Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Laying out the palette

The last day and a half have been given over to business-related drudgery. A couple important things I was really glad to finish, and a huge blind alley task that seems like a complete waste of time at the moment, though I'll probably revisit it later. Effective time management is one of the trickiest things about running a small business, and I've still got lots to learn about that.

So... I'm gonna spend the rest of the day painting, and step one is setting up the palette. I've written a lengthy post about the paints I use here, but the pic above shows how I keep the tubes laid out. My work area is very much an ongoing project, and one thing I have yet to do is build a movable shelfing unit to hold the tubes, and free up some space on the table (this table sits immediately to the left of my easel, by the way).

I've tried a lot of different ways to store paint tubes, and this seems to work best; not least of all because it allows me to turn the tube over with each use. I've had significant problems in the past with oil separation (squeeze on a tube and twice as much oil as pigment comes running out... annoying), and rotating the tubes regularly seems to fix the problem. Presumably it keeps any unbound oil constantly on the move inside the tube, and less likely to gather at the opening.

I always set up my palette with a small bead from each and every tube; 72 paints currently. Accurately rendering color is tough and often very surprising, so no matter what I'm painting, it's extremely important to have the entire range of pigments available. Laying out all the paints usually takes about 30 minutes. You'd think this would be mind-numbing, but I actually kinda like it... something gentle and medatitative about the process.

I generally go through this routine this every working day. Sometimes I will get lazy and place the whole palette in my deepfreezer overnight, which drastically slows the oxidization (drying) of the paints. In the morning, when it warms up to room temp, the paints are in basically the same condition as at the end of the previous working day. I do this with some hesitation, though. Some people say this might adversely affect the chemical properties of the oil; if anybody knows any technical evidence or studies about this, please let me know, I'd be curious to learn more.

In any case, fresh paint is always better, hands down. After a full working day, even some of the very slow-drying pigments can start to get a little tacky, and I hate working with gummy paint. Some days, small things like the working quality of the paint make all the difference, psychologically, at least.

OK - time to get squeezing.

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