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How to Decorate for Fall using Art

As promised in the last blog post, here are a few favorite fall paintings and tips on how to decorate for Fall using art. For those who are the DIY types, you can easily purchase art supplies and create your own Fall decor. Acrylic paints are the easiest to use for a quick Fall creation.

In conjunction with fall elements, such as garlands of autumn colored leaves, using art as part of your decor enhances your space. Candles, nuts, dried flowers, satin floral arrangements, and many other Fall-themed items, will enliven any room. Your guests will feel welcomed and cozy with the addition of these decor ideas.

Decorating with Art ~

Pumpkins oil painting

“Pumpkins” oil on canvas is a favorite little painting I created just for use in my Fall decor. At 4″x4″, this small painting is a perfect addition to any tablescape.

How to decorate for Fall using art

Surrounded by a candle, dried corncobs, and chestnuts atop a fall-themed table runner, the “Pumpkins” oil painting makes a bold statement.

Decor Ideas ~

You can see how using small Fall-themed paintings in your decor creates a unique feeling since art can help set the mood for this beautiful season. Mixing store-bought items with original paintings in your decor brings about a quality of richness to your environment because it’s all about texture and color.

One of my favorite decor ideas is to display small paintings with a garland of fall leaves as a backdrop. “Abstract Leaves 2″ is a 4″x4” oil painting on gallery wrapped box canvas. The painting sits on a shelf in the entryway and adds a pop of vibrant color.

Abstract Leaves 2 oil painting
“Abstract Leaves 2”

Here you can see the companion piece to this oil painting sitting to the left on the same shelf:

Abstract Leaves oil painting
“Abstract Leaves”

Fall is all about explosions of color and is my absolute favorite time of the year! I am inspired each season to paint new art works of vibrant color to celebrate the season like this painting:

Autumn Leaves
“Autumn Leaves”
Decorating for fall using art

“Autumn Leaves” 4″x4″ oil painting adorns a dining room side table.

How to decorate for Fall using art

You can see how easily I changed the design of my side table simply by moving the “Autumn Leaves” painting to the opposite side.

Celebrating Nature ~

A colorful celebration of leaves reminds us of the beauty of nature. In this next painting, cool hues of purple and blue are juxtaposed with warm tones. “Colorful Fall Leaves”, a 4″x4″ oil on gallery wrapped box canvas, shares the space of the entry way shelf.

Colorful Fall Leaves oil painting

Hanging Artwork on a wall adds to a Fall-themed decor, as well. “Lil’ Pumpkins” oil painting can be seen on the gallery wall and is painted in oil on a 6″x6″ panel. The painting is framed in black with a gold liner which makes the pumpkins vibrate with excitement. Click HERE if you’d like “Lil’ Pumpkins to be yours!

Mini pumpkins framed
“Lil Pumpkins”

Aspen trees are the subject of the painting below. The painting is on 8″x10″ canvas and is titled “Aspen Trees in Fall”.

Aspen Trees oil painting
“Aspen Trees in Fall”

How do you decorate for Fall using art? Do you paint your own paintings? Leave a comment below, and let’s chat! Much Love ~ Rhonda

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How to Make a #Sketchbook Kit

I often take a sketchbook kit with me when going on plein air adventures just in case the weather makes it difficult to set up and paint in oils. My sketchbook also gives me the opportunity to play around with compositions and color palettes before committing oil to canvas.

Using a sketchbook first, helps to lessen the anxiety and it gets the creative juices flowing. Here’s a list of basic supplies that pack easily into a small bag or carrying case:

1. A mechanical pencil, extra lead, a kneaded eraser and a triangle. I prefer a 0.5 lead as it’s not as dark as a 0.9 and can easily be erased. The triangle helps me to orient lines to the edge of the sketchbook page.

2. Fountain pens of various nib sizes filled with waterproof black ink and extra ink cartridges. The Platinum brand fountain pens are great because they don’t dry out. The same for the pocket sized Kaweco as it has a cap that twists closed. The ink flows freely on both brands and never splotches or skips. I love these pens!

3. A watercolor palette with professional grade watercolors and a sponge or rag to blot the brush on. I will often use a small collapsible cup for my water, but forgot to add it to the photo.

4. A pocket sized Kolinski watercolor brush in two sizes.

5. If you prefer, you can save the hassle of needing to find water for a cup by using water filled brushes. They come in various sizes and are very handy. The only drawback is they are not as precise as a Kolinski watercolor brush, so I’ll often use them just for laying in washes.

6. A sketchbook that has paper meant for water media. There are numerous sizes and paper choices on the market, so you may have to experiment until you find one you like best. I’m still on the hunt for the “perfect” sketchbook. In fact, I made the open one out of my favorite heavy weight mixed media paper, so I can use if for just a pencil drawing, an ink drawing or combined with watercolor.

7. And lastly, something to carry your gear in. This could be a zippered pouch, like mine, or a small bag, backpack or whatever you like to carry. Make sure it can get wet though, in case your water brushes should leak. A good safety measure is to put your wet media supplies into a baggie. I don’t worry about leakage because my zippered pouch is plastic.

Some artists like to carry a tripod with a watercolor easel and paint on a surface. I typically just lay my sketchbook in my lap when sketching, or hold it in my hand, thus eliminating the need for extra gear. My entire watercolor kit fits nicely into my oil painting plein air bag. Often times I take my kit with me when bike riding and the entire kit fits nicely into my bike bag. If you minimize your gear down to the very basics you are more likely to bring your kit with you on outings and find more opportunities to sketch.

I used to sketch daily awhile back, but have gotten away from the practice in the last year. Life just seemed to get in the way, but this year I’m hoping to get back into the habit of daily sketching. My favorite thing to do in the summer, is sit out on the deck in the morning with a cup of coffee, listen to the birds, and sketch.

I hope this inspires you to go sketch and enjoy! Keep me posted on your adventures as I love to see what everyone else is up to.

~ Rhonda

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Review of Oil Painting Supplies

Plein Air season has arrived here in the northwest, as the temps are slowly rising to “comfortable”. I am rethinking my entire strategy for plein air painting, getting rid of what doesn’t work and adding new things I haven’t tried. I seem to fight with my tools a lot and I want to eliminate the fight so I can concentrate on painting and capturing the essence of a scene.

So, I gathered up the gear and took it all out on the deck to just paint and seriously judge all my tools. Here’s my set up:

Plein Air set up

Continue reading Review of Oil Painting Supplies

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I thought my painting was ruined!


I recently varnished my “Eggs” oil painting and as it dried something strange started to happen. The varnish dried in blotchy patches! I re varnished the painting thinking the new varnish layer would fill in the missing gaps and it only got worse.


As you can see in the video, all is back to normal!  I’m so happy! Thank you to the excellent support at Gamblin for walking me through the procedure on how to remove varnish. If anyone needs this info. here you go:

Gamvar is formulated with Gamsol odorless mineral spirits, therefore it can be safely removed with Gamsol.  As a solvent, Gamsol is not strong enough to dissolve a dry paint film, so varnish removal will not harm the painting.  If the varnished painting is on stretched canvas, place something firm beneath the back of the painting to keep it from flexing when pressure is applied from above.

Gamvar Removal Directions:

  1. Take a clean lint-free cotton cloth and wet it with Gamsol.  This is your dissolving rag.
  2. Using circular strokes, dissolve a small area of the varnish at a time (Gamvar will dissolve within seconds).
  3. Immediately wipe away the dissolved Gamvar with another dry cotton cloth.
  4. Unfold and refold the wiping cloth several times during the process to make sure you are using an absorbent part of the cloth.  Usually, there is enough of a difference in surface sheen to tell where Gamvar has been removed.  If it is difficult to tell, approach the surface systematically in small areas at a time to help keep track of where the varnish has been removed.
  1. A final wipe down with a fresh cloth and Gamsol may help to ensure any residual varnish is completely removed.  Allow Gamsol to evaporate completely before continuing to paint or re-varnishing the painting.

Application of Gamvar Picture Varnish / Satin & Matte

Gamvar Satin and Gamvar Matte may be applied to a painting when it is touch-dry and firm in its thickest areas.  Gamvar is designed to be applied in one thin coat.

  1. Shake the bottle before use to ensure that matting agents are well dispersed.  (Matting agents are expected to settle to the bottom of the bottle when not in use.)
  2. If Gamvar gets very cold, the wax matting agents may drop out of suspension into clumps.  To dissolve the wax, place the varnish container into a pan of hot tap water and allow to warm through.  A combination of the heat and vigorous shaking will dissolve the clumped wax. 
  3. Apply a thin coat of varnish by using a light scrubbing action with the brush. Try to cover as much of the painting with as little varnish as possible.
  4. Finish by feathering out over the surface of the varnish.  Wherever there is excess varnish, remove it by feathering and wiping the brush on paper towels or a clean rag.

The following link will take you to a varnishing demonstration video on our website:

The ideal varnish brush is flat and 1-3” wide, depending on the size of the painting to be varnished.  A brush with stiff, but soft natural bristles works best for applying an appropriately thin layer of Gamvar.  Soft synthetic and soft natural hair brushes tend to soak up and deposit too much varnish at once.

Oiling-Out prior to Varnishing

If a ready-to-varnish oil painting has an uneven surface quality, with dull or sunken-in areas, we recommend oiling-out before varnishing.  An oiling-out mixture will reduce the painting’s absorbency and unify its appearance by soaking into absorbent paint layers.  Gamvar will then lay down more evenly, reducing the patchy or streaky look that results when varnish sinks into absorbent areas of a painting.

Oiling-Out Procedure:

  1. Apply a liberal coating of a 1:1 mixture of Galkyd:Gamsol (or 2:1 Galkyd Lite:Gamsol) to the entire painting.  If the painting includes the use of natural resins like dammar in its mediums, DO NOT USE GALKYD!  Instead, oil-out with a 1:3 mixture of Refined Linseed Oil:Gamsol.
  2. Allow the medium to be absorbed into the painting for 2-3 minutes.  When oiling-out a large surface area, break it down into manageable, overlapping sections.
  3. Wipe off the excess painting medium thoroughly with an absorbent, lint-free cloth.  Utilize a dry brush to wick out medium that pools in more heavily textured areas.
  4. Once dry, if any dull areas remain, oil-out those areas one more time.

Allow the oil-out to dry completely before varnishing. (Galkyd/Gamsol = 2-3 days, Refined Linseed/Gamsol = 1 ½ -2 weeks)”

(Info given to me via email by Mary Weisenburger at Gamblin support.)