Breakout: Finding Inspiration – Techniques for Painting Expressively

Rene Eisenbart

Please go to Rene’s website for full details about her session, including photos.

Please note, the materials I use are (almost) all available at MerriArtist. To get your 10% student discount, use code: INST16.

Supply List

  • DRAWING PAPER — Large sketchbook or sketching pad or loose sheets (I often use sheets cut from a roll of freezer paper).
  • LYRA graphite stick 9B
    • or- 2 mm mechanical pencil with SOFT 4B lead such as
    • or- other very SOFT and DARK and preferably THICK drawing pencil
  • KNEADED eraser
  • TRACING PAPER — (recommend Canson Pad for transparency)
  • LYRA WATER SOLUBLE GRAPHITE stick, 9B (very soft and dark)
  • WATERCOLOR PAPER — One (or more) sheet 22×30 arches cold press paper, 140pound or 300# — cut or torn into six 10×10 inch pieces, or have 6 pieces of your preferred size or use a mix of surfaces – yupo, hot press, shizen, etc
  • REFERENCE — that breaks easily into simple value shapes. You can download and use my photos for these exercises at: or pick your own, maybe something you’ve already painted. I recommend having more than one subject oriented reference, but feel free to take it to abstract or whatever pleases you.
  • Paints – I use M.Graham because they stay moist and have a strong pigment load.
  • Brushes
    • Recommend soft squirrel brushes such as the Silver Black Velvet.
    • Very stiff scrubber (Connoisseur taklon 1/8-inch).
    • #10 Zen / Royal & Langnickel Z83SC.
    • BIG BRUSH — 1 1/2 inch Princeton Angular wash 4050AFW or other large quality brush such as 2” Robert Simmons SkyFlow 278W
    • ACRYLIC BRUSH or two — 1-inch to 2-inch  (not a foam brush, I use Simply Simmons because they’re affordable, especially the long bristled ones because they last longer)
  • Palette –  I like a gasketed palette with a smallish footprint for travel  also use larger palettes for looser work
  • Water pot
  • Cloth towels, cut small and/or paper towels
  • SQUEEZE BOTTLES — for paint pours –
  • ACRYLIC MEDIUMS — (I use Golden or Nova Color brands, Nova prices are great, available online only
  • Gel medium, (matte or gloss)
  • Matte Medium
  • White Gesso and/or Black or Gold Gesso
  • WATERCOLOR GROUND — an acrylic medium that is absorbent and can be used to cover any surface and then paint watercolor on it when dry. Think liquid paper! It is a great tool for fixing “mistakes” or creating special effects. Golden has had a product called Absorbent Ground, and now they market either the same thing or a similar product called QOR Watercolor Ground. They also have a Cold Press Ground that I’m guessing is more textural. Daniel Smith makes a white, clear and black watercolor ground. I haven’t used the clear or black.
    • OR… mix your own. I’ve used a variety of acrylic mediums to mix, roughly using 1/3 of each, and I’ve never had a batch I didn’t like! Try 1/3 nova gesso, 1/3 nova matte medium and 1/3 Golden Fiber paste. Or substitute 1/3 Nova Texture Paste for the Fiber paste. If you want more absorbency add a little fiber paste. Mixing your own is both fun and considerably less expensive than buying the name brand mixes, but you may end up with enough for several friends!
  • UTRECHT Professional Gesso / optional (great for texture — it’s thicker than others, available only from Utrecht or Dick Blick)
  • TAPE — Blue painters tape and/or 3M 401+ or 233+ green automotive tape (not essential but my preferred tape)
  • PEEBEO masking fluid put into a FINELINER bottle (fine needle size).
  • SCISSORS or T-SQUARE — for trimming paper
  • SMALL SPRAY BOTTLE with water
    • 4-inch FOAM ROLLER, PLASTIC FOOD WRAP, SALT, maybe a few homemade stamps available… cut from fun foam or soft cut
  • Varnish: Golden MSA ACRYLIC SPRAY VARNISH, with UVLS (or other comparable spray varnish)
    • You’ll eventually want this for fixing watercolor to combine with acrylic.
    • Use gloss for under layers, satin if it is a top layer and you want to knock the gloss back.