|My studio palette, wrapped up and waiting.|
In my previous blog post, I wrote about a problem I have with pastels. To be even-handed, today I'm writing about a problem I have with oils.
I love oils. I love the way I can push color around on my canvas with a brush. There's something relaxing - and yet curiously energizing - about watching color flow and change.
However, oil paint is expensive. Good paint, anyway. And if you're painting properly, you'll always have a certain amount of waste. One of the worst things a plein air painter can be is stingy with paint. Putting out a pinhead's worth and then trying to cover, say, a 9x12 will cause you to stop and remix too often. When you're running a marathon, you can't stop for a granola bar every mile. You'll lose focus, motivation - and probably the race. (Not that painting should be a race!)
I always end up with perhaps a half-tube or more of paint on my palette. Some of it is still clean, some of it isn't. The dirty paint I scrape up into a pile and slide out of the way to the far right of my palette. This paint makes a nice grey for toning canvas or dulling color mixtures. If I'm painting the very next day, I'll just cover the palette with plastic wrap and tuck the wrap down around each pile of paint. This keeps oxygen away from the paint, which "cures" by oxidation. If I'm not painting for a couple of days, I'll also stick my palette in the freezer. Oxidation is slowed down by cold temperatures. This way, my paint stays reasonably fresh until the next time I go painting.
However, sometimes I go much longer without painting in oil. (I paint half the time in pastel.) Or, if I'm travelling, I may not have a freezer or even plastic wrap available, and usually my palette is being kept in a hot car. When this happens, I have to throw paint away. That breaks my heart. The most expensive paint I use regularly is nearly $30 for a 37ml tube. And I have used $60 tubes.
Some of you might say, Raise the prices of your paintings. But I won't - and that'll be the subject of a future post.