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What is in my art toy box? (Part I)

Want to take a peak in my art toy box? Well, it is not actually a box, it is a room full of bins, boxes, drawers, shelves and tins. As I take a few weeks off from teaching, I am doing a much needed studio spring/summer cleaning. While doing so, I am finding a few toys I have purchased, but not taken the time to play with as well as some supplies I used to play with, but had forgotten about. I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorites with you and where to find them.

This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Series. Amazon is usually the first place I look for new supplies. Dick Blick and Jerry's Artarama are very good sources for professional grade paints and bulk canvases. The links here are for items I use and have actually purchased on Amazon, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to anyone using the link. There is a Hobby Lobby close to me, which I shop at regularly, but I also recommend JoAnn and Michael's - they just are not convenient for me - or as easy as Amazon.

amazon grapefruit red full body apron - chestnut grove studios

You can't start playing and getting your hands dirty without first donning a cute apron to protect your clothes. I have several aprons, even a handful that I have made myself. However, my absolute favorite is this adorable Cotton Linen Cross Back Apron. It comes in a wide array of colors and a couple of styles, but I could not resist the grapefruit red one with a ruffled bottom and big pockets.


I primarily use acrylics and watercolors. My go to acrylic paints are Golden Fluid Acrylics. While I was familiar with the Golden brand and the high quality of their heavy body acrylics; I had not tried, or was even aware of fluid acrylics. A couple of online courses from two different artists that I admire, Lucy Thomas and Ali Kay, (both Tennessee artists, by the way), introduced me to fluid acrylics and their benefits. They are very saturated - a little goes a loooonnnng way and they are archival quality. They are great for the beginning layers of a painting because they do not leave behind brush strokes or ridges and bumps that come from using heavy body acrylics.

Almost all of my recent paintings begin with an underpainting of either Pyrole Red Light or Teal. I use Golden Satin Glazing Medium to make the paint go further when doing an underpainting. It can almost cut in half the amount of paint you need to cover a canvas and it does not dilute the color. When I want to add a little body to the finishing layers of a painting, I add Golden Matte Gel Medium to the fluid acrylic paint. It also does not dilute the color, but allows me to keep some beautiful brush strokes. Note that either of these products can also be added to heavy body paints. The gel medium can double as an adhesive when doing any collage work... or use it instead of water when working with water-soluble mediums to keep them from reactivating when you apply any additional fluid layers. A few of my favorite colors are in this photo, but if you are just starting out, this Golden Fluid Acrylic Starter Set is a great option for trying out fluid acrylics.

I hope you will come back in a couple of days to read Part II on watercolors. You can also visit the Art Shop which has original artwork, note cards, journals and more... and if you are musically inclined, please check out Mr. Chestnut Grove Studios banjos, dulcimers and soon to be ukuleles gallery or shop.

P.S. I teach in person art workshops locally in Middle Tennessee - I am also available for private Paint Parties at your location. Email / text / call - / 615.772.7509 - I would love to hear from you!

Comment below on your favorite acrylic paints - I'm always looking for a new toy to put in the box.

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Love the apron. But I know me, I would be afraid of getting it dirty. Just want to wear it as a pinafore. 😚

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Same here - but I finally managed to get paint on it, so the "new" has worn off, and it now begins to add "character."

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