Art BusinessMaterialsSafetyTechnique

“A Little Black Book for My Younger Artist Self”

By Kimberly Brooks

Kimberly Brooks Painting One
“The View From Here” 60 x 48 inches Oil on Linen

I remember the first time I ever painted in oil as if it were yesterday. Already an avid sketch artist and having dabbled in acrylics, I was initially hesitant to use the medium for two reasons:

Firstly, I put it on a pedestal, as if one needed a right or permission.

Secondly, I knew it involved materials that were somehow dangerous.

But I did it anyway. I knew then that I would be using this medium for the rest of my life.

Kimberly Brooks Image Two
The Artist in her studio c. 2003

Ten years in, I started to feel funny from the solvents. At the end of every painting session, I would have a weird taste on my tongue. I moved to “Odorless Mineral Spirits”, but barely felt better.

If only I knew then what I’ve since learned during the illuminating journey of writing a book about the subject of everything I wish I knew at the start, the wonder of the history of pigments and particularly how to paint without solvents.

The dearth of knowledge about materials and craft among painters is an unnecessary epidemic. Either instructors assume the students learned it in a previous foundational class that no longer exists or were never taught themselves.

Kimberly Brooks Image Three
The Artist in her Studio. Photo by Stefanie Keenan

I’m so excited to announce that I created something I wished for my younger artist self: a little black book just for oil painting of all the materials I would need and why.

Kimberly Brooks Image Four

Oil Painting Safe Practices, Materials, & Supplies: The Essential Guide is a culmination of knowledge I’ve gathered over twenty-five years of painting with the last decade focused on how to paint in the safest way possible. It is a perfect shorthand for me to teach about materials and enabling anyone to mix their own mediums, reduce toxins, save time, live longer, and create more art.

Kimberly Brooks Image Five
Recent Exhibition at Zevitas Marcus in Los Angeles, CA

Robert Maynord, founder of Art Tree House, is thanked in the book for being so generous with his time and knowledge as he was there at the beginning when I was pursuing a way away from the thinners that are so harmful and unnecessary. Thanks to Chronicle Books, it will be widely available to painters worldwide soon. For now, I make it available for friends of Art Tree House and as a text book for my students here:

If you’re interested in purchasing the materials for the workshop I teach based on the book, you can download the checklist here.

Kimberly Brooks is a contemporary artist who integrates figuration and abstraction to explore a variety of subjects dealing with history, memory and identity. She shows her work internationally and her full bio and exhibition history can be seen on her website. She is the author of Oil Painting: Safe Practices, Materials and Supplies: The Essential Guide (Chronicle Books). Also an award-winning educator, Brooks teach workshops at Otis College of Art and Design, The Anderson Ranch Arts Center and to people from around the world here: