Your Creativity – Our Supplies!

Archive for August, 2016

TODAY IS TAKE-IN FOR “California Native” Exhibit!

We know you were planning on bringing in your work!

Can’t wait to see you!

And we look forward to our reception this Friday – JOIN US!


Much ado about pigment


Simply put, color. Pigments have a lengthy and rich history, especially in regards to use by humankind, and there is a surprising amount of nuance to the substances we use for color. 


The first pigments used by humans were the most easily obtained, from the earth.  Ochres and oxidized minerals yielded a palette of browns, blacks, yellows, and red. Chalk would commonly have been used for white

It is possible that some organic materials may also have been used, perhaps heavily staining colors from plants or insects, but organic matter does not always have the best longevity, so we cannot say for sure which materials might have been used. One known example is Carmine, which was originally formulated from a crushed red insects native to Mexico and South America. Initially the color was bright and vibrant, but over time proved to be unstable and unenduring.

Up until technological innovations that would change the way pigments were acquired, all pigments were from naturally occurring substances, whether organic or inorganic. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the ways color was procured changed. Now, pigments could be refined and synthesized from natural sources, and manufacturing was upped to a larger scale. This brought about a much larger spectrum of colors for artists to dabble with, and made colors much more affordable that were previously intimidating in cost. A well-known instance is in the case of the color ultramarine.

Ultramarine, meaning “beyond the sea,” was so called because it was imported to European painters from far away, from the Middle East and parts of Asia. Originally, the color could only be achieved by grinding down the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, making it monstrously expensive, to some worth even more than gold. And because of its high cost, it was most often used for special projects, like royal portraits and depictions of important religious figures.

An ample amount of effort was expended in trying to find an alternative formula that would yield the same rich color. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that a synthetic alternative was found, by chemists racing to win a contest from a French industry society, to produce an alternative to costly ultramarine.


Pigment is rarely used by itself. A pigment is extracted or made, and then ground down into fine particles, at which point it is ready for use. Most often it is mixed into a binder, for adhesion and mobility. Binder is also referred to as the “vehicle.” Commonly used binders include linseed oil, gum arabic, and acrylic polymer. As opposed to a dye, pigments are not part of a homogenous mixture, they maintain their structure and are not dissolved in the vehicle. Many factors can alter what the final product looks like. The concentration in the mixture can affect color and transparency. The treatment that the pigment receives beforehand can alter its color. Some pigments can be altered to produce a very vast array of colors by chemical processes from just one pigment. One such example is red iron oxide. Depending on how the pigment is treated, it can produce yellows, browns, reds, and even purples. A very versatile pigment, it is widely used by many manufacturers of art supplies.

Notable pigment-related terms often on labels:

Phthalocyanine (often called ‘Phthalo,’ and pronounced “thay-lo”)- colors with high tinting power and a strong staining characteristic. Tend to be transparent.

Cadmium, Cobalt, Titanium, etc.– colors made from heavy metal pigments. Very strong colors, tending to be more opaque, especially titanium. Toxic, practice safe studio habits.

Hue– refers to a color created from alternative pigments, in an effort to imitate another with the same name. Usually made as less expensive and/or toxic alternatives.

(Traditionally, when a manufacturer creates a substitution for another color, it should have “hue” at the end of the name, to designate that it is an alternative formulation intended to mimic the original. While the color might at first glance look the same, or be very close, a different pigment composition means that the product may behave very differently. Granulation, drying rates, tinting strengths, and transparency may be affected.)

Lightfastness– a pigment’s ability to endure exposure to light and weather, while still upholding the color they showed at the time of application. “Fugitive” pigments or colors are those that fade quickly, often because they are derived from unstable material, like organic matter.


Though such an integral part of the way we make art, (and extending outside of artistic applications) pigment is frequently a detail that is glossed over when an artist chooses their materials. People often buy color without regards to its chemistry. Perhaps this is due to many innovations in the industry, now we need not grind and mix our own paints, because it now they come neatly packaged and ready to use.

By knowing more about the pigments that make up your art materials, you will have a better understanding of the material’s handling properties. In the case of some colors, like multiple-pigment mixture paints, you may decide to mix them from colors you already have. Knowing the pigments in your paint can also be helpful when you search for replacements for a discontinued product or substitute for a color you want. The more you understand a pigment, the better you can appreciate as well as master it.


Some exciting pigment news for lovers of blues…

A new blue pigment was recently discovered at Oregon State University, and is now available from Gamblin Artist Colors!  

More on YInMn Blue here:

YlnMn Blue pic

And, while we’re on the subject of color, we are loving our new Sennelier Artists’ oil paints here at Art Central! They’re highly packed with pigment and made with safflower oil for a satin finish and to resist yellowing. They’re still on sale, 50% off to members until the end of August!


Clarification on Rembrandt Oils

We sent out a request looking for specific colors that might interest oil painters from the Rembrandt line – there are some unusual colors, so there has been some confusion!  If you’re interested, please click on the color chart link, below.  We look forward to hearing what colors you’d like us to bring in!


Rembrandt Oil color Chart


Meet the Artists…

and ask them, “How did you do that?!”

               You have the opportunity to spend time with artists Michael V. Messina,      Kabe Russell, and Dennis Jackson. Find out more about their stunning photographs, creative and technical process, and so much more.

Located at Art Central on 1329 Monterey St. San Luis Obispo, 93401

(Oh, of course it’s free!)

Join us Friday, August 19th 5:30 – 6:30

“California Native”


Did you know all these things originated in California? Here on the Central Coast we definitely get to appreciate the scenic beauty and incredible wildlife, but there are so very many beautiful places in California. Not to mention, from Mt. Shasta to the Mojave we are vibrant with culture. Without a  doubt there are endless things native to California that can inspire everyone to make art.

So, make something totally rad! … and don’t forget to send us images of your art!

All mediums accepted!  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. You can call us at 805-747-4200 or email 

Below is a PDF of the artist contract for you to fill out, as well as find out information.

2016-9 California Native

Relax, Rip, cut, glue, laugh… at today’s Collage Play Date!

We still have room!  11-2pm! 








02abstractcollage-Jo Swanberg Trading Cards




Collage Materials



What colors would YOU like?

Hey oil painters!

imagesV9EK88UJWe just started carrying 40ml Rembrandt oil colors but we still have so much room! So we want to know what colors you, the artists, would like to see in the store. Currently we carry Titanium White, Cold Grey, Transparent Oxide Brown, Naples Yellow Deep, Permanent Red Medium, and Cobalt Blue Light. We still have room for 18 more colors!

Please come by and check out the color list we have provided to tally up the votes!

Upcoming Workshops Reminder!

The next couple of weeks are busy with workshops!

At a glance:


Collage Play-Date

Sat. August 13th, 11am-2pm
Fee: $15 includes all materials.
Come by Art Central for a collage play day! We supply paper and materials, but you can also bring any other images/mixed media you choose. If you have never collaged before, don’t worry, this group event will spark your creativity and imagination!  
Register in advance by phone: 805-747-4200 or email:



Lynn Bacigalupo: Calm & Centering Mandalas

Dates: Sun. August 14th, 1-3pm
Fee: $25 per class
Learn how to draw mandalas, an ancient art of symmetrical patterning used to calm and center the mind. We will incorporate your own personal intention and a guided meditation to add depth to our practice. All levels are welcome, no prior experience needed. Some materials provided. Class materials list on hand at Art Central. Contact Lynn Bacigalupo for questions or registration by phone: 805-242-6802 or email:


968 Live Oake Life

Ardella Swanberg: Beginning Watercolor Eight lessons Series:

August 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th, Sept 12th, 19th, and 26th
Fee: $160 for 8 session series Times: 1:00 to 4PM
This class is for the person who wants to learn the basics. A list of needed supplies will be provided. To enroll, contact Ardella: 771-0281 or by email at
Lesson 3 — You will learn how to plan your painting and how the elements of design (line, shape, value, color, and shape) are used in art. You will paint a painting from your own photo or sketch.  (this class has obviously started, but please don’t hesitate to contact Ardella if you want to join in!)


Larry Le Brane_Drawing 11, Art Central


Thursday, August 18, 2016, 5-8:30 pm.
Fee: $50/3 ½ hr.
Beyond ‘Beginning Drawing,’ students in this NEW Drawing Lab will apply Composition, Perspective & Shading for in-class exercises. Guests will participate in group CRITIQUE of in-class drawings, plus sample drawings they bring to class. Includes coaching & individualized student attention, based on class size. PLEASE NOTE: Larry will provide paper for this class. You will need: 1-3 finished drawings for critique, blending stump, pencil: 4b or 6b, pink pearl eraser.
REGISTER & QUESTIONS: or 805-528-8791


Special TREAT!  Meet the artists … Friday, August 19th, 5:30 – 6:30pm. 

Meet Kabe, Michael and Dennis, the incredible photographers in our current exhibitVisual Tales!  An hour of sharing their creative processes and answering questions – More info to follow!

There is something for everyone!  Don’t miss out on these wonderful chances to learn and have fun.

Sneaky BLOG sale – this week only!


Take an extra 20% off on any CLEARANCE items thru this Saturday! (Aug. 13th)

clearance sign

Plus – we’ve put a number of popular items on sale for Back-to-School.  We’ve got some great deals – take advantage!


aa27001 parallel bd


xl mix media


Sakura micron

Strathmore Rec Sketch 18x24 AND MORE! 

Sale prices may not be combined with member discounts!


Matboard bonanza!


We just got a delivery of cool pastel, brightly colored and marbled matboards – and we got a

screamin’ deal! 

Selling them – (while supplies last) – for $6 a sheet! 

(Usually $11.95 and up!)

First come, first serve!