July 2018 Featured Artist of the Month

Ana Sofía Castañón is a multi-talented artist hailing from Cancun, Mexico. Her Instagram is filled with brilliantly colored paintings of dreamy looking turtle grass with manta rays gliding along the ocean floor. It had us mesmerized and we just had to share her artwork.

After connecting with her, we learned that Ana Sofía is so much more than just a talented watercolor artist. Before dedicating her career to her artwork, Ana Sofía was a fashion designer making bridal gowns and purses. As a young child, Ana went to art classes where she was introduced to pencils, acrylics, pastel and oil. In addition, she grew up in a family of designers, artists, architects, and writers who encouraged her to develop her skills.

Today, Ana Sofía’preferred mediums are watercolor, gouache and inks, which she chooses to paint with using Silver Black Velvet® brushes. I have been using Silver Brushes for 3 years. When I discovered them, I had an instant crush. I use the Black Velvet® collection, which hold the exact amount of water needed. I love that they are very easy to use and very durable. The mix of natural squirrel hair and the synthetic filaments works perfectly.”             

Ana Sofía’s art is influenced heavily by nature and the wonders around her. Growing up on her family ranch in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, she was free to discover while surrounded by animals, crops, and trails. My childhood made me connect with nature and until this day, everytime I need to recharge, I go to the sea to free-dive, or the jungle and explore.After one particular free diving session, Ana Sofía started her Ocean Dreamsseries where she represents the ocean and reefs in a very colorful and peaceful way.

To aspiring artists, Ana Sofía says this: Many times we are afraid to take action or just become overwhelmed by the idea of what is needed in order to do whatever we dream of doing or becoming. When I decided I really wanted to make a living with my art, I had a job. I knew I had to paint everyday, so at first I started with 15 minutes until it became more than 8 hours daily. To me, it is all about facing my fears. I always put myself into very uncomfortable situations. This is where all the great things have happened. So I encourage you to get out of the comfort zone as much as possible. If it makes you anxious, its probably good. The best is when Im on the other side watching what made me scared.

Currently, Ana Sofía is working on a series for exhibition next year and mural projects in her local community.

To learn more about Ana Sofía, please visit these links:
Instagram @anasofiacastanon
Facebook: @anasofiacastanonart

Traducido por Ana Sofía

Una tarde navegando por Instagram nos encontramos con la obra de Ana Sofía Castañón una artista multidisciplinaria basada en Cancún, México. Sus coloridas y brillantes pinturas de manta rayas deslizándose entre algas marinas por el fondo del océano nos hipnotizaron, simplemente tuvimos que compartirlas.

Después de contactarla supimos que Ana Sofía es mucho mas que una talentosa acuarelista. Antes de dedicarse a su obra Ana Sofía era diseñadora de modas, hacía vestidos de novia y bolsas. De niña, Ana asistió a clases de pintura donde fue introducida diferentes técnicas como el carboncillo, acrílicos, pasteles y oleo. Sumado a su preparación y amor por el arte, Ana Sofía creció en una familia conformada por diseñadores, escritores, arquitectos y artistas que la impulsaron a desarrollar sus habilidades.

Hoy, los medios que Ana Sofía prefiere son las acuarelas, el gouache y las tintas, los cuales  usa pintando con la línea de los pinceles Silver Black Velvet®. “He usado los pinceles Silver Brush por 3 años. Cuando los descubrí tuve un crush inmediato. Uso la serieBlack Velvet® que guarda
la cantidad exacta de agua. Me encantan por que son muy fáciles de usar y muy duraderos, la combinación de pelo sintético y natural de ardilla funciona a la perfección.”

El arte de Ana Sofía está influenciado de gran forma por la naturaleza. Crecer en un rancho en San Luis Potosí, México le dio la libertad de descubrir el mundo rodeada de animales, vegetación desértica, riegos por aspersión, siembra y lodo. “Mi niñez me conectó con la naturaleza y todavía al día de hoy cuando necesito recargar o re conectar, busco salir, explorar, ir a la selva, cenotes o hago algo de buceo libre.” Después de una sesión de Freedive o buceo libre, es como la serie de “Sueños de Mar” comenzó, donde ella representa los coloridos arrecifes y la sensación de paz que fondo del mar le da.

A los que desean ser artistas, Ana Sofía les dice: “Muchas veces tenemos miedo de tomar acción, o simplemente nos abruma la idea de todo lo que se necesita hacer para lograr lo que deseamos o soñamos. Cuando decidí que quería llevar mi arte un paso más allá y que fuera mi forma de vivir, sabía que debía de pintar diario, así que comencé por 15 minutos al día hasta que lo convertí poco a poco en 8 horas diarias. Para mi, se trata de enfrentar los miedos. Siempre termino poniéndome en situaciones incomodas. Ahí es donde las cosas buenas han sucedido para mi. Así que les recomiendo y empujo a salir de su zona de confort lo mas que puedan, si te de ansiedad seguro que es bueno. Lo mejor es estar del otro lado viendo aquello que te en algún momento te dio miedo.

Actualmente, Ana Sofía está trabajando en una serie para exhibir el siguiente año y en proyectos de gran formato para mural.

Instagram @anasofiacastanon
Facebook: @anasofiacastanonart


Written by Kira Leilich, Communications Manager at SBL
Translations done by Ana Sofía Castañón


May 2018 Featured Artist of the Month

James Tennison, Whidbey Island, WA.
While scrolling through Instagram    one day, we stumbled upon James Tennison’s oil and watercolor artwork. His account is filled with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, still-lifes and portraits, each of which evoke a sense of awe. James’ eye for the way light and shadow interact and the colors they create is astounding, no matter the subject or media.

James’ work is inspired by a myriad of artists such as Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorrolla, Johannes Vermeer, Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Frank Benson, Alfred Munnings, and Abbott Thayer. “Just to name a few,” he jokes.

Every artist has a story about how they became interested in painting and James is no exception. “Like many children,” he says, “I always liked to draw and was fortunate to have parents that encouraged this passion. We would visit museums on occasion and we also had a few original oil paintings around our house. I can remember being fascinated by these painting and wondering how the artists made them. I remember getting my first oil paint set when I was around 10 years old and can still recall the pleasure I had in painting my first still-life.”

James has come along way from that first painting. He has participated in numerous competitions and showcases with plenty of awards for both his oil and watercolor paintings. His artwork hangs in prestigious corporate, private and public collections throughout the United States and he has been published in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, Southwest Art Magazine, and International Artist Magazine, just to name a few.

According to James, he does not have a favorite piece that he has created. “I always hope that my current painting will be my best and favorite…I have several portrait commissions I am working on at the moment, as well as paintings of local subjects. I like to have several paintings going on at the same time.”

For the past 20 years, James has been using Silver Brush natural hog bristle Grand Prix® filbert brushes and stiff white synthetic Bristlon® filbert brushes. “I was first introduced to Silver brushes at a Portrait Society of America conference about 20 years ago. I have been using them ever since.”

When asked if he has any advice for aspiring artists, James said, “Get the best art education you can find. Learn the fundamentals of drawing, design, composition and color. Study nature and great art of the past and present. Work hard. Follow your heart and enjoy the privilege and pleasure of creating art.”

To see more of James’ work, please visit:






April 2018 Featured Artist of the Month

Lea Colie Wight is an award-winning oil painter and teacher with a unique perspective. As a former student of the prestigious atelier, Studio Incamminati. Lea now teaches about 20 students each year at the very same school. While she was a student, Lea studied under and alongside some of the founding members of the atelier including world renowned portrait artist Nelson Shanks.


Part of Lea’s process when painting is to “identify with a subject, whether still life or figurative.” She explains, “When I was a child, I would feel sympathy for inanimate objects or imbue them with emotional characteristics. I think when I’m painting, I tap into that type of connection again. A room or still life is a portrait of the absent person or a state of being. I often go into a painting with a new model having a concept firmly in place only to have it blown apart once I begin to know my model. I can’t seem to disregard the core person I’m painting and the painting becomes about them.”

Currently, Lea is working on publishing a book about painting that is tentatively titled,           “The Fundamentals of Oil Painting.” Of her book, she says, “It has been a huge project, bigger than I’d anticipated when I signed on! It covers the building of a painting from the very beginning sketches on to a finish, materials, studio layouts and a lot more. The book focuses on painting from life and includes many demos including four finished paintings: Figure, Portrait, Still Life and Landscape. This undertaking has consumed my time for the year, but it was a labor of love and I hope it will provide solid information for artists.”

Lea’s favorite brushes to paint with for the past 15 years have been Silver Brush Grand Prix® Filberts. They are the brushes she reaches for every time she paints and recommends to all of her students. “I use them from the block in of a painting all through to the finishes,” she says. “The filberts give me the ability to cover a broad area with the flat of the brush and to achieve a thin line using the side. They hold their cup beautifully and after washing they don’t have stray bristles splaying to the sides.”

When asked what advice she would give to artists who want to make a career out of their passion, she responded, “Paint with authenticity and don’t chase a trend. Keep working to reach the next level of excellence. Work every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes of sketching.”

To see more images of Lea’s work just google Lea Colie Wight painter


Featured Video of the Month

Saturday March 24th, 2018 Studio Incamminati School for Contemporary Realist Art hosted a live demonstration on Facebook. The title of which was Three Artists, Three Perspectives:A Painting Demo Embracing Technology and Tradition.  Artists Kerry Dunn, JaFang Lu and Nell O’Leary performed a live model painting demonstration. Silver Brush Limited had the honor of being the Gold Sponsor for this event and created the short 3 minute video that you can see in this blog post.

Nelson Shanks, one of America’s foremost portrait painters, created this school to highlight and continue the tradition of painting from life. Its an amazing school that we are proud to be a very small part.

To learn more about Studio Incamminati visit their website:http://www.studioincamminati.org

February 2018 Featured Artist of the Month

Paolo Rivera is not your average watercolor artist. Before he even graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, he was already working as an artist for Marvel Comics®. When he started his career with them in 2002, he was just doing comic book covers and sometimes illustrating entire issues. Now, he says he tends to “save the painted work for movie posters or limited-edition prints.” He considers himself lucky because he “didn’t have to ponder” what he wanted to do with his art education since Marvel hired him before he completed his senior year in college. However, he did briefly consider becoming a concept artist or industrial designer.

When asked if he was a fan of Marvel before he started working for them, Paolo said, “Definitely. I don’t think you can work for them without being a fan first. It just takes too much time and dedication for someone who isn’t in love with the material.”

Part of Paolo’s creative process when sketching or painting super heroes (and villains) is to find a point of reference. Sometimes the reference comes from a clay mold with light shone from above to emphasize how shadows might fall on a sunny day or from photographs he takes of himself or other people in action. “On a purely conceptual level,” he says, “a reference of any kind is all about knowledge; it informs us so that we, as comic book artists (illustrators, cartoonists, whatever), can inform our readers. Ideally, this is done so smoothly, so unobtrusively, that the richness of detail in subject and setting enters the reader’s mind without conscious consideration, submitting focus to the narrative while simultaneously supporting it…. Viewers can often tell when you aren’t familiar with your subject matter, even if they aren’t either.”

Although Paolo worked exclusively with Marvel for “over a decade,” he has since “worked for every major publisher creating covers, posters and comics.” Currently, he is working on a poster for a movie called Mute and completing some Planet of the Apes covers. In addition, he has an issue of the comic Hellboy and the B.P.R.D (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) coming out in March, 2018.

Over the years, Paolo has used different brushes for both his work at Marvel and for his own original artwork, but some of his favorites are Silver Brush Black Velvet®, Golden Natural® and Renaissance® brush series.





January 2018 Featured Artist of the Month


Mark Kohler is a talented watercolor artist from Texas whose work is inspired by the nomadic animal handlers of Gaucho culture in South America, cowboys of the American Southwest and rodeos in Mexico known as the “Charreada.” Many of Mark’s best friends are cowboys and he “had a natural subject available” whose stories he is excited to tell through art.

Although, Mark is fortunate to have his subject close at hand, he is no stranger to traveling in order to capture a moment. His favorite places that he has gone to study cowboys are the Chino Valley of northern Arizona and Battle Mountain, Nevada. Internationally, his favorite destination has been Argentina where Gaucho culture reigns supreme.

Working from photographs he has taken on location, Mark effortlessly translates the strength, energy and regality of men and women on horseback. He is drawn to cowboy culture because it, “still represents a story that I want to tell: Cowboy and horse, both fighting for that last bit of freedom; ranch dogs and ranch horses who have none of the pedigree and all of the heart and the solid friendships of the people I’ve come to know and respect.”

When it comes to the artist brush he’s using, Mark says he has been painting with Silver Brush Black Velvet® for “around 15 years” because they remain pointed whereas other brand’s watercolor brushes become floppy and rounded at the tip. He uses multiple sizes of the rounds for both miniature and life size paintings.

Mark teaches one annual workshop in different locations around the U.S. and provides private, one-on-one lessons in his studio. He advises that any artists who wants to follow their passion should “out-work the competition” because “repetition is the mother of skill.”

Learn more about Mark on his website:http://www.markkohlerstudio.com

November 2017 Artist of the Month

Michael Shane Neal is one of the most highly sought after (and best dressed) portrait artists in North America. Among the many modern luminaries who have sat for him are Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, actor Morgan Freeman, and world-renowned portraitist Everett Raymond Kinstler.

For over 10 years, Shane has been using Silver Brush® Grand Prix® filberts because of “their versatility, resilience and control.” He prefers to use them when trying to encapsulate the essence of a subject while capturing the “variety of personalities that one encounters.” Shane uses a “fairly broad stroke” that he considers to be “painterly” and aspires to use confident bravura strokes in all of his works.

Currently, Shane is painting a “number of judicial portraits as well as an American ambassador, several businessmen and some private portraits.” He credits his ability to connect with clients through his “intense interest in individuals, curiosity about what makes them who they are, and sensitivity to their desires.”

Despite the many influential and famous clients he has worked with, Shane says that his favorite pieces are the ones he has done of his children. However, he also “particularly enjoyed the experience of painting Sandra Day O’Connor,” not only because he found her to be “uniquely brilliant and personable,” but also because she is such an important figure to American history.

To those who wish to follow in his footsteps, Shane says this:

“First and foremost, always remember that the quality of your work is the most important element to your success. Focusing on growing as an artist and creating the very best work you can is the starting point. Being willing to start slowly and pricing your work modestly in order to engage as many new clients as possible is also important. The more work that is on display, the more work it will bring you in the future. Finally, stay positive. Some doors will open, others will close. Sometimes receiving a ‘no’ might be better thought of as ‘not now.’ If it is your dream to be a full-time artist, to quote Winston Churchill, ‘Never, never, never give up!’”

For many years Silver Brush Ltd has produced two artist brush sets to Shane’s specification. These sets serve the basic needs of students and artists seeking the right selection for portrait painting. The MSN-010 Bravura Basic 10 piece set is the perfect starter set for the serious student. As folks advance they have the choice of Shane’s complete 35 piece MSN-350 Bravura Pro set.

Learn more about Shane’s process: http://michaelshaneneal.com
Shane is a featured speaker at The Portrait Society of America’s conference.
Find out more about his presentation:http://www.portraitsociety.org/schedule

October 2017 International Featured Artist of the Month

Bobbi Dunlop is a Canadian oil painter from Calgary who is inspired by the old masters and uses Silver Brushes® almost exclusively. “My favorite series is the Grand Prix®,” she says, “…they stand up to everyday use and with the care I give them, they last endlessly. I never throw them away!”

The idea of truly looking and seeing beauty is what she feels defines her as an artist. “I have forever been drawn to the simple things in life…the roundness of an apple or pear; the gesture of a figure in space… These are the things I savor and which drive my work.”

Recently, Bobbi’s favorite art supply store, Sunnyside Art Supply in Calgary, started carrying Grand Prix® brushes and she couldn’t be happier. “Now my students will have the opportunity to enjoy these brushes, too” says Bobbi, who averages approximately 40 weekly students in addition to teaching workshops throughout the year.

When she isn’t teaching classes, Bobbi enjoys painting en plein air with friends where the beauty of the Canadian countryside inspires her strokes. On a recent excursion, a curious black bear strolled right through the scene she was painting and after observing her for a moment, continued on its way with “berries on his mind.”

When asked if she has any advice for artists who want to make a career out of their talent, Bobbi replied, “Do this for yourself and not with the expectation of fame and fortune. Always be a student. Understand that your personal growth is the goal and must be the measure of your success.”

Bobbi’s artwork can be found hanging in the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond and at Art Country Canada in Bragg Creek in Alberta.

For more information, please visit: https://bobbidunlop.com

September 2017 Featured Artist of the Month

Chantel Barber is an accomplished artist who discovered her passion for art at a very young age. “The first drawings I did as a child were of people,” she says, “When I began painting, I couldn’t wait to try portraiture.”

Starting at the age of 12, Chantel was mentored by many professional oil painters. Throughout her life she took art classes and  in college. As she tried to develop a style that she liked, another student introduced acrylic paint to her but she felt acrylics were generally used for abstract paintings and her love lay with portraiture.

Chantel chose to mesh her knowledge of oil techniques and her desire to use acrylics for portrait work in a style that has become distinctly her own. “I am definitely best known for my specific approach to acrylic as I work in more of an alla prima style, rather than washes and glazes,” she says, “I love using the Grand Prix® Hog Hair Bristle Filberts for the majority of my brushwork. They give me superior control over paint application and I can create a variety of edges with their flexibility. The Renaissance Red Sable Cat’s Tongue brushes are perfect for adding smaller details when needed.”

When asked what inspires her work, Chantel says, “So much of what I see on a daily basis inspires me: Light, shadows, colors, sounds, but I am especially drawn to the human spirit; I long to capture it on canvas though portrait and figure work.”

One of the newest paintings in Chantel’s collection is also her favorite because she feels it embodies who was as a child. Named “The Dreamer Next Door,” this portrait won in the Master Class category of May’s Art Muse Contest and holds a special place in her heart.

Chantel operates an art business called “Chantel’s Originals” in Memphis, Tennessee, teaches 6-9 workshops each year but she also offers online courses. She recommends Silver Brush to all of her students.

In addition, Chantel is the National Coordinator of the State Ambassador program for the Portrait Society of America, President of Artists’ Link in Memphis, and a member of The Chestnut Group and the National Oil Painters’ Society.

Follow Chantel online and sign up for her blog posts:







August 2017 Featured Artist of the Month

Terry Strickland’s work is a combination of technical mastery and
depth of content. While the paintings are highly realistic, they’re also
thought provoking in their concepts and imbued with imagination
and poignancy.
What inspires your work? When I am in the throes of a life
situation, as I’m experiencing it and mulling it over, visual imagery
will percolate to the surface of my mind. I will make note of it in a
sketchbook. If these images persist they will eventually become
paintings. The process of designing and making the painting helps
me understand the experience. During the process, my personal
narrative is somehow transformed into a universal human story.
They are common themes like beauty, love, life and death, and are experienced regardless of
race, gender or income bracket. Viewers look at the work and think, ”I know how he/she feels”
and connect with the subject in the painting.

It’s magical and irresistible to me, this communication without words. We are born image-
makers and image lovers and have a cross-cultural need to share our ideas and stories. Call it
motivation or inspiration, but really I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How long have you been using Silver Brushes? About 15 years,
ever since I got serious about oil painting

What is your favorite series to paint with? That is a tough
question because I use different series at different stages and for
different textures. I probably use Ruby Satin’s and Bristlon’s the
most. For soft smooth blending like in a face I’ve been converted to
the Renaissance cat’s tongue. For scratchy surface textures I like the
natural bristles of the Grand Prix. Sometimes, I paint with a fan
brush, not to smooth but to paint loosely, laying on textured paint.
I’m a big fan of the Bristlon long filberts when I want a looser paint
application, too.

About how many students do you have per year? I’ve taught about 65-70 students this past
year. I have an ongoing class of 16 students, many of whom stay with me all year, but some
rotate out and new ones come in. I teach several workshops and do demos as well.

Would you recommend Silver Brushes to your students or the public in general? Yes, I do
it all the time. My students are converts once they see me using the brushes. I talk about the
brushes online as well.

How do you take care of your brushes after a painting session and how do you store
I’m a very lazy brush cleaner so I have a super simple method. After the painting session
I rinse them in odorless mineral spirits, wipe with a paper towel and then rinse an orderless
solvent. I wipe them off and lay them flat on a clean paper towel. The cleaner I use has a brush
conditioner in it and if there is any oil paint left in the brush it will not dry. Before using the
brush the next time I will rinse it in OMS to remove the solvent. I never use soap and water and
my Silver Brushes last for years. Between uses I stand them handle side down in large jars.

Do you have any advice for artists who want to make a career out of their passion? Artists
need to learn how to run a small business, learn about marketing, keep honing your skills.
Never stop mastering your craft. There is always something new to learn.

See more of Terry’s work: http://terrystricklandart.com/index.html
View Terry on Alabama TedTalk: TEDx talk
Sign up for Terry’s Art newsletter