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Welcome to Tips & Tricks

 This page is for sharing our trade secrets!


When using gold leaf as in an echruseos painting or on a frame, never, never, never touch the gold leaf with your fingers; use two 3" x 5" cards to maneuver the gold leaf.  - Deanie Chastain



Mixing Acrylics with Latex - Nancy Cagle


Did you know you can mix your regular acrylics with latex house paint for changing or improving colors? That's how I do murals.



Pricing Art Work - by Ellen Foster

How to price art work can be baffling, especially for the beginner. Experienced artists will agree it varies, depending on  how the artist or the client feels about the work. Here are some possibilities.

1.  I wouldn't part with this for less than $1,000.
2.  Anxious to sell something:  I would take $50.00 for it.
3.  Not well known, I would take less than $50.00 for it.
4.  My best work so far:  Not for sale at this time.
5.  Make me an offer. They hardly ever do, but try it.
6.  What do you have to trade? Don't overlook this one!

Some artists use this rule:  Would I rather have 50 bucks, or would I rather keep this?   Keep going until you reach a price you would part with it for.

Some artists figure time by the hour. Unless it takes months to finish, the amount of time spent on it may be a factor.  Add the cost of materials, which varies depending on size, cost of framing and other expenses. May and Sept. seem to be the best months to sell paintings. EBay works for some artists.

Showing at festivals and art shows can tell the artist if the work will sell at any price.  I don't give any of mine away, even to my family.  Sometimes I reduce the price, if I have had it a long time and I need the space for other work.

Gallery owners expect perfection, so use the best quality frames you can find and start your work at about $500.00. Plan to spend $80 to $100 and up per frame and find a gallery to work with. Ask before you frame it what the gallery requires or prefers.  

Best wishes for unlimited success!  


Ellen Foster, 254-756-0347 2004



Cleaning Acrylic Paint from Fabric

You can get acrylic out of fabric (and probably off the canvas or paper also) with 2 parts Wisk, 1 part ammonia. Rub it in well and then wash.   Nancy Cagle


Need a FRAME, but have no money?

Mount your painting on a wooden base, and paint the edges of the wood to coordinate with the colors in the painting! Easy,  and cheap! The edges of the base need to be flush with the edges of the artwork. The base can be composed of  a solid piece of wood [approximately 1" thick - or as thick as you need] , or it can be 4 pieces of wood fastened together, kind of like stretcher strips. If the later option is used, there will be an opening left by the 'frame'.  In either case, the ' frame' will not be visible when viewing the artwork directly from the front. However, when mounted this way, the artwork is held away from the wall by the thickness of the mounting, and the coordination of the colors on the sides can create a pleasant presentation.  Keep painting!!     Lillian Lemke-Jacoway


Easy Acrylics

You are able to paint on almost any surface with acrylics - any heavy ground: paper, canvas, watercolor paper, linen, wood. [ I prefer canvas, or watercolor paper.] Occasionally, you may want to prepare the surface with Gesso, or  white acrylic paint, especially wood, or paper that is not for specifically designed for painting.  Plus, you can paint over an old painting [not oil, though]. You can easily paint acrylic over an old watercolor painting. I have turned many 'failed' acrylic and w/c paintings upside down, and painted a new creation, without any further preparation. Use some of the areas of color from the old painting, in the new! And, yes, some of these have even been considered successes.   -  Lillian  Lemke-Jacoway



Cleaning Brushes

Forgot to clean your brushes and now they're hard as a rock?  Wait!  Don't throw them out!  They will be good as new with this formula.  Take 2 parts Wisk detergent (no other brand does it); add 1 part ammonia (unscented). Cover all the bristles up to the ferrule.  Let stand for 1-2 days (depending on the size of the brushes); wash out.  If paint remains, repeat.  This will remove paint from clothes too.  I have never had it fail. House paint can be removed the same way, no matter how long the brush has been dried out - Ellen Foster.


Remove acrylic paint from your Canvas

Buy A little can of "Goof Off" and keep it handy. This stuff will actually dissolve DRIED acrylic paint OFF the canvas, OUT of the brushes, your clothes, etc.!  I knew it was good for "goo" but this turned out to be a vastly better use for it than most!   Can't remember where I got mine, but I know the craft stores carry it and probably places like HEB and Wal-Mart do also.  It's worth whatever you pay for it! - Pat Blackwell.


Having trouble with Composition / Use of Space, in your painting?

Having to 'redraw' in paint, again and again?  Do a quick & easy Thumbnail Sketch first!  The sketch should be in graphite / pencil, very small [ 3" x 4" ?], and the same proportion as your painting.  Keep it very simple - just a few lines, plus the darks.  This thumbnail, when accurate, will serve as the composition pattern for your painting.  Works great, if you are willing to take the time to do one or two.  :-)

More information about this on request.  - Lillian Lemke-Jacoway (



Pastel artists will find a foam brush ideal for blending and softening edges.  Get a set of 3 for about a buck! - Ellen Foster


Water Color Skies

Watercolor idea!  When doing a mountain scene, do the sky last.  Blend
your paint to match the blues in the rest of the picture. - Ellen Foster


Oil and Acrylic Pallets

Oil and acrylic artists - use a small canvas for a palette and lay out the colors in the order of the possible next painting.  When finished with the painting on the easel, smooth out the paint on your canvas palette and you have the under painting for your next piece. No wasted paint.  Scramble it around and you have an abstract!  - Ellen Foster


Vacation Painting

On your next cruise (you are going, aren't you?), use a foam tray as a palette. Covered with plastic wrap, it doesn't dry out and will last for the length of the cruise, then discard it.  - Ellen Foster


Gessoed Masonite

Trick I learned years ago.  Gessoed masonite will always do for a canvas.  Allows some really big ones if you want to do a monster painting.  Either oils or acrylics.  I've done both on it. - Nancy Cagle


Cleaning up

Tip--if you're cleaning up from acrylics, go dump the water around a plant or out in the lawn, NOT down the sink!  This stuff can accumulate in there, and always run REALLY hot water down the sink once a week at least just on general principles, after some good use of soap to emulsify the grease and crud first. - Nancy Cagle.



Need a Paint Tube Cap?

If you have broken the top to a paint tube while twisting it
off, try a toothpaste tube cap. I have found that the
"flip-top" Colgate tubes fit my Liquitex acrylics perfectly.  I know
they won't work on small watercolor and oil tubes, but try them on
your big ones.  Worth a try.  - Nancy Cagle



Do Your Buildings Look Lopsided?

Use a T-square to keep your lines parallel to the canvas edges.  - David Zdrazil, MCC Art Dept.



Under-painting Tip

Use an orange color when under painting deer. The color glows through the top coat giving it a more realistic look.  Consider this for some other animals too.  - Ellen Foster

Don't you have a tip or trick to share?

Submit yours to Bill Franklin and get it on our website!


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