I’ve never compromised on paint quality. I advise my students to use the best equipment they can afford. Most of my students choose to buy professional-quality materials right from the start. As a result, many have achieved great results from their paintings and have done so faster than those who struggle to work with student-grade paints and brushes.
I put out on the pallet above low- and high-chroma (colour intensity) versions of red-orange, yellow-orange, titanium white and light and dark tonal-value blues.
I didn’t use black from a tube but achieved a tone as dark as black by mixing dark orange, burnt sienna, and dark blue (ultramarine dark) together. Using opposite colours on the colour wheel in a mixture creates luminous and variable greys. If the colours are of the darkest tone, these muted-chroma combinations will appear as dark as black in the painting without the flatness of black.
You are only able to achieve tones as dark as black when you work with the world’s best artist-quality paints with a high concentration of pigments. Paint manufacturers may use ground-up plasterboard off-cuts and similar fillers or additional oil to bulk up the contents of a tube of student-grade paint. There are fewer fillers and a lot more pigment in the professional-grade paints.
Paint manufacturers do not always make it easy for you to determine which are quality paints and which aren’t. One oil-paint brand on the market lists one grade of its paint as ‘Paint for Artists’ and another as ‘Artist’s Oil Paint.’ One of these paints is said to be an inferior student-grade product and the other of professional quality. Since I do not use that particular brand, even I, a professional, would be confused by that labelling. I like clear labelling and vote with my buyer’s opinion about deceptive labelling. I chose the Australian brand Art Spectrum initially because it only makes a quality product. Then I moved on to use the world’s best paint, Maimeri Puro, from Italy. I love that paint. It is costly; this is expected as it contains more pigment than other brands. If you want your work to be of a professional standard, this paint is worth the expense for the clarity of colour it provides.
Since the quality of the paint will make such a difference to your work, you need to be able to determine which is the professional artist-quality product. This is where a trained staff member in a good art supply store can become your adviser, and you will hopefully support their business with a purchase. That is the only way to keep stores employing product-trained staff.
If there are too much filler and oil in the paint, as in the student-quality paint range, you cannot create good dark colours without resorting to black paint.
Student-grade paints are inexpensive for a reason. The cheap filler material in the tube reduces the pigment (colour) intensity. If you use these student-grade paints, your painting will appear bland, and many colours will seem to be unnatural, as the contrasts of light and shade also deteriorate as the painting dries. No amount of varnishing will make student paint take on the appearance of full-pigmented professional artist paint.
If you use student-grade oil paint, the dark colours will eventually fade as the oil yellows with age, thus altering the pigment colour. Treat yourself to the best materials for the job. If you sell your work, give your paying customer what they have a right to expect. Using quality materials will ensure that the work will last.
One way you can select a good art tutor from a hobby class is based upon the type of paint that he recommends to you. If your tutor advises you to purchase student-grade paint, then they are telling you at the beginning that they want you as a permanent student. If he were actually striving to make a good artist out of you, the first thing they would insist on is that you purchase quality materials to produce quality work. Which sort of tutor do you prefer?
Vitamin D top-up: Soak up the winter sunshine for thirty minutes a day' or 5 to 10 minutes of early morning sunshine in summer.It is mid-winter in my Goulburn Valley retreat, and I'm striving to get out of doors, with bare arms, into the winter sunshine each day to do a little gardening.
I'm setting up my en plein air painting kit. In springtime, I'll not even need to leave home as the canola crop is growing well and my roses and perennials will be spectacular this spring. As per my Fitness beyond Seventy post, I'm less active these days. Just the same, I've not given up any of the creative activities I love, I've just modified them to suit my current level of fitness. Getting enough Vitamin D does not get any less important as we age. Whether it is painting out of doors, gardening, or walking, I strive to get my natural sunshine Vitamin D boost every chance I can.
I packed the thermos flask and set out with a friend down a 4WD track off the highway along the Goulburn Riverside. We found a spot wide enough to pull over and paint in the shade of trees.
There was the sound of the birds and a gentle breeze to add to the pleasure, the farmer plowing a paddock behind us and a couple of people using the road stopped to wave, and wish us a great day.
Then one gentleman returned. He was an art lover and wanted to purchase my painting. So, I took the painting to the new painting owner's home, and then I returned to my rural retreat with the memory of a lovely day and some money for art supplies.
Yes, it was a beautiful day.
I will return to that spot. My friend says that the recent floods would have been sure to have put some yellowbelly and cod in the billabong. Reg can fish while I paint.
Preparing for en plein air painting
• Take clothing and hats to protect from both the cold or excess sun.
• Fingerless gloves are a must for painting in cold weather.
• I take a folding stool as well as my folding easel box.
• Carry plenty of water Some water or a flask with coffee, tea or hot chocolate if it's cold.
• Loose and light coloured clothing (cream rather than white) helps minimise being bothered by mosquitoes. Get indoors before dusk in the tropics.
• Consider carrying insect repellent.
• Take paper towels and wipes to clean up and a bag to bring home your rubbish.
• A camera is useful for recording the scene, to complete it back it the studio.