity together if your project uses multiple canvases. In case the size you need is not market ready, you can buy the roll canvas and get it custom made or mounted to your required size. Canvas is also used for Art prints. Digital prints of artwork is quite common. Flex banners are also a type of canvas.

Selecting Art Paper

Art Paper

We get sheets of art paper in bundles as well as bound in books. Books have perforated sheets which can be pulled out. Smaller sizes such as A4 and A5 sketchbooks are very popular and will be easily available everywhere. Art Paper is used for all mediums including pen drawing, pencil shading, acrylic painting, pastels painting, charcoal sketches, watercolour painting and oil painting.

In the info section they print the size in inches and cm. They print the thickness in ‘GSM’ or lbs. GSM stands for grams per square metre that is the weight of the paper or pulp for every square meter. It is how the thickness is measured. How does that make a difference? The thickness of the paper is an important attribute because for watercolour painting we need thicker sheets like 250-300GSM that will absorb water but will not tear while for ink art we can work with 120-180GSM.

Next we look for textured or plain. The grains on the surface. Depends on the artwork one is working on, whether they want a textured feel (a rough surface) or a plain background. For pastels and charcoals a little grain or texture is required. It helps hold the powder while for ink and watercolour art a smooth or plain surface can be selected. This gives a plain edge or a straight neat line finish while painting.

Artists usually use ‘acid free’ meaning paper that has been neutralised. In simple words if the paper is acid free it will not turn yellow with pitting and can be preserved longer. Paper made from cotton will have more absorbency for water based painting. It can be 100% cotton or mixed with other natural fibres like cellulose. I select the ones with 20-30% cotton for my artworks.

Selecting Paint Brushes


Selecting paintbrushes is very simple. Each of them are built as such for a purpose or for a particular style of painting. It may sound weird but some artists manage to get fine lines with a thick brush of size 8 and a thick like with a brush of size 4. With years of practice we don’t change brushes for each size. So buying them in odd numbers like 0,2,6,8,10 is enough. For finer lines and intricate work I use finer brushes of size 0, double zero 00 and triple zero 000. These are smaller or finer than zero size brushes.

For painting on a canvas on the easel we require long handle brushes. Regular size handles are good when we are working on paper. Further we would need a mix of round and flat brushes in our art tool box. Flat brushes are used to paint backgrounds, round brushes for fills and riggers for fine lines. Filbert brushes are useful for one stroke painting or creating visible strokes and design. I even use the back of the brush handles as round stumps for dot painting.

Brushes can be made from natural animal hair or synthetic fibres. Use brushes with soft thin bristles when you want the colour to be applied evenly. It gives a smooth neat finish. Thick bristles cause an uneven finish with lumps of colour which can be left as it is or smoothened by using a roll over it. Bristles of brushes made from natural hair expand when soaked. They are best suited for oil painting. For painting using acrylic and watercolour paints we can use brushes made with natural or synthetic bristles. Watercolour and Acrylic, both being water based paints we can use a common set of brushes. No need to keep another set.

One special kind of brush is the water tank brush. This brush has a plastic body with a water tank attached to it and bristles of the brush are synthetic fibres. When we press the tank, the water drips to the brush tip and soaks the bristles. It works very well for quick sketches and on the go painting using watercolour cakes.

Paint Brushes
Just bought new Paint Brushes

I was surfing the Internet the other day when I came across a video titled ‘How it’s made – Paint Brushes?’ ‘How it’s made’ is a very popular show and I like watching it. They show how various products of our daily items are made. Helps us understand about the products, their usability and the thought process of the maker in creating it.

I understood which problem faced by artists are they trying to solve by offering a particular type of brush or why it is made the way it is. Every product is manufactured keeping in mind a certain use. Similarly they also have videos on ‘How it’s made’ for canvas, paper and many more products. If possible do take out some time and see them.

Selecting Art Materials

Links to posts related to this topic are listed below. Click on the title to open the post in a new tab. Have an Arty Weekend!

Why is Acrylic Paint the most preferred medium to paint?

If there was something like a ‘People’s Choice Award’ or an Award for the ‘Most Popular Paint’, I am sure it would go to Acrylic Paints. While the others are more natural dyes and colours, Acrylic Paint is synthetic and man made. It is easily available at stores selling Art Supplies as well as all Paint and Stationery Shops.

Acrylic  Painting  Poppy  Flowers
Poppy Flowers – An Acrylic Painting that I have done

Acrylic Paints vs. Oil Paints

Oil Paints take 7-10 days to dry completely. It is this quality of oil paint that helps in mixing colours and blending them. Any artist who has worked with oil paints will agree, it is this property that really helps in making those realistic paintings.

Oil paints have one major drawback ; by any chance if any little traces of water get trapped between the colours because of humidity then the painting develops moss. Refurbishing, Repairing or Repainting- nothing works.

Oil Painting  on Canvas
Indian Mural Style Oil Painting. The ornaments are modelled from clay

When beginning a new oil painting, the canvas needs to be seasoned (sizing) to absorb oil. The more oil it absorbs the better finish. Whereas for Acrylic Paints we only need to use ‘Gesso’ to prime the base. Gesso is like a paint which when applied to any kind of surface prepares it for the paint to be applied. Last but not the least having a glass frame and making the frame airtight ensures that the Oil Painting stays well for longer. Acrylic does not have any such requirement.

Brushes and Palettes can be cleaned with water. If we get some paint on our hands or any surface while painting, it can be easily cleaned with water or removed with acetone. It usually petals off like a plastic coating. We all know that is not the case with oil paints. We need to keep a separate set of brushes for Oil Painting which cannot be used for anything else. On the other hand it is possible to have a common set of brushes for Watercolour and Acrylic Painting since both are water based paints.

Acrylic Paints vs. Watercolour Paints

It is possible to achieve a Watercolour like finish using Acrylic paints. We can mix the colour with different mediums such as Gel, Gloss, Matt, Pearl and so on to get different effects. We can create textures and even achieve the level transparency we want in the colours of the painting with Acrylic Paints.

This image is created from stock photos for explanation

Watercolour is basically for Painting on paper. Even after a painted layer dries, water can be used to mix or blend both colours. Water can be applied on the paper and then colour drops can be added, giving this grains effect. This painting method is suitable to Watercolours. So most artists specialising in Watercolour Painting will not want to use Acrylic Paints. Watercolours are also easy to work with, portable and can be carried along. The cake form is very compact and portable. Mixing of colours to get your shade is easily workable.

I use a mix of Watercolour and Acrylic Paints for my paintings listed on the shop for sale. You may visit my Etsy Shop or Social Media pages to see those.

Here are some of the reasons I think this Acrylic Paint is preferred equally for both Arts and Crafts :-

1) It has a unique property. It is soluble in water and hence diluted with water to paint. However once the paint dries the polymers bond to give a water-resistant painted surface.

2) Acrylic Paints can be used to paint on multiple surfaces including Canvas, Paper, Wood, Glass, Walls, Ceramic and Fabric. I have personally tried them on all of these. We need to seal the completed work with varnish and we are good to go.

Recycled Pen Stand Acrylic
Recycled this old plastic container by repainting with Acrylic Paints

3) We can select the consistency of the paint. The Acrylic Paints that are available in Tubes have a slightly thicker consistency as compared to those available in bottles. The ones in the bottles are liquid like pouring consistency. Both are Acrylic Paints and can be used together on all the projects. The pouring consistency colours work well for projects like Dot Painting and Fluid Art.

Recycled Roll up Brush  case
Roll up brush case I made from my old jeans. Dot painting with Acrylic Paints

4) These paints are available in smaller tubes of size 9ml to larger tubes with 40ml to 120ml. Also available in bottles and larger cans. We even get Acrylic Sprays. Art and Craft Schools and Studios can stock large containers while people who do one off projects can buy the smaller ones. Further if we run out on a particular shade, we can buy just that single shade too!

Photos of my Acrylic paints
I use Artist quality Acrylic Paints by the brand ‘Camel’ or ‘Camlin’ because of its easy availability and reasonable pricing locally.

5) Water Resistant surface makes it easy to combine it with other art materials such as permanent markers or watercolours. Acrylic colours can be used on watercolour painted surface but not the other way around because for watercolours to work, the paper needs to absorb the water. Acrylic paints make the paper impermeable. Acrylic paints can be used alongside or as highlight on watercolour painted surfaces.

6) Acrylic Paints are preferred for creating textures. An artist can achieve the effect he wants with the colours – solid thick, translucent or transparent finish, all by mixing different quantities of mediums and/or water. It is like painting in layers. The bottom layer dries completely and then we paint the next layer. We can even paint a white on a black without the previous layer smudging at all.

Knife painting on canvas
A closer look and method for Knife Painting with Acrylic Paints

The fast drying property and thick paint consistency make it suitable for Impasto or Knife Painting. By using these methods of painting artists can create a good variety of textures. We can use ‘retarders’ to slow the drying process and increase the working time for blending.

7) Almost anything can be painted with Acrylic Paints. These paints can be used for Painting on pots, Painting Clay, Canvas Painting, Painting on Paper, Painting on T-Shirts and Tote Bags, Pebble Art, Wall Murals, Painting on Glass and Mirrors, Painting on Tiles, Mixed Media and a lot more variety of Art and Craft Projects.

Mixed Media on Canvas
Mixed Media Acrylic Painting. Flowers are modelled from clay

8) These colours remain unaffected by humidity or extreme cold or heat conditions.

9) Framing is optional. Hence we have wall mounting canvases. To clean it simply take a dry brush and lightly dust of the dirt that may have settled on it and it will be clean.

Wall mounted  Impasto Painting
Wall Mounted Canvas – Knife Painting using Acrylic Paints

10) Variety of Colours and Shades. Mixing colours might not be a good idea because it dries very fast. So buy them in the colours or shades needed. There will usually be a whole shelf dedicated to it. Any colour that we need can be bought anytime. We get neon shades and glow in the dark paints too!

The only drawback with Acrylic paint is that the colours will dry out if the water from the colour evaporates or if the bottle is left idle, so cap them well. Remove the colours in disposable containers in the required quantities instead of painting directly from bottles and leaving large containers without the lid for long hours of painting.

Acrylics are easy to work with. Rectifying a mistake is also easier when using Acrylics, so it works well for beginners as well as professionals. I really don’t know what more can they offer to make these paints better. Definitely worth buying a box and trying out some Art projects. I have shared some of the recent Projects that I have worked on using Acrylic Paints. All these are still with me and not for Sale. The paintings for sale on the shops are different. These are all from my personal collection.

Have an Arty Week!