One reason Gari Melchers Home and Studio is such a valuable educational asset, is its archives.  It is an archives not only of letters and receipts, photographs and newspapers, it is also a repository of Gari Melchers’ tools.  The palettes on which he mixed his paints are here with tubes and tubes of paints. Watercolor pans and stoppered jars of pigments give first-person account on how this artist worked. Sticks of pastels, in every shade imaginable, are tumbled in boxes, bearing the names of suppliers from over a hundred years ago.


Gari Melchers' tools displayed in his stone studio.


In the Melchers Museum Shop many of those same suppliers’ wares are available for purchase.  Winsor Newton, Sennelier, Grumbacher, Le Franc & Bourgeois, Conte are just a few of the makers whose tools Melchers used and we offer today.


An artist’s studies begins with the basic tools – the tools needed to learn the basics of design, composition, perspective, value and line.  Many artists stay with these basic tools and become the masters of them. 
Next the artist learns color.  They can begin with simply adding  pigmented pencils to their palette.



The next move is into pigments suspended in a semi-solid binders.  In other words, paints.  Many times novice artists will move into watercolors first, drawn to the transparent  fluidity of the media, unknowing that that fluidity is very hard to tame.


Variety of watercolors, from tubes to pans to pencils, transparent to opaque.

Ah, the Master. Oil paints.
The medium that can draw an artist in, seducing with the intensity of the color, the malleability of the body, and the forgiving slow nature allowing time  for expression. The accompanying smell of linseed oil can be quite the intoxicating mistress.


The Melchers Museum Shop offers Rembrant oils by Le Franc & Bourgeois; Sennelier – the premier French company, whose paints the Impressionists used; and M Graham, the new breed, whose vibrant, intense pigments are held together with walnut oil as a binder, the same binder daVinci would have used.


The one medium Melchers did not use was acrylic paints. Developed in the 1940′s, paint manufacturers are still refining their products, responsing to the needs and desires of artists.  One complaint with acrylics had been their too rapid drying time.  Golden Paint has developed their new “Open” line, with long drying times, allowing for manipulation as with oils.


Grumbacher, Golden, M Graham and Liquitex Basics are a sample of acrylic paints available.

For the artist with the true hand comes  pastel.  Pastel is pure pigment (NOT CHALK), the same pigment used in making all fine art paints.  Pastel that has not been sprayed with fixative, that contains no liquid binder that may cause other media to darken, yellow, crack or blister with time, will stay pure in color. Pastels from the 16th century exist today as fresh as the day they were painted. The pure, powdered pigment is ground into a paste with a small amount of gum binder, then rolled into sticks. The infinite variety of colours in pastel range from soft and subtle to strong and brilliant.


Degas used Sennelier's soft Pastels a L'ecu and Picasso worked with Sennelier to develop oil pastels, Pastels a L'huile


Please visit the Melchers Museum Shop for these and many other types and brands of quality art supplies.  In blogs to follow : Tools of the Trade for Artists, Surfaces, and Books for the Artist.