When I teach or when I meet readers of the blog, they often ask me paint questions. They ask whether their brand of paint is OK and which brand is good and what do I think of water mucilage oils? They will point to a passage in a painting and say, what did you mix to get that? I tell them,
IT'S NOT IN THE PAINT!
Here's what I mean by that, with bullets.
- Painting is an intellectual and expressive art, although it has a handcraft component. The real thing that makes good painters is how they think about what they are doing. I have seen wonderful paintings made from ordinary paints.While it is difficult to make a good painting with the best of materials the secret is not in the paint. You can't buy a tube of better art.
- There are lots of brands of paint and as long as you buy a professional grade Most brands produce a student grade oil too, you have to stay out of that., You have to have the pro grade. I don't think it matters which you use. Rembrandt and Winsor Newton, Gamblin, etc. They all seem to work just fine. Dollar for dollar I think the Lefranc Bourgeois is an excellent buy. But I like oily paint. I tube my own paint, but if I bought my paint from a major online distributor that is what I would buy.
- Unless you are married to a thoracic surgeon the super premium paints like Old Holland seem ridiculously expensive, They have incredible pigment loads, but I don't like their handling as well as the Lefranc. Too thick. I do like Blockxx, but not enough to pay their prices. I don't really need that level of paint. Its not about the paint.
- There is no magic bullet, you can add that cool new color you saw one of those cowboy artists riding, or change to sun thickened lilac oil and amber mediums (with fossils) and it won't make a big difference in your painting. But learning a new concept or developing you ability to manage values, or color temperatures will.
- The paint is just a tool, its a means to an send. Some books and teachers in my opinion overemphasize the mechanical aspect of painting. If it were as simple as some medium or brand of paint you could buy, all the rich old amateurs would simply buy the ability to paint. The art students would get Mom and Dad to spring for the magic paint and they would be masters.
- I suggest you buy the brand you get the best price on and spend the rest of your money educating yourself. Go to the museum, take a workshop or buy great art books and study them till they are dogeared. How you think about, and what you know about the art of painting, will matter far more than what paint you use and more than the choice of pigments you array on your palette.