Tuesday tools of trade

This week i'm jumping into a rather large canoe to paddle across the Tasman sea to meet up with Belinda from gretchenmist who resides in Melbourne, Australia. She's sharing with us the tools she uses to create her incredible original artwork. For those of you on the other side of the world, make sure your seatbelts are fastened as the jumbo is about to take off ...

Belinda, would you take us through the tools you use in your creative process?

I like to work with a variety of mediums ~ partly because I like to try out new materials and also sometimes I have an idea which will only feel right with a particular medium or combination of materials.

I primarily paint with golden acrylics ~ they are so beautiful to use. They have a super high pigment content and lovely texture. I used to paint with oils rather than acrylics, until I discovered these acrylics. They behave a little like oils (without the long drying times) and are just like no other acrylic paints. I've previously found acrylics to be kind of 'clunky' ~ thick and plasticy!

Golden acrylics

I also paint with watercolour and gouache (opaque watercolour). I choose the paints depending on the kind of work i'm doing. If I think I will want to include a top layer of drawing and i'm working on paper, I often use watercolour or gouache as the texture is different and takes the top layers a little better.

Gouache and pencils

I choose between hot-pressed 100% cotton acid-free paper, stretched linen and wood panels. The different surfaces offer specific qualities that I like or need for a piece.

Hot-pressed paper has a smooth surface which I prefer. I like the feel of heavy (300gsm) paper. Paper is also a great medium for adding stitching and pin holes to drawings. I feel like cotton paper and embroidery cotton make a perfect match. The stretched linen that I choose has a rich, smooth texture and is great for painting small, fine detail as the paint glides on. Wood panels have a matted feeling and offer a beautiful natural texture with the grain, that can mostly be seen through the layers of paint. The grain is like working with a bonus element and usually really adds to a landscape piece.

Stretched linen and wood panels

My brush collection is mainly made up of super fine brushes. I go through these pretty frequently. I have a set of drawing pencils which are a new favourite brand. They work really well with my drawing style which involves rubbing back and adding layers to build up richer and softer lines.

I use takeaway food container lids to mix paint. To me they are perfect, especially the clear ones. I can see what colours will look like together by holding the palette next to the work ~ this saves time and paint!

Palettes and brushes


I collect a lot of magazines, which I use for making collages.

The final step in my creative process is the mac ~ set up with adobe software which I use to make prints of my work.

Can you give us some sort of indication on the monetary outlay you've had in setting yourself up with the equipment that you have?

I spent around $600 setting up my space: with two desks (one for cutting and another for working), shelves and drawers. The initial outlay for my acrylics and gouache paints was around $300. Things like paper, wood panels, stretched linen, pencils, brushes, printing paper and inks are all ongoing costs and things that I love to shop for!

Is there much care and/or cleaning required to keep your tools in optimal order?

My work space is pretty low maintenance ~ the main things are making sure I clean my brushes before paint dries in them and storing paper properly.

Is it necessary to wear any kind of safety equipment when creating your items?
No, the only real safety concern is keeping the acrylic paints off my skin. A lot of the bottles have cancer warnings on them. I guess i'm lucky that at the moment my work is small and kind of contained ~ I'm not splashing much paint around or sanding back and creating dust.

I guess this is the 'wishing' question really and it's always kind of fun to ask it .. If you could own any kind of tools that aren't related to your own craft what would they be?

I'd love to have a dedicated sewing room with an overlocker ~ I often wish I had more clothes-making skills.


13threads said...

I'm a fan and I loved this article.

Kendra Zvonik said...

fantastic look into the studio of one of my favorite artists! so beautifully organized. i love the use of take-away lids as paint palettes!
what is an overlocker?

keep up the great work belinda and kerrin :)

WolfeWoman said...

Thanks for this post- it makes me want to paint! Your work is so vibrant and graphically perfect!

BlueTerracotta said...

Great interview, and I love the photos...I feel like I'm really there visiting!

Waterrose said...

I have always envied people who can paint and make it look so effortless. Loved this interview!

gretchenmist said...

thanks Kerrin! thanks too for the lovely comments :)

ps Kendra ~ an overlocker is a machine that finishes the edges of fabric while stitching {i think!!, just know it makes sewing quicker and neater}.

hmstrjam said...

always enjoy her aquas and shades of blue!

betsy bensen said...

really fun to read the aritcle then hop over to your shop Belinda and check out the different pieces you have listed!

Michelle said...

Absolutely wonderful,
thanks for sharing!!!

Agustina Fernandez said...

Great interview! I love your work!

Victoria Webb said...

Wonderful interview Belinda - and it's interesting to read about your process! Love the clarity of your colors.

KnotOriginal said...

I love getting these inside peaks at studios. Yours Belinda, looks so clean and tidy, the same quality shows through in your delightful paintings!

kathiroussel said...

love the interview belinda-- and i'm there with you in wishing for a sewing room--but for now we'll have to enjoy your beautiful collages and paintings!!

Decorate the Diva said...

Your work is amazing!

PipingHotPapers said...

Wonderful interview - thanks for sharing with us!