There is something so rewarding about an empty paint tube. It means I am working, that paint is being used…squeezed, mixed, scraped, brushed, solvented (is that even a word?). Just used. It gives me a thrill to do the toothpaste squeeeeze at the end of a tube and to throw it into my ever-increasing pile of empty tubes.
I do not and will not throw these babies out. Why you ask? I know it’s rubbish, but to me its achievement and a lot of it. Oil paint is one of those items that takes a very long time to use up…..a VERY long time. To do a days painting, I may only use a tiny squirt of a few colours…we are talking a few ml, depending on what stage of the painting I’m at. I have my favourite colours, along with Titanium White, that I tend to use on a regular basis.
Crimson or alizarin red (depending on what hue I am after).
Burnt Umber or Raw Umber.
From these I make my darks (I hate to use the word black! It’s just a dark blend of colours), my skin tones, foliage colours, so on. I have many other colours in my kit but I use them considerably less often…and so they don’t often run out.
Oil paint is also very costly. With some careful studio practises that stop waste (I will blog about these another time), it takes a while to run down. A 40ml tube can range in price from $10 to $45 dollars. The 150ml tubes, which I buy for white or my most used colours, range from $26 to $95. This is dependant on the ‘series’ (the pigment needed to produce the colours). Most of the time, I can get away with the lower series paints but again it depends on the exact colour I am trying to achieve. French ultramarine is series 3 and is a cooler blue… Ultramarine, series 1, is warmer. It’s a continuous learning curve and often a costly one!
If you are new to painting or thinking about starting, my advice is to become a regular face at your local art supply store. Stock up a little when you find a sale. ‘Back to school time’ there are always super specials. I recently did a little stock up at 25% off. That makes a huge difference! Some shops offer discount cards or loyalty cards to regular shoppers. “Jacksons Art Supplies” here in Perth, offer students and hobbyists that are doing courses, 10% discount cards.
Back when I was just starting out (doing Children’s Illustration), but not affiliated with an art school or class, I wrote to Mr Jackson to ask for a discount card…and got one! When I changed over from illustration to oil painting, I started going to classes again… and I still do. To be networking with other art minded human beings (instead of art minded pets) and to learn, learn, learn from professional artists, so I still have a discount card tucked into my purse!
In my ever-growing pile of empty paint tubes, I see life and joy and damn hard work. I look forward to watching it grow…lets see how big it is this time next year!