Volume 14, Number 1

Published six times a year by The Paschal Group, Inc.
Publisher: Robert Paschal
Editor: Jeanne Paschal
Also see — The Newsletter for Visual Artists

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Bustin’ Out B-Boy Tees

by Thomas Adams
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

Well summer is on the move, now heading in our general direction. That means the market opens back up for T-shirts. Airbrushed T-shirts can be found just about anywhere—from the local mall to the flea market, at tourist attractions and even online. Most airbrushers either started with tees, make their living from them, or at the very least, have done one or two. T-shirt blasting is probably the single most popular outlet for airbrushing today. Some of us love it, some hate it. But, no matter what you are into, this form of airbrushing involves some key creative and technical elements that are absolutely vital for anyone who wants to succeed at airbrushing. When I am doing a T-shirt it reminds me of the days when I was seventeen, doing this all out of my garage. So in this lesson we are going to go simple, go basic and go “Ol’ Skool.”

The staple of the “Ol’ Skool” is the B-Boy tees, as I call them. These airbrushed T-shirts are usually colorful urban streetwear that is a favorite of the rap culture and also of the lovely hippies, too. I personally love doing them because they are colorful and almost completely freehand. I happen to have family rising up through the rap ranks so we are going to focus this project on his project, “Hospital Hitz.” A good way to begin one of these projects is with a simple sketch, and I did this one on the back of an envelope.


Fig. 1 - A quick rough sketch is a great way to start.

Using this, you may want to go ahead and lightly sketch an outline on the shirt. To do this I usually use a pencil, chalk or a fabric marker. All three of these will wash off and not affect your painting.


Fig. 2 - I do the outlines so faint I can barely see them.

Make sure to take the time to plan your image if you are not comfortable with doing it all freehand. I may be a little rusty on the strictly freehand stuff, so I just sketched it out making sure all the lettering will fit. Another helpful tip is to cut your words in half and begin those letters in the center of the shirt and work out. With this trick you can ensure your centering. We can fix things in airbrush technique, but on a T-shirt there is no erasing.


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The next step on the agenda is to outline the speaker box. For this I set up one Iwata HP Plus with black fabric paint, Medea Textile Colours by Jürek ( I removed the needle cap from my airbrush to get fine lines for the black outlining. The Iwata works great for fine lines. Next, outline the box with a very thin line to get yourself started.  After outlining once, go over what you just did with a thicker line. Using this technique you can correct a lot of little mistakes as you go. I like to use a fair amount of pressure on shirts, about 60 lbs. of air, since cotton will absorb paint and you do not have to worry about runs. 


Fig. 3 - That’s a pretty nice box.

Next we add the mic and cord in the same style as above. Be sure to mix it up; this is freestyle airbrushing; turn your mistakes into purposeful artwork. Be free! With the lower design down, I will add the red that will be outlined in black. For this I am going to use another Iwata HP, this time my HP-C. This gun performs much like the HP-Plus but feels a bit different.  However, all things considered, it is an easy transfer. As you may see from the picture, I do it in this order to correct mistakes. When a red shape bleeds a little or gets wavy, the black outline will later sharpen it. These kinds of projects are built; you are putting free flowing designs down rough and adding shading and outlines to later sharpen the image and make it pop on the shirt. People who wear these like to be seen, so make it happen, captain!


Fig. 4 - Let your image start rough—you can polish it up later.

Next, we are going to take that free thinking straight to the lettering portion of our show. I tend to get nervous doing lettering for some reason.  If you find yourself doing this, take a break, settle down and loosen up your hands. Keep your shoulders relaxed and try to move your arms and keep your wrists straight, which will help to make your lines a tad bit straighter. Once again, pop off that needle cap, use a thin line and go over it several times. 


Fig. 5 - Be careful with the lettering, as it can make or break a shirt!

Next let’s put some shade on that speaker box. I am not as shy on shading T-shirts, as they fade with time. Try not to go over the top but always keep that in mind. Well, this thing is rockin’ hard.  I love these shirts because they are always brash and in your face.  Remember—be bold and try to use bright colors to get a stark image. 


Fig. 6 - Shade the box a bit heavy and let that fading take its toll.

Once that is done, let’s move on and do some fine shading under the letters. I usually kick the lettering down and to one side and try to mimic or trace the lettering next to it. This will make it look as if the lettering is hovering over the shirt. As you can see I took some liberties on the Z letter. Try to do things like this to give your shirt some edge. Well, just do the once-over and touch this masterpiece up, heat set according to paint manufacturer’s instructions and BAM! Now go break dance the night away in your new streetwear! Till next time, Keep on Paintin’!


Fig. 7 - Hospital Hitz is born!

Journey from Dark to Light

By Shen—Jazz, Celebrity and Portrait Painter
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

An Extremely Fuzzy Problem

In this issue, a problem was brought to my attention by an excellent artist that I'm friends with on Facebook.  Thank you, Jeroen van Neijhof from the Netherlands, for sharing your process with us, and I hope that this article can offer some helpful suggestions. 

"The grass is my problem. Most is in the distance, but one blade is extremely close to the lens... so extremely fuzzy. I have no idea how to tackle this. I've made various tests outside my painting, and all failed." – Jeroen


PHOTO 1 – Original Painted Image

NOTE:  We will not use the photo of the original reference photograph.

This painting is coming along beautifully, as you can see!  The tips I will offer are only how I might proceed with this work, but there are many solutions to any problem.  I do not claim to have "the answer"!

LOOSEN UP!  First, let me say that I do frequent exercises in "painting loosely" so that my detail work does not get the best of me.  Sometimes they are in airbrush, but often they are in brush.  Charcoal is good for this exercise, also.  I mention this because my friend said that he sometimes gets "too caught up in the detail."


PHOTO 2Passion, 40 x 30, acrylic on canvas.  A painting where I practiced loosening up.


IMPORTANT!  Squint, Squint, Squint!  Squint your eyes when viewing that photo reference or that model!  Squint hard enough so that you can see the image, but the details go away.  You will see mainly the structure and perhaps some color patterns and lighting, but you will see what is most important to carry off that image.  This exercise really helps to put your values in their proper order.  (Values are shades from dark to light and are the most important element in making an image look realistic and well rendered.)

STEP INTO YOUR FEAR!  I have found if there is an area that I am afraid of tackling, it becomes a super huge monster if I continue to work on the painting while avoiding it.  If there is an area freaking me out, it will be the first one I will attempt because I want to save the easy and fun elements for last.  This way of working gives me so much to look forward to!

Below are some of the steps that I would take if continuing on with Jeroen's painting:

1.  Using the very same techniques as used previously, but now holding the airbrush a bit farther away from the surface than before, I would paint in the back side of the wing that is farthest away.

If desired, frisket can be applied over the areas that are already done, protecting them from overspray.


Iwata Airbrushes
The professional Iwata Airbrush line is imported and manufactured exclusively by Medea Airbrush Products, along with commercial spray guns, Medea Textile Colours and Com-Art Airbrush Colours.

2.  Then I would use a yellow-green (more yellow than the green used so far) to loosely paint in all of the grassy areas in the background except for the bottom because those greens are cool rather than warm.  It is okay if this is not completely accurate; have fun and…Trust your Instincts!

3.  Now a burnt sienna mixed with some transparent black or gray will fill in the dark areas in the background.  A little deep violet blue can be used here also.  You are keeping your airbrush pretty far away from the surface now, letting the overspray do the work for you.  There will be some areas where you can use a freehand shield to get a sharp, yet focused edge.  To do this, hold your shield away from the surface to varying degrees while you are spraying.  Veer away from keeping your airbrush perpendicular to the surface when using freehand shields and experiment.  You can also use this same color (mixed with green at times) to model in the rest of the leaves…but don't forget, Squint, Squint, Squint!

4.  Remove frisket.  Use a little blue in the green at the bottom, so there is a nice color shift happening to the greens in the background, which will nicely reflect nature.  Spray some blue or blue gray over the entire bottom if you want - including the bottom of the wings and up into the middle of the top wing!  Soften the hard edges of the wings.

5.  I would either use a warmer red in the red areas or add a little orange or yellow to the existing red to warm it up.  Often the airbrush paints on the market are on the cool side and need to be mixed with a few drops of liquid acrylic or ink for a true red to be achieved.

6.  And if it were me, I would use a brush with traditional gouache and brush in the lines and reflections and detail into the nearest antennae.  I would make sure that that was THE ONLY PLACE that I used hard edges and brushwork... (and maybe even push the color a little bit by using some brighter yellows and violets of similar value next to one another) so that it becomes the focal point.  I would also possibly spray some light grays and lighter, warmer yellows to mist over the highly detailed spots on the wings (just to make them recede a bit, not go away).  All of this will bring the eyes to the point of interest, as the point of greatest detail will be critical for impact.

There is often a problem that I see particularly with airbrush paintings… and that is where the background and foreground look like separate paintings, especially when frisket is used.  It is oh SO important to bring them together!  That problem is easily handled in step #4.  And sometimes a little strategically placed brushwork or softened edges can make all the difference.

Edges can easily be softened by using an Artool freehand shield, and my favorites are the FH-1, FH-2 and the "Bird."

Hope that brought some helpful tips and suggestions to you all and answered a great question!  Please feel free to send more questions, art, suggestions and/or comments to  or

Thanks and keep up the great work; it only gets better from here! 



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Recycled Outdoor Décor

By Janean Thompson
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

When any gardener considers adding items to his/her garden after the plants are in place, these items can enhance the look of the space.  Placed correctly and matched to the style of the garden space, these items can transform a simple garden into a unique and invigorating place. The selections are called “hardscape” because they differ from the soft, subtle greenery of the garden and are “solid.” These hardscape items can include everything from furniture to pottery and collections of garden-related containers to old, antique or graciously worn implements.

The garden I maintain is a prairie garden. It is battered by strong winds, scorching sun and often hail – especially during the spring gardening season. Anything I put in the garden needs to be heavy enough to withstand the winds or anchored in a way to make it stay put. I collect two garden-related groups of items—old tools and watering cans. The watering cans hang on the fence near the garden entry and the old tools are scattered throughout the greenery. They can be used as supports for vining plants, they can hold birdhouses or they can stand in groups like sentinels protecting the garden from rogue butterflies or swarms of bumblebees. They are just cool to look at, so they are “planted” all around.

Often the implements are already weathered and worn beyond usefulness, but they are interesting. This month’s airbrush project is to transform one of my oldest pitchforks into a “sculpture” to be added to a bed of roses in various colors.

To begin, I clean the handle because it has been stored in the garage for months since I found it. Rather than sand the old, worn handle smooth, I will simply clean it well so the paint will adhere. I don’t want to totally cover the aged wood, but add enough color to the handle to tie it to the colors in the flower garden.

Colors I will use include: blue and purple – plus yellow for accent. The project was done with my favorite Iwata Revolution CR Airbrush; a great air source—the Iwata Studio Series Smart Jet Compressor is a grand choice because of the near silent operation and surprising power; tape and newsprint to mask off the tines of the fork; a soft rag to polish the acrylic paint into the dry wood; and cleanup materials.

To begin, clean the handle well so that the paint will slightly soak into the dry surface. I use an old, damp cloth. Clean the surface and allow the dampness to seep into the wood slightly. (Photo 1) This facilitates a more even acceptance of pigment.


Photo 1: Clean off soil and grime and you are ready to add color.

Apply the purple acrylic on the handle. Feather the application so that it is even...but work in small areas so that you can come behind the airbrush application and wipe away some paint from the high spots. Allow the first color to dry and then add more acrylic if a deeper tone is desired. As with the first layer, wipe away excess pigment from the high spots so that there is good texture showing. Add a second color for the tines - applied in two coats for good coverage. (Photo 3) A bit of yellow was added for contrast and interest.


Photo 2: Mask the tines of the old implement to make a clean color change.

Photo 3: Airbrush the tines a contrasting color - ready to add a bit of yellow contrast. Photo 4: Old, retired gardening tools can be transformed into neat décor for any garden.

I have airbrushed and used old, broken implements, too. Old shovel or hoe heads painted bright colors are a surprising thing to find stabbed into the soil in an unexpected spot. Or, if you want, use them as the support for small garden quotes or other small signs; use the ferrule stuck into the soil. I saw one garden with a collection of old shovel heads and it was like sculpture—really cool! And another garden-artist stuck shovels into the soil and ran copper wire through the handle holes like a ribbon—very interesting. You can use any tool, whether it is broken, with or without a handle, or just no longer needed. Know that wherever you put it, you can expect comments. Here it is in the rose bed (Photo 4) but could be moved anytime you want.


New Airbrush Products

Revolution M Series Airbrush from Iwata

Anest Iwata-Medea has introduced the new Iwata Revolution M Series—gravity-feed single-action airbrushes.  The M Series features a single-action style trigger for simple operation.  It’s gravity-fed and internal-mix for superior spray results.

The Iwata HP-M1 with 1.5ml color cup has a 0.3mm needle/nozzle and is designed for low pressure applications.  The HP-M2 has a 7ml cup and 0.4mm needle/nozzle and is also designed for low pressure applications.  The new Iwata Revolution M Series airbrushes are perfect for airbrush cosmetics, body art, hobbies, models and other general applications—and they come with a five-year warranty.  See your retailer and visit

The “H” Stencil by Craig Fraser from Artool

Artool Products has introduced the new “H” Stencil by Craig Fraser.  This is a simple French-curve design that can help artists improve their skills when airbrushing fire, smoke, dragon scales and any number of effects.  A huge advantage of the “H” Stencil is its specific one-handed design.  By using one hand you can not only manipulate where you place the stencil, but you can also change its shape by squeezing it together to morph an outlining edge.  The set contains templates in two sizes.  Craig’s “H” Stencil Step-by-Step is included on the front of the package.  Look for upcoming articles and videos on its use—

Artool Freehand Airbrush Templates are produced with exacting laser-cut precision.  They are solvent proof and easily used with either water-based or solvent-based paints.  See your dealer.


Airbrush Workshops


...the link between you, the visual artist, and the manufacturer of art materials.
ARTtalk is a monthly eight-page newsletter available FREE-OF-CHARGE from Participating Art Material Retailers in the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. Each month you'll find informative articles that deal with a variety of subjects such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, arts and crafts, and more. These explain various techniques—how to work and paint with watercolor, oils, or acrylics; use pastels or pen and ink, airbrush, and more. You'll find information on art history, current events and art world news, as well as an occasional "Kids' Korner." Subjects vary and change each month.