Tools of the Trade

Hi everybody,

I am often asked about the tools that use in my practice, so I will summarize the main tools and techniques in this post.



For ala-prima work with a life model and sketches I use flat canvas from a canvas pad. Plywood as a backing board, held with bulldog clips.  Main reason is that I can store them flat in a drawer when I finish.

I prefer linen over cotton that is oiled primed rather than gesso primed. I tend to stretch my own linen. If I use commercial canvas with gesso I prime it with a layer of oil primer. If the material is raw I will firstly prime it with PVA before the oil primer.


Brushes are like candy to a child. For some reason I never seem to have enough!

For Oils I prefer natural Hogs. Filberts I mostly use with flats from time to time. For Acrylic I use man made brushes.  All my brushes are long, size 3+

When I need a large brush I use 2” cheap Home-Depot brushes.

Cleaning is important at the end of each day. I use OMS to clean the oil paint, dishwasher liquid to clean completely the OMS from the brush. I wrap the brush bristles with paper towel to keep the shape of the bristles and suspend it with ferulle facing down so that any remaining water will fall out


For my figurative work I use a limited palette. The colours are White, Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red and Ultramarine Blue. Sometimes I also use Raw Umber which I mix with the Blue to give me a chromatic black.  By limiting the palette I can control my colours and concentrate on developing the values of the compositions.

I don’t paint on a white surface so I mix a background colour from all the tubes that I have collected over the years.

The picture below is the range of shades that I can achieve with my limited palette.

See you soon.

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