Monday, April 20, 2009
I have been meaning to talk about my palette for awhile and since things have been so slow around here lately, now seems like a good time.
When I first moved into my new studio, I had all my paint tubes set out on the top of my flat file cabinet, which is right behind me when I am at the easel. Doug suggested that I put them all in one of the flat file drawers but I pooh poohed him and informed him that having to open the drawer would be WAY TOO INCONVENIENT.
Around Christmas time I had a get together in my studio and wanted to have the top of the flat file clear so that I could put out some of the small paintings I had been working on. So I loaded up the top drawer with all my paints (they fit perfectly). When it was time to get back to work after the holidays, I just left them where they were. Turns out that it is pretty easy to just open the drawer when I need them! Of course it helps that I just leave the drawer open while I am working. This also give me the top surface of the cabinet to clutter up with stuff. heh.
Obviously I like to have a lot of paint on hand! I like to have a good variety of colors available although to be honest, I mostly just use about a dozen or so of them regularly. Each day though, I try to put out one or two colors that I don't normally use. The colors that I currently am obsessed with (these colors change periodically, I am very fickle) are Indigo Blue, Green Ural, Medium Cadmium Yellow, Azo Green, Gamblin Light Blue, Caeser Purple, Vasari Ship Rock, Gamblin Light Magenta, Gamblin Cadmium Red Deep, Cobalt Green Pale, Cinnabar Green Light, Old Holland Violet Grey. I don't stick to a certain brand of paint because while I do like some brands more than others (I am loving Vasari paints lately!), the colors are what's important to me and every color varies from from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example I use a yellow from Grumbacher in almost every painting. Not the best quality paint ever, but the color trumps that for me.
Anyway. In college, I got in the habit of using a disposable palette pad and still use that now. When my studio was downstairs it was necessary to put everything away at night (mostly because of the cats who spend their nights walking on every single surface of the house) so the disposable palette was convenient for that. Now that I have a studio with a door, I have been tending to leave my paints out for a few days. I may end up getting a more permanent surface to mix my paints on, but for the time being I am still using my old set up. The pad sits in a butcher's tray which helps to contain the flying paint and Liquin and I use a tin foil muffin cup to hold the day's Liquin. This is my whole set up; the palette, and another tray with a jar of Turpenoid Natural to rinse my brushes and a rag to wipe the brushes off. And other junk too, heh:
I put out the paint I think I will use each day, although I often add more colors, as I go, depending on what I feel like doing. I use very little paint and I don't do a lot of mixing of colors, maybe two colors, more if I want a mucky color. Mostly I thin out the paint with Liquin until I get the consistency that I want, and then mix another color in.
Unless I am painting more than one large painting in a painting session, I rarely have to move to a second sheet of palette paper. If there is paint left after I am done for the day, I leave it to use the next day. Or I will scrape it off with a palette knife and put it onto a new piece of palette paper if I need more space for mixing. This is my palette after doing about 10 very small paintings, 6x6 and 5x7's.
Traditionalists would probably flip seeing what I do with my palette. I use crazy colors, and different ones all the time, I just put them out in no particular order, and also different order each day. I have never felt the need to conform to the traditional palette and much prefer changing some things up, especially since some of the other parts of my process are fairly rigid. Makes a nice balance, I think.
So I would love to hear how you handle your palette. Traditional, crazy or somewhere in between?