Artists' Tools
A selection of brushes - an oft used tool of the artist.

Artists' Tools

Our world is full of visual art. Images surround us, communicating ideas through posters, murals, sculpture and painting. Comics, book covers, DVD and games cases; all are modern but all can trace their lineage back to the first men who painted images on the walls of caves.

Throughout the millennia different tools have been used to achieve the desired effect. Dry pigment blown through a pipe, images carved into stonework, brushes used to paint walls, and oils used to paint canvas. Whatever the era, technology has advanced and art has gone with it.

Today the world of visual art is larger than it has ever been. But what are the tools which are used by artists to create their work, some of which have been in use for thousands of years, and others for merely decades?

The easel is a tool used for supporting a painting whilst it is being worked on. In the Netherlands easels are known as the Painter's what?
The painter's donkey
The painter's friend
The painter's dog
The painter's wife
The word easel actually means donkey in both Dutch and German. A fitting name, as easels carry the artist's work for him, just as donkeys are used for carrying heavy loads
Used by artists for mixing their paints, a palette gets its name from the Old French word meaning a small what?
A small friend
A small table
A small bucket
A small shovel
In 13th century French a palate was a small shovel. Over time the word came to mean the non-porous board on which paints are mixed by an artist.
Palettes vary considerably, from the plastic or ceramic ones used by watercolour artists to the wet palette of an acrylic artist. But the most recognisable must be the large, thin, curved wooden board held in the hand and resting on the arm of an oil painter
Which painter's tool comes in many varieties such as Angle, Mop, Stippler and Dagger?
An airbrush
A smock
A palette knife
A brush
Many different types of brush are used for different tasks. Round brushes with a pointed tip are good for painting detail whilst flat ones are used to spread paint quickly over a large area. Some other types of brush include Bright, Filbert, Fan, Rigger, Script, Egbert and Stencil
As an alternative to the brush or the palette knife, which animal is commonly used to apply paint?
Although these days they are usually a copy made from plastic polymers, the original sponges are actually animals. They are a very versatile tool for the artist and can be used to create different textures, applying large washes or for removing unwanted paint.
Snakes and Hamsters are very rarely used to apply paint and corks are not animals!
A common tool in prehistoric paintings, and popular today amongst graffiti artists, what is the name of the tool which is used by Pochoirists?
A potato print
A stencil
A marker pen
A blowpipe
Prehistoric cave paintings often contain images formed by using the hand as a stencil and Pochoir is a refined form of stencilling which was popular in the early part of the 20th century. In modern times stencils have become popular amongst street artists such as Banksy and Will St Leger
What is the tool which was favoured over the brush by many artists such as Rembrandt, Goya and Courbet?
Palette knife
The palette knife was designed to mix paints on the palette but it was found to be effective for the thick and even application of paint. This worked well particularly with vibrant colours.
Rembrandt used palette knives in many of his works and the tool became a typical feature in his later career. Courbet favoured the palette knife in his landscapes, finding that he could work much more quickly with this tool.
Goya liked to experiment and used many types of tools in his art. His set of 14 Black Paintings were all painted using a palette knife
What is the name of the stick with a soft, padded head, used by artists to steady their painting hand?
A stillstick
A maulstick
A drumstick
A chokestick
The maulstick gets its name from the old Dutch word maalstok which means 'painter's stick'.
They have long been a part of the painter's tool set, with many historical self portraits showing the artist using one
Artists have used models to help them in their work since ancient times. Actresses, friends and family have all taken on the role in the past, but today artists in Britain can find models at the RAM. What do the initials RAM stand for?
Registered Agency of Models
Royal Academy of Models
Register of Artists' Models
Record of Artists and Models
Register of Artists' Models, as well as being a place where models can be found, is also concerned with the competence, reliability and conduct of its members. It also provides protective guidelines for employers to follow
Which tool is made from latex and used by the watercolour artist to create precision areas of white (such as highlights, stars or snow)?
Masking fluid
Candle wax
In watercolour light colours cannot be painted over darker ones. This causes a problem when painting white on black as the lighter areas must be painted around (imagine trying to do a starry night sky!) This can be solved by painting masking fluid on to white paper and then painting the darker colour over it. When the paint is dry the masking fluid is removed to reveal the white paper behind
What is the most common tool used by graffiti artists to apply their paint?
Decorator's brush
Because graffiti is illegal, the speed and portability of the aerosol have made it the most suitable method for this kind of art.
Despite the unlawful status of graffiti it is recognised as art and a variety of aerosols have been designed with it in mind, such as highly pressurised cans for fast and thick application, and low pressure cans for greater control


Author:  Graeme Haw

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