25 Oil Painting Tips that You Can’t Live Without

By Nicole Tinkham

We’re always looking for EASIER (as well as faster, cleaner, cooler, smarter, etc.) ways of accomplishing just about any type of task. No matter what the subject, we’re compelled to read anything that has to do with tips and tricks. There are many different art techniques we could talk about but we often come across several questions when it comes to oil painting. With that being said, we give you a collection of our favorite oil painting tips and tricks brought to you by real artists. This is some good stuff right here. Read on to see what artists have to say about stuck paint caps, how to prevent headaches when working with oil paint, the best way to clean a brush, and why you’ll fall in love with wringers.

1. To clean away a layer of oil paint, use alcohol (a powerful solvent).

2. Examine your work in a mirror. This will give you a different perspective which will help you check your accuracy.

3. If your paint dries on the palette with a ton of wrinkles, too much oil (or medium) has been added.

4. Create a realistic sky by using a watercolor goat hair mop brush. This will eliminate brush strokes for a very real looking sky.

5. DIY oil palette: Get yourself an inexpensive picture frame with glass (you may even have a spare lying around). The frame prevents the paint from sliding off the edge of the glass.

6. When dried in the dark, a thin film of oil can rise to the surface of the painting, causing yellowing.

7. Use a large plastic storage container to transport wet oil paintings to and from class.

8. A purifier can help reduce headaches when working with oil paints.

9. Using 10% Liquin will get more out of your paint and help it dry quicker.

10. Linseed oil is to be used for an underpainting or the bottom layers of an oil painting.

11. Did you know that certain colors dry quicker? These include paint with pigments containing lead, cobalt, and manganese which can be mixed with other colors to accelerate drying time in them as well. These colors are ideal for under layers.

12. You can put your whole palette of oil paint in the freezer to keep paint wet so they can be used for a long time.

13. We love wringers! Use them to get every last drop out of your paint tube.

14. Beginner tip: Lay out your palette the same way every time you paint so you know exactly where each color is. With time, you’ll be able to access colors quickly and instinctively.

15. Are you a messy painter? Baby wipes are perfect for cleaning oil paint off your hands and art tools.

16. Varnish your oil painting after 6 months to protect it.

17. Ever get the cap stuck on your paint tube? Next time, place a small square of saran wrap over the top before screwing the lid on. This way paint won’t dry on the inside of the cap.

18. To remove a tricky cap, place the palm of a latex glove over the cap with a paint rag on top. Twist and (hopefully) the cap comes off easily.

19. Also, SAVE your good caps from empty tubes of paint just in case you come across one that’s cracked or damaged.

20. Paint storage & organization – Use binder clips to hang paint tubes.

21. Use Murphy Oil Soap to clean brushes with dried paint left on them. Also works on clothes!

22. Viva paper towels are highly recommended by artists. Make sure to have them on hand before beginning a painting.

23. Ivory Black dries slower than other oil paint and should not be used for an underpainting.

24. Test out your bottle of mineral or white spirits by dropping a small amount on a piece of paper and letting it evaporate. If it doesn’t leave any residue or stain, it’s fine to use.

25. Experiment with different brush sizes to define different areas of the painting.

BONUS! Here’s what our Facebook friends had to say.

Mara: “Condition your oil brushes with Baby Oil, which also helps get rid of stubborn paint, but remember to rinse the brush in thinner before you re-use as it may “bloom” on your canvas otherwise.

Stacie: “Use very little, it goes along way!

Every artist has their secrets and we’re excited to hear yours! Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page with your hottest oil painting tip and let us know which of the tips in this blog were helpful.

6 Tricks for Lefties

By Nicole Tinkham

Did you know that only 12% of all people are left-handed? That means the majority of the population has no idea the struggles that come with being a leftie. For starters, pen ink easily smears on the side of your hand, using scissors is a struggle, and elbow bumping at the dinner table is just straight up annoying. And not all lefties are the same. You have over-writers who position their hand above the line they’re writing on and the under-writers who do the exact opposite. So in honor of all left-handed writers, we put together a list of tips & tricks (as well as products) that will make your life easier.

1. Notebooks
Flip your spiral bound notebook/sketchbook upside down and work from the back of the book. This way the spiral binding edge won’t get in your way.

2. Pens
Look for pens that are smear proof. Ballpoint pens have quick-drying ink which will prevent smearing. Here are a few we recommend.

Paper Mate® Ballpoint Retractable Design Pen

Paper Mate® Profile Ballpoint Pens

Papermate Pen2

Dr. Grip FullBlack Advanced Ink Retractable Ball Point Pen


3. Pencils
For lefties who prefer writing with a pencil, there’s a solution for you as well. We recommend pencils with a hard lead as they’re less likely to smudge. Check out this helpful blog to determine the best lead for your needs.

4. Computer mouse
Most computer mice are geared toward right-handed people, having grooves and buttons on the left side (accessible to the thumb). Grr! However, there are mice that suit both types of people. Hint: make sure to check the description before purchasing a new mouse!

Logitech® Anywhere Mouse MX, Wireless

Kensington® Mouse for Life Wireless Three- Button Mouse


Kensington® Mouse for Life Wired Three- Button Mouse, Left/ Right, Black

5. Scissors
If you’re left-handed, you know this struggle all too well. There are scissors available that are (supposed to be) comfortable for both right and left handed users. Here’s a list of some you may want to look into: Right/Left Handed Scissors

6. Padfolios
Here’s an example of an item right-handed people would have never guessed to cause issues to lefties. Most padfolios come with the pad on the right side, making it easy to jot down notes for the majority of people (except left-handed writers, or course). Look for a pad holder with the writing pad on the left side like the one pictured below.

Universal® Zip- Around Padfolio

We’ve learned a lot about the left-handed writer just by putting this blog together but now we want to hear from YOU! Did we talk about anything you had never thought of before? Did we leave anything out? Be sure to let us know about them on our Facebook page and help your fellow lefties out.

4 Unique ways to clean a keyboard

By Nicole Tinkham


Have you ever looked down at your keyboard and really examined it? Do it right now. Look between the keys down in the unreachable areas. We bet you’re a little grossed out (sorry!). You can flip your keyboard over and try to shake the dirt out but we’re telling you right now, it won’t work. That stuff is stuck down in there. Luckily, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve. Read on and get rid of that grossness NOW!

1. Multi-Surface Wipes
Use these to clean the surface of the keyboard as well as other computer equipment. This may not give you the deep clean you were looking for but we do recommend wiping down your keyboard frequently as many wipes kill germs.

2. Cleaning Swabs
Swabs will give you a more advanced clean by getting between the keys rather than just the surface. We recommend these swabs as they are pre-moistened to remove dirt and dust.

3. Air Duster
Air dusters are your best bet for getting the really gross stuff under the keys plus they’re fun to use. They literally blast lint and dust from these areas that you just can’t reach with anything else. Use them on all hard to reach areas of your computer.

4. The Post-it Note Trick
Now here’s a trick you can use to impress your friends. You don’t necessarily need cleaning swabs to get between the keys. Simply run the sticky side of a Post-it Note (or tape) between keys. It will lift the dust you can’t wipe off with your finger.

Cleaning your keyboard and other computer equipment isn’t just about the gross factor. Taking care of electronics can ensure they work effectively and efficiently. With that, it’s also important to use the correct supplies. Not just any cleaning supplies can be used on these sensitive pieces of equipment. Head over to our Facebook page with any questions on keeping the workplace clean.

36 Art Journal Tips For When You Run Out of Ideas

By Nicole Tinkham

Art Journal
Image from Flickr Creative Commons by alicia bramlett.

Keeping a journal of your life can have many positive benefits. If you did so as a child, you know that reading it years later would bring up thoughts and emotions and memories of your childhood. In the same way that journals remind us of our past, they can also be great tools of encouragement and motivation for the future. The same goes for art journals. Whether you’re starting your very first art journal or just need a few new ideas, we’ve got you covered with these 36 tips.

1. Get inspired through books, magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, art blogs, art museums, etc.

• Top 12 Pinterest Boards for the Artist
• 15 Instagram Pages Every Artist Should Follow

2. Gather materials: You want to have a variety of fun supplies such as stamps, ink pads, paper (in a variety of colors and textures), an assortment of pens, ribbon, paint, stencils, and more on hand. Also start collecting scraps like ticket stubs and hand written notes.

3. You’ll need to make space to work but a full art studio is not necessary.

4. Focus on the process, not the end result. Don’t try to copy other art journal pages. Your journal should be 100% YOU!

5. Experiment with color by switching up your palette. Choose colors that you wouldn’t normally work with.

6. If you’re not sure where to begin, change it up and start with a border.

7. Experiment with water-soluble pencils. These are so fun to play with!

8. Challenge yourself. There are many art journal challenges made to help when you’ve run out of ideas.

9. Journal everyday! You don’t have to spend hours on your journal everyday, although we bet you’d like to. It’s important to have some “you” time and focus on something you enjoy, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

10. Try something new and journal on canvas. You will find that you end up with a totally different look!

11. Use your foot as a stamp because why not?

12. Ask yourself “what if” and create something you would never have thought of.

13. Create a travel journal. Bring what supplies you can on vacation with you. Being in a different place is the perfect opportunity to get creative.

14. Don’t forget the cover! You may be so concentrated on the inside of your journal that you completely forget about the most important part, the cover. Tip: Make sure the cover expresses what’s inside.

15. Learn new techniques. There are so many techniques that can be incorporated into your art journal. You can learn new tricks through art blogs, Youtube videos, and even art groups in the community.

16. Have projects ready to go. You can work on other projects that can later be used in your art journal. Use sketches, paintings, handmade cards, even poetry in your journal.

17. Journal to organize all those creative ideas bouncing around in your head.

18. Be patient. One art journal page can have many details and may take awhile to complete.

19. Practice Zentangle, the art of organized doodles.

20. Work on your writing. Art journals are often a combination of image and words so unleash your writing skills!

21. Learn the art of lettering. Since you’ll most likely have some type of words in your journal, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your calligraphy skills.

22. Art journals tend to be random but think about the composition of your layout and where you want the focus to be.

23. Prep work: Prep every page with masking tape and a coat of gesso. This will prevent paint from leaking into the binding of the book.

24. When you’re all out of ideas, work on interesting backgrounds.

25. While painting in your art journal is a great idea, don’t over saturate the pages. The wetter the page gets, the more it will curl.

26. Experiment with different paper. If you tend to use a lot of watercolors, consider using watercolor paper in your journal to avoid the issue in #25.

27. Think of your art journal as your diary and make it personal.

28. There is no wrong way to art journal. There are many techniques for art journaling but don’t count on yours looking like everyone else’s. You don’t want to anyway!

29. Failure is not an option. If a page doesn’t turn out how you expected, you can always keep it to learn from or gesso over it and start again.

30. Art journaling is a way to experiment and get messy. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

31. Never give up. We feel that everyone has a touch of creativity in them. It’s just a matter of getting it to come out. Don’t become frustrated, just keep trying and you will eventually find your niche.

32. Schedule time if you need to. We live in a busy world and sometimes we actually need to schedule time for ourselves.

33. Get involved by taking art workshops (there’s always something new to learn that can be used for your art journal) or join art groups in the community.

View The Artist’s Corner for upcoming workshops at Keeton’s.

34. Get advice from friends and artists to learn and share new techniques and tips.

35. Choose the right journal for you. There are many different sizes and types of journals out there. You can even make your own! Check out your options before making any commitments.

36. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Have an art journal tip to add to the list? Comment below and we’ll add it on! Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for new product info, great resources, inspiration, and more.

50 Ways to Use Post-it Notes

By Nicole Tinkham

We’re going to assume you know the basics of the handy note-taking device known as the Post-it Note, but just in case you’re not familiar with them (or just want to learn more about them), we suggest heading over to our previous post What You Need to Know about Post-it Notes. It’s possible that you’re a Post-it Note expert (or so you think), but we’re willing to bet you aren’t aware of ALL the ways in which these 3X3 sticky notes can be used. The obvious is jotting down quick notes but here are 50 other uses that will totally surprise you!

1. Use as a bookmark.

2. Jot down a small to-do list.

3. Stick notes on the door or mirror for a reminder as you leave the house.

4. Cut the sticky edge off and use as emergency tape.

5. Cut the sticky edge off and use as temporary file folder labels.

6. Cord organizer. How to: Cut off sticky edge and wrap around cords. (You can even color code!)

7. Create shopping lists – Stick a note to the refrigerator and as you run out of an item, jot it down.

8. Make a flip book. This will take a whole pad of Post-its but it sure is fun!

9. Storyboarding.

10. Label leftovers in the fridge with the expiration date (or your name if you have a lunch thief in the office).

11. Motivation: Leave notes around to keep your goals in check (quit smoking, eat healthy, etc.).

12. Learn something new: If learning a new language, post a note on common objects with the word of the object in the new language.

13. Origami (or at least try).

14. Make a collage.

15. Office pranks..

16. Create “kick me” signs.

17. Blot lipstick.

18. Forget the navigator. Stick a Post-it Note with directions to your steering wheel.

19. Last minute place cards.

20. Use as painters tape in small corners and around switch plates.

21. Use a Post-it Note to cover the glow of an alarm clock so it doesn’t keep you up at night.

22. Use the sticky side to clean between keys on keyboard.

23. Make a calendar.

24. Color-code your planner.

25. Project boards.

26. Jot down notes in books you can’t write in.

27. Play games. Example: The “Guess Who I Am” game. Write the name of a celebrity on a Post-it Note and stick it on the forehead of the person next to you. They must ask yes or no questions until they guess who they are.

28. Wedding seating chart.

29. Love notes packed in the lunch bag, stuck to the mirror, on the car windshield, or wherever you can think to stick one!

30. Fold a note over two sheets of paper to hold them together.

31. Easy Halloween costume. Simply do a quick drawing on a note and stick it to your clothes.

32. Create signs. Yes, you can print on them. Here’s how: One Good Thing By Jillee

33. Make valentines.

34. Use as wallpaper.

35. Cheap holiday decorations.

36. Brainstorming maps.

37. Get artistic and make a mural.

38. Use as fun giftwrap. Hint: Choose bright colors to make a statement.

39. Use them in the classroom (math flash cards and more).

40. Name badges.

41. Doodles!

42. Arts and crafts: Your opportunity to get creative!

43. DIY Piñata.

44. “Paint” your car.

45. Use for scrapbooking.

46. Gift tags.

47. Make a backdrop for photo shoots, parties, etc.

48. Party décor.

49. Decorate Easter eggs.

50. Make a fashion statement. Bet you never thought to WEAR Post-it Notes!

There you have it, 50 uses for one of the most common office supplies. Now take a look back at #1 on the list. That was actually the original use Art Fry came up with for the Post-it Note but, as you can see there will never be just one use for this supply. The list above is by no means complete and we’re sure all of our creative readers will have something to add to it. Please leave a comment below or connect with us through Facebook or Twitter to share your ideas!