Argh! Midlife crisis!

I jest, I jest.

Well, maybe I have a little midlife crisis.  I’m about to…. (drumroll please) switch from acrylics to oils.

It happened like this.  Due to the neighbor problems that caused me to buy a house in the first place, I hadn’t felt much like painting in quite a while.  Who knew acrylics can go bad inside a sealed tube?  When I was transferring my stuff from apartment to house, I realized that nearly every tube and bottle of acrylic paint was lumpy, half coagulated, and resistant to re-mixing.


Or is it?

Living in this house with all its possibilities has caused me to think a little more creatively – and since I’ve always wanted to try painting with oils, and have rediscovered the wet on wet painting technique via Bob Ross, why not replace my acrylics with oils?

Problem solved, opportunity found.

The cost is a little higher, yes, okay maybe a lot higher, but like the watercolors and colored pencils I used on the greeting card you see above, oil paints take a lot more punishment before going bad.

For cleaning I am going to use orange oil (similar properties as lavender spike oil, used by artists before turpentine was common) and for those really hard jobs, stinky mineral spirits.  I don’t want to use odorless mineral spirits because most of the danger is still there without the warning signs.  This will be supplemented by an open window, and open door, and an exhaust fan in my study/studio.

Some of my brushes will still work.  My canvasses can be reused.  Same with my gesso.  I think this will be an interesting adventure, and hopefully start a love affair with oils.

So there you have it… my version of a midlife crisis.


Drama on the Cheap: working on black backgrounds

This is for all the lovely artists out there.

A few years ago, I realized that it was tremendously fun to work with chalk, Conte, colored pencils or white paint pens on a perfectly black background. I loved the dramatic look and enjoyed the fun of working entirely with highlights. However, I quickly grew tired of dealing with inadequately pigmented construction paper, and black gesso was expensive and messy. Black paint was inadequate. Black foamcore mattboard was nice but expensive and flimsy.

I craved something better!

After much searching I found a perfect solution online.  That was ultra-black presentation board!  Made for mounting photographs and other art, this stuff is ideal for painting or drawing on. It takes paint well and doesn’t fall apart, it’s reasonably stiff, it has enough texture to make using chalks and pencils a breeze. It’s light, and best of all, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!  A five pack of the largest size is only around $20 and it comes in several sizes.  Here’s one piece I created with this material.


Moonlit Beach web


I was ecstatic. I love creating with this material! It is easy to work with and looks great, and at the same time these boards are cheap enough, that I want to actually use it instead of “saving for the right piece” which may never come. Black presentation board is easy to frame, too, and easy to fit on an easel. Best of all, when I need more, I just go online and my favorite art store delivers more within a week, safely packed for me.

If anyone wants to try this amazing material, I found the best price at  Funny name, amazing company.  If you check them out, use this affiliate link and you won’t be sorry.  They offer amazing deals and great customer service too.  They also carry all my favorite supplies at prices below their competition.

So click here:

And search for

Blick Presentation Boards

to find the best perfectly black background I’ve ever seen.  While you’re there, you’ll see that they also carry Conte pencils, chalk pencils, Liquitex fine point paint pens, and about a half a million other things.  Buy enough and they throw in free shipping.