Material World Treasures: How the Right Supplies Can Advance Your Art Work, Cathy Dietrich


Most of us are familiar with the quote, “Clothes make the man”.  It has been attributed to Mark Twain but goes back 400 years to the Latin scholar Erasmus and also to Shakespeare’s character Polonius in Hamlet.  I sense a corollary exists among artists.   It portends that “the right supplies make the artwork.”

It seems a bit of a stretch, but at RayMar we receive frequent inquiries from artists who believe if they buy the same supplies as their artist mentor their art will closely resemble the work of that artist.  And in a sense, there is some truth to this approach.

An artist myself, I continue to search for my unique style. It is difficult enough to make art without struggling with supplies, especially while learning the craft. In workshops, instructors eliminate some of the guesswork with their recommended supply list. Quality materials can help your work progress and the inferior supplies could possibly thwart your advancement.

Often the question we ask an artist inquiring about our painting surfaces is, “What do you want the paint to do when you brush paint on your support?” Like our handwriting, our stroke is unique. Usually artists have not thought about this. I follow up with, “Do you want a surface that is less absorbent so you can manipulate the paint to create translucent effects?”  Our oil primed linen panels are recommended for this effect.  Or “Do you want the paint to stay put and be absorbed into the material for a more opaque effect”? We have acrylic primed cotton with more absorbency for this look.

With instructor recommendations and your own experimentation, you will find a surface that will be a fit for you. Then you will be on your way to create your own signature brushstroke.  Lori’s art is very recognizable and she enjoys painting on our Claessens #15dp Belgian linen panel.  And yes, maybe your work will resemble hers if you use this panel and study extensively with her.   But one thing you can be assured of, your professional RayMar panel will raise the bar on your own work right now.

To connect you with the perfect surface we offer product samples of all our cottons and linens for you to “test drive.”   We became aware that two artists will apply paint with dramatically different results.  An artist indicated to me that the paint seemed to slide off the surface and would not stick while another artist felt the surface was too absorbent and sucked up all the paint. I had to laugh as both critiques were about the same surface!  I suggest artists invoke the Goldilocks factor, to find the panel that is “juuuuuust” right.

We are excited about the recent product testing of our new Artfix Belgian Linen L64C panel by Rob Liberace, sponsored by The Artist Magazine for their new product “road test” article.  It will appear in the November issue and begins with “this luxurious surface” and touts other “to die for” features Rob discovered while painting on it.  The Artfix linen panel will be available in October.

Other new products planned for production are an acrylic primed linen panel, an Arches Oil paper panel, a sanded pastel panel, and a watercolor panel. Substrates offered are Gatorfoam, 1/8 inch and 1/16 inch MDF board, and Dibond aluminum.  Additional panel carrier designs and sizes to carry wet paintings are also in the works.

Our mission is to produce the surfaces and substrates artists’ want and be their “go to” source of supply. We are dedicated to make what you desire to create your art. Please call us and let us know your innovative idea for a new product surface or a panel carrier.  We are open to all ideas as every RayMar product has originated from an artist’s request.

A “product” near and dear to my heart is RayMar’s Online Fine Art Competition.  Panels and carriers aside, I dreamed of a way to give back to artists and help them with their careers.  In 2005, I launched an online art competition to give artists a venue to showcase their award winning representational art.  Now ten years later, the contest has evolved to an international competition avidly followed by gallery directors and collectors. It also led the way for other important online art salons.

We enjoy stories about artists who were discovered in the contest and have been invited to exhibit in a gallery.  We are also amazed that artists from Canada, Australia, Norway, Hungary and Slovakia entered and became finalists.  I invite top artist instructors and professionals in our art community to be our judges and write critiques. Another plus is emerging artists can view award winning art and learn from the judge’s comments. Our ninth annual contest begins this fall and Lori is one of our monthly judges. Many artists in the blog party have entered artwork, were selected as finalists and have also been judges.

A viable quote recently appeared on my facebook news feed about the artistic journey.

“Art is a human act. Art is active and incomplete. Always shifting, always becoming. Art is a sneak peek into the future of potential and what could be. Art is risky. Generous. Courageous. Provocative.  You can be perfect or you can make art.”

Connie Wentworth and Vicki Visconti-Tilley

When I sense an artist is frustrated with their seeming lack of progress, I suggest they not compare themselves with other artists.  We are all on the same path to create; some artists have been on the path longer than others. I’m surprised when accomplished artists suggest they still have much to learn.  The goal is to stay on the path but if life takes us away we must redirect ourselves back to create as soon as possible. Our art is our gift to the world and our ultimate self validation.

Established in 1998, RayMar is a second generation family business dedicated to the craft of fine art.  My daughter and partner, Emily Dietrich and I are passionate to source the finest materials for your work.  We hope our exceptional, archival panels inspire you. Lasting art lives on RayMar.  Happy painting!

Thank you, Lori, for inviting me to submit my musings for the October blog party and be part of this blog writing group of very “cool kids.”  Brilliant idea!

Technical and product specific information we invite you to visit our website.