Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Do you really need all those tubes?

The Finale, 2007. oil on canvas 44 x 46. sold.

I have confession to make...I love oil paint. That may not seem strange, since I am oil painter. I love the smell, the buttery texture of the paint. I love lying out my colors on my pallette fresh and new. I buy the most expenive paint I can afford. I can spend money on color like nobody's business. I don't bother with the little studio size tubes either, what's the point? If I can't get in at least 150 ml tubes I stop looking at what colors that paint company has to offer. Each color on my palette is there for a reason. For example, one of the reasons I like to use Zinc white because of its weight. I use five different blues on my palette, because each has its own distinct characteristics. I have my favorite brands of Cadmium Lemon Yellow. etc, etc But sometimes I can become a bit obsessive. I CANNOT run out of any color, if I'm running a little low I MUST order new paint. This is especially very true of white I must have at least three or four tubes on hand at all times, if I don't, then it's straight down to the art supply store to stock up.

Sometimes I feel like a collector of artists color, much like a collector of fine wines, and so in my paint drawers at my studio I have some classic vintages. Colors that are not made any more or colors that the paint manufacturer have changed the formulation of how they make a color. (A crime in and of itself and a possible subject for a future note.) What is an artist to do? Keep the old color, of course...wait a sec... aren't I suppose to USE the paint? But, how can I be expected to use something that I can't get anymore? soooo, I save them...I must have, I don't even what to count in my head how many mostly used up tubes of paint I have lying around my studio. I can't use them and I can't throw them away, its quite a catch 22. I must have some paint that is more than fifteen years old in my studio that I just can't bear to part with it...I'm sick...really sick.

Sometimes They Work

A Little After Dusk, 2007. oil on panel, 8 x 10

Painting can be very difficult at times. I toss around thirty percent of my work, they just don't work, for any number of reasons. Mostly, I've made some bad decisions. Sure, any painting can be fixed but is it really worth the time it would take to fix them?

I walk into my studio and I don't have any fixed idealized vision of what any painting should look like, so everything changes from day to day. I usually have some sort of an idea that I have seen, say, from the day before, a sunset or sunrise from my backyard or some fields on a drive from last week, it all melds together in my mind and then I start thinking I may have an idea that would work in a painting or drawing. So I have to try these ideas out to see if they will work in paint. These ideas may work or they may not, I never know until I try them, painting and drawing is experiential, you can think about all you want but until you try it you can't know. Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I don't. I never can predict the outcome. Sure, I've learned that certain colors work well together, but what if I'm trying a new color combination? The answer will be found on the canvas or panel not in my head. It may not seem like the best way to paint, but when you paint this way your good painting can be better than if I was always striving for only one kind of painting. How do you get better? I know of only one way, you gotta make a lot of mistakes.