Where and how to store oil paintings while they dry?

I love painting in oils but they do take a long time to dry - up to 6 months (and sometimes longer) before they can be varnished.

Since I don't have a dedicated studio I need to store my paintings somewhere in my house.

I have been keeping them on the mantle piece, and they do look fabulous there, but now I have too many so need another solution. This is what I came up with...

All I needed was a piece of wood from the garage, a pack of long nails, and a hammer - and now I can store 28 more paintings!

My paintings are very small, just 2.5 x 3.5 inches. The nails I used are 75mm long with an oval top, and they are spaced at 1 inch intervals.

If you need to store larger paintings than this you could use wooden dowling instead of nails, and simply drill holes to fit the dowling.

Floral Collection at Ormskirk's Brew and Bake

I adore flowers; the colours and heady scents are simply divine.

So for my latest collection I've been busy painting fuchsias, tulips, and my spring favourites - daffodils. 

My floral collection is now on display at Brew and Bake in the lovely little market town of Ormskirk in West Lancashire. Brew and Bake is a relatively new tea shop selling teas, coffees, homemade cakes, soups and sandwiches, all with a local twist.

You can read all about Brew and Bake on the Love Ormskirk website and you can also find them on facebook.

The Floral Collection

On display at Brew and Bake

Smaller paintings from the Floral Collection are available in my Folksy Shop:



Derwent Inktense on Fabric

This weekend I tried painting with Derwent Inktense on fabric.

I started by cutting out an ACEO sized piece of denim from an old pair of jeans. ACEOs measure 2.5 x 3.5 inches, and you can read more about these fascinating collectible paintings here.

According to Derwent, intense pencils and blocks are washable at 30 degrees celcius proving they have been completely dissolved, so it is important to make sure that the fabric is thoroughly damp before using the pencils. 

So to begin with I used a flat brush and clean water to dampen the whole piece of denim to the point where it was most definitely damp, but not soaking wet.

Inktense pencils work really really well on the damp denim - much better than I have ever found them to work on paper. The colours were very bright.

With the inktense blocks I picked up paint from the block with a wet brush, and these also worked well but were not as vibrant and did not spread very far.

Next stage was to let the painting dry - seemed to take an inordinate amount of time! I'd forgotten quite how long it takes denim to dry, but I was patient and let it dry naturally. You can see that the colours dried into much more muted tones.

Once dry I added some definition using the inktense blocks, picking paint up from the block with a wet brush and applying it to the now dry denim. This worked well as the colour did not spread as much on dry fabric, although it did still spread a little.

Next day the denim had completely dried, and again the whole painting was much more muted.

Now for the scary part - time for my little fishy to go for a swim!

According to Derwent, inktense is fully washable at 30 degrees celcius. I prepared a nice warm pond for him with washing powder (that took ages to dissolve at that temperature)...

And in he goes...

After 5 minutes of swishing, prodding, and a gentle rub, you can see that a little of the yellow has run, but otherwise the washing water is pretty much the same colour as before.

Here is is straight out of the bath, looking good I think! I made the mistake of squeezing him dry, which left him full of crinkles, so I thoroughly wet him again and left him to drip dry.

24 hours later he was quite dry and, disappointingly, quite faded.

I very much enjoyed this exercise, but have to conclude that inktense painting on denim is not durable enough to be wash-and-wearable.

I will be re-painting this fish with my inktense blocks, but this time I won't wash it!

Do please share your thoughts on (and experience with) inktense on fabric in the comments below, I'd love to know what you think.

Derwent Artbar Paintings

I never thought I'd say this, but I LOVE my Derwent Artbars.

I really struggled to get going with them when I bought them 18 months ago at the Society for All Artists (SAA) "It's All About Art" event in Manchester, England. My previous blog post here describes the battle in detail.

This year, we had that rare thing in England - a hot dry summer - and I finally made friends with them! I enthusiastically wrote a blog post explaining the best ways to get the most from your artbars, you can read that post here.

Today I want to show you some of my more recent artbar paintings - from tiny dolls house paintings up to A4 size. I've settled into using the artbars with a brush and water, picking up paint like you would from a watercolour pan, and also flicking paint directly from the artbar onto the painting with a brush.

I really enjoy using the artbars now, and can wholeheartedly recommend that you try them sometime.

I started off with the 24 artbar set, and yesterday I added the 12 artbar set to my arsenal. The way that Derwent have packaged them is quite good in that you don't get a lot of overlap between the sets - I have 7 new colours and only 5 repeats, one of these being white which I am sure to run out of soon.

If you are thinking of buying a set and don't want to go straight in with the complete set of 72 then I would recommend starting out with the set of 12 - the colours are clean and vibrant and very easily mixable.

And an added bonus is that Derwent tell me that all of their products are non-toxic - although they do break easily so would represent a chocking hazard for small children.

If you have tried artbars I'd be very interested to hear of your experience - I'd love you to leave me a comment to let me know how you have got on with them!

Why do I paint such tiny pictures?

What a good question!

18 months ago I was introduced to painting little 2.5 x 3.5 inch art cards by a good friend of mine, Brenda of Gweddus Art. These little paintings are known as ACEOs (Art Cards Editions and Originals) and you can read more about ACEOs here.

Brenda has a very distinctive and beautiful style, this is one of my favourites of hers.

Fantasy Purple ACEO by Gweddus Art

Another of my favourite folksy artists is Max of Paper Chains & Beads. This is one of her very striking ink art cards

Iris by Paper Chains and Beads

Hazel of Art in Wax creates all of her work using hot wax, either melted and painted with a brush or applied with a hot iron.

Poppy Lane by Art in Wax

Trevor of Trevor Harvey Art is a digital artist, and creates some wonderful art from his own photographs.

Yorkshire Landscape by Trevor Harvey Art

Annabel of Animal Glass Designs creates mixed media ACEOs using a laminated photograph glass paints.

Dragonfly Flower Pond by Animal Glass Designs

And finally for today I'll show you one of mine from my shop Stephanie Guy Fine Art. This one was created with watersoluble wax.

Dragonfly by Stephanie Guy Fine Art

As you can see from this selection, the style of ACEOs available is so varied, collecting them can become just as addictive as painting them!

I have plenty more work from artists who paint in miniature to show you next time - to avoid missing out you can become a member and/or sign up for email notification of my blog, look for the icons on the right hand side of this page.

Oil Pet Portraits in Miniature

I've recently started offering miniature pet portraits measuring just 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

These mini paintings are classed as ACEOs - see my previous post here for an explanation of these highly collectible art cards.

This size looks fabulous on a mini-easel, and is perfect for carrying around with you to show your friends and to connect you to your beloved pet all day, every day.

For pet portraits I always work from photographs, usually supplied by the pet owner. Sadly in many cases portraits are ordered by owners who have lost their pets and realised too late that they don't have a good photograph. You'd be amazed at some of the photos that I have been able to work with! I've added missing legs; worked with blurred photos using the colours of the pet and a standard breed reference photo for the bone structure; digitally lightened photos to be able to make out specific areas that are otherwise too dark etc.

I love to get character information so that I feel a connection to the pet I am painting - whether they are cheeky, fun loving, lazy, quiet or shy, all adds to the final feel of the portrait.

The worst thing about working in oils is the time it takes them to dry - it takes a whole 6 months before they are dry enough to varnish. Luckily the varnish itself is quite quick to dry, it only takes a few days, and then the longed-for portraits can at last be posted.  Delivery is also possible after 3 to 4 months with a temporary varnish which you will need to have professionally upgraded after 12 months.

If you want a larger portrait in oils, I can paint up to 10 x 8 inches

Or if you can't wait 7 months for your portrait, I also offer watercolour pencil portraits, from £30 upwards depending on the size and the number of pets. Watercolour pencil portraits are always presented in a mount (matt), and are completed within two weeks of payment and receipt of a suitable photograph.

Cleaning up your oil brushes without turps

Here is something that I just HAD to share with you.

The other day I bought some expensive Safflower oil so that I could add another layer to a semi-dry oil painting.

I know that if I need to add another layer I have to observe the "fat over lean" rule - which means adding oil to the paint to make it fatter and to slow down the drying time. This is to make sure that the layer on top doesn't dry before the layer underneath, which can cause cracking of the dry top layer as the wet underneath layer moves during the drying process.

It's especially important when adding highlights with titanium white as it is notorious for drying quicker than other colours.

I chose Safflower oil as it doesn't cause yellowing of the pigments over time.

So far, so good.

Whilst I was mixing my colours and adding the safflower oil, I noticed that the oil was actually cleaning my brushes!



I had already made the switch to using Zest-it Sovent instead of artist turps for health reasons, but even that has an overbearing whiff that I could happily do without.

So now I keep a small bottle of regular everyday cooking oil in my kit for cleaning up my brushes and my palette.

And I can paint miniature pet portraits to my heart's content! These are just 2.5 x 3.5 inches, perfect for displaying on a mini easel or for carrying around in your wallet to show your friends.