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    Original B&J "The Masters" Brush Cleaner & Preserver

    Last updated 10 days ago

    Since 1979 people have relied upon The Original B&J “The Masters”® Brush Cleaner and Preserver to take special care in cleaning and conditioning artist brushes. “The Masters”® takes the effort out of cleaning up!

    Available in 4 sizes: .25 oz, 1 oz, 2.5 oz (shown), and 24 oz.

    How To Use “The Masters”® Brush Cleaner 

    The Best Cleaner 
    “The Masters”® removes oils, acrylics, watercolors, stains, and varnishes. And it helps prevent paint build-up in the ferrule. It also prevents the hardening and build-up so common with today's acrylic paints. “The Masters”® works beautifully on the finest sable and bristle brushes, and it makes painting with nylon and synthetic brushes a snap. It conditions the brush to hold more color and helps lay down a smoother more even flow. Use “The Masters”® after every session to keep your brushes like new. 

    The Best Preserver
    “The Masters”® was formulated in conjunction with a cosmetic laboratory to help condition and preserve your brushes with the same care and thought as products that you use on your hair. It keeps your brushes like new so they'll retain the same natural snap and luster - for consistent performance - as the day you bought them. 

    The Best Restorer
    Don't throw away old brushes with dried-on oil paint, no matter how hard the bristles are. “The Masters”® restores old, stiff brushes to like new condition. Simply wet with water, swirl, lather and let brush sit a while before rinsing. Repeat process until all the paint is removed. Your brushes will be reconditioned and you will have a new old brush.

    For Cleaning 
    1. Wipe brush to remove excess paint. 
    2. Wet brush and/or “The Masters”® with water. 
    3. Swirl brush in “The Masters”® and work into a lather. 
    4. Rinse with clean water. 
    5. Repeat if necessary until brush is clean (lather will be white). You can clean one color after another without removing the previous colors from “The Masters”® first. 

    For Preserving 
    1. Clean brushes as above 
    2. Leave clear lather on bristles, shape and allow to dry. 
    3. Shake powder off bristles when ready to use again. 

    For Restoring 
    1. Clean brush as above, but use hot water. 
    2. Allow lather to remain on bristles for a few minutes. 
    3. If necessary, tap bristles on hard surface to work paint out. 
    4. To clean paint from ferrule, allow lather to remain on the bristles for several hours, and repeat cleaning process.
    5. Leave clear lather on bristles, shape, and allow to dry.

    Basic Brush Strokes For Painting

    Last updated 11 days ago

    Basic Shading Techniques

    Last updated 12 days ago

    Understanding how to shade properly helps us to offer a more three-dimensional look in our art. Values, or tones are just varying shades of grey and using a variety of different values is where you begin when you start shading. For me, personally, I prefer just sort of randomly laying down the darker areas, then working with a tortillion, blending stump, or even a chamois cloth. Q-tips have been useful in a pinch and I have even blended with…my fingers. I know, the scandal! Often times, when you’re sort of caught up in a creative rush, you might just find yourself getting equally creative with random things around you: not just for shading, but for adding texture as well.

    Here are a few of the more common techniques for shading charcoal and pencil projects.


    I have heard so many debates and arguments over cross-hatching; it’s almost a political issue. Essentially, when you crosshatch, you’re overlapping sets of lines- you can have lines that far apart from each other and this creates a bit of white space, whereas those close together create a more or less solid tone. This is going to really depend on what sort of shading effect you’re looking for and usually, I find that crosshatching works out a lot better with graphite than it does charcoal.

    Basic Hatching

    Basic hatching is just laying down a set of curved or straight lines that promote a sense of value. Again, like with crosshatching- you just space them the way that you need to create the value you want.

    Using Circles As Shading Tools

    Some people just scribble it out, some make wide loops and swirls, some make tiny, tight circles: but any way you do it, this is actually a remarkably versatile method of shading. My girlfriend first introduced me to this practice, as it really hadn’t been my habit. Her background is in tattooing, and this is often a method of choice to prevent blank spots in a large coloured area and to enhance the shading of any given piece. I have actually taken to using circling in my charcoal with quite a bit of pleasant success in the fluidity of the shading because of it.

    Though a lot of people will debate what sort of shading technique is best, really, this is another one of those things that is down to personal preference. Many people really cling to what either their teachers told them, what they have always known, or what they have the best experiences with. There’s nothing wrong with that, but often, you’d be surprised at what kind of unique personality you can give a piece purely by switching it up. Often, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zones can either be a tremendously rewarding experience or a total disaster: but either way, it’s still an experience.

    Working with the basics, however, here are some things you need to know:

    •  A combination of techniques can make any of these basic types of shading really work for you. Varying the density, the pressure you apply, different grades of charcoal or switching from your batons to vines, to pencils can alter your work significantly. If you want to work with light values, harder charcoals usually work best. Softer charcoals render darker values.
    • Allow your charcoal to do the work for you- when you’re looking to create a dark value, a softer grade with a light touch can be plenty, whereas the harder grade makes for ease in control when working with light values. If you’re just getting started, or you need more practice, graduation and shading scales and circles are usually the old stand by with good reason.
    • Hatching may be the simplest way of shading, but that doesn’t mean it’s best for the piece you’re working on. For instance, if you’re wanting to create a smoother transition in terms of values- crosshatching is probably the way to go because you can more easily allow value flow. If it’s just something like creating more realistic eyelashes or hair in a portrait, then hatching is probably going to be more beneficial.
    • Practicing with a graduation or shading scale allows you to become better acquainted with working with continuous progression of values. As you work, you’re trying to keep your transitions tight and smooth. This can be fairly easy to accomplish by drawing the lines more tightly together as you’re working towards the darker values, or spacing them further apart as you go into lighter values.
    • Keep it gentle for the lighter values and simply apply pressure to progressively darken your values.
    • Try switching up your charcoal grades and types as you do this, rather than using any other techniques. This will help you to become accustomed to working with a variety of different charcoals and broaden your skillset.

    Kurt Kroeck

    The Devil and the Art Dealer

    Last updated 13 days ago

    GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN Left, Cornelius Gurlitt; A Nazi rally, circa 1933; Matisse’s Seated Woman, one of 1,280 works of art discovered in the Munich apartment of 81-year-old.


    At about nine P.M. on September 22, 2010, the high-speed train from Zurich to Munich passed the Lindau border, and Bavarian customs officers came aboard for a routine check of passengers. A lot of “black” money—off-the-books cash—is taken back and forth at this crossing by Germans with Swiss bank accounts, and officers are trained to be on the lookout for suspicious travelers.

    As reported by the German newsweekly Der Spiegel, while making his way down the aisle, one of the officers came upon a frail, well-dressed, white-haired man traveling alone and asked for his papers. The old man produced an Austrian passport that said he was Rolf Nikolaus Cornelius Gurlitt, born in Hamburg in 1932. He reportedly told the officer that the purpose of his trip was for business, at an art gallery in Bern. Gurlitt was behaving so nervously that the officer decided to take him into the bathroom to search him, and he found on his person an envelope containing 9,000 euros ($12,000) in crisp new bills.


    Though he had done nothing illegal—amounts under 10,000 euros don’t need to be declared—the old man’s behavior and the money aroused the officer’s suspicion. He gave back Gurlitt’s papers and money and let him return to his seat, but the customs officer flagged Cornelius Gurlitt for further investigation, and this would put into motion the explosive dénouement of a tragic mystery more than a hundred years in the making.


    A Dark Legacy

    Cornelius Gurlitt was a ghost. He had told the officer that he had an apartment in Munich, although his residence—where he pays taxes—was in Salzburg. But, according to newspaper reports, there was little record of his existence in Munich or anywhere in Germany. The customs and tax investigators, following up on the officer’s recommendation, discovered no state pension, no health insurance, no tax or employment records, no bank accounts—Gurlitt had apparently never had a job—and he wasn’t even listed in the Munich phone book. This was truly an invisible man.

    And yet with a little more digging they discovered that he had been living in Schwabing, one of Munich’s nicer neighborhoods, in a million-dollar-plus apartment for half a century. Then there was that name. Gurlitt. To those with knowledge of Germany’s art world during Hitler’s reign, and especially those now in the business of searching for Raubkunst—art looted by the Nazis—the name Gurlitt is significant: Hildebrand Gurlitt was a museum curator who, despite being a second-degree Mischling, a quarter Jewish, according to Nazi law, became one of the Nazis’ approved art dealers. During the Third Reich, he had amassed a large collection of Raubkunst,much of it from Jewish dealers and collectors. The investigators began to wonder: Was there a connection between Hildebrand Gurlitt and Cornelius Gurlitt? Cornelius had mentioned the art gallery on the train. Could he have been living off the quiet sale of artworks?

    The investigators became curious as to what was in apartment No. 5 at 1 Artur-Kutscher-Platz. Perhaps they picked up on the rumors in Munich’s art world. “Everyone in the know had heard that Gurlitt had a big collection of looted art,” the husband of a modern-art-gallery owner told me. But they proceeded cautiously. There were strict private-property-rights, invasion-of-privacy, and other legal issues, starting with the fact that Germany has no law preventing an individual or an institution from owning looted art. It took till September 2011, a full year after the incident on the train, for a judge to issue a search warrant for Gurlitt’s apartment, on the grounds of suspected tax evasion and embezzlement. But still, the authorities seemed hesitant to execute it.


    COLLECTION AGENT Josef Gockeln, the mayor of Düsseldorf; Cornelius’s father, Hildebrand; and Paul Kauhausen, director of Düsseldorf’s municipal archives, circa 1949.

    Then, three months later, in December 2011, Cornelius sold a painting, a masterpiece by Max Beckmann titled The Lion Tamer, through the Lempertz auction house, in Cologne, for a total of 864,000 euros ($1.17 million). Even more interesting, according to Der Spiegel, the money from the sale was split roughly 60–40 with the heirs of Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, who had had modern-art galleries in several German cities and Vienna in the 1920s. In 1933, Flechtheim had fled to Paris and then London, leaving behind his collection of art. He died impoverished in 1937. His family has been trying to reclaim the collection, including The Lion Tamer, for years.

    As part of his settlement with the Flechtheim estate, according to an attorney for the heirs, Cornelius Gurlitt acknowledged that the Beckmann had been sold under duress by Flechtheim in 1934 to his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt. This bombshell gave traction to the government’s suspicion that there might be more art in Gurlitt’s apartment.

    But it took until February 28, 2012, for the warrant to finally be executed. When the police and customs and tax officials entered Gurlitt’s 1,076-square-foot apartment, they found an astonishing trove of 121 framed and 1,285 unframed artworks, including pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Chagall, Max Liebermann, Otto Dix, Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Kirchner, Delacroix, Daumier, and Courbet. There was a Dürer. A Canaletto. The collection could be worth more than a billion dollars.

    As reported in Der Spiegel, over a period of three days, Gurlitt was instructed to sit and watch quietly as officials packed the pictures and took them all away. The trove was taken to a federal customs warehouse in Garching, about 10 miles north of Munich. The chief prosecutor’s office made no public announcement of the seizure and kept the whole matter under tight wraps while it debated how to proceed. Once the artworks’ existence became known, all hell was going to break loose. Germany would be besieged by claims and diplomatic pressure. In this unprecedented case, no one seemed to know what to do. It would open old wounds, fault lines in the culture, that hadn’t healed and never will.

    In the days that followed, Cornelius sat bereft in his empty apartment. A psychological counselor from a government agency was sent to check up on him. Meanwhile, the collection remained in Garching, with no one the wiser, until word of its existence was leaked to Focus, a German newsweekly, possibly by someone who had been in Cornelius’s apartment, perhaps one of the police or the movers who were there in 2012, because he or she provided a description of its interior. On November 4, 2013—20 months after the seizure and more than three years after Cornelius’s interview on the train—the magazine splashed on its front page the news that what appeared to be the greatest trove of looted Nazi art in 70 years had been found in the apartment of an urban hermit in Munich who had been living with it for decades.

    Soon after the Focus story broke, the media converged on No. 1 Artur-Kutscher-Platz, and Cornelius Gurlitt’s life as a recluse was over.

    • (1)

    The Lion Tamer, by Max Beckmann, which Cornelius sold in 2011.
    The trove of more than $1 billion worth of art discovered in Cornelius Gurlitt’s Munich apartment includes what may be the greatest collection of looted Nazi art found in 70 years. Some of the works discovered: Landscape with Horses, by Franz Marc.
    Child at a Table, by Otto Griebel.
    A self-portrait by Otto Dix.
    Don Quichote and Sancho Panza, by Honoré Daumier.
    Couple in a Landscape, by Conrad Felixmueller.
    Couple, by Hans Christoph.
    A U.S. soldier, in April 1945, with recovered art stolen by the Nazis and stored in a church in Ellingen, Germany.


    To read more, please CLICK HERE

    2015 Graceful Envelope Contest

    Last updated 15 days ago

    2015 CALL FOR ENTRIES:Calligraphers and artists from around the world are invited to participate in the 21st annual Graceful Envelope Contest, conducted by the Washington (DC) Calligraphers Guild and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The contest is open to all ages, with separate categories for children. There is no entry fee.

    This year's theme: 
    There's No Place Like Home

    Home is your town, your state, the address your letter carrier visits six days a week. Home could also call to mind the sound of children at play, the security of a comfortable chair, the aroma of cookies in the oven, the excitement of holiday celebrations. It's being homesick, pondering your ancestral home or feeling compassion for the homeless. Create an envelope to illustrate what home means to you and address it artistically to:

    The Graceful Envelope
    100 Indiana Ave. NW
    Washington, DC 20001

    POSTMARK DEADLINE: Monday, March 30, 2015

    Winners will be chosen based on artistic hand lettering, creative interpretation of the theme and effective use of color and design, including incorporation of postage stamp(s).

    The contest was created in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum, which administered it until delegating responsibility to the Washington Calligraphers Guild in 2001. Beginning in 2003, the National Association of Letter Carriers agreed to partner with the Washington Calligraphers Guild and exhibit the Adult winners.

    In addition to promoting the art of calligraphy, the Graceful Envelope Contest celebrates the role of letters in binding people together and serves as a reminder that the people who deliver the mail are career government employees who take pride in their work and care about the communities they serve.

    For more information on how to enter, please CLICK HERE

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