What is the Difference Between a French Easel, Guerrilla Painter and a Traditional Paint Box?

Small, Medium or Large, there are a variety of art supply boxes that will cater to any artist. Here are three of the most popular. From left to right: Guerrilla Painter Box 9×12, a traditional paint box and a French Easel.

Three styles of art boxes. Which do you choose? 

Let us first go through the sizes. Small and stout, medium and wide, or large and tall. 

Paint Boxes


All of the boxes are pretty heavy by themselves, so don’t think just because the Guerrilla Paint Box is the smallest that it doesn’t break your shoulder. It weighs five pounds empty. All of the boxes can weigh about fifteen pounds or more filled up. You need to take into consideration the actual weight of the paint. A five-ounce tube can weigh more than a pound by itself, and if you have a full set of them–ouch!

Support Sizes

If you tend to paint small pictures and still want to paint anywhere, then consider the Guerrilla Painter Box. It holds up to five panels in the lid, or variations of canvas, panels and paper. If you paint larger or in a variety of sizes, I definitely recommend the French Easel. The traditional paint box doesn’t really hold canvases, but it can hold some panels and paper once dried. You can rest a picture against the lid while you paint, but you’ll need to transport any wet canvas outside of the box.

The Guerrilla Painter Box Size 9×12 inches

Guerrilla Painter Box 9×12

The stubby Guerrilla Painter Box in the 9×12” version can hold many art supplies, but not as much as the other two. Because it is compact, however, it makes it more portable, at least in theory. You can modify this box to your hearts content to get it to your liking. There are a zillion accessories available from the manufacturer, which does add to the final cost. In fact from the get-go, it is the most expensive box shown. 

The Traditional Paint Box

Traditional artist’s paint box

The Paint Box is a briefcase-sized box, and depending on which manufacturer you buy from either comes with metal lining with inserts, or wooden inserts. It varies on cost and quality. All of them come with a wooden palette. It is the most affordable paint box shown, and costs less than twenty dollars at Hobby Lobby with a coupon. Other higher quality ones will cost about forty-five dollars.

The French Easel

Well loved and used French Easel and shelf help, with an 18×24” painting by Anawanitia

Now for the largest all-in-one, no additional costs, ready to go everything, the French Easel. All French Easels come with legs and a wooden palette. You can store two wet canvases up to 25 to 30 inches depending on the manufacturer of the box easel. Some even have wheels and a handle so you can roll it to where you want to go. They are notoriously long lasting and durable. There are accessories you can buy if you really need it.

The Sins

The Guerrilla Painter

Guerrilla Painter Box and all of the screws on the lid.

Expensive and Ugly. It starts at about one hundred and fifty dollars bare bones basic so you need accessories to customize it to work for you, and each accessory is hard pressed to find under twenty dollars! It is durable, but you’ll need to carry wood glue and a screwdriver to fix chips and tighten screws. It is ugly, with all of the screws holding the lid, it looks like parts of an Erector Set. But, given that this is a workhorse, it wasn’t meant to be part of the living room like that of the French Easel. 

The Paint Box

Traditional paint box with clips holding a painting in progress.

It holds everything but your painting. It doesn’t have legs, so you will need to find a spot with a table, or modify it, or bring your own table.

The French Easel

French Easel Mechanic

Hire me if you need an easel mechanic and in my area. While this is one of the most durable and versatile easels, sometimes you’ll get a chip, a splinter or even breakage. You’ll need to carry wood glue and a Swiss Army Knife for tightening in loose screws and shaving off the splinters, and tweezers to remove the splinters from your hand!

In Conclusion

Guerrilla Painter with an iPad Pro, sketchbook and oil paint.

The Guerrilla Painter Box is perfect for those artists who want to paint, but be incognito in public. It is great for smaller works, but it does have capabilities with accessories to hold larger canvases. It is expensive and more so with the accessories. 

Mighty Max King Kong closed, similar to the Guerrilla Paint box closed. Ugly, hahaha.

Now a personal story. For the the past near decade with this box I was considering selling it because by itself it was a boring tiny useless paint box that was very expensive. What changed my mind was when I purchased the brush tray and palette extention kit. Those two items made it feel as though it was one of those magical 1980s toys like that of the old school Hello Kitty boxes or the 90s Mighty Max toys where you open them and there were tiny worlds to play with. It was the game changer. You know, the awesome toys with the choking hazard warnings that paranoid moms would never let you play with until you were a teen? It really made the Guerrilla Paint box much more fun to play with.

Mighty Max King Kong world open. Playing with the Guerrilla Painter Box with the accessories feels similar to this!
My childhood, I love Hello Kitty. Very early 80s, perhaps late 70s toy. I miss it! Hahaha

The Traditional Paint Box is great for the at home artist, and those who have a traditional easel. A paint box is also great just to have around for excess bits and pieces that you don’t want to carry around often in your French Easel or Guerrilla Box.

Paint box as accessory holder, a junk drawer.
Selling tiny treasures of art in Portland. French Easel turned backwards, an Art Comber, plein air umbrella. No rain checks here! I was working on a picture in the other side of the easel. Very versatile set up, hahah!

Nothing says “I’m an artist” to art enthusiasts as a French Easel. While French Easels are no longer manufactured in France, this easel still conjures up dreams of the Montmartre in Paris where artists such as Renoir, Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, Pissarro and many others came to paint and show their off their skills. A French Easel is lovely to look at, it is durable, and can be taken everywhere. It can hold many supplies, including two canvases or panels. It is affordable. You can find one for less than one hundred dollars. And better yet, you do not need to purchase any additional accessories to use this easel! 

The Frugal Artist

Choosing a few key professional quality art supplies can save you oodles, while providing better results. Work out your ideas on affordable medium quality mixed media paper before commiting your idea to a canvas or expensive watercolor paper.

For those artists who do not get to paint or create very often because of cost, you are not alone. When I was younger the only time to paint was never, nor could afford to. My solution to the nagging creative side of the brain was to purchase a sketchbook and some pencils. The book was sketched in about once per week, elaborate drawings. Sketch books can last for a very long time if you take care of them, as well as give you a chunk 80 plus pages to play with. The trial and error sketches were drawn on cheap typing paper, or any scrap paper, which got thrown away. Eventually, it worked out to sketch a few times per week, and I took on whatever commissions that came my way. Usually, it would be portraits and favorite animals that paid from $10-$75. Savings eventually paid for some paints, brushes, easels, and other goodies. The point is, if you practice even with modest amount of time and materials, you will develop your art skills and give you a few more luxuries.

I recommend a Mixed Media journal. You can paint directly in your sketchbook with acrylics, watercolors, gouache and colored pencils. I use Canson XL Mixed Media Pad, and surprisingly, I can paint in oils on it too. Canson XL Mixed Media sketchbook is a very low cost, medium quality book, and you can really get down your ideas before you commit them to professional quality paper, board or canvas. There are a few sizes. I have a small one for my purse, that I carry with watercolors, and a 9×12” book, which I work out ideas in the studio. You can find Canson XL Mixed Media Journals everywhere including Walmart, even in my little town.

A very high quality sketchbook that has 64 pages is the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media book. This is the absolute best paper I have ever come across, hands down. But, it is one of those books where I don’t even want to use it for anything more than real art because of the expense and the quality of the paper. 

It is better to buy good quality professional paint set from reliable manufacturers than it is to purchase student grade quality. I promise you that if you are remotely serious about art, you will grow out of the student grade supplies after about the third painting. If you choose a handful of carefully selected colors, it won’t cost more than $45, but it will last you much longer than a $15-20 student grade set, and your paintings will thank you. 

There are no affordable sets provided by most oil paint manufacturers. However, if you choose the following colors you can get a perfect mixing set for under $45, free shipping. This is my personal limited palette.

The perfect limited palette used by the artist of Colorful Easel.

From Winsor & Newton  get the following colors: Winsor Yellow (PY74), Bright Red (PR254), and Burnt Umber (PBr7). From Gamblin, get Titanium White (PW6), Phthalo Blue (PB15:2), and Ultramarine Violet (PV15). The reason I recommend this palette is that there are no toxic pigments, and the oil paint dries relatively quickly, and you get a great variety of colors. Ultramarine Violet is a lovely violet that doesn’t over power like Dioxazine, but has a similar tone, and it dries so much quicker.

Golden Acrylics

Golden Acrylics Principle set of colors that will give you a bright color mixing palette. It is solid. You get six 2-ounce tubes with the colors Benzimidazolone Yellow Medium (PY154), Carbon Black (PBk7), Phthalo Blue (Green Shade PB15:3), Phthalo Green (Blue Shade PG7), Quinacridone Magenta (PR122), and Titanium White (PW6).

Daniel Smith Watercolor Set

Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors Essential Set contains six .05 ml tubes of beautiful colors including Hansa Yellow Light, New Gamboge, Quinacridone Rose, Pyrrol Scarlet, Phthalo Blue Green Shade, and French Ultramarine Blue.

With regards to tubes versus pans, I’m more of the watercolor pan type of person. And with that said, there is something called watercolor sticks. Turns out that sticks have been used for decades in old school architecture drawing and rendering. Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks are the absolute best watercolor sticks available. Now these sticks are not cheap, however, the sticks are three inches long and generous and last FOREVER.

You can get three full sized watercolor pans from one DS watercolor stick, or six half pans. If you purchased half pans from say, Winsor & Newton, you’d pay on average of $7 each! Daniel Smith Watercolor Sticks are priced $8.74 across the board, but one stick saves you about $34 in the long run FOR ONE PIGMENT!

What I’ve done is cut each watercolor stick one and placed them into a full-size empty pan, and made my own watercolor set. The sticks consists of binder and pigment. The colors are vibrant, and you can paint very large paintings with them. I recommend getting a red, yellow, blue, violet and brown; white and black are always optional

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

Faber-Castell Finest Artists’ Quality Watercolor Pencils

In lieu of a watercolor stick, Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor pencils are pretty affordable, and fun to play around with. The basic set of 12 comes with everything you need to get started, but they also have open stock for when your taste grows. You can draw as normal, or use them as a watercolor pan. Various effects can be achieved by flicking the brush on the edge for a spatter, or dipping the pencil in water for a very thick rich color line. I really like these pencils.


With regards to brushes, do not rely on the number for the size of the brush, as they are all different, Dick Blick has each one with a measurement regarding the length and width of each brush. Here are a few of my very favorites per medium:

Winsor & Newton University Brushes for Oils and Acrylics

You’ll want at least four W&N University brushes, a very small detail round size 3/0, a round size 1, a flat size 4 and a flat size 8 (in University brushes).

Dick Blick Master Squirrel Round Brush

These are soft squirrel brushes which are great for washes. It has a lifetime guarantee. I use a size 6, as I’ve said, don’t rely on the numbers, size 6 is small.

Simply Simmons

If you want good quality brushes for an extremely affordable price, I highly recommend Simply Simmons Brushes by Robert Simmons. These brushes work on every media know to man. They last a long time too, but the cost per brush is $3 to $4. Get small, medium and large for all of your projects, you won’t be disappointed.

The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver, works on all of your brushes. If you use the Masters’ you will have your brushes for years to come. 

Regarding canvases, papers and other supports, see my post called “Supports”.

App Scrap

My favorite iPad apps.

With my writings on the iPad Warrior series, there is a bit of warning. Apps get scrapped frequently. So be very wary about giving your hard earned money an app, you need to think about number one, and how it will affect your projects in both the short run and the long run. How much time do you have to invest to learn the program in the first place? How will it help your projects? Is there a way to export it to something other than the given app extension, can the projects be used with other apps? Can I save it to my computer? Can I save it to an external hard drive?

Look for a few things before you invest your time and money. One, how long has the app been around, see if you can talk to the developers and ask what their future outlook is; two, when was it last updated, has it been more than three months; and three, read the reviews, learn which people are wearing rose colored glasses and which are genuinely using the product for actual projects, and which complaints are just buyers remorse, and which genuinely have a gripe.

There have been several apps that I came to depend on, and they were removed from the app store, or are no longer updated. Remember Photoshop Touch and Adobe Ideas? They were great programs. One day, one Apple update, poof, gone. Pinnacle Pro, a movie editing software by Corel Inc. It hadn’t been updated in two years! Now, the word on the street it is being called Luma Fusion and selling for $20. So be forewarned, your $20 and future movie projects might have to migrate over to the next best thing in a year or so. Outline which was an answer to OneNote that can be saved to your iPad (which OneNote doesn’t allow), the developer said it is stagnant and they have no plans to add features or update. Boo.

So now Adobe announced that they will have Photoshop on the iPad. Do you think for one minute I am going to jump on that bandwagon after the first several stints? Probably not.

Now, the apps that Apple makes, at least give you a month or so warning when they decide to scrap an app. Furthermore, many of the native apps are pretty fantastic. I invested in Jamup Pro, Audiobus, Amplitube, X-Drummer, among other music apps. But look at how Garageband came of age! That app replaced them all! It is dependable, it works with other music apps, it records, and best of all, NO CONSTANT UPSELLING, holy cats that bugs me. Have you ever tried to use Amplitube or Jamup these days? Just $4.99 for more tools, just $9.99 for a recorder pack, $2.99 more for this missing pedal! Oh and if you act now… 

If you like Microsoft, they are reliable apps. OneNote keeps getting better and better. With that said, you can’t export OneNote files anymore at least not with the free version, nor can you save the files to your iPad or computer. Also, keep in mind that Microsoft reads everything you say and do, and Apple does not. Pages and Apple Notes are also pretty reliable and great, but not as feature rich as Microsoft. 

iCloud and One Drive are different stories, so keep copies of your work off line, save it to your iPad, computer and an external hard drive. I’ve had data lost from both of those services in the past two years; so be careful.

Where are your files going to be five years from now, twenty year from now? I still have files from my first computer from 1998 which was a Compaq Presario, which works just fine on my iPad now even in Pages. Pretty amazing.

Top 10 Art Instruction Books

The following painting and artist books are my favorite art instuctional books in my library, and frequently recommend them.

Oil Painting Solution Book for Landscape Artists

This book while targeted toward outdoor painters, plein air painters, and those painting from a photograph about landscapes, there is so much more value in this book. I reference it often. It goes through everything you need to know as an artist, such as how to stretch a canvas to learning color, saturation, perspective and even varnishing. Seriously, if there is only one oil painting book you have the budget for, it would be this one.

Art of the Pencil

I remember reading this book about 15 years ago. I thought about it often and finally came across it again last week and bought it for my library. This book has helped me out so much with regards to drawing and holding the pencil in creative and different ways. Regardless that it is a drawing book, the principles works well with all kinds of art, including painting, and holding your brushes differently for different effects. It has helped me out with ergonomics as well.

Now, the problem with this book Art of the Pencil, is there is a bit of nudity. I’m not a prude, and understand why people take life drawing classes, basically to shock you into drawing shapes, light and shade, rather than focusing on the naughty bits of people’s human anatomy. But to me, extreme graphic images are unnecessary particularly in a general drawing book. There are ways to tastefully draw or paint a nude. Look at many of the old classical paintings. Fine, do whatever you like. But these days, some artists will go out of their ways to shock you to the point of nausea. Very graphic drawings of the unmentionables, which in the case of reading and learning from a book it extremely distracting and unnecessary. What I did was to use some sticky notes on the naked people so I can concentrate on the actual lessons.

The Artist’s Handbook

This is stellar for those artists who who want to know everything about their tools from what it is made of to how to use them. If you use many different mediums, say chalk pastels, oil paint, casein, watercolors and acrylics, then definitely buy this book.

Liquitex Acrylic Book
This is a free e-book, which used to be in print (still have mine 😁). Absolutely hands down the best starting point for acrylics. It will share with you the origins of acrylics, down to how to use the new types of fun additives for acrylics. I love this book.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

I hear you. “Ok, what?” Yes. Understanding Comics. If you draw art in a series be it a triptych, or sequential art, draw storyboards, draw storybooks or god forbid the dreaded word… comics, I one hundred percent recommend reading this book. Forget the modern bull crap that we are subjected to in the high violence, bloody mess thinking of the word comics, and think of the possibilities in fine art… just saying. Look. I love art, especially ancient art. Reading codexes and manuscripts from the the sixteenth century, Egyptian art, Japanese, Chinese and Indian art, Mayan and Aztec art—all these were written in the style of sequential art… comics.

Color Sketching and Rendering in Watercolors

This book is one of the most fantastic books about watercolors I’ve ever read. It goes through every trial and error you can imagine and gives real world situations of why you need watercolors in your life.

Welcome To My Studio

I’ve noticed all of the teachers I’ve paid good money to use this book for teaching oil painting, almost exclusively. I feel kind of ripped off, but there you go. Now I have this book in my library. It is good, and effective, but only use this book a starting point.

Drawing on Artist Within

I was very skeptical at first with this book, but took the course for giggles. It is from the author of Drawing On The Left Side of Your Brain, which is covered somewhat in this book. Actually after I had completed the course, (it is a month long journey) my skills went way up and was able to get jobs in drawing. Very recommended. Unfortunately, I had lent this book out, and no longer have it. But, because it had such an impact on my life and the fact I remember it more than a decade later, I absolutely recommend it.

The Artist’s Muse

This book is actually a card game, which is very effective to stir your imagination and get you to create things you wouldn’t ordinarily think of. I love this system. It breaks me out of my hoity-toity (as some friends so lovingly call my art) painting. It has a book and three game card sections, one for color suggestions, one for the subject and techniques.

Color: A Natural History of the Palette

While this is not an art instruction book, per say, there is much to be learned about art in this book. This is a travelogue about paint. The writer goes around the world to the origins of each paint in an old paint box. A beautiful and delightful read about the history of paints.

Art Studio Tips

Studio Safety

Professional paints contain pigments are the same or nearly the same in all mediums. Some pigments contain ingredients such as cobalt, cadmium or lead, which are toxic. There are a plethora of pigments that are not toxic, and will give you a full palette of colors.

Acrylics take no less than 20 chemicals to produce the binder, this does not include the pigments. Plastics although are deemed safe, but they have not been around long enough to see the true side effects in humans. Therefore it is wise to keep these paints out of your body; off your skin and out of your lungs.

Oil Painting
Oils are made with vegetable oil such as linseed, poppy seed oil, walnut oil and a variety of other oils depending on the paint manufacturer. Predominately, linseed oil is used. These are all safe to use, as these oils are used in cooking food. With that said, you do not want the oils to seep pigments into your skin, particularly pigments that contain cobalts or cadmiums; take care to keep it off your body.

Turpentine, or other volatile paint thinners should be avoided unless you have a teacher who insists on old school art lessons. I use good old linseed or Gamblin’s Solvent-Free Medium to thin or clean the color off the brushes during the paint session.

Watercolors are made with Gum Arabic, which is tree sap. Other ingredients include glycerine, honey, and perhaps another ingredient or two depending on the manufacturer. Watercolors, with the exception of some pigments are deemed non-toxic.

Disposal of materials

Again, acrylics are plastic. Acrylics, no matter what you do seems to have much more waste than any other painting medium. At least in my 20 years of experience. Dumping waste water into the streams, down the sink or the like is not environmentally sound. If you choose to use acrylics while painting out of doors, then use a resealable container for wastewater. At least you will not end up dumping a bunch of paint in nature.

If you take my advice and use wax paper as a palette, then clean up or storing the pigment is a simple task. You can use your paints until almost all of the pigment is on your canvas and not in the trash. Oil dries by absorbing air, or lack of a better term, inhaling. Fold over the wax paper if you want to use it again the following day, or place a piece of tin foil over it (you can reuse a piece of foil seemingly forever). Once you have exhausted all of your colors, you can fold the wax paper and place it into the trash. Save the foil for your next painting.

Watercolors can be reactivated on your palette. There is very little to no waste of paint if done right. This works with any watercolors be it the tube colors or the pans, cakes or sticks. Use two small water cups… yes really! I use two palette cups for an entire session. One is the rinse water, and the other is the clean water. I promise, the clean water will stay clean. Unfortunately, this is another bit of waste water that will have to be dumped in the sink.

You can use paper towels if you want to, but I feel that they are an unnecessary expense and waste. Also, potentially dangerous if you constantly place oil soaked towels in the trash, as many oils are combustible.

If you are an oil painter, have two rags. One rag is for today, once you’ve completed the painting session, wash it with dish soap, and hang up to dry. If you are worried about the flammability of your painting medium, then use Gamblin’s Solvent-free Painting Medium, which is basically a fast drying safflower oil, and is fabulous. It has higher flash point than most other oils, are deemed fire safe, and is also non-toxic. The second rag is there for you if the first rag is not completely dry the next day.

If you are an acrylic painter have a rag or two, wash with dish soap.

If you are a watercolor painter, you only need one rag, and it really doesn’t need frequent washing. Just be sure to let it dry out, otherwise it might stink the next day.

Care of your brushes
If you are an oil painter and are painting on location and still have a few more hours until you get to a sink, cover your brushes in a piece of tin foil so the will not dry out as fast. You don’t have to go crazy and wrap each brush, just fold over some foil on your bushes together, and place them in your easel, pochade box or brush holder.

Washing any of your brushes in any medium is easy. Wipe the excess paint onto your rag. Then use The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Restorer to clean them with water. Dry with a clean towel, and lay the brushes on a flat surface. Yes, some say to stand them up, but the problem with that habit, is that moisture falls into the ferrule, and as such will loosen the glue that holds the hair on the stick over time. It is not recommended.

Affinity Photo for iPad

I gave this app an extremely fair shake. Two solid weeks working on various projects. The bulk of my work is creating content for websites, fixing images, drawing comics, making book covers and writing and creating artwork for books. My usual work flow is draw in Procreate, vector images in Graphic and complete them in Comic Draw for adding text and/or export in high resolution PDFs or Pixelmator for resizing web images.

Affinity Photo does replace Pixelmator for resizing and exporting images. It does basic photo editing well.

I was extremely hopeful that Affinity Photo or combination of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer would be the be all end all. But regrettably, it is not. In fact it took longer to do any project due to all of the bugs. Many of the bugs you can work around, or undo, but after a while, some of the bugs just make the extent of the program unusable.

Now, Affinity Photo is an extremely young app on the market. I foresee many of these problems being fixed over the next few years, if you are patient enough.

First, there is a huge learning curve. There are five areas called Personas located at the top of the program, and you have to keep toggling between them to do work. For example, if you are drawing, and you want to select, you have to use the First Persona, go to the Second Persona to select anything, go back to to the first to continue working, and then go back to the second Persona to deselect. That right there makes the work flow very time consuming.

Not everything they show as a feature works. As of this writing, January 2019, there is still no split screen. This is kind of a big deal if you are working on a portrait and need the reference photos. You cannot have two items open at the same time with this program. I’m not sure why they do this, perhaps it is to save memory. You can still overlay a window, but it will block which ever side you have it on. Similarly, you can import the picture and have it as a thumbnail, but again, where ever it is, it is blocking the rest of your picture, and it being a thumbnail, you are not going to get the details. However, you can import a large picture and have it on a layer, and keep referencing that picture. It is useful especially when you have a customer who wants a portrait of a child in her Easter dress, but wants her curls from her school photo and her smile and pose from a completely different picture. People will ask this of you if you are doing this professionally.

The saving and export methods are awkward. There are several ways to do this, but it has many steps that I feel are unnecessary, since every other program on the planet allows you to autosave within the app itself. It does have an autosave, but it is meager, and you will lose much of your work if you choose to close the program too soon.

If you have to use the Affinity Photo manual, please note that it will turn off your music. Minor annoyance, but letting you know that it’s the program and not your iPad’s fault.

Another big grievance for the artist, is that there is no decent tilt feature for pencils. This means, no natural looking pencils to save your life. All of the pencils will act like technical pencils. (I just received an update stating that they are looking to do more features for the pencil, and add split screen.) If sketching pencil or colored pencil art is what you are looking for, I suggest also purchasing Procreate, which has phenomenal pencils with the Apple Pencil tilt feature.

With that said, If you can live without pencil tilt shading feature, and just have pressure sensitivity, Affinity Photo has much more goodies than Procreate. Such as photo manipulation and text. Of course, you can buy both and work with them together, nothing is stopping you! Just save either or in .PSD formats and they will work together.

Half of the FX in the layers do not work. Half of the hand gestures do not work. Half of the manipulation to customize brushes does not work.

Random lines show up out of nowhere when you are drawing, even if you use a designers glove. If you don’t spot the problem in time, you will have to do additional work by either scrubbing through the history and redoing everything, or painstakingly erase the area.

While there are many bugs and complaints about this program, there are many blessings too. One, resizing a document, exporting, and selecting are flawless, with the exception of the learning curve and aforementioned added steps. I love the test features. The blemish tool is old school, but it works well. Affinity Photo has vector tools, which is fantastic.

I did manage to make successful, albeit whimsical art with Affinity Photo, it just took bug work arounds and awhile to get used to the program.

This app is great if you don’t have any photo apps and want to invest in Affinity Photo. This is not a great app if you are looking for a solid Photoshop replacement. Now remember, Photoshop has been around for decades, and Affinity only for a handful of years, give it time, it is definitely up and coming.

Color Consistency

Keep your pigments consistent with each medium you choose to use. Whether your preference is acrylics, oils, pastel, watercolor and/or colored pencils, your knowledge of color mixing will greatly increase if you keep the palettes the same. In other words, don’t buy the sets, buy individually. This will cost more, but will greatly benefit your learning to mix colors and your art.

Each brand and medium have many different names for the same pigment. A great idea is to learn your pigment numbers. You can find the pigment name and number on good paints. The number can be located in the back or the front of the tube and looks like this: Ultramarine Blue, PB29. Poor quality paints usually come with a tell-tale sign such as a cute name like Pumpkin Orange or Frog Green. Others have normal pigment names, but do not have the pigment number. Aside from Old Holland, which I think doesn’t provide a number, stay clear from the number-lacking paints.

Some pigments like PY3 have many names. PY3 is basically a light yellow-green. The names could be Hansa Yellow Light, Hansa Yellow Pale, Lemon Yellow or Brilliant Yellow, depending on the manufacturer. To find out the pigments of each paint, visit the manufacturer’s Websites you can find my favorites under Resources.

* Colored pencils users: you’ll have to compare the approx. color and the name and color with your paints. They don’t always have the pigment numbers.

Oil Painting Without Solvents

Oil Painting can be either extremely rewarding, or extremely daunting. The way I paint and can teach you how to oil paint, should help ease any troubles, and help you paint safely, and make a lasting painting. These are not hard-fast rules, but they work for me.

First understand the fat over lean, and quick under slow rules. Fat is oily, lean is not. Choose either Solvent-Free Medium from Gamblin, which is a fast drying safflower oil or use Drying Linseed Oil from Winsor & Newton. Choose one or the other, and stick with it throughout the painting, and add more medium for every subsequent layer. The first layer should have no medium at all, unless absolutely necessary.

Second, know which pigments dry quickest and which dry the slowest. Quick drying pigments should be used beneath the slow drying pigments. The fast drying pigments should be used for the beginning layers. Any colors that are labeled as PBr7 such as Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna are perfect. Yellow Ochre PY42, Manganese Violet PV16 are also good choices. There is a quick drying white available if necessary.

Since there are soooo many colors available, and each artist has their own palette, it is best to take a canvas you can hang on the wall, draw squares for each pigment, and see how fast it dries. Make a note of when you created it, the name of the pigment, and write the day it dried to the touch beneath the square. It is your best reference, and it shouldn’t take more than a half hour to make.

Some of aforementioned quick drying colors will come out of the tube very stiff. Use just a very tad, I mean barely get your brush wet with Solvent-Free Medium from Gamblin or Drying Linseed from Winsor & Newton. You don’t want to have a fatty under layer, but you certainly cannot paint with clay. Any subsequent layer should have more medium than the previous layer.

The medium drying colors are Phthalocyanine blues and greens, Pyrrole reds and oranges, and the Hansa yellows. These are great for the second or third layers.

The slowest drying pigments are the Quinacridones and Cadmiums. Use these are great for the final layers. Quinacridones are transparent, therefore are good glazing colors.

If you are using paint that is linseed oil, then use Solvent-Free Medium from Gamblin, or Drying Linseed oil from Winsor & Newton. If you are using paints that contain safflower oil, then use the Solvent-free medium from Gamblin.

Use the the excess Solvent-Free medium or pretty much any artist oil (such as walnut oil if you are using M. Graham paints) to clean your brushes in-between colors. Remember, that when you use other oils, it will get into your picture, so it is best to use similar oils. In other words, if you are using paints that contain safflower oil, use the solvent-free medium from Gamblin. If you are using linseed oil then wipe the brush clean with linseed.

It is best if you paint with similar colors at any given time to reduce the need to completely clean the brush. For example, if you are creating a landscape painting, paint the sky and just use sky colors, do not jump to the grass, or other area that requires different colors. Once completed with that area of the painting, then you can clean your brush and move to the next area of the picture.

Once you have completed the painting session, you will have to clean up. What I do before hand actually, is use wax-paper to paint on. Clipping wax paper to a wooden palette doesn’t look as goofy as using a disposable paper palette with a thumbhole. Wax paper is similar to the disposable palettes, but far more affordable. If you have excess paint, you can cover it with another piece of wax paper, or if you have used the paper completely, just fold it and toss it into the trash.

In order to clean your oil painting brushes without solvent, wipe the excess oil with a rag. Dip the brush into any clean oil, be it linseed, or the left over drying medium until the brush is clean. Wipe off the oil with a rag. Then clean your brush with water and The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Restorer. It is non-toxic and makes clean up infinitely easier than dish soap. Then let your brush sit flat to dry. I know many people say to leave the brushes standing up, but the problem with that is the water will drip into the ferrule, and may loosen the glue that holds the fur to the handle.

Cleaning your rag is as easy as washing a wash cloth. Just use dish soap and warm water. Let it dry overnight hanging some place. It will look ugly, but rags are reusable and is less waste than the constant use of paper towels.

It used to be that you had to wait an entire year before varnishing an oil painting. Gamblin has an archival, but removable varnish that can be applied once the painting has dried to the touch. This is called Gamvar. I recommend it if you like the results your painting.

Until next time, happy painting!

– Tia

Guerrilla Painter Box Stuffed Stupid for Mixed Media Artists

In this video, you will learn how to fit all of your art supplies into a Guerrilla paint box. This is a great idea for those who cannot choose what to bring, and for those artists who let the picture decide what medium it wants.

Quick Blending Tip for Acrylics

First spray the palette with some water, then lay down at least a nickel sized amount of paint, then mist the paint.

When blending with acrylics get the colors you want, mix them out on the palette. Put one thick line of the first color, make sure it is wet, then take the second color and do the same thing right beside the first color. Criss-cross the two colors from top to bottom. Then while they are still wet, brush the center of the two, down in a quick stroke. Ta-da, nice blended acrylic colors.