Your Talent – Our Supplies!

Art Central has 
amazing workshops just
around the corner!

These work shops are a great way to
learn AND have fun too.  Don’t miss out!


The next installment of Larry’s phenomenal Drawing Foundation Workshop Series is next week!

Larry Le Brane: Drawing Foundation Series: “Form, Composition & Critique”
Thurs. May 25th 5pm-8pm
Fee: $45
Draw groups of forms to explore composition alternatives.  Includes individual & popular group critique. These 4 Drawing Foundation mini-classes focus on specific fundamental skills. Take only 1 or all lessons. For ALL skill levels, very beginning to practicing painters & artists. To enroll, contact Larry by email: or phone: 805-528-8791


Hilda’s watercolor workshop is
a great way to learn the medium step by step.

And, it’s only two weeks away!

Hilda Vandergriff: Watercolor Workshop
Sat. June 3rd, 1-3pm
Fee: $30
Materials list on hand at Art Central Join Artist, Hilda Vandergriff, for a fun watercolor art lesson. You will learn about values, layering, glazing and background. You will receive a lesson handout and follow along the demo step by step. This lesson is for all levels, teens, moms, dads open to anyone who wants to learn watercolor techniques.  You will go home with a beautiful seahorse painting.
To sign up contact: Hilda Vandergriff at 559-322-6557 or email at


Ardella’s book making workshop is
a great way to learn this exciting craft!

Ardella Swanberg: Book Making
Sat. June 10th, 12:30pm-4:30pm
Fee: $30
People say that the book is going out. But for artists and writers it will always be important for practicing and keeping their ideas. Learn how to make a small sketchbook or journal starting with the pages. In this 4-hour workshop, you will learn to sew the pages together, and make a cover and finish the book. To enroll, contact Ardella by email: or phone: 805-771-0281

Art Central is always expanding it’s workshop offerings.
Stay tuned to our blog and website so you don’t miss out!

This week – thru Saturday, May 20th…

ALL CLEARANCE – extra 10% off !

 This week ONLY!


Serious collaboration!

    watching the evolution of each painting… ptg1a

every hand that touches it adds a new twist… ptg1b

a new color… ptg1f

different perspectives…     ptg1g     ptg1h

great comraderie…  ptg1j

intense focus…  ptg1k    group2

sharing ideas…   group1

with great music… awesome music    and dancing…  dancing1

and conversation… group4

the painting begins… ptg2a  it flows…  ptg2b  and changes…   ptg2c  and expands…

in the moment…   ptg2f     ptg2h    ptg2d

and inspires…    ptg2e

ptg3   ptg3c    ptg3b    ptg3a


Amazing group of people … Amazing afternoon.

   group shot




Missed it?  We will be doing it again THIS Friday, May 19th – please join us

Canvas Preparation 101

Quick recap on canvas: Canvas began its use as a painting substrate notably in Venice, as early as the 1400’s. Before the popularity of canvas, artists had painted their finished works for the most part on wood panels. However, the damp climate in Venice caused problems like mold and warping for wooden panels. Canvas was an attractive alternative, and was readily available in the port town. In addition, canvas was lighter in weight and could be rolled up, making it easier to transport, and larger sizes were less expensive to obtain, as opposed to wood panels. A beautiful example of early canvas painting can be found in Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.


The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1486. Tempera on canvas, 67.9″ × 109.6″.

The attraction of fabricating one’s own stretched canvas: In this day and age, pre-prepared and ready-to-paint canvas is readily available and quite convenient, but fabricating one’s own support still holds certain advantages. When you stretch and prime your own canvas, you have complete control over the tautness, grain, and sealed surface of the final product. Pre-stretched canvases can be altered somewhat, such as changing the surface by adding and sanding layers of gesso, but other factors are not as controllable, such as tautness or the initial grain of the fabric.

Types of canvas: Canvas today is most commonly made from cotton, linen, synthetics, or blends of fibers. Cotton often has a more uniform, consistent texture, and is less expensive. Linen is stronger and has a more “natural” weave, sporting small irregularities that many painters enjoy. Synthetic fibers usually emulate their organic counterparts, and offer a high level of durability. Canvases in all fibers are available in varying degrees of coarse and fine grains.

Ways of mounting/stretching: Most artists prefer working on taut canvas, as loose canvas will tend to curl and warp as wet media dries on it. Canvas can be stretched across a frame or over a board. Stretching over a frame may give the canvas a noticeable “bounce,” depending on how tightly it is stretched. Frames can be made by hand, or constructed from ready-made stretcher bars that fit easily together. Canvas can also be mounted to a rigid board with strong, acid-free glue. This will create a canvas surface that does not have any “bounce,” but some artists enjoy a static surface. When canvas is stretched across a board, it is advisable to either put a coat of gesso on the backside of the board, or to make a cradled frame for the board, to discourage the panel from warping as primers and paints dry on the canvas surface.


Canvas being stretched over a frame made of stretcher bars.

The two main ways to size and prime: After a canvas has been stretched or mounted, it is advisable to size it and apply a ground. Sizing refers to a substance used to give a material more structural integrity and a protective barrier around the fibers of the canvas,  and a ground or primer makes a surface more receptive to media. Sizing and priming a canvas also serves to protect the fabric from any substances that can contribute to its deterioration (such as if you are painting with oils).

Acrylic grounds: the most versatile and commonly seen grounds for canvas these days. Comes in many forms with different characteristics. Traditional acrylic gesso is available in white, black, grey or clear. There is acrylic ground formulated for silverpoint drawing, and also a variant intended for use with pastel; it has pumice in it for gritty texture. Additionally, some manufacturers have created “watercolor grounds,” which are acrylic-based grounds that create a surface that is absorbent enough to be suitable for use with watercolors.  Acrylic grounds will both size and prime the canvas.

Oil-based grounds: should only be used in conjunction with oil-based paints*.  Before the application of an oil ground, the canvas needs to be sized, either with a rabbit-skin or an acid-free PVA glue. Rabbit-skin glue makes for a stiffer canvas, but PVA glue is more chemically stable and less likely to crack over long periods of time. After sizing, the oil ground may be applied. However, a properly sized canvas has adequate protection that it may be directly painted on with oil paints. Oil-based grounds yield a much stiffer substrate than acrylic-based gesso.

*Paints that are water-based (like acrylics and watercolors) will not adhere well to oil-based grounds; peeling and cracking are inevitable.

The final product: Depending on how it is prepared, one stretched and primed canvas can vastly differ in its finished properties from the canvas of another artist. One canvas may have a relatively* looser bounce and a heavily pronounced texture, whereas another canvas may be taut and smoothed to the point where it is almost like a flexible panel, more in line with the canvases of the Old Masters. One is not better than the other, some are just more appropriate for certain applications than others. The choice on substrate properties is developed through specific project needs, experience with materials, and the artist’s personal preferences.

* Please note… If a canvas is too loose, it may not prove to be supportive enough and the paint could crack.




We had a wonderful evening at the opening of our fantastic new show! Showcasing some fabulous work by the students of SLO High School, “The Natural World” focuses on the exploration and representation of nature’s endless characteristics. Thank you to all who came out to support our emerging local artists and thank you to the talented students for sharing their beautiful work! Here are some pictures from the night.

This exhibit runs through May 29th. Come by Art Central Gallery to enjoy this collection of nature inspired pieces!

if you’ve been meaning to, but haven’t done it yet…

Deadline is this Monday, MAY 15th! has all the info – click now!




Join us for our second collaborative painting project next FRIDAY, MAY 12TH! We had such a blast working with Israel and Jill at our last event. If you weren’t able to make it in March, don’t miss out on this upcoming project! The event includes live music and is completely FREE!! All ages are welcome. 

Our names are Jillian Rice and Israel Dedina. A few months ago we started working on a social art project. We wanted to see if we could try to paint social interactions. We started to invite people to paint with us when we painted in our studio along with when we took our paintings to various music festivals. Throughout the process we have begun to develop two different styles of our “collaborative painting”. In one process we invite people to add and contribute whatever they want, wherever they want. At the beginning the painting looks like a jumbled mess but as time goes on stories emerge.


After doing this a number of times we started to notice trends in the way people added. This is when the second style of our collaborative work emerged. For this one we still invite people to add to pieces but we first ask them to watch what we are doing and if they still want to add we invite them to do so in a way that will add to what we are trying to do. We find that people that have never painted before can contribute as much to a piece as someone who has painted their whole life.


For this event we will be exploring both styles simultaneously. For this to be possible we need your help. Please join us on May 12th from 2-5pm to explore the world of social painting, help make something cool, and enjoy yourself. No experience is necessary.

Sign-ups are not necessary – just show up when you want, and stay as long as you’d like



Larry Le Brane’s next workshop
in his Drawing Foundation Series
is coming May 25th!

1Larry Le Brane_BW Drawing_ pencil

Larry Le Brane: Drawing Foundation Series: “Form, Composition & Critique”
Thurs. May 25th 5pm-8pm
Fee: $45
Draw groups of forms to explore composition alternatives.  Includes individual & popular group critique. These 4 Drawing Foundation mini-classes focus on specific fundamental skills. Take only 1 or all lessons. For ALL skill levels, very beginning to practicing painters & artists. To enroll, contact Larry by email: or phone: 805-528-8791

Larry’s Drawing Foundation Series is a great way for beginners to learn the core skills of drawing and more advanced students to refine their techniques.  Call or email in advance to save your space in this great workshop!

Also, Lynn’s Mandala workshop
is coming next week.
Don’t miss out on the fun!


Lynn Bacigalupo: Calm & Centering Mandalas
Sunday May 14th, 1-3pm
Fee: $25 per workshop
Embrace this ancient art form to calm and center your mind. Learn how to create mandalas, using symmetrical patterning as a form of meditation. We will begin with a guided meditation and set a personal intention for our practice. All levels are welcome, no experience needed. To enroll, contact Lynn by email: or phone: 805-242-6802

And don’t forget about our other workshops happening in May!
Find them here.

“The Natural World”

A special exhibit by the students of SLO High School

Art After Dark this Friday, May 5th between 6 – 8pm … enjoy the art work of SLO High School’s students!

This exhibition calls for work that follows the theme “The Natural World”. Students were asked to create work that expresses the theme of ‘The Natural World’ and all the possibilities that come with exploring nature.

They were given the following task: Create something that is a representation of nature as in its textures and abstractions or explore one of nature’s endless characteristics such as weather, water, land, ecosystems and its natural inhabitants (excluding humans). 

The main focus of this exhibition “The Natural World” is to dig deep, break down ideas, and explore those details that make our natural world unique. 

 This show runs through May 29th.

visit for more information on all the art receptions this Friday evening!

Brushing Up

The brush as an artist’s tool has been in use for thousands of years, possibly even as far back as 40,000 years ago in cave paintings. The first brushes were sticks and reeds with mashed ends, then natural hair was incorporated, and as human industry and technology progressed, so too did the sophistication of the brush.


The typical modern brush has three components: the bristle or hair, the ferrule, and the handle. The bristle refers to the hairs as a component, not the type of hair it may be. The ferrule is a metal (exceptions include quill brushes, which use plastic or goose quill) sheath that holds the hairs in place and to the handle. The handle is usually made of wood or plastic.

Easily the most influential factor of a brush’s handling properties is the bristle, both the shape the bristle is made into and what sort of hair the bristle is composed of.

Some of the most common shapes of brushes are as follows:

Round: Bristles are in a round arrangement coming to a point. A very versatile shape, both fine detail and larger coverage are possible.

Flat: Bristles in a rectangular format. Suitable for large coverage.  Also, the thin edge and corners can contribute to finer details.

Filbert: A flat brush with a rounded edge, made in an effort to meet rounds and flats halfway.  Useful for coverage and soft blending.

Bright: A flat brush with shorter bristles, making for a stiffer brush. Suitable for lifting and scrubbing, and short, sharp marks. A more precise brush than the flat.

Liner: Similar to a round brush, but longer and thinner. Useful when making continuous lines and for fine detail.

Fan: Bristles spread out into a namesake shape, good for blending and textural effects.

The type of hair used to make a brush dictates what medium it is best suited for. Factors that influence this determination include the absorbency of the brush, its ability to retain its shape, and its ability to release paint.

For Watercolor:

With watercolor, the two most prized aspects of a brush are its softness/”thirstiness” (good for carrying lots of fluid paint), and its “spring” (ability to readily snap back to its original shape). One of the most prestigious hairs for watercolor brushes is that of the Kolinsky Sable, which excels in the two aforementioned traits, and with proper care, can last a long time. Other natural hairs good for watercolor include red sable hair (similar to kolinsky, less costly), squirrel hair (which is extra absorbent), and other soft hairs, like camel, goat, etc. Synthetic brushes are also widely available for watercolor, all are made to replicate/emulate natural hair characteristics.

sable brushes.jpg

A note on Gouache: Though gouache is very similar to watercolor in handling and composition, because the pigments are often not as finely milled and whiteners like chalk are added, gouache can be harsher on brushes, so it is recommended that synthetic brushes are used, as they do not wear down as quickly, and when their hairs get frayed, they can be straightened again in hot water.

For Acrylic:

For acrylic paint, stiffer synthetics are recommended, that way the brush has enough strength to push heavier bodied paint, but still have enough absorbency to handle thinner washes. Natural hog bristle softens in water, so while the stiffness it offers may be appealing, synthetic hair is still the best choice for acrylic.synthetic brushes.jpg

For Oil:

In oil painting, the consistency in which the painter is working often changes, so a variety of brush hairs are often necessary. Stiffer brushes can be made of hog bristle, and are excellent for moving thick paint around. Softer brushes made of sable can be effective for techniques involving thin layers, like glazing, as well as detail work. Synthetic alternatives for both varieties are available and quite comparable.

bristle brushes.jpg

A note on Water-Miscible Oils: When painting with water-miscible oil paints, because water can be added to the paints, hog bristle brushes are not recommended. A slightly softer, more absorbent synthetic is advised, as it will carry the water better. It is believed that the use of  fine natural hair for water-miscible oils should be discouraged, as it can gum up the hairs.  When dried, this paint is difficult to remove from the brush. Please note – there is less information on this relatively new medium, and artists are still finding out its characteristics and tendencies.

For Ink:

Ink, having more or less the same consistency as watercolor when thinned, works nicely in conjunction with watercolor brushes. Also in the tradition of ink painting are what are often referred to as “sumi” brushes. These brushes originate from Asia in their design, often having a handle made of bamboo, and hair from horse, samba, deer, sheep, goat, weasel, badger, or cat. Often, the hairs are arranged concentrically, wherein the slightly stiffer hairs comprise the core of the brush and the center of the point, with the softer hairs ringing the outside. These hairs are very absorbent, so the brush can hold a high volume of ink, but they do not as readily retain their shape, so the artist needs to understand that each stroke can change the shape of the brush, and utilize this characteristic.

sumi brush.jpg

For Encaustic:

With encaustic painting, the main concern for brushes is their ability to withstand extreme heat. Synthetic brushes are for the most part made of nylon which will burn and melt, rendering them unsuitable. Natural hair brushes are the best choice, and “hake” style brushes provide a brush that is of soft, natural hair and cost-effective. Also, because of the heat factor, it is advisable to use hake brushes which do not contain a metal ferrule OR one where the hairs are glued to the handle, since the metal will heat and glue can melt if the brush gets hot enough.

hake brush.jpg

For Tempera:

Egg Tempera can be used with brushes normally associated with watercolor, as the medium is traditionally applied in thin, delicate layers. Any sort of soft hair will do, but the artist must be vigilant in ensuring no tempera dries on the brush, as it becomes insoluble in water when dry, and nefariously difficult to clean. With Casein (milk-based tempera), watercolor brushes are also fine, but synthetics are generally recommended, as casein can be harsh on brushes and wear them down faster over time.

watercolor synthetic brushes.jpg

Brush Care:

Good brush care practices are essential to ensure a long-lived and healthy brush. A good rule-of-thumb process for brush maintenance, for most mediums*, is as follows: 1) Remove all paint from brush, by water, solvent, pinching, etc. 2) Mix the brush in brush soap (many varieties, all should explicitly state their use for brush care), and let sit. After a minute or so, (or longer, depending on the state of the brush) peel the gobs of soap out using fingers. 3) Rinse brushes in water, dry.

*When painting in media that is forever water-soluble, like watercolor, brush soap is not necessary, simply rinsing in water should suffice.

If painting in oils, you may consider letting your brush soak in oil (linseed, safflower, etc.) before using soap, to soak out excess paint and keep brushes supple.

Don’t throw away brushes!

Eventually, all brushes get old and wear down. It’s sad when it happens, but it is a natural part of the brush life cycle. But it’s not the end! A brush with a mashed tip, split hairs, or some other malady is still useful. It can be used for interesting textural effects, scrubbing, or applying materials you might normally consider too hazardous for your nice brushes.

The Future of Brushes:

Recent innovations in technology and manufacturing have brought a wealth of advancements to artist brushes. For watercolorists, especially those who like their paint kits portable, “aqua” brushes are now widely available, these are synthetic brushes with a hollow, removable handle, which can be filled with water that is let out through the brush tip.

aqua brushes.jpg

Developments with synthetic materials have made a higher quality of brush more available at lower prices, and provide quality substitutes for those who do not want to work with natural hair. Digital brushes that are made with metallic filaments to imitate the feel of a traditional brush, along with new software that can mimic the visual texture of brush marks, continue to further bridge analog and digital art. But the traditional paintbrush will still endure, the tactile delight it offers is still just as enjoyable as it was 40,000 years ago.