My Favorite Tool: Lori Wolf Grillias

Lori Wolf Grillias 2

Old credit cards are my favorite tool.  These humble pieces of plastic can scrape, spread, and mix colorful aged surfaces that provide inspiration for new narratives.  After setting down watercolor washes, I squeeze out acrylic paint and proceed to layer opaque color onto translucent surfaces.  Some flat color will stay others will be wiped away, revealing a thin film.  The cards will change not only the opaque layer of paint, but the translucent one as well.  There is also something very soothing about using whole arm movements!

Lori Wolf Grillias 1

Stop in Arroyo Grande either weekend of the Open Studios Art Tour to experience Lori Wolf Grillias’ work. Her studio is listed as number 195 in the catalog. To view more of her reflective emergence mixed media paintings beforehand, check out her website.


My Favorite Tool: Flo Bartell

My favorite tool is my propane torch.  Not only is it essential in my encaustic painting process, but it warms me and offers a soothing rhythm while I work.  I relate the fire of my torch to my passion for my art especially in my new series, “On Fire.”

Flo’s Los Osos studio will be open October 13 & 14th during ARTS Obispo’s Open Studios Art Tour (see studio #84, page 21 of the Tour Catalog).

Catalogs for the event can be found throughout the county or you can download a copy.

My Favorite Tool: Stuart Denker

It has never been a secret that my camera plays a very important role in most of my acrylic painting.

In the past, I’ve spent a great deal of time making an ink-jet color print of the photo (my field sketch) selected as the painting subject, wasting an inordinate amount of expensive Epson ink and print paper to produce a reference print with the appropriate detail, color and values.

Since adding an iPad to my studio equipment, I no longer make a color reference print. Instead, I make a quick black and white print on cheap paper providing all the information I need to develop the composition and drawing on the canvas. The color rendition of the photograph on the iPad screen provides me with a vastly superior body of the detailed color, light and shadows.

This snapshot shows my work table with the iPad, a flimsy black and white print and a glimpse of the nearly finished painting.

process of using the iPad

finished piece, using the iPad to reference color

Visit Stuart’s studio in Los Osos this October during the Open Studios Art Tour October 13/14 and 20/21 from 10am-5pm.

My Favorite Tool: Barbara Rosenthal

My favorite tool is actually my washing machine because it gives me the time to play – and work – in my studio.  Sometimes I get to do something big.  Other times I make very small things.  While I am primarily a printmaker and a painter, I like to keep my options open.  If I think it, I want to try to make it.

Barbara working on a large project


Visit Barbara in Los Osos (the North County weekend of the Tour) October 22-23. She is #188 in the Open Studios Art Tour Catalog


My Favorite Tool: Curtis Essen

Curtis next to one of his stunning photographs

My camera is my favorite tool because it takes me into my studio, which has been the Central California Coast landscape for the past 30+ years.

Right now my camera is a Canon 5D MK II which has incredible resolution for great large format photographs. I evolved into Canon by accumulating some of their lenses.  Over the years I have shot with a Kodak Brownie with 127 film, and some old plastic drug store 620 cameras that had great resolution for a kid with a dark room, a Maimiya Sekor Twin lens, and Pentax’s for a couple of decades. But right now I am never happier than when I am firing my Canon, because that’s when I am out in my studio.

Edna Valley Wheat fixed

I whole heartedly embrace the new digital dark room because it allows a vast array of tools to bring photography closer to what our eyes and brain perceive in a scene. They say reality bites, but not here where I live.  The great landscape photographer Ansel Adams embraced all the tools at his disposal to achieve some of the best photographs of his era. I believe he would have loved and mastered the tools we have now.

Autumn Oak Edna Valley

I have recently acquired a dream digital enlarger; a 44” wide Epson 9600 printer which uses pigment based archival inks that will show no fading for over 75 years. This was designed to be a professional photo printer and it now gives me total control of the process. Many of my photographs span over 200 megapixels combining over 100 exposures and have been as large as 6+ gigabytes.   I calibrate my monitor and paper/ink combinations myself.  All of this is a time consuming but satisfying endeavor.   The best part though is still when I fire my Canon, because that’s when I am out in my studio. Visit my website to view more images.

The print transcends the video screen. I invite you to view my studio, which is what I have seen and captured.   It will be displayed in our historic 1919 California Bungalow in The Arroyo Grande Village during The Open Studios Art Tour (catalog #9) at 529 Allen St. on October 15, 16, 29 & 30 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

My Favorite Tool: Cheryl Barton-Petrie

My favorite tool is my Dremel!!!! You can do just about anything with this tool; fix mistakes, make creative mistakes, and it is fun to operate. What’s in my toolbox? All of  the attachments! I just can begin to tell you what each attachment does but I have one for every medium. Check out Cheryl’s website to see what all she does.

Cheryl's Favorite Tool: The Dremel

What in the world is a Dremel?

My Favorite Tool: Karen Krahl

"I get very excited about brushes...."

I get very excited about brushes, old or new, so I would say they are my favorite tools. Though, the bigger my paintings get the more I appreciate my palette knives, so I must include them too. I use them to mix paint, not to paint with.  I’m still getting used to my new Olympus Pen camera, that took these shots of paintbrushes. A camera; another favored tool beyond the actual photographs themselves; I find it is an indispensable tool for capturing light or a form, for future reference from which to paint.

Palette Knives

Okay, I’ve decided… my favorite tool: really fine sable brushes.

Website coming soon….