Everything But The Kitchen Sink

I’m not sure when the painting toolbox went from having just brushes and palette knives to incorporating all kinds of unusual and non-traditional tools. Silicone bowl scraper, empty ribbon reel, basting brush, loofah sponge, squeegees…

Wondering why? Let’s start with a quick trip down memory lane.

When I was a kid, my grandparents used to run their own company and they carried various art supplies, including screen printing equipment. I remember watching grandpa lead a demo for local artists, going through several screens on a press, each with a different color on it, smoothly applying each layer with squeegees. I was fascinated by the process.

This is a modern version, but it looks really similar to the types of screen printing presses my grandparents used to sell at their store.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I was browsing at a local art store (a dangerous endeavor for any artist!) when I spotted a Princeton Catalyst silicone wedge. It reminded me of a squeegee but it fit nicely in the palm of my hand and it could be used with both acrylics and oils – yes, please! The application was nice and smooth – I was hooked! Before long, I had collected several Catalyst tools, but as my work became increasingly textural, I wanted to experiment with more ways to apply paint.

Recycled cardboard offers some interesting effects but turns soggy after a few applications. Thin branches work great for lengthening short handled brushes but not so great for applying paint. Inexpensive kitchen tools made with food grade (non-porous) silicone turned out to be a great find! They come in all shapes and sizes, are easy to clean, and can be used with various mediums. Encouraged by these results, I will continue to experiment with different materials and see what kind of interesting marks I can make with them. As with every new technique, there are learning curves involved, but that’s part of the fun!

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun””

-Mary Lou Cook

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