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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Waste not: frugality in oil painting

My parents were children of the Great Depression and young adults of the Second World War. From them I learned two, possibly contradictory, things about money: Spend like there's no tomorrow (because there may just not be) and waste nothing.

So I'm a profligate hoarder, kept in check (sort of) by common sense, circumstances and a smart wife. Of course, I can be sneaky...I'm not entirely sure that part of the motivation for making bricolage and assemblage might not be I get to hoard lots of lovely potentially useful art materials.

I also don't like to throw out the leftover oil paint at the end of a session or, like a lot of artists, let the crud build up on the palette.

I use up all the paint in two ways.

Using a palette knife, I scrape, dab and smear the leftover paint onto prepared canvases, boards or oil painting papers. This is great for covering up or partly covering paintings that haven't come together, which is how the Red Mandala set of paintings began.

When this is done, I use turpentine and a rag to clean the palette. I rub the rag over a prepared surface to create an imprimatur for new paintings. Sometimes, I rub back over one of these previously created surface to create a second layer. And sometimes, this comes together as a painting in its own right, or one that just requires a touch or two to bring it out. Like this:

(Oil on  paper, A4, c. 12 x 8 inches)

Perhaps, this may give you some ideas for using up all of your paint, even if your practice is based on acrylics, rather than oil paints. If you have any other ideas, I would love you to share them; please post a comment.

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