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Roses day at the studio

One of the students at today’s roses class was my 12 year-old little Kuwaiti painter. Last week she painted her first project – this plaque of sunflowers with the words “Welcome to our Chalet”.

Sunflowers Plaque

I thought it was an amazing piece of work for a 12-year old. And it was her first ever attempt at decorative painting too. It just goes to show that anyone can paint, given the right tools and some right proper instruction! :-)

She was so sweet that first day she came. She told her aunt, one of my regular painters (and a good one too!) who had brought her as a summer treat, that it was the happiest day of her life! It made me teary.

After that project she said that she wanted to learn roses and I agreed to let her join the class with other adult students. She chose a little trinket box which she wants to give her mom as a gift. Shhhhh!

Today she came for the class and did as well as any student could do in one of my roses class! Bravo, little painter..

At the end of the class she took out a little ziploc bag filled with shells and said “I collected these for you at our Chalet in Khairan over the weekend!”. That was super sweet of her. I told her that I actually collected seashells and would make it a point to collect a couple of seashells wherever I was to add to my collection. And I would add these seashells she gave me.

But I joked that I would paint a rose on one of the shells and show it to her at the next class. So after everyone left, instead of cleaning up, I used the paint I had on my wet palette and painted a rose on one of the small shells with my smallest angle brush!

A rose on a seashell 
It wasn’t the smallest rose I had ever painted but it was the first time I ever painted on a seashell. I certainly had a lot of fun doing it!

Perfecting those strokes

Many many years ago when I first started decorative painting, all I wanted to do was perfect my comma strokes. I would even venture to say that I was “obsessive” about it. I must have painted hundreds and thousands of it on reams and reams of white and black art paper! I got the feeling that my brushes didn’t particularly like being used to paint on paper so I spoiled many brushes during this phase of my painting journey!

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with practising on paper. Its just not the best surface to practise on.

Paper or cardboard is an absorbent surface and so your paint behaves in a different way when you paint on it. You get to practise your strokes but the surface is different from the surface you will paint on. The better thing to do is quickly give it a coat of acrylic paint, dry it then practise on it. It loses the absorbency and it feels like you’re painting on your basecoated project. Its closer to painting on the real thing.

Better still, get a rectangular piece of thin MDF – e.g. the thickness you might use for a placemat – and basecoat both sides. I used to basecoat one with a black background and one with a white background. Later I started basecoating a couple with my favourite background colour (or flavour of the month!) and used them as my practise board.

The good thing about these MDF boards are that they are reusable. When I’m done practising on any of the boards, I just basecoat over it and voila, I have a fresh practise board. You can just keep doing this over and over again.

Of course if you want to keep your practise strokes as a keepsake or for future reference, the basecoated paper (or cardboard) is a better option.

At that time I also discovered Loew-Cornell Brush-Up Paper at my friend’s decorative painting studio and shop in Singapore. I thought it was a very unique product – its made of a specially-coated paper and you only need a brush and water to use it.

 Loew-Cornell Brush-up Paper

To practise on it, just dip your round brush, or any brush you want to practise with, in CLEAN water, remove the excess water by dabbing the brush twice on a piece of paper towel, then stroke away! You will see the strokes you’re painting on the paper. After a while, the water evaporates and you have all that space to practise on again. No traces or markings are left on the paper, unless of course you have used dirty water where you’ve say, washed your brush in. Just make sure you use clean tap water every time.

 Practising strokework on the Brush-up Paper

You get one piece in a pack and it measures 9” by 13”. I really treasured my brush-up paper! I pasted it on  a piece of cardboard so that it doesn’t spoil at the corners and its still in perfect condition this very day!

You can order the Brush-up Paper from any painting supply store on the internet.

Artezan students in Kuwait can purchase it at the studio. They’re only KD1.750 each. Hurry because I don’t have that many in stock!

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