Color inspiration

Posted: March 22, 2014 in art journal, color study, opinion

paintswatchWell, this is no Degas.

What can you expect? Just when Bob and I go outside to blow the stink off after getting air conditioning installed for 2 days, to do some yard work, we got robbed. Once again, there was an uninvited idiot in my house. He/She/It stole Bob’s brand new phone, my laptop and kindle. I’ve been recuperating.

About a week ago I grabbed a handful of random old postcards and I sectioned out the nice vintage lithographed ones from the ubiquitous pictures of old motels and swimming pools. A couple of the things that I like about the old lithos is the paper, which is heavily textured and a linen-ish color, and the colors they used. I inspected a few and it seemed to me that the color palettes are limited and consistent from card to card. I set them aside and thought it would be cool to try and match those colors and do some work using that limited palette. Of course, when I went to Joann’s earlier this week I forgot the cards and I was in the paint aisle when I remembered I didn’t have them. But it was ok, because paint was not on sale.

It’s not that bottle craft paint is all that expensive, but it is more than it used to be (dirt cheap) back when I did tole painting in the ’80s and we used it for our base coats. The normal price was 4 for $1.00 then and it frosts my canastas to pay upwards to $2 a bottle for it now. So I went over to Michael’s today with coupons and a mission, WITH the cards in my purse, thanks very much. Sometimes the neurons ACTUALLY FIRE! Imagine my delight when I saw that the Craftsmart bottle acrylics were 4 for $2 on sale, and I had a 25% coupon for my whole order. I went to town matching the colors. It took a while and pesky customers got in my way but I persevered, and returned with awesome colors. Most are good matches and I can mix to perfect a few that are off.

The last time I bought craft paint I got current with extreme brights and some neons and glows. I had not bought bottle paints for so long that I was stunned by the gorgeous saturated colors available. I have been using them to exclusion in my journals. It seems like a waste to use expensive heavy bodied Golden acrylics as backgrounds in journals. I think my art making is worth Golden and I already own it, but I almost always scrape on my backgrounds and WANT the map or white underneath to show. I’ve been using a selection of Apple Barrel, FolkArt and Americana brands. Mostly I got extreme acids because I like my yellows and greens to make your eyes bulge out, your gums bleed and your back teeth hurt. Seems sadistic now that I write it but you know I’m right about this. I found this out about myself when I bought beads. I’d buy the ones that were left in the acid yellows that nobody else could imagine using. My gain, their loss, but I’m getting sidetracked.

Here’s what I like to do with paint to keep track of what I buy. I make separate catalog sheets by brand name and then write down the colors and put a small fingertip dot for a sample. This is helpful not only in the store to make sure I don’t double buy (if I like it ONCE, I’ll like it AGAIN) but also when I’m at the art table trying to match something. It’s just easier to do off a page for me, maybe not for you. Obviously, I open them because that plastic wrap around the top is made in hell and there is nothing worse than wanting to paint and having to find scissors to get that plastic off. Make sure you TIGHTLY close the bottle and that the flip lid is secure, and store them upside down. This is good when you are just fiddling around painting backgrounds or if you are trying to find a specific color in 40 bottles. If you don’t use them for a while, pull them out and give each bottle a shake while you are waiting for something to dry.

Now, I know there are prejudices against bottle craft paint. I’ve heard all the opinions over the years. A main draw back seems to be that peeps think the pigment load is too low. True, the pigment load is lower than more expensive paints. If I were painting canvases to sell, I ‘d use my Golden paint. Personally, I like the finish on bottle paints, especially on paper. They have a matte finish, a smoothness, that heavy bodied acrylics don’t have. Some peeps don’t like them because some pens and markers won’t write over acrylics. Copic markers always do and Sharpies do if the paint is completely dry and smooth.

Personally, I like the color choices. If I am careful to stay within limits, premixed paints work for me. I do not like re-inventing the wheel in the studio. I’d rather pull an awesome color out of a bottle and have it look like what it looks like. It doesn’t waste paint. I’ve wasted a LOT of Golden paint trying to remember how to get a good flesh tone and I just bought a gorgeous flesh tone today for less than .50. For me it saves time and money and my frustration level is manageable. Yes, I may have to put on a couple of coats, but I often do with more expensive paint as well.  Your mileage may vary but I’m 58 years old and the clock is ticking. And moths flutter out of my wallet when I open it these days.

On a totally different topic, here’s some stuff to check out:

Foster the People’s brand new release Supermodel. Oh my goodness, what a sophomore release, couldn’t be better. Hear this band evolve right before your ears.

Documentaries I saw on Netflix:

The Woodmans, the story of Francesca Woodman, photographer. Outstanding work, way before her time. If you like b/w photography, a must see. She specialized in set ups and nude self-portraits, very inspiring. You will not believe the variety of textures  in her pictures.

Gregory Crewdson, photographer, I believe it’s called Beyond the Limits. He does very elaborate set ups, in collaboration with lighting and set designers from the movie industry. Every single detail is planned and the images are extraordinary.

Don’t miss the Christopher Walken mash-up that Huffington Post made the other day. His dancing and some short vocals and gestures from a bunch of his films. I adore him and it is delightful watching him move over about 4 (can it be?) decades.

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