Friday, April 27, 2018

Painting Surfaces

Red Rose 

10” X 8”

 On Dream Canvas


I first discovered this type of canvas years ago and could not wait to paint on it.  It had a different surface than I had painted on in the past and because red roses were always my mother’s favorite flower, I decided that was what I wanted to paint. As I worked on it, it quickly became a favorite.  Not only the beautiful red rose but also the support on which I was painting. The canvas is made of nylon and can be used for any type of medium, pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic or oils. They are very smooth, durable, and will outlast many canvases made of other fabrics.  Another painting on this “Dream Canvas” is my Magnolia on the home page of my website at  There is a link at the top of the page.  The Magnolia is probably my favorite painting of all the paintings I have done.  

I do have more information on these canvases and several different standard sizes and colors for sale on my website

Thought of the Day:

Someone once said that your growth as an artist will take a lifetime. It is a continuous path of frustration and joyful insight. You will never know everything, and most painters quit before they discover who they really are as an artist. When your imagination employs the rich sensory memory of all that you have experienced, the artwork you create becomes alive, and this is what the world is waiting to see in your paintings.

Tip of the Day:

Today’s tip is about the surface on which you paint.  It is called a “support”.  We have all been to our local art store, looked down the racks of canvases and wondered, “Which one do I choose?”  I am going to give you several different opinions on this very subject.  I suggest that you try different supports and then decide what is right for you. 

In this Tip of the Day I will be discussing panels and pre-stretched canvases that you purchase and not those you stretch yourself.  When choosing a support, even though it is a personal preference choice because you can really paint on anything you desire.  Setting this aside, there are a few things we need to consider.  

Whatever support you choose must be sealed.  Artist use a verity of products to seal their support.  A lot will depend on the type of support you are going to use. So let first look at a few of the most common ones.

Panels, Boards:  Panels can range from canvas panes to fiberboard, for example.  Canvas panels are usually made of some type of cardboard and then covered in canvas, most likely cotton.  They are very inexpensive and are not very durable.  They warp very easily and if they get damp, the canvas will separate from the cardboard.  If you think you will just use them to practice a painting, that painting will turn out to be one of your best and there you have in on a cheap, horrible support. I do not recommend them for any use.

A lot of artist use fiberboard for small painting, usually under 16” X 20”.  Anything over 14” X 18” gets really heavy so they switch to stretched canvas, most stretching their own and using linen. I know some artist who go to their local home improvement store, purchase a large sheet of fiberboard and have the store cut the exact sizes they want.  The artist pre-plans all the cuts before the purchase.  Fiberboard makes a great surface to paint on and is less expensive than a lot of other supports.  To seal the fiberboard you can use several products.  For example, you can use three or four coats of gesso.  You have to let each coat dry and lightly sand before adding the next coat.  You can use one or two coats of white acrylic or oil paint, again lightly sanding between each coat.  One artist I know sprays several coats of Rust-Oleum White Auto Primer and you do not have to sand it.  It is probably more permanent than gesso.  The number of coat of sealer you put on you board will be determine by the texture you personally prefer.

It does take a little patience, practice and getting adjusted to painting on fiberboard.  The texture is very smooth but once it is sealed, the paint will not be absorbed into the board as it does with most pre-stretched canvases that are not properly sealed.  

Pre-Stretched Canvas:  Pre-stretched canvases are varied to say the least.  Of course, they vary in size but it is the texture of the surface that we are most concerned.  Pre-stretched canvases are available in all price ranges, from very inexpensive to very expensive.  So what is the difference?  The obvious is cheap price, cheap quality.  The next thing is the type of fabric used and the surface texture.  Most store bought pre-stretched canvas are made from cotton.  Some have a larger weave, which makes the surface rougher, and some have a tighter weave, which makes the surface smoother. They are usually referred to as medium texture or smooth texture.  A rough texture or a smooth texture also depends on how many coats of gesso have been applied to the surface.  Again, a lot of store bought canvas will say, “Primed with three coats of gesso”.  In most cases, in my opinion, that is not enough.  You can always add more gesso, just very lightly sand between each coat. 

If you are painting the “Bob Ross” method, a medium texture would be best.  It takes a rough surface, and a very stiff paint, to paint snow on the mountains.    However, that is the only reason I would personally ever recommend a medium texture canvas.  The weave is large and a painter has to really work to fill in all those little holes.  Bob Ross uses a lot of paint and it is easy to cover the canvas.

Most professional artist paint on fiberboard and/or linen canvas and sometimes on cotton.  When I paint on cotton, I use Fredix Blue Label Ultrasmooth canvas.  I love the smooth texture it provides.  That is also why I really enjoy painting on the Nylon canvas on which I painted the “Red Rose” above and also the “Magnolia” on my website.  The texture is wonderful and it takes less paint.   

Please visit my website for further information on what sizes and colors are available and how you may purchase them.

Dream Canvas

Available in White, Gray or Black.  

To get more info or order canvases click on the picture above in the right column!

Question of the Day:

 Because of the length of this blog, there is no Question of the Day.

 Thank you for visiting my blog.  Please do not hesitate to make a comment below or email me at  I welcome your feedback.

If you know of anyone that may appreciate the things I am sharing about painting, please let them know about this blog.  I hope to offer more painting tips as this conversation continues.  

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

A New Beginning


          Yellow Rose Bud

                         20" X 16"

      Click to Purchase or get more info

Welcome to my new blog.  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Rita Johnson and I am an artist and instructor.  I have been painting for many years.  If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website at the link at the top of this page.

With this "Rita's Palette Talk" blog, I hope to share with you my insights and observations of the world around us as seen through the eyes of a painter. To capture that "Moment In Time".  My goal is to move, touch and inspire collectors, non-painters, beginners and those who having been painting for a long time.  

I rarely paint anything larger than life but in this painting, Yellow Rose Bud, I could not resist.  I was so inspired by its beauty that painting it smaller just did not do it justice.   As you will see in future posts I love darker backgrounds in my still life paintings and the drama that it brings.  The darker background with the warmth of the beautiful yellows and reds bring contrast to the painting.  I then added a few cool areas of red-purple in the calyx.  The painting turned out exactly as I had imagined it. 

Thought of the Day:  

The most important time that you can spend on any painting is the first ten minutes, for some it may take longer.  This is a time of not painting but thinking.  When you start a painting, it is important that you have a clear vision of the completed piece before you start.  Having a strong mental picture of what you wish to see on the canvas means that you think about the finished details of the painting. This could also include how the finished painting would look framed and hanging on the wall.  Once you have a vivid mental picture of the completed painting , you will be able to capture the image more clearer. 

Tip of the Day:

Because this is my first post on my blog, my tips may be a little basic for some of you but as I said, my goal is to reach painters at all levels.  So I will be starting with the basics and hope it just may be something you have not heard before or at least, a refresher.

It has been said that when the eye is open, it sees only three things, shapes, values and edges.  Let's look at each one briefly. 

Shapes:  Everything has a shape.  The simplest shapes to recognize are silhouettes or outlines of the whole objects. Almost as easy to recognize as  the over-all shape of the object are the shapes within it.   For example, we can recognize the shapes of light and shadow on an object.  Actually, these shapes are the most useful ones to the artist in creating the illusion of form or reality on the flat surface of a painting because they tell the true form of the object.

Values:  The second thing we must recognize in understanding the process of seeing is value.  Value simply means the lightness or darkness of a shape.  These can easily be seen in a black and white photograph.  But how does that relate to the painter?  The painter needs to recognize and understand that each color (Hue) you will be using to create a painting will also have light or dark properties.  For example, pink is a color of light value, where as violet is a color of dark value.  However, each color can be changed in value by adding either a darker color to it or a lighter color to it.  Value is most important to keep in mind.  If the value of a color is wrong then the whole color is wrong.

Edges:  As you look at the two factors above, (again using a black and white photograph for example)you will probably notice the presence of edges between shapes and different values.   Edges can be either hard or sharp, or soft and fuzzy.  For the artist, one important reason for seeing different edges is that it will enable you  to paint forms solidly and conveniently.  The edges vary directly with the form.  For example, see Five Basic Shapes below, the edge between the light and shadow planes of a cube or other angular form will appear very sharp, while the edge between the light and shadow sides of a cylinder or sphere will be soft and wide. On a smoothly curled surface like a sphere or cylinder, there is a gradual transition between the light side and the side which is in shadow.  This creates a definite area of halftone between the light and shadow which must be recognized and painted if we are to reproduce the illusion of the real object on our canvas. 

Five Basic Shapes,Values and Edges
Sphere, Cube, Cylinder, Cone and Solid Triangle  

Question of the Day: 

I invite you to ask any questions you would like me to answer about painting.  I will be happy to share with you what I know.  Please do not hesitate to email me at
I welcome your feedback.

If you know of any artist that may appreciate the things I am sharing about painting, please let them know about this blog.  I hope to offer more painting tips as this conversation continues.