Art is a subjective
field, what one person may like, another may not. There is very little
that an artist can do about this toward making his or her artwork accepted
by the mainstream of our capricious art world. One of the best ways
to ensure a happy art connoisseur is to use the best quality materials.
Toward this goal I have had the immense pleasure to buy my art supplies
at Zecchi Fine Art and Restoration Materials. Zecchi is the kind of
store that artists dream about. Located in Florence’s Historical
Center, right at the Duomo, Zecchi offers a suggestive view of the Duomo,
as well as an unparalleled service. At the Academy of Art College in
San Francisco I learned about materials and how they can be used to
create artworks. However, I didn't learn everything there and sometimes
I need help with the development of a project by using new materials and techniques.
Zecchi Store Owner
Envisioning a project
in my head is easy, the trick is to make the idea come to life. To do
this you need materials; paint, canvas, brushes, mediums, and thousands
of other products. Choosing the correct materials for the project that
you have in mind is fundamental. I have asked hundreds of questions
to the staff at Zecchi’s about their products and they have always
given me good guidance. They have saved me a lot of headaches in the
past because I tend to get it right the first time based on their advise.
They have been helping artists in Florence since 1956. They specialize
in antique techniques from the time of the Renaissance, and art restoration.
For modern artists they also provide all that you need. They speak perfect
English, and they give student discounts, contact them to see if your
school is affiliated.
If you can't make it to Florence
in person, you can order on-line Zecchi's artistic materials, Send Sandro
or Massimo Zecchi an e-mail today to get started with the best art supplies
Zecchi Extrafini Oil paint for artists, made especially for Zecchi Colori Belli Arti & Restauro, I have found that these paints, made here in Tuscany are superior to almost everything I have used up until now. I also use:
Puro™ Oil Paint: In Italian, Puro means
pure. These tubes of paint offer a higher amount of pigment.
This means that the paint is intense with color. Some of the tubes are
really heavy because of the ratio of additives to pigment. This is good
because I like rich vibrant colors.
Matthew Bates' Workspace - Original support made by my father Stephen Bates and Hugh Belton
Canvas: I have only found these canvases at Zecchi’s.
I like to make fine details come to life and the structure of the canvas
can get in the way if the canvas is too coarse. Some people add gesso
to the canvases and smooth them down, but this takes away from the natural
pull that the canvas gives to the brush and I like that sensation while
I paint. I always buy prepared canvases (already gessoed), and I stretch
that canvases on a wooden frame myself.
I have used expensive brushes in the past, and they are hard to maintain
because they are made from actual animal hair. For this reason I tend
to use synthetic brushes which are much more durable in the long run.
I do use Martora Kolinsky Sable brushes as they are very useful for
Mediums: In general I use white spirit to dilute and clean, while I use an Alchid Light Medium, also made by Zecchi,
for painting purposes. I have found that this drying agent
allows you to paint faster adding glaze after glaze in much less time.
It also has the amazing quality that it goes on the canvas smooth as
silk, making it easier to extend the reach of each brushstroke. Adding Linseed oil to the mix allows for further coverage, making the paints have a glossy luminance when the paints have dried.
Airbrush: I don’t always use this incredible tool, but sometimes it makes
the difference to the project. The ability the airbrush gives you to
create even colors and blurring effects is next to impossible with the
use of a paintbrush, especially over large areas of canvas.
Computer: Yes, it is 2014, and the computer has become a huge part of every aspect
of our lives. Even in fine art painting, the computer is fundamental.
The ability to create project work ups with the computer has helped
me to visualize the final idea which will become the actual painting.
Once there was the “cartoon” which was a drawing to present
to the client and help the artist to create the final painting. Now
with the computer we are able to go much farther toward the final image,
and even though the canvas is painted by hand, the idea is created digitally,
making details stronger and the overall design with few if any flaws.
Camera: Hand in hand with the computer is the digital camera.
Since I paint primarily realistic
subjects the digital camera allows me to take hundreds of pictures to
create a project. By taking pictures which I can easily put into the
computer, I am able to manipulate the images in a way that was impossible
before. Now my projects are larger and more complicated, mostly thanks
to this technology.
Bates Painting Galleries:
©2014, Matthew Bates, Firenze,