Getting to know about paint sprayer

1.Types of paint sprayers

Three different types of paint sprayers are available in the market.

Conventional spray gun


    • Conventional paint sprayers: Conventional paint sprayers use compressed air to provide a smooth finish. Some models come with air compressor while others don’t have a built-in air compressor but you can hook an external compressor. These paint sprayers can be tricky to learn but once you learn to use them, you will love customization and control you can have these sprayers. The only bad thing about these sprayers is that you can only get around 30% transfer rate. The remaining 70% paint is wasted.
    • High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint sprayers: HVLP paint sprayers makes use of a higher volume of air at lower pressure compared to conventional paint sprayers and therefore reduces amount of wasted paint. As a result, you can get around 80% transfer rate. These sprayers are also known for their smooth and fine finish due to high air volume. These sprayers are perfect for anyone working on projects that involve precision and detail work. However, these sprayers are slow and can become inefficient when working on a major project such as painting a large room or a large fence.
  • airless paint sprayerAirless paint sprayers: Airless paint sprayers are perfect for large projects as they can spray fast and you won’t require painting a top layer. This means you can finish a project quickly but you will sacrifice fine finish and smooth top layer. These sprayers create a uniform thick layer of paint. Majority of airless paint sprayers are powered by an electric motor but some models are gas-powered while others are air-powered. One of the best airless paint sprayer is graco magnum x7.

2. Advantages of using a paint sprayer

Paint sprayers are typically preferred to paintbrush and roller because of their speed and accessibility. Modern-day paint sprayers offers an even finish with around 80% paint transfer rate. There are tons of different varieties based on size, shape and features.

Speed – Never worry about large projects again

One of the major reason why paint sprayers exit today is the speed at which they paint. Painting with a sprayer can be up to 8 times faster compared to painting with brush whereas it is around 4 times faster compared to a roller. This can be a very handy especially when you are painting a large project.

Accessibility – Paint anywhere you want

A paint sprayer is a great tool for painting areas that are difficult to reach with a roller or a paint brush. The sprayer emits tiny particles of paint that reach every creek and nook. Sprayers also beat roller down when it comes to painting the corners as roller can’t reach the corners.

Smooth and even coating of paint for a perfect finish

Paint sprayers offer a smooth finish as paint sprinkles out of nozzle and sets evenly on the surface. The fine mist of paint results in a finish that you can’t get with a roller unless you have spent your life learning to master roller painting. Because of an even final finish, paint sprayers are preferred for small and large painting projects by most DIYers as well as professional painting contractors.

Enjoy the variety with modern-day sprayers

Modern-day paint sprayers come in a variety of sizes. You can choose a sprayer according to your needs. If you are a professional painter, you might want to choose a big sprayer with a lot of paint storage. A best airless paint sprayer will do the work. But if you are buying a paint sprayer for renovating your home furniture, windows and doors, you may pick a small sprayer with focus on achieving an even finish. There are models that will let you paint different materials and not just stain or paint. Similarly, you can find models that let you paint different thickness by simply controlling a knob. You can find cordless, electric and gas powered paint sprayers and choose the one that suits you the best.

3.Top 3 paint sprayers in the market

These paint sprayer below are consider the best paint sprayer of Wagner brand

WARGNER PaintReady System 0529003

wagner paint ready systemWagner PaintReady System is one of the best sprayer you can get. It consumes 540 watts of power and costs around $150. The sprayer comes with a separate turbine and hose. You can assemble them together and attach a front-end of your choice. The PaintReady system comes with two different front-ends, one for thick materials while the other one for thin materials.


  • Professional-grade sprayer
  • Unbeatable price for a professional-grade sprayer
  • Separate turbine and hose
  • Two different front-ends for thinned and un-thinned materials
  • Offers a lot of power

WAGNER Control Spray Double Duty 0518050

Wagner 0518050 Control Spray Double Duty Paint SprayerThis sprayer costs around $100 and offers excellent features for a consumer-grade sprayer. It is a High Volume Low Pressure (HLVP) sprayer that comes with a built-in turbine. It is easy to move around and carry even for longer times. The double-duty motor can be a great asset for larger projects. The sprayer is to be used with thinned material only. With price around $100, you can’t probably get a better double-duty HVLP paint sprayer.


  • Great for small and large projects
  • Easy to carry and use
  • Unbeatable price
  • Double-duty motor
  • Powerful built-in turbine
  • For use with thinned material only

WAGNER PaintReady Sprayer 0529002

Wagner 0529002 Paint Ready SprayerThis sprayer costs around $100 and can be used with un-thinned paint. Since this sprayer uses un-thinned latex paint, the spray particles aren’t always as fine as you get with a traditional thinned-paint sprayer. The result is a textured finish instead of a fine and even finish. This sprayer is perfect for both interior and exterior projects due to small build and fast painting. However, if you need to achieve a fine finish, you can’t trust Wagner PaintReady Sprayer 0529002.


  • Textured finish
  • Can be used with un-thinned materials
  • Fast and reliable sprayer
  • Easy to use
  • Unbeatable price
  • Not to be used for spraying woodwork

But I think the best one is wager flexio 590. If you’re interest in this product, go search for Wagner Flexio 590 Reviews on the Internet and enjoy reading.

Read other aritcles : How to paint your car start to finish and paintings from photographs

Junior: Junior Conway might very well be the best car painter on the planet

If you worked at Barris’ Kustom City in the ’50s, or if you had a car built there, or if you just hung around the place much, George gave you a nickname: Peeps, Curly, Tubbs. That’s how Hershel Conway became Junior. It was appropriate at the time. Hersh was a 16-year-old kid with a mildly customized ’50 Ford he and his older brother Herb had been working on in their driveway–taking off chrome, filling holes, priming and sanding … and priming and sanding, and priming and sanding some more. Young Hersh didn’t know how to spray paint (it always seems like a mystery until you do), so he took the Ford to Barris’ shop to see if he could afford one of his famous paint jobs–perhaps a lower-priced version. As Junior put it in an interview years ago: “He [George] said he could do it in enamel. He agreed to let me do some of the work on it to save money. He liked my work attitude, so he gave me a job.”
Junior’s work attitude was a high level of patience and extreme attention to detail. George definitely knew about custom bodywork and paint, and he was quick to recognize these attributes in this teenage kid. He hired him as a “sand boy” and put him under the tutelage of his brother Sam, who taught him the ropes of true custom painting–lots and lots of sanding. George painted the ’50 Ford in “Sam Bronze” enamel, and Junior even got Von Dutch to add some striping.

With Sam teaching him the tricks of custom paint prep and metalwork and George showing him spray-gun technique with tricky new custom paints, Junior learned quickly. Within a year, his ’50 Ford received several mild custom alterations, including headlights, taillights, small fins, a tube grille, and a new two-tone bronze/gold hand-rubbed lacquer paint job. Junior still didn’t spray the paint himself, though he did just about everything else. The car ended up on the cover of several small magazines of the time (1956) and won dozens of show trophies.

During this time, Junior was doing the priming and prep work on several well-known Barris customs, such as A La Kart, the Rod & Custom Dream Truck, Kopper Kart, and several others. The first Barris Kustoms were finished in deep, luscious, mirror-smooth, multicoat, dark metallic lacquers such as Honduras Maroon, Jade Green, Royal Purple, and so on. But the latter ’50s, the period in which Junior learned to paint, saw the introduction of completely new, true custom paints such as pearlescents, candies, and metalflakes. When they first came out, these new media–all based on nitrocellulose lacquer–were experimental at best and turned out downright disastrous in many cases. But it wasn’t long before George, through careful experimentation and prior experience, learned how to lay down these tricky new paints in smooth, even, brilliant, mile-deep coats that literally outshone anything custom painters had done before. Junior learned along with him.

Junior points out that this was also the period when all sorts of wild custom paint designs suddenly flourished: scallops, flames, panels, blends, fogs, and so on. They were striking, and some have become classics, but many were born of necessity when something didn’t go right and needed to be covered up in the initial pearl or candy paint job. Besides, it was much easier to spray these paints in smaller, confined areas than it was to get an even coat over a whole car–especially the huge ones of the late ’50s.

But Junior, with typical attitude, accepted this as a challenge: to learn to spray brilliant, luscious candy or pearl paint jobs with no streaks, blotches, blushes, or imperfections of any kind–not only all over the outside of something like a giant ’58 Impala, but also under the hood, inside the trunk, and especially in all the doorjambs. He even perfected one of the most difficult and most striking custom paint applications: spraying bright, transparent candy colors over a white pearl base. Think about this. White is the hardest pearl color to paint (pearl is translucent, so it must be sprayed over a like-color solid base). Getting it on evenly with no blotches is hard enough. And if there are any screw-ups in the pearl, they’ll show through the candy. Worse, white is the hardest color to evenly spray the transparent candy over. And if you screw up anything in the candy coats, there’s no way to fix it. You’ve got to sand or strip it all back down and start over with white base, then flawless white pearl, then perfect candy, followed by clearcoats so you can rub it out. It didn’t take Junior long to become an expert at doing all this right the first time. And he’s done it hundreds of times since.

But given the times, most of Junior’s assignments at Barris’s, once he became the primary custom painter there, called for scallops or multicolors. Chili Catallo’s famous Little Deuce Coupe used on the Beach Boys’ album cover was candy blue over white pearl with pearl scallops added on top. Barris’ XPAK 400 air car was candy red and blue over silver-white ‘flake. Sam’s El Capitola had candy cerise insets over white pearl, and so on.

By 1961, Junior was confident enough to open his own shop, which he named Junior’s House of Color and which he continues to operate (with one or two dedicated helpers) in a large red brick building in Bell Gardens, California. At first, he specialized in flawless, spectacular candy or metalflake paint jobs on well-known, award-winning cars such as Big John Mazmanian’s candy red supercharged ’61 Corvette and his similar-colored Sting Ray streeter; Stone-Woods-Cook’s candy blue Mustang flopper; the outrageous Uncertain T in nutmeg ‘flake; and his own ’58 T-bird in candy persimmon. In those days, Junior painted plenty of show cars, drag machines, and even boats as customs faded from the scene.

Then, as custom car shows waned and rod magazines wandered, the concours crowd discovered Junior’s House of Color. Soon, he was prepping and painting Ferraris, Porsches, and Duesenbergs with the same patience and attention to detail that he gave the candy customs–though in more subdued colors–and began winning trophies at places like Pebble Beach. The owners of such cars could, fortunately for Junior, pay the kind of money such meticulous, time-consuming paintwork costs. Unfortunately, however, it was the cost rather than the quality of Junior’s work that gained publicity, culminating in a notorious article titled “The $64,000 Paint Job” in a men’s magazine many years ago, when such a price for car paint was considered unthinkable.

So what is a professional, custom paint job worth today? Shop rates have escalated everywhere recently, but Junior currently charges $75 an hour, which–especially in California–is average and is actually significantly less than big-name rod shops are charging. In fact, it’s way less than you’ll pay to have your new BMW worked on at the dealer. Check and see. But, of course, it’s not the price per hour, but the number of hours, that makes any professional paint job–and especially one at Junior’s–cost what it does.

This begets the inevitable question: Just what, exactly, is a custom paint job? The answer is not simple. It’s a matter of degrees. In simplest form, a custom paint job is one that includes a higher level of preparation (removing trim and other disassembly, hand-sanding, multiple primer coats both on the exterior and in areas such as door-jambs, under the hood, and so on) and is followed by a high-quality color-sand and rub-out. The actual spraying of paint takes the least amount of time and only moderate talent. Especially with today’s basecoat/clearcoat urethanes, it’s pretty easy to spray an even color and then cover it with clear, which dries hard, smooth, and very glossy. Robots do this literally thousands of times a day in new-car factories around the world, and the average customer is more than satisfied with factory pearl-tinged colors that rival candies in some cases.

While he can still spray a real candy or pearl job better than just about anybody, given his experience, spraying paint is only about 5 percent of any Junior paint job. The real, time-consuming work–roughly 80 percent–is preparation. You can’t get a quality custom paint job without it. The other 15 percent is rub-out. That’s the ultimate step that separates custom paint from other varieties, and anyone who knows cars and paint immediately knows the difference.
What separates Junior from other custom painters is the degree to which he takes both of these steps. Preparation, in his case, means

  • disassembling the vehicle,
  • stripping all body components to bare metal,
  • hand metalworking all surfaces as straight as possible (using very small amounts of lead, if necessary, for filling), and then, after proper cleaning and etching,
  • spraying several coats of high-fill catalyzed primer and tediously hand block-sanding all surfaces–including doorjambs, inside the hood and trunk, and so on–even smoother and straighter between each primer coat.
  • Finally, after the paint colors are properly mixed and sprayed, Junior wet color-sands the finish using blocks with increasingly fine paper, culminating in 3,000-grit. After that, he completely hand-rubs the finish with his favorite compounds and sealer/glazes using no power buffers.And that’s just the paint. Most Junior jobs also include such things as new glass and rubber, cad-plating of fasteners and other parts in proper finishes, and rechroming of all brightwork. Further, even using the acknowledged best plater in the area, Junior does his own straightening of bumpers, grille pieces, and similar parts; has them copper plated; then hand sands them himself using 220-grit paper on blocks until he deems them ready for nickel and chrome or else has them coppered again for more sanding.

That’s how Junior does it. And that’s why he’s the best.

Read about How to paint your car start to finish and Painting as an Art

Paintings From Photographs

Artists are making photography part of their artistic process. One artist projects photographs directly onto his canvas and traces the image. Another technique involves printing the photograph on the canvas. Yet other artists photocopy the photograph to enlarge it and thereby get better resolution.

In 1827, photography was invented when Joseph Niepce produced images upon a metal plate–and many thought painting would become obsolete because of it. Upon seeing his first daguerrotype (an ancestor of the modern photograph), J.M.W. Turner is said to have uttered, “This is the end of art.” Today, however, photography is an accepted art form and industrious painters are making it an extremely useful part of their artistic process.

Harvey Gordon of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is one such artist. “When I first started using a camera, I was still painting still lifes,” he explains. “I would photograph them to get a preview of the final image. But once I incorporated photography into my artistic process, it gave me new options. I no longer had to bring the world into my studio. I could use my camera to collect subject matter that I would later refer to back in my studio.”

When he started using photographs, Gordon would make grids to translate the images in his photos into more detailed and accurate drawings for his paintings.

“Now I save a lot of time by projecting images onto the canvas to draw from,” he says. “whenever I find a subject with an appealing arrangement of color and value, I photograph it extensively. Then I choose the print I like best and lay pieces of paper over the edges to frame the composition. Next, I measure the dimensions of the cropped image and scale it up to the appropriate support size. I often have to cut a support or have one made to fit an exact size. After the support is gessoed and dried, I get out my opaque projector and go into a dark room. I put masking tape on the back of the support, attach it to the wall, and move the projector around until the area I initially cropped fills the support.”

After trying a variety of projectors, Gordon has settled on a small, lightweight, opaque projector. Opaque projectors allow you to put a flat image such as a photograph into them and project it onto the support. They come in all sizes and forms, from desktop versions that project downward to those that sit on a table and project horizontally. Generally, however, desktop projectors cannot enlarge as much as their tabletop counterparts. Other options include the ability to reduce the image size, color-corrected light bulbs, as well as fans that cool the projector bulb and lengthen its life. In the past, Gordon has tried using a slide projector, but finds that the quality of the image cast by opaque projectors is better. “I’m very fussy about doing an accurate drawing and I believe the halogen bulb of an opaque projector is key to a good projection,” he says.

After Gordon draws the image on his support, he rubs an eraser bag–a powdered gum eraser sewn into a fabric pad–over it to lighten the lines so they don’t show in the painting. Then he paints his composition in black and white, using his photo to judge values. “I don’t physically mix black and white together for the grays,” he says. “Instead, I mix a little bit of acrylic paint with acrylic gloss medium to attain a very transparent gray. For example, to get a light gray I mix a little black paint with a lot of gloss medium, or for a darker gray, I add more black paint to less gloss medium. The white of the gesso shines through the transparent values to create the grays.” Next, he paints his primary colors–transparent yellow, permanent rose or magenta red, and Thalo blue-green tint–in three separate layers, adding a small amount of paint to a large portion of medium to make transparent colors. “So instead of painting the painting once, I paint it four times,” he says. “I add some of each of my three colors to every area of the work because every color you see has at least a little bit of each of the primaries, even if it’s not visible to the eye.”

My students have also encountered other methods of using photographs in the studio. Some have discovered color photocopiers. They will take their favorite photos to the copy shop and have them enlarged, thus accomplishing two things at once. Firstly, working from a larger original helps them see details, and secondly, should they accidentally drip paint or spill thinner, the original is not ruined.

New products on the market also provide artists with new options. One of these is canvas manufactured to accept images from a variety of color printers. “Such canvas receives a special gesso coating that is receptive to ink,” explains Pete Delin, vice president of marketing at Fredrix Canvas. “The canvas is typically smoother than the average canvas, yet it still has a texture that gives it that mystique of the original. This means you can transfer a photographic image upon it using a lithographic process or with a wide-format inkjet printer.” These wide-format printers are much larger than most home or office versions, usually by about three feet or more.

“The reason this technique has become popular is that in the past, artists have painted the original on canvas and then made prints on paper,” Delin continues. “With this technology, the artist can make prints on canvas with semipermanent inks. These prints look like originals and don’t have to be matted as do paper prints. And, typically, consumers prefer the canvas prints to paper ones.”

Although wide-format printers are often beyond the price range of the individual, there are many companies who will gladly transfer your photographs onto canvas for a small fee. For this process they require a photograph, slide, or digitized image on a computer disk or CD-ROM. And while many film developing companies can process your slides onto a computer disk or CD-ROM, some will even Email these digitized images to you over the Internet. While it is not yet possible to use your home computer to print images onto canvas, Delin says that a canvas enabling artists to do this will be available in the very near future.

Having your photographic image transferred directly to canvas is also a novel way to begin a painting. Gina McAdams of Precise Images, in Salt Lake City, Utah–a firm that provides this service–described the benefits for artists. “It’s a terrific way to get a painting started,” she says. “You don’t have to do any sketching because the image is already on the canvas, in color and scaled to the same size of the canvas. We scan the photo into a computer and then print it on a high-quality canvas using a plotter. Artists tell me it’s a huge time-saver that allows them to execute works they couldn’t do otherwise. If painters have been commissioned for a number of works, this can get them up to speed. For portrait painters, this process is a great help because they don’t have to worry about the nose or head being too big. However, I don’t consider these prints on canvas to be a final product, but only the basis for paintings.”

Both Delin and McAdams point out that most inks used for canvas prints are water-based. As a result, McAdams suggests working with oils if painting on the print, or sealing the image first with a fixative before working over it with acrylics.

There are those, however, who completely discount any mingling of photography and painting. “These people,” Gordon says, “will go up to a realistic painter and say, `Just take a photo.’ My response to them is that these artists are not making photographs, but beautifully made paintings. The distinguishing point is that it’s not a chemical process, but paint applied with a brush by one’s own hand. Paintings have a wonderful surface that photographs just do not have.

“I once heard an eminent realist who, when asked if he worked from photos, said, `No, I can draw.’ That’s like an accountant saying he doesn’t use a computer because he can add,” says Gordon. “Using photos doesn’t mean one can’t draw–it’s just a way to make the process quicker and easier. The other word I hear in relation to using photos is `slavish.’ I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use this word in general conversation, but whenever anyone wants to demean working from photographs, they say it was `slavishly copied.’ I certainly don’t slavishly copy photos. Instead, I use photographs to keep me in touch with and enable me to be as faithful as possible to the initial visual experience that captured my emotions and started this whole process of art for me.”

Read about painting everyday life and painting as an art

Painting as an Art

BECAUSE Richard Wollheim’s thesis is a worthy one–that there are universals in art–I had hoped to like this book. The circumstances of its publication–that it consisted of the prestigious Mellon Lectures of 1984; that the Princeton University Press had surpassed itself in the beauty of the book’s production–promised an edifying experience in the realm of my favorite subject, old pictures. But after only a few pages, a sense of disappointment set in. For it was clear that the journey would be long and hard, and would only yield something one never really needed or wanted in the first place.

Wollheim is writing about aesthetics. But it is not the kind of aesthetics that rises to a polemical fervor in defense of artistic doctrines that are either triumphantly right or at least deliciously wrong, as with De Sanctis and Tolstoi respectively, nor one that defines art in some new and noble way, as with Schiller and Hegel. Rather, it is that psychological sort of aesthetics which endeavors to tell us what we are doing when we stand in front of a painting. But its insistence upon flaccid philosophy rather than scientific psychology causes it to reject hard-edged exactitude, in favor of airy and immaterial hypotheses.

The two things to which Wollheim says he has been committed throughout his life are love of painting and loyalty to socialism. To his credit he has not commingled the two in the present work, and he does not believe that such a synthesis is either necessary or desirable. But at a higher level he does find them conjoined through his faith in the existence of universals and of a common humanity preceding all our aesthetic perceptions. Unfortunately, the universality that he means is not the universality that is important. He does not intend that a great painting is irrefragably great, beyond contingency and cultural bias. He means that, in deciphering content in a painting, we and the Eskimos and the Hottentots go through much the same process.

Now, in the words of the nineteenth-century French sculptor Preault, “Never have two people seen the same painting.” Preault meant that the millions of habits and associations that go into making a single human consciousness ensure that no two people will experience a painting in the same way–indeed, that no one will see it in the same way at different moments in his life. What is more important, though, is that, even if no two people see a painting in the same way, there will be some element in it that all or almost all of its viewers will agree upon. This is something that most people who address the question of universality in art never consider: it is wrong to require that universality extend to every element of our experience of a painting, and wrong to reject universality because no two experiences are ever identical. There does indeed exist that hard, perdurable center where the millions of eccentric opinions intersect, and that is the point where the critical, aesthetic, and historical assessment of art can and must live.

That Wollheim should place so much emphasis upon the commonality of perception in the beginning of the book is slightly peculiar, however, since he disproves it in a most spectacular manner in those later chapters bias. He means that, in deciphering content in a painting, we and the Eskimos and the Hottentots go through much the same process.

Now, in the words of the nineteenth-century French sculptor Preault, “Never have two people seen the same painting.” Preault meant that the millions of habits and associations that go into making a single human consciousness ensure that no two people will experience a painting in the same way–indeed, that no one will see it in the same way at different moments in his life. What is more important, though, is that, even if no two people see a painting in the same way, there will be some element in it that all or almost all of its viewers will agree upon. This is something that most people who address the question of universality in art never consider: it is wrong to require that universality extend to every element of our experience meanings, and he wants to study the mechanics of the conveyance. Here, as elsewhere, he escapes association with any of the various orthodoxies of our day by espousing their essence while disowning the more punctilious application of their methods.

Consider the following sentence: “But, as with Titian, corporeality once attained, changes can be rung on it to accommodate the subtle inflections that life induces in the conception of the body under which painting then metaphorizes it.” This is vintage Wollheim syntax. But my point is not that Wollheim’s syntax is bad; what interests me, in the context of the book’s discussion, is precisely how it is bad. For Wollheim believes that the viewer understands a painting through a process similar to that whereby the artist created the painting, and I imagine that the same principle could be extended to the other arts–for example, to the writing of prose. But art is not like talking to oneself: it is meant to mean something to somebody else. The difference is categorical. An actor does not merely move about and speak on stage as he would in his own living room. He abstracts his normal behavior, dissects it, and completely falsifies it, so that when it reaches the last row it will seem completely natural and unaffected. Good prose forces the reader to read it in only one way; it politely leads him along at every step, leaving nothing to chance. Wollheim’s syntax, by contrast, is always going in a thousand different directions at the same time, and he cannot see this. Because he hears his sentences precisely as he wishes them to be heard, he cannot imagine that they could be read differently by anyone else. There is a singular congruence between this fact and his misunderstanding of how paintings come into being, and how they are then received.

Read about painting everyday life and paintings from photographs

Painting everyday life

A watercolor artists describes his attempts to capture scenes of people in everyday situations. He often uses a camera to record subjects for future watercolors. He paints directly on paper after creating a preliminary graphite drawing.

My favorite subjects are scenes of old Victorian houses and people in everyday situations. With the latter, I have a special affinity for depicting children and elderly people, whose actions seem so uncontrived and natural. When I’m painting these subjects, I feel as if I’m capturing people as they really are. I’ve recognized this quality in the works of great artists of the past such as Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent, both of whom painted wonderful images of the elderly and children, as well as in works by contemporary artists such as Dean Mitchell.

One of the tools I use for capturing these everyday moments–and I would feel lost without it–is my camera. It’s a professional one with which I can isolate the exact scenes I want, especially since I sometimes like to paint locations that have minimal light. With my camera, I’m able to work out all the compositional elements I want to include in my work. (I prefer to use slide film because it reproduces the best-quality color and light.)

Although I use photos to record subject matter, I employ watercolor to evoke mood, emotion, and feeling. It’s the paint that really gets to the heart of the matter.


This work is basically a portrait of my grandmother, who looked after me for five years while I was growing up. Although she is no longer alive, when I see this painting, I always think of her. It depicts her at a time when both of us were living in Michigan. When she knew my family and I would be driving over to see her, she would wait in the window looking for us.

What’s atypical about this painting is that I worked from two photos: one of my grandmother and one of the window. However, I didn’t let the latter dictate the composition. In fact, the photo of the window was taken on an overcast day. But in the painting, I decided to make it sunny. This change of light created exactly the mood I wanted to convey.


I always enjoy watching children and the elderly in parks. Their expressions are often unpredictable, spontaneous, and not the least bit self-conscious.

I observed this particular scene at a marina. A woman was overlooking the activities of her grandchildren, who are not included in the painting. She had a very imposing presence, and I wanted to isolate her in my painting. I thought she had the kind of awesome demeanor that makes a successful picture.


Any scene I paint has to take me to a different plateau and generate the feeling that I simply have to put the image down in watercolor. This painting is of one such scene. My family and I were visiting my sister-in-law in Charleston, South Carolina. She took us sightseeing along the coastline, and I came across two women fishing in the ocean. When I saw them with their fishhooks in the water, I said to myself, “Now there’s a nice shot,” and I snapped a picture.


This painting depicts an old man sitting on a park bench watching a young child play with a toy. I like the way this image reveals the age discrepancy between the subjects. So often we associate children with their parents–in this case the child’s parents might be in their thirties. I thought the visual contrast between the old and the young made for an interesting and dynamic composition.


I begin a painting by putting masking tape on the edges of my paper. I then choose a slide and project it onto a screen. From the slide, I create a full graphite drawing to get in all the information. I use a variety of surfaces and watercolor papers, but I mainly work with Winsor & Newton paints and brushes. When the painting requires a lot of dark areas, I use Winsor & Newton Art Masking Fluid to keep the small highlights clean.

When I’m finished with all my preliminary steps, I paint directly on the paper without wetting or stretching it. I employ only a few brushes throughout the painting process–at least one that has a point for details and one I can use for broad strokes. To cover very large areas quickly, I use a 1″-wide (or wider) fiat brush.

Using thin, transparent glazes, I begin with my lightest tones and work into darker ones. I allow each layer to dry before painting over it with another tone or color. Often, I define and redefine the shapes I’ve created in these light tones by going over them with the darker ones. This method also helps me increase the contrast in order to focus the viewer’s attention on the figure or central element.

Knowing when to stop working on a painting has come with experience. There seems to be a little voice inside me that says, “Dixon, that’s it. It’s finished.” When I hear that voice, I put my brush down and call it a day.

Read about Painting as an art and paintings from photographs

How to paint your car start to finish

Have you been practicing? Do you know what orange peel looks like? How about runs and sags? (You have been practice-painting on vertical and contoured surfaces, haven’t you? Anybody can paint a table top.) Have you discovered what happens when you paint lacquer over enamel? How about finding an automotive paint supply store–have you been in to look at color chips yet? You see, there are good reasons why we’re stretching this article out over several months. There’s plenty for you to do between chapters.

This month we were going to talk about paint products–all the different kinds of things that come in cans and what they’re for. But we’ll save that for next month so that you can roll up your sleeves and start to get dirty now. Real dirty. Let’s tackle the subject of whether (or how much) you should strip the old paint off your car before putting new paint on.

First, let me get on my soapbos for a minute. In the automotive hobby (as in many others), there is a type of “enthusiast” who is great at taking things apart, but very, very reluctant to put them back together again. I cringe to see disassembled cars collecting dust in garages. I would hate to promote such action (or inaction). Cars are made to be driven, and we at HOT ROD also believe they are made to have fun with. Please do not take your car apart unless you’re really going to rebuild it. Don’t disassemble it for painting until you’re ready to paint it.

Second, what we say in this chapter depends considerably on what type, or “class,” of paint job you intend to put on the car, as outlined in the first chapter. You don’t want to strip or gut a car just to put a quickie enamel paint job on it. You normally wouldn’t disassemble a late-model car to the same extent you would an early car for paint. And if you’re just repainting a vehicle rather than rebuilding it, there’s no need for any major disassembly (even if you’re going to strip the old paint off). In other words, there are lots of variables here, and few hard and fast rules.


That is a tough question. There’s no denying that the best way to start a paint job is on clean, bare metal. However, there is no easy way to get old paint off an entire car. There are many ways to strip paint, yes, but none is easy and each has drawbacks. In fact, there are good reasons not to strip a car before painting it. First, factory paint jobs use excellent, oven-baked primers and rust-preventatives under the top coat. You can’t do as well at home. So, if the factory paint is relatively new, hasn’t been repainted or touched up, and is in good condition (isn’t cracked, checked, peeling, or rusted), then it is best to sand it down and apply your new paint over it. You might not even need any primer.

Second, in doing a custom paint job you must build up layers of material (usually primer), and then block-sand them back down to get the surface straight and smooth. If the paint on the car is stable and adhering well to the body, you might as well block-sand it rather than removing it and building up new layers. Admittedly, it won’t be as easy to sand as primer, but stripping it off would be harder.

Third, most stripping processes will remove or ruin (soften) body fillers; if you know bodywork has been done on the car, and done properly–and there’s no sign of cracking or lifting of the filler–then you probably don’t want to strip the car, at least not the bodyworked areas. If you’re going to do new bodywork, however, always grind out all old filler and start over.

Now, why should you strip a car? In general, you want the fewest, or thinnest, coats of paint on a vehicle as practical. Paint expands and contracts at a different rate than metal, and since it’s on the surface, it heats and cools more rapidly. Over time, thick coats or layers of paint will crack, blister, or peel like most anything else left exposed to the elements. That’s a general rule.

In particular, a vehicle needs stripping if:

  • the existing paint is already cracked, checked, blistered, or lifting;
  • there are so many layers on the car that body lines or details are obscured, or the paint is pulling away from convex contours;
  • the paint on the car is not compatible with the type you’ll be applying; or
  • you just don’t know what’s under the surface (rust, old Bondo, house paint?).

As for compatibility of paints: enamel will cover most anything; some catalyzed enamels or urethanes cannot be applied over lacquers (check the label); lacquer can usually be applied over catalyzed paints or factory-baked jobs (though it can be touchy), but not over uncatalyzed (air dried) enamel. Another problem is that some existing colors (reds, maroons) have a tendency to bleed through lighter top colors. Even if you have lots of primer on the car, “gremlins” (crazing, lifting, bleeding) can creep up from old layers of paint and attack the top coat because finish-coat gloss thinners are slower-drying and because primer is porous.

If the vehicle has lots of old coats of paint on it, or you don’t know what’s under the surface, stripping the body is the right way to start a good paint job. If you really don’t want to do the dirty work, there are plenty of different kinds of sealers that will help minimize “gremlins” (we’ll discuss them next month). But lacquer paints–which I recommend for garage jobs–are the least tolerant of unstable layers underneath. To be honest, of all the cars I have painted, I have only stripped one–and that’s the only one I had no problems with whatsoever.


First of all never, repeat never, try to strip all the paint off a car with your body grinder or a sanding disc on a drill. A grinder (1) roughs and gouges the surface far too much, (2) heats sheetmetal and warps it, and (3) removes metal (including body lines or details). You want a smooth metal surface to build a paint job on–a rotary disc sander won’t give you one. It’s conceivable that you could sand all the paint off your car with a jitterbug or by hand, using relatively fine sandpaper, but it would take far too much time and work.

This leaves three common methods for stripping automotive paint: chemical stripping/derusting by submersion, hand-stripping with liquid paint remover, and sandblasting.

Having the entire body stripped and derusted in large commercial tanks is obviously the easiest and most thorough method, and it’s not all that expensive. If you’re completely rebuilding an old car, especially if teh body is rusty, this is the way to go. But if you’re not going to disassemble, rewire, and reupholster the car anyway, doing so just to dip it is crazy. And there are some minor drawbacks. First, chemical stripping facilities with the experience and equipment to handle car bodies are not plentiful around the country. Second, if you have body dipped, be sure that all caustic and other chemicals are thoroughly washed out of all seams and cavities; otherwise it can seep back out and attack your new paint job later. Also, be sure to wash any “preservative” or chemical residue off the surface, and Metalprep the body before your first layer of primer. This is important. Third, some painters (such as “Junior”) prefer not to dip a body because it removes rust-preventatives and sealers applied at the factory (by dipping the body in paint tanks) in hidden areas you can’t repaint. This applies mostly to newer cars.

In many parts of the country, sandblasting is the only commercial alternative to chemical dipping for paint-and-rust removal. However, there are lots of drawbacks to sandblasting. Although commercial sandblasters are common, very few can control the blasting pressure to clean thin sheetmetal without warping it. Some can, but many a car body has been ruined by an inexperienced or careless sandblaster. Second, sandblasting hardens the surface of the metal (like shotpeening); on an old body that is already fatigued, this will increase the possibility of the metal cracking, especially when you begin doing bodywork. And if you’re considering stripping a whole car body with a small home-shop sandblaster and your 2-hp compressor, forget it. That’d take almost as long as hand-sanding the paint off.

This leaves hand-stripping with liquid paint remover as the most practical method for most home car painters. You don’t have to disassemble the whole car; you don’t need special equipment; most liquid strippers don’t attack rubber; you can apply it selectively. The only drawback is that handstripping is time and labor-intensive, it’s really messy, and the stripper itself is nasty stuff. Do not use it without wearing protective goggles, heavy-duty rubber gloves, and preferably a long-sleeved shirt. Keep a fresh-water hose at hand.

Your automotive paint store carries strippers specially made for cars. Actually, the type called “aircraft” stripper (such as Ditzler No. DX-586), which is formulated to remove even catalyzed paints, is the choice of most painters. Another new stripper made especially for cars is “Lightning Strip,” (Lightning Industries, Inc., 108 Lavergne cir., Hendersonville, TN 37075, 615/824-5200; ask for brochure). It is a thin, non-acidic liquid which can be applied with a pump or garden-type sprayer, and is the only type which can be used on gel-coated fiberglass. There is also a type of less-potent stripper which will remove a top layer of non-catalyzed paint, leaving the tough, durable, baked-on factory primer and rust-sealer.

Unfortunately, however, cars usually need stripping only when they have several coats of paint on them. In such cases you want the strongest stripper available, and you’ll still probably have to apply (and scrape) two or three coats before you get down to bare metal. You’ll probably need two to four gallons of stripper to do a full-size car. Read and follow directions on the can carefully. Let the stipper do the work–don’t rush it. But it is also very important not to work in the sun; do not let the stripper dry on the car. A hint to save energy and money (on extra stripper) is to cover the entire surface of the car with polyethylene plastic sheeting after the stripper is applied. This keeps the stripper from evaporating and speeds chemical action by the “greenhouse effect.” Let the plastic adhere to the stripper, and you can leave it on for a couple hours or overnight. Feature Editor Kevin Boales used this method on the body of a Trans Am, spraying aircraft stripper on the surface with a Binks No. 7 gun hooked up to a Hudson-type (hand-pump) garden sprayer filled with the stripper; then he covered it for two hours with Visqueen plastic sheeting, and four layers of paint came off with one scraping.

All liquid strippers soften plastic body fillers or lacquer putties–they must be completely removed when the car is stripped. Stripper will also soften and swell any of the new pliable body parts, such as “rubber” bumpers or other urethane pieces like fender flares, deck spoilers, etc. On any such non-metallic parts it is strongly recommended that you sand unwanted layers of paint off, leaving the factory top coat or primer on the part for adhesion.

Small, stubborn spots of paint left on the body after stripping can be hand-sanded or hit with a D-A after the car is dry; but a final wash with water and coarse steel wool (or Scotchbrite pads) should get most of it off. Once the surface is thoroughly clean and dry, be sure to treat it with Metalprep or a similar steel-etching metal conditioner before laying on your first coat of primer-surfacer. Naturally, when the body is all in bare metal is the best time to do your bodywork–before you primer it–but that’s a story for another chapter.

Read about Junior: Junior Conway might very well be the best car painter on the planet and paintings from photographs