The Myth of the Single-Haired Brush

The question people most often ask me about my stamp paintings is whether or not I use a single-haired brush to accomplish the minute detail. The answer is no, and that  even surprisingly large, good quality sable brushes (2-6 Rounds), can deliver fine detail if handled properly.  A magnifying glass comes in handy too.

People also wonder if I have a background in stamp collecting.   Sorry to disappoint, but  this is not the case.  As a young boy I did have a box of stamps with a special fascination for foreign ones and always loved the beautiful designs and the quality of the printing, but a dedicated philatelist I was not.  What got me started painting postage stamps was when a good friend gave me an antique French postcard with an old stamp and postmark on back.   As a thank you, I did a watercolor of the backside of the postcard replicating the stamp, and became intrigued with the notion of imitating printed material through painting.  I then started doing stamps for every occasion, and found that given my penchant for realism, the postage stamp was the perfect self-limiting art form.  What I mean is that due to the small scale, I could get in and get out without worrying about how to finish the painting.  There's only so much information you can add in something that small.   Working out a plausible design is also appealing, and I like to think that any one of my stamps could really have existed.  

Typically my imaginary U.S. stamps are monochromatic, and reflect the coloration of stamps from the golden age of American stamp production which in my opinion is the 1930's-1950's. After that, it was mostly downhill for U.S. stamp design, and I almost have to hold my nose to use the ugly self-adhesive things that pass for postage these days.   Achieving a realistic effect is also a priority and I want anyone viewing the work to think there's actually a stamp mounted to the paper.  I can't tell you how many times people have picked up my paintings and attempted to find the edge of the stamp by using their fingernail, much to my alarm.