Every so often I’ll read about an artist who uses some unconventional product in the course of painting. Occasionally I’ll give the item a whirl myself, but more often than not these idiosyncratic methods are perfect for the one who sought them out, but rarely for anyone else.
For instance, I’ve heard of some artists who’ve used Q-tips to apply paint with. Or cosmetic wedges. I couldn’t fathom why these would be better than dry, soft brushes or fingers, respectively. I suppose if you really needed that particular shade of ear wax, or wanted to apply your favorite foundation these might be useful. I tried these implements once and probably never used them again for painting (I used Q-tips regularly in my airbrushing years to clean my equipment, but that’s it).
Another: using aluminum foil or wax/freezer/parchment paper for a palette. The former was too weird to try; I can’t imagine the color mixing/matching nightmares with that highly reflective surface gleaming back at me with its crinkly mocking. Waxed kitchen paper is similar enough to standard palette paper that I gave it a go and actually used it for awhile. It wasn’t quite as durable as the commercial stuff, since oil would seep through it after solvent eventually ate the wax a bit, apparently. But it worked and I rarely keep a palette more than 2 days anyway since it gets so nasty it becomes useless. I then scrape off the good bits for re-use and start a new sheet.
As per my opening paragraph, you will likely not find this useful.
I’ve come across a few unlikely friends over the years, and one of them is the ubiquitous Pet Hair Pic-Up™. Maybe I’m just dirty, but every place I’ve lived has quite a lot of dust. Perhaps I just notice it because oils dry slowly and so invariably little dust squiggles fall on the wet surface and stick. Sometimes the carefully-wielded tip of a brush will remove these. Sometimes they land in a detailed, sensitive area that I happen to be working on and I have to surgically remove them with a pair of tweezers. More often than not I don’t even notice them, or they land flat and can’t be removed without messing up the paint surface. A painting session is completed and dried. I get back to work and find dried lint or whatever on my piece. Sometimes it lands as you are painting and gets worked into the paint film such that it remains forever, like a fossil in amber, waiting to have its DNA reconstituted in some distant future or check-out line novel.
Probably once in the middle of painting and once before varnishing I grab my handy-dandy Pet Hair Pic-Up™ and roll the entire painting. This is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t boldly walk down dark and seedy alleyways to shave a minute off a walk, then you are probably not ready for this technique. If you wait for the little man to light up before crossing a street because you don’t believe your body can deflect the impact of oncoming traffic, you are probably not ready for this technique. If you have never said to yourself that if the oxygen mask does drop down you will forego it because only the weak need it, you are probably not ready for this technique.
The Pet Hair variety tends to be tackier than its sad, anemic cousin, the Lint Pic-Up™. It is so tacky that you run the very real risk of your art being pulled off the board entirely in little chunks that will make you cry. You, not me—I laugh at disaster. Yet not even I am brave enough to attempt this feat using the Super Tac II™. One day.
To avoid being found crying like a Sanjaya fan, please do yourself a favor—remove the safety wrapper and run that clean crisp sheet of Pic-Up™ over your shirt and pants a few times before applying it to your painting surface. The benefits are twofold, you will look clean and professional and you will have reduced the tack to something strong but usable. Now slowly roll your painting and watch the lint disappear.
How tacky should the roll be? Since there is no way to quantify it, you will need to try this for yourself and experience the adrenaline rush first-hand. It helps if your painting is bone dry. It further helps if your art is not comprised of oil washes thinned only with solvent: the lack of binder means your pigment will look for any excuse to flee the scene, like your average perp on COPS.