Painting Surfaces

For smaller sizes, I prefer smooth boards to paint on—my favorite is the Inner Glow panel. Inner Glow prepares both sides of the board with a polymer primer that is virtually indestructible and gives you two boards in one. They double the number of surfaces on which you can paint and make experimentation that much more tempting. You can preserve one attempt while turning it over to experiment on the other side.I prefer having some ‘spring’ off the surface when I’m working anything larger than 14 x 18“, so I generally use canvas for that. I work on Utrecht raw linen #74D ( that I prime myself.Instructions for priming raw linen >> 
Sherrie’s studio wall color formula
I have had so many requests for the color on my studio walls, that I decided to post the formula here. At one time, there was a standard color that worked, but not any longer. I had a local paint store do a custom mix, and this is the formula that they came up with. It is greenish but very neutral and makes everything in front of it look dramatically lit as well as creating strong shadows on my subject.Custom color match by Benjamin Moore Paints.
(As indicated, this sample is for a pint, so their equipment will adjust for the size of the can as long as they know this formula is for a pint).
Painting Mediums
The brushes I love to use are filberts, but in particular, the long filberts. They are just a bit longer than the regular filberts and have a wonderful spring. I find that the filberts are the most flexible of shapes, and can produce a variety of strokes. For ease of cleaning, the true hogs hair bristle brushes seem to be the best (rather than the synthetics).There are some good companies out there making brushes that carry filberts. Many are in the United States and are economical to order online:
Trekkell Long and Extra Long Filberts/ Hogs hair natural bristle:
Silver Grand Prix Long and Extra Long Filberts /Hogs hair natural bristle: silver grand prix brushes
Robert Simmons Signet Brush Filberts/ Hogs hair natural bristle:
Rosemary Brushes (requires overseas shipping): Rosemary brushes
Painting medium
I have used Maroger medium from for my entire career. This medium is the result of years of research done by Jacques Maroger, a curator at the Louvre in the early 20th century who had studied such Old Masters as Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck and Velasquez. I use the Flemish formula for most of my work to make the paint “faster.” It helps the paint glide onto the surface of my canvas or board. I also use the Venetian (wax) formula to my lights when I want the paint to be thick and yet have a flowing quality. For those who want an odor-free substitute for Maroger, I would recommend the black oil. Every product Old Masters is made with the highest quality ingredients available.
I use Vasari paints because I believe that they are possibly the best paints being made today. Steve Salek makes the paint in very small batches, hand-filling each tube, refusing to use any fillers that would dilute the intensity of the colors to make it suitable for a paint-filling machine. The labor involved is evident when you see Steve in person—he is a study in anatomy. And his knowledge of pigments is astounding! He talks about mulling a color as only an artist could (Steve is a painter as well)—how many times a color is mulled determines its intensity and one drop more or less of oil makes a dramatic difference in the consistency. Large companies dumb down this process with the use of fillers, eliminating the sensitivity and ancient knowledge of the art of grinding artists’ colors. His knowledge of the way the Old Masters used to prepare their pigments for painting is an extraordinary gift to those artists wanting to use the best paints available today. When corporations buy smaller paint companies, the quality of the paints usually deteriorates rapidly as the priority of making excellent paints is replaced by profit margins. I feel lucky to live at a time when two people, Steve Salek and Gail Spiegel, have the dedication to making the best paint possible at whatever cost of time, money and hard work.
Gail Spiegel, Vasari’s personal representative, is available to answer any questions you may have about paint. She gives freely of her time and is more than happy to educate one and all about the intricacies of pigment. Both Steve and Gail are, for me, treasures from another age in our time.

Drawing Surfaces

Drawing Surfaces
Rives BFK
This paper is actually a printmaking paper, but works beautifully for drawing. I buy the color Tan and Cream.
Pastel Card
Sennelier makes a wonderful pastel card in some lovely colors—a range of warm browns and ivory. I use vine charcoal initially and add contè—both white and red—to capture the illusion of the subject. The surface is relatively delicate and cannot have any liquid applied to the surface. But you can use an eraser to take off some of the color of the paper to create a highlight, without actually using white contè. It takes the charcoal gently and therefore is easier to control value and build to darker passages
UArt Pastel Paper
This is another pastel card that gives a range of possibilities. I am still experimenting with it, but I know that it can take washes of color—so far I have only tried water mediums, but it takes oil as well—without the surface deteriorating. I am anxious to see what can be done with it. It takes the charcoal or contè aggressively, so it seems to require a delicate touch. (
Drawing Mediums
Stonehenge Kraft Paper
The president of Legion Paper, Michael Ginsburg, is the self-appointed liaison between artists and the finest paper makers worldwide. Michael listens to what artists want and then asks his paper mills to make it. One of his newest papers, Stonehenge Kraft, is the perfect paper for charcoal and white conté drawings. The surface is smooth but with enough texture to grab the charcoal. The color is the perfect contrast to white conté, which gives a feeling of light in drawing. Stonehenge Kraft is the paper I have been waiting for!  (
This paper is of good quality, yet it is much less expensive than any of the above papers. It comes in many colors and is acid-free. Some colors I like are Cream, Natural, Kraft, Madero Beach and Oatmeal.
Oil-Primed Board
Sometimes I like to use a primed piece of linen toned with oil and Maroger first. I then do a drawing of the subject adding pastel over that. The result has the feel of oil and yet is executed more like a drawing
Sketch Pads
Kunst and Papier has the best sketchpads that I have used. The paper is acid-free, a soft off-white, has a smooth texture, and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. I particularly like the Wire-O sketchbooks because they open flat. The binderboard sketchbooks are also great. I couldn’t do without these for gesture drawing. (

Drawing Mediums

Drawing Mediums
Vine charcoal is so forgiving…it is my first choice in drawing larger drawings.
For small gesture drawings, I generally use contè pencils in sanguine, sepia and black. I also like to use it in conjunction with charcoal to give the quality of the model’s coloration or to warm up the black charcoal, giving it a more real quality.
Bistre, Iron-Gall and Sepia Ink
I enjoy using ink on smooth papers, usually the Speckletone. I apply it with either a small watercolor brush, a reed pen or a goose quill pen. Bistre ink is warm brown, but a bit darker than Sepia ink, whereas the iron-gall ink has a slight purplish tone. All three are quite beautiful, and resurrected by Kremer Pigments in New York. (

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