The Artist's Newsletter

ISSUE #7 ~ 2011-03-08

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Hi , welcome to issue #7 of the Tasart newsletter. First off, we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to all those who have been affected by the earthquake, or who have family and friends that are affected. We hope that after the dust settles, you will find solace in making art but can only imagine it will take time.

Apologies for our tardy newsletter as this year as already been pretty hectic for us. With our online traffic and orders growing monthly, your orders and enquiries are always our priority; giving you the best advice in-store, trying to get the goods to you quickly as well as answering emails with expedience. As many of you are already aware, our workshop and classes have been on hold as Jim is recovering from a total hip replacement. Thanks to the many of you who come into the shop on a regular basis to ask how he's doing, and to those of you who made a visit to the hospital, that was awesome. After the Dr. gives him the okay, (towards the end of the month), he should be back at the shop, painting and teaching and the workshops will resume (thank goodness!).

Product Spotlight

Save up to 20% on a selection of Artist Grade Paints, online, every day.

paint special We have marked down a large portion of our artist's paints on our online store and they will remain marked down until further notice. For a quick reference of the paints on sale, please visit our Specials Page.

The Differences Between Solvents

This is a repeat of something we posted on our blog a few years ago, but thought it worthy of posting again.


All solvents act as 'dissolvers' or thinners in oil paint, but there are differences between them.

Gum Turpentine

is the most common solvent used in oil painting.  It is 100% distilled and comes from living, pine trees.  Fresh gum turpentine is clear and has an odor.  It has a shelf life, however, and will turn into an amber color and become rancid over time.  Gum turpentine that has 'turned' should be thrown out as it can harm your painting.  It is the strongest of the solvents so it the best one to use when making mediums and varnishes.  A draw-back when used alone to dilute oil paint, though, is that it leaves behind a small residue and if over-used it can separate and crack when the painting dries.  The big minus with gum turps is that it is very toxic and highly flammable and many artists get an allergic reaction to it.  It can also cause permanent health problems.

Mineral Spirits

such as Turpenoid and Sansodor, are petroleum by-products.  Their advantages are that they are as clear as water and stay that way.  They will never yellow and do not leave a residue when painting thinly.  They are also low odor.  The draw-back is that they aren't quite as strong as gum turpentine so are not as good for mixing up mediums and varnishes.  However, they are great for thinning your paints and cleaning your brushes.

Citrus Solvents

are made from distilled citrus peel and are very fragrant.  They can also be used to thin your paint and clean your brushes.  Some artists prefer the smell over gum turpentine. They are also less toxic.

Odorless Solvents

are just that; completely odorless, which means that you can paint in an enclosed space without ventilation and virtually no odor. They are still toxic however, and you should avoid contact with your skin.  Their vapors will still get into your nose and eyes so this product should also be used with caution.  The Australian brand, Archival has a slower evaporation rate to other odorless solvents, so that can be a health benefit.  Archival solvent will also keep your paint 'open', longer due to its slower drying time.

The main function of odorless solvents are to dilute your paints and clean your brushes.

Turpenoid Natural

is an alternative to all of the above.  It is non-toxic and non-flammable.  It was designed as an effective brush cleaner and conditioner, but it can also be used as a painting medium in small amounts.  When added to your oil paint, it makes the paint water soluble, so clean up is a breeze. The draw-back is that it is more expensive than the other solvents that we stock, but it is perfect for the artist who has health concerns.  And, it smells really good!

For more information about all these products and more, stop by and see us!

Artist Spotlight

Because Jim's away and he can't stop me, I'm going to 'highlight' him in this month's newsletter. Many of you already know his history and the success that he's had as a professional artist but many of our online friends I'm certain, would be unaware. For me, Illustrators are the most inspirational artists on the planet. Not only do they have to be very savvy in business, their general knowledge is usually beyond compare and they are always versatile people who work in all media available to artists. The have strong design, color and typography skills, and can collaborate with other creatives or work on their own; their egos don't get in the way.

Jim Auckland


After graduating with Honors from Art Center College of Design (the original campus in downtown Los Angeles) in 1973, Jim was hired by Jack O'Grady Advertising Agency in Chicago. O'Grady's was one of the best-known in the country, with a client list that included United Airlines, Kraft Foods, Sears, Zenith, Miller Brewing, Royal Crown Cola and many other Fortune 500 companies. Jim produced paintings for United Airlines, Kraft, Kelloggs, General Mills, Sears, to name just a few and was one of a select handful of artists qualified and approved to illustrate for McDonald's. Jim also freelanced and painted collectibles for The Bradford Exchange which included a series of Wizard of Oz paintings that sold over 8 million copies, and the work is now archived at The Library of Congress in their permanent collection.

poptarts Wheaties Box

After moving back to Los Angeles, Jim worked as an in-house illustrator and designer for Computer Science Corporation. Soon, he was hired away by Presentation Media Incorporated, a Los Angeles based design company who put together advertising and presentations for a variety of aerospace companies, including Hughes Aircraft. Hughes in turn, hired him away from P.M.I. and at Hughes Aircraft Jim was made head of the Corporate Art Department. Jim refers to these as 'the lost years' as many artists for whatever reasons are forced to choose security over artistic freedom. But, many times the best artwork comes from those who are 'tortured' and Jim produced, what I think, is some of his best work during this period - The Bomb Factory Blues; several years of hilarious cartoons and commentary based on his artistic frustrations. One day I will work on getting them published.

signs moresigns magazine spread

A portion of a magazine spread for Hughes Aircraft Corporation

In 1988, Jim left the corporate world, got his first Los Angeles agent and took studio space in Santa Monica with fellow illustrators, Robert Rodriguez, Roger Beerworth, Jim Heimann and others. Jim started producing work primarily for the Sport and Entertainment Industries, which include the movie posters for Dennis the Menace, A League of Their Own, The Secret Garden, and Meet the Applegates. He also did comp. work for Field of Dreams, The Untouchables, Bull Durham, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Burbs and many more. One of his paintings is also featured in the dark comedy The Hudsucker Proxy -for those who have seen the movie, it's the poster of the kid with the hoola-hoop in the store front. In 1989 Jim did his first commissioned portrait for The Buffalo Bills professional football team and ever since has had a long relationship with the NFL. He has also done portraits of many famous athletes including Tiger Woods, Michael Jordon, Deon Sanders...too many to name, really. He's produced paintings for trading cards and posters, magazine covers, Super Bowl programs, and has been featured in 2 Super Bowl Collector Books.


Artwork for the movie A League of Their Own


Commissioned Portrait by The Buffalo Bills


Artwork for the movie The Untouchables

He has also freelanced for Rhythm & Hues which include many computer generated character designs used in movies and television commercials. In addition, he's been an active member of The Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles, and has been a judge in two of their international competitions.

After 25 years in the industry, Jim was offered a part time teaching position at Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, where he was instrumental in forming their Illustration Department. And after 17 years teaching, he was promoted to full time Faculty as Associate Professor. Since relocating to New Zealand, he's been exploring his artistic horizons and as most of you know, has started teaching again. As many of his ex students, who have gone onto artistic stardom can attest, Jim's a natural teacher!

Last year we commissioned our talented tasart web designer, Sean Naden, to redo Jim's professional site. The site will eventually be a retrospective on Jim's illustration career where he will share some of the details of each assignment. There are still many transparencies that have to be scanned and added. He's supposed to be working on it as he's convalescing, but I know Jim and as I type this unauthorized Artist Spotlight, he's either reading a history or crime novel or, watching The Rugby Channel, as he's gone from an American Football Fanatic to also LOVING Rugby.

We have many of Jim's past assignments in our studio adjacent to the shop if ever anyone wants to look through the flat files. And, I look forward to sharing all the amazing paintings he produces in the near future. Get well soon :)

One more cartoon....

cartoon cartoon

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Until next time,
Takapuna Art Supplies


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This newsletter was written by Sandy Collins on 2011-03-08

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