Since my last post in August, Colorful Easel has been down for upgrades and maintenance. During that time, I had more time to solidify goals for my art and this website, got to actually paint (really!), and create a fantastic online gallery with paintings that are available for purchase at ColorfulEasel.Etsy.com
I also had time to create a store through Amazon, but am a bit reserved about them. Amazon had swallowed up my account at CreateSpace just yesterday, which was the company who printed and shipped my main Snootle book, and now both Snootle books are ONLY available through Amazon. No choices for anybody, and no discounts to pass on to the people who love Snootle. There is also factor that people go to Amazon for great deals on electronics, books and bedsheets, rather than browse for fine art. Original Monet paintings available on Amazon…. Yeah, that does not have a proper ring to it. But I will hold that store front to see what happens. https://www.amazon.com/handmade/ColorfulEasel
During this time, my art studio went into a complete overhaul. I had rearranged my entire work space, sold the bulk of my art supplies and reduced the tools to eight tubes of oil paint, a small watercolor box, four tubes of gouache and a bit of charcoal. Acrylics were completely omitted. OK, while I did sell the majority of my supplies, I couldn’t bring myself to sell the acrylics, so they are sitting in a box in the closet. I’m only human.
There are several reasons for this revamp. First, I want absolute permanency in the longevity of the paintings produced; second, the sustainability of the current artistic life style; third, the nontoxic nature of the art studio; fourth, the vivid colors and dynamic mixtures obtained with the pigments; fifth, the drying times of the oils; sixth, focus and seventh, salability.
The limited palette did many things for me. For one, it keeps me focused on the picture rather than piddling with the pigments. The colors chosen are fast drying. Coming from the acrylic school, the week and a half wait for the quinacridones and cadmiums to dry drove me up the wall! These oil colors dry within thirty hours, which gives me enough time to blend, but not too long to wait in between layers. Selling the majority of colors freed up space in my paintbox, there were more than thirty pigments, and my back hurt from lugging it around. Added bonus of easier color mixing.
Health in the artist studio is extremely important to me, and had been long thought out. Oil colors are the best all around. Oil paint is easy to make at home, and are made from two to three ingredients: pigment, vegetable oil, and a drier, such as marble dust or chalk. Some paint manufacturers suggest to omit the drier for longer working time, and others will suggest adding honey.
If you clean your brushes with vegetable oil between colors, wash soap and water, and choose pigments that are known to be nontoxic, then your art studio is relatively safe. Oil paint dries through oxidation. You still might absorb the pigments through your skin, so be careful, particularly with questionable pigments.
There is a perception that acrylics are nontoxic (aside from the use of toxic pigments, such as cobalt) because the tube says so. Acrylics are made from pigment and an acrylic emulsion that consists of 20 different chemicals. You need to be a bit of a chemist to make acrylics from scratch. Acrylics dry by evaporation. As acrylics dry, chemicals are released into the air, and as such, you breathe it in. Not only that, but you can absorb these chemicals through your skin, yikes.
Watercolors and gouache (opaque watercolors) are a bit more complex with ingredients than oil paint, and am concerned of the toxicity of the wetting agent (actual term for the ingredient) and Dowicide A which is sodium orthophenyl phenate. Yeah, I do not know what that is either, some of you chemists might. The watercolors I use state that it contains only pigment and Gum Arabic. I am a bit skeptical, and as such, the watercolors are kept to a small box for small works and color studies. While you can make watercolor paint at home (if you can get your hands on the wetting agent and dowicide), it is much easier to make egg tempera which is similar to gouache but only consists of pigment, egg yolk and water.
Now with all that said, don’t think for a moment that I do not know the connotations of alkali-refined linseed oil vs. regular cold press linseed oils. But I have to choose my battles. Gamblin oil colors are the best America has to offer (at least that I’ve played with), and are about 45 minutes from my house… how awesome is that?
It had taken me years to quiet down and listen to what art collectors and enthusiasts want. When selling artwork, you are not only selling a high quality painting, you are also selling a story and a lifestyle. People who buy art are very passionate when it comes to paintings, and are heated in discussions regarding art.
The majority of non-artists think of oil paintings as the only media for use in high art, and on very rare occasions watercolor and pastels are mentioned. People mention oil painters like Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and the Flemish painters. They describe the beautiful painterly strokes of oil paint on the landscapes of the Impressionists like Monet, and the explosive bold colors from Van Gogh.
People even talk about the pictures that adorn their bibles or the cathedrals, and the Sistine Chapel, which they believe to be oil paintings. Actually, the majority of paintings that predated oil paint were made from various forms of water media such as tempera or fresco. But if you dare mention tempera of any kind to people, they will go mad with stories of elementary school grade paint!
Just let it go.
People do not want a history lesson of art supplies. And they especially do not want their dreams and perceptions of fine art to be shattered. Oil paints fit the narrative.
Most people who buy art want enchanting stories and sacred objects that are permanent in their lives that can possibly be passed on to their children.
The high quality acrylics we know today that were established by Liquitex and Golden back in the 1980s continue to hold a negative stigma. Experienced art collectors who had purchased artwork that were made from acrylics prior to that time, had found that the those paintings had quickly deteriorated, and as such, will never purchase an acrylic painting again. And to this day, those collectors still share their stories, and pass it along to their children and grandchildren.
Try mentioning acrylics to anyone who is not an artist, and they ALL will say “it’s plastic” and will sneer at you. It takes a hell of a lot of sale skills to change somebody’s mind about acrylics. Nobody ever holds plastic with high regard. A few common comments I heard were “acrylic paint is for children” and “oil paint has been around for 600 years.” But the number one comment that slapped me awake is “you would not serve champagne in a plastic cup.”
As time marches on, I am sure that more people will change their tune about acrylics, particularly due to the amazing artists who work with them. People will not deny great works of art regardless of what the picture was painted with.
Until next time,
Happy painting with whatever medium you choose to create with!