Sunday, June 27, 2010

This ...

is what the 'Give It Away' part looks like.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

All the colors of the rainbow

So, where was I?

I spent some time over the last few weeks thinking about my art supplies. I enjoy reading other artists' comments about materials, and particularly, the colors they use in their palettes. Since I recently taught a course that included color theory, I thought I'd try simplifying my backpack and carry a paint kit outfitted with just the three primaries. So I did test swatches of my reds, blues and yellows and came up with a combination that I carried with me for a few weeks. I kept a muted set in a smaller Altoids tin (on the left side of the painting below):

20100528_SketchStuff Click to see this photo's flickr page

This is what I learned:
–  I'm too impatient to mix up my greens and purples from these primaries. For the painting above, I didn't mix the greens. Oh, heck, no.
–  I like my colors; I really love the cool and warm and neutral versions of my primaries, and I like the different versions of secondary and tertiary colors too. Why did I ever think I could be happy with just three, muted primary colors?
–  I don't paint with orange. Like, ever.

Another thing I realized is that I don't squeeze enough paint out of the tubes, trying to not waste any of it. I end up having to squeegee out pigment from my barely-loaded brushes onto my pages, or end up with washed out colors after the paint has dried on my notebook pages. Lots of water, but just a little bit of pigment. Ugh.

So after not-too-much thinking, I decided to give those tubes all a good squeeze and go on a 'Use it up' campaign. Paint isn't going to do much good being conserved, languishing and drying out unused in tubes sitting in a bin next to the dryer. Squeeze as much life and color out of what you have!

Sounds good, huh?

I ran into a hiccup in this plan, when I finally realized that my honey-based paints were too goopy for me. I'm messy to begin with, yes?, and although I love how soft and buttery the M Graham watercolor paints are, I started to realize that many of them stayed moist enough to be a bit of a challenge for me just to store. I’d try to squeeze out a sample size from a tube and end up with stringy threads of paint (think: honey) leading from my palette, across my table and smeared on my fingers. The kicker, though, was when I realized that some colors actually absorb moisture from the air in humid environments and then they get even MORE runny. I discovered this over Christmas in Hawaii, a big puddle of cobalt green dripping from my paint kit. Egh.

I read through a few blogs of artists and read carefully the part that would have alerted me to this problem and tried a few more brands.

You're thinking, “Hey! Buying new paints?! How is that 'Using it Up'?!”

[I'm ignoring you]

So, I looked at color charts on my computer for a few more weeks, peered at other artists’ suggestions and loitered in front of the paint rack in the student store as if it were the frozen entrĂ©e aisle at the market, and slowly filled in my collection with Daniel Smith and Schmincke tubes that dry nicely in my travel paint kits so I can toss them into my backpack, and they re-wet nicely.

Yeesh, what an ordeal.

The good thing is that I'm set to go and have plenty of paint to go there with.

20100616_palette Click to see this photo's flickr page

I’m going to use up the honey-based paints, and the not-so lightfast paints as well. I was a little concerned about this – paints that will fade unusually quickly. The only nonpermanent expression of art that I could think of that seemed worthwhile was, well, food, but in this case, I figure: What the heck: Use it up.

I have papers and paints and want to go ahead and use them. If you’ve gotten this far, here’s the deal. I was going to post the ‘Use It Up’ (UIU) series and have people let me know if/which ones they wanted and send them (the little paintings, not the people) off to new, good homes. But, lying up late at night, I thought, what if people have stopped reading my blog to the point where no one will be watching for my UIU art? The horror!

[Do I over-think things much? Give me a sec to mull over that.]

So, whatever. This is what I’m going to do: I’m going to make art and send it off to people whose mailing addresses I have, that I owe some art to. And ask for people to let me know if they're interested. If I have a list, I figure I’ll feel more obligated to stick with this whole ‘Use It Up’ campaign, which, in my head, was more like ‘Use It Up, then Give it Away’, anyway. If you (you, in Canada and Scotland and Germany. Yes, you) want to help encourage this, email me your mailing address. wendeedesign [at] yahoo [dot] com.

I’m planning to give life and those tubes a nice healthy squeeze. Anyone game?