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James Scherbarth
James Scherbarth, Amidst, 12"x12", oil/cold wax on panel, 2011
Tools and Materials
James Scherbarth, Amidst, 12"x12"
oil/cold wax on panel, 2011

Please do your own research when purchasing supplies. Unless otherwise noted, the supplies listed are commonly available online or in person from most art supply retailers. See Links Page for list of art supply stores.

Uses and tips include those contributed ideas by artists who have taken my workshops as well as my own suggestions.

– Rebecca Crowell


Inovart and Ivovart Pro Rollers
     Inovart pro-Roller 6" brayer
     Inovart pro-roller 4" brayer

Speedball soft brayers
     Speedball soft brayer 4"
     Speedball soft brayer 6"

Soft foam rollers from hardware store

Ranger Brand Carvable brayers

Takach Specialty Brayers (narrow widths)


Spreading thin layers of color

Blending paint on the surface

Making patterns and textures (apply to brayer with paint or paint stick and roll)

Rolling over the back of papers and other materials for texture

Numerous other uses for transfer and printmaking techniques


Brayers work best when the underlying layer is somewhat set up, semi-dry, providing some grip.

Inovart Brayers are softer than Speedball brand and leave fewer edge marks when spreading paint around.


Available in many sizes and types. Flexible metal types with trowel handles seem to work best for painting.

Liquitex Palette Knife Value Set

For large sized palette knives, try using icing spatulas from a cooking supply store (Ateco brand makes several sizes).

Ateco Natural Wood Medium Sized Offset Spatula, 7.63 Inch Blade


Mixing paint on palette

Transferring paint to surface and spreading it around

Textures, lines, patterns with blade

Scraping, gouging, aggressive removal techniques


Plastic palette knifes are useful mainly for scooping and mixing, not for painting.


This category includes any tool that pushes paint -- including pieces of cardboard/matboard, old credit cards etc. Squeegees for cleaning windows often work. The following products function as squeegees:

Catalyst Blades and Wedges: new product from Princeton Brush Co., available in wide variety of tips, edges and sizes.

Messermeister Silicone Bowl Scraper - available from and many cooking supply stores.

Wilton Silicon bowl scraper—see above. Has a less flexible blade than the Messermesiter.

Colour Shapers: light gray blades (firm) with wide, flat blade.

Other rubber tip tools: Kemper Wipe-out Tool, Royal Sovereign Clay Shapers

Mudtools: made for use with clay.

Nordicware Bowl Scrapers (3 to a package) available from Target and online cooking stores.


Use for picking up paint from palette and manipulating on the surface.

Spreading paint over large areas

Removing areas coated with solvent

Textures and patterns


Buy an extra bowl scraper and cut it up to have various sizes, or cut the edge of the blade into a pattern.


Professional grade oil paints are more heavily pigmented and intense than student grades, which contain fillers. There are many excellent brands.


Mix with wax in any proportion

Use straight from tube to draw with


Use plastic baggies to store extra paint, or cover palette overnight with wax paper.

Use large piece of freezer paper taped down to have any size palette you wish.


Caution: powdered pigments may be toxic when inhaled, so take precautions.

Major brands are widely available from art supply companies.

Other brands/suppliers:


Mix with tube paint to thicken

Brayer into wax/paint layers for texture

Mix with solvent for an inky substance and paint onto surface.


Store in a lidded, segmented plastic box of the type used for sewing or craft supplies so you have a ready palette to work from.


Types: Pigment sticks are oil paint mixed with wax and compressed into a drawing tool. Brands include:

R and F Pigment Sticks

Oilbars (made by Winsor & Newton)



Line drawing

Quickly blocking out color areas

Draw pattern on a brayer and roll


Store upright in lidded plastic coffee cans sorted by color or in plastic pencil boxes.

Transparent blending sticks (part of the pigment stick collection of several brands) are useful for a variety of techniques. These include a "Batik" like approach of drawing over a color in order to preserve it prior to brayering over with another layer. Also try blending colors on a relatively dry paint seurface as a finishing step.

Pigment sticks vary a lot in their relative softness. R&F Pigment sticks are the softest. Try different brands, because at different stages of a painting softer or harder sticks will work best.

Depending on the softness, brand and color, some pigment sticks take longer to dry than oil paint and wax mixtures.


Can be purchased or made yourself. Click here for recipes

Major brands of commercial CWM are:

Gamblin Cold Wax Medium
   Gamblin Cold Wax Oil Painting Medium Gallon Can (128 oz)
   Gamblin Cold Wax Medium 16 oz.
   Gamblin Cold Wax Oil Painting Medium 4oz jar

Dorlands Wax medium
   Dorland's Wax Medium gallon
   Dorland's Wax Medium 16 oz.
   Dorland's Wax Medium 4 oz.

Daneridge Wax (low VOC for people sensitive to solvents)
   Daneridge Base Wax


Mix in any proportion with paint throughout the painting

Use to remove paint in a subtle fashion (there is solvent in the wax)

Use as a clear layer during the painting process and/or as a final step

Use to coat the sides of unfinished cradled wood panels.


May be thinned with solvent, or thickened with powdered pigment or powdered marble

Other painting mediums may be added for various results, but check with manufacturer for compatibility. Gamblin oil mediums are compatible with their brand of CWM–see information under Solvents, Additional Mediums.

Gamblin cold Wax medium is made from naturally white unbleached beeswax, alkyd resin and oderless mineral spirits (OMS). Dorlands is made from mineral spirits, paraffin wax, dammar resin, microcrystalline wax, beeswax, and ozokerite wax (naturally occurring paraffin wax).


Odorless Mineral Spirit (OMS)is the solvent that is preferred by most people. It is not necessary to use much solvent in the painting process or clean up. Citrus solvents are a bit stronger than OMS. Brands of solvent include:

Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits 32 oz.

Eco-House Natural Orange Terpene Solvent 32oz.

100% d-Limonene FOOD GRADE HIGH PURITY Citrus Solvent Orange Oil Dlimonene Quart 32 oz.

Gamblin mediums may be added to Gamblin CWM: Galkyd, Galkyd Lite, Neo Melgip, G-Gel

Walnut oil (may be added to increase flexibility of wax)


Solvents remove paint from the surface

Solvents may be used for splatters, marks and drips onto semi-dry layers

Solvent in a spray bottle creates an interesting mottled surface

Is an ingredient in homemade CWM


Baby oil and other types of non-toxic oils or baby wipes may be used for cleaning tools and hands in place of solvent.

Powdered marble or lime may be added to increase density of wax–just mix it in with the wax and oil on a palette.

Use caution when working with solvents and powders.


Commercially available panels are widely available. You can also construct your own or have them built by a woodworker, or use gessoed paper or multi -media paper while working on a hard surface.

Sources for panels include:

Ampersand brand Gessobord, Claybord, Encausticbord—archival hardboard with the option of a flat or cradled panel in many sizes

Ampersand Natural Wood panels

American Easel boards (cradled birch panels) (cradled birch panels) (birch panels) (birch panels)

Arches Oil Painting paper (similar in appearance to watercolor paper but no need to gesso.)

Multimedia Artboard (no need to gesso.)


The archival substrate for oil and wax painting that preserves and supports the work


It is recommended that you use a rigid surface or in the case of paper, mount or frame it to keep it from flexing.

Cradled panels may be secured together with bolts for diptychs, triptychs and other interesting arrangements. Many people prefer to paint with the panels hung on a studio wall rather than on an easel –this allows for more aggressive techniques.

If painting flat on a table, make sure the height is suitable to avoid back problems.

Cover wood cradles with removable painters tape to keep clean (also try coating them first with polyurethane, then paint will easily wipe off)


For Texture

Brushes of various types

Catalyst Tools

Plastering tools from hardware store

Various silicone items from the cooking store (trivets, etc.) to press in for texture

Whisk brooms, dish scrubbers make small lines

Textured papers from craft store–use to imprint

Tissue papers, saran wrap, wax paper, newsprint—press into wet oil/wax

Sand (add to wax/paint mixture)

Fiberglass mesh tape for drywall, self-adhesive–imprint

Florist mesh tape–imprint

Crack Stop (mesh) from hardware store–imprint

Drawing Materials

Chalk pastels (use to draw on surface or crumble for color/texture into wax—high quality brands include Unison, Sennelier)

Stabilo “All” pencils

Graphite, charcoal


Caran D’ache crayons

Other beeswax crayons such as Stockmar Crayons

Q-tips for detail work

Lyra Polycolor pencils

For Collage

Acrylic gel medium for collaging to substrate

Handmade papers, rice paper, Gampi paper


Hand printed tissue paper


Dried leaves or other lightweight nature objects

Metallic leaf (if faux, must be sealed with wax to avoid tarnishing)

Gouging, Scraping

Bamboo skewers

Old pens

Metal picks used for sculpture (for gouging and scraping):

Transfer Techniques

Charcoal drawn onto newsprint–simple way to transfer a drawing

Craft foam/Fun foam–draw on with paint or pigment stick and transfer

Parchment paper for transferring images from laser prints

Transfer paper (Saral brand, comes in several colors) draw through onto semi-dry surface

Sheer Heaven paper for ink jet transfer

Misc. and Multi-use Tools and Materials

Tape-removable painter’s tape, used to mask edges of cradled panels and for masking/creating divisions within the painting. Frog Tape (green) works very well for holding a clean edge.

Clay tools (for mark-making, texture, as squeegees)

Spray bottle (for solvent, makes interesting texture)

Gloves or barrier cream for hands

Steel or copper wool (for texture, removing paint--hardware store types may contain unwanted oils—buy from art supply source)

Cheesecloth (for texture, collage, subtle paint blending)

Tarlatan (similar to but stiffer than cheesecloth, used in printmaking.)

Soft sponges (for paint blending)


Commercial stamps or make your own with Speedball blocks

Powdered marble (add to wax/paint for thickness)

Polishing cloths (from hardware store-for final polish)

Tran Rolling Art Cart for travel

Briwax for sides of cradles panels (other suggestions: Minwax, polyurethane, CWM)

Wood Icing a faux finishing product that can be carved/painted over