How to Control the Airbrush

30 minutes per day will make you an “airbrush control freak” in one year.

That is all that it would take.  Nothing takes the place of consistent practice, By practicing a small amount of time every day for one year, you will create muscle memory and your airbrush control will happen naturally.

If you set your practice schedule as immovable blocks of minutes, you will be able to reach this seemingly lofty goal of practicing every day. I make sure that I do my paintings in airbrush during the one hour in the morning before the phones will ring.

I learned more about controlling my airbrush through the act of practicing than any lesson or seminar could ever.


My Airbrush and India Ink Story

How to Airbrush the Portrait in India Ink, Each Week and Why?

Timothy John-Luke Smith

Portrait of John Coltrane

India Ink and Airbrush

I didn’t set out to work in airbrush and India Ink. I am a classical trained artist with an extensive and intense curriculum. For over 8 years of training, I learned how to use many mediums such as oil painting, watercolors, pen and ink, acrylic, graphite and pastels.  How did a classically trained artist ever pick up the airbrush, you might ask?

After graduation from art school I finally set my mind on the medium that I would concentrate on. That medium was pastel painting. I learned how to paint the portrait and figure in pastels with Harvey Dinnerstein, at the National Academy School of Fine Arts.  For many years I only worked in this medium but I am also an innovator at heart. Painting with pastels over and over the same way was boring to me. I love the underpainting method of the 19th Century French Academic painters such as Jean Augusta Dominique Ingres and William Bouguereau. I wanted to use this technique with my pastel paintings.

Since I was trained with India Ink washes and the paint brush, I started to use this technique as an underpainting for my pastels. The one problem that I did have was that these ink washes weren’t as detailed as I wanted them to be. The paint brush was very limited to broad results. Then one day on YouTube, I seen an airbrush black and white painting and the light bulb went off.  What if I shot the India Ink through the airbrush? I bought my first airbrush. Then I had gotten very good at the India Ink and airbrush and my underpaintings were as tight as I had wanted them. The unexpected happened for me. I fell in love with the India Ink and the airbrush. This is when the medium and the technique that I am developing now was born.

So, here we are embarking on a new journey, painting in India Ink and the airbrush on tinted paper or Masonite boards. I am doing live streams and videos each week that teach this technique step by step. I am meeting some incredible people and sharing our inspirations. Our community and I are growing together. We are building a community of inspiring and pushing one another to get better with India Ink and airbrush. Come join us on my YouTube channel:





Day 35 My Blogged Book: “The Pastel Palette Method” How to Frame Your Pastel Painting

How to Frame Your Pastel Painting

There are many different ways in which people insist that you must frame a pastel painting. That’s because there is paranoia concerning the pastel becoming smudged and damaged. Is this correct?  Should we fear?  Why can’t pastel paintings look sleek and beautiful with just a frame as oil paintings are?  Well, I have some hope for you.

I never use fixative on my pastel paintings because the colors become dulled with the spray. My pastel paintings are even more delicate than others. Some crazy words of advice that I received from other pastel painters was to put plastic spacers between the glass and the painting. First, this method was ugly and it allowed pastel dust to move around inside the frame. Second, these spacers also gave room for tiny bugs and moisture to attack the painting over time. This is not a good method although it is what many in the pastel world use.

Another popular method of framing pastel painting is to use a mat board. I hate this look. Nothing says that a pastel painting is less important than an oil painting is a mat board. No thanks!

I am always looking for a better way when it comes to my art and I have no reservations looking for an edge on my own. This is when I came up with the best framing solution for a pastel painting. I carefully apply the glass flush against the painting inside the frame with no mat and no plastic spacer. What I found is astonishing.

The glass holds the pastel pigments in place and there is no chance of moisture, insects or dust to get to the painting. When framing with just the frame and no mat, all the viewer will see is your work and not be alerted that it is a pastel painting. Try this for yourself. You will be able to put more money into your frames and less on mat cutting and spacers.

So, in conclusion, the mat board is actually more of a liability when framing your pastel paintings. I have even reframed paintings using this method and the pastel looks as fresh as the day that I painted them. There is no smudging or lifting of pigment whatsoever.

Now whenever I exhibit a pastel painting in a group show, my work looks no less serious than the oil paintings next to it.  A win not just for me but for all pastel painters.