Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cheap palette

Dear Stape:
I am a penniless widow with only one arm, living in a squalid fifth floor walkup next to the container docks in East Boston. I want to paint the beauty I see all around me every day. Could you recommend a palette I could use that would be mostly series one colors and as high a quality as I can get while spending as little money as possible?

Signed ; One Ulna

Dear; Ulna

Since you have but the one arm I can't recommend that you buy your paint in cans from RGH and tube it yourself, which would give you the best quality at the lowest price. So I would recommend you use Jerrys artarama, or Dick Blick or one of the other mail order firms to buy your paint in the most economical way.

There are a number of reasonably priced lines of professional paint and I would shop among them for the best price. Often Lefranc is a good choice, those 250 ml. tubes are a great deal. But Rembrandt or Gamblin or Utrechs or several others may offer a paint that you like at a price you can afford.

I know you asked for me to recommend only the series one colors, but I will have to choose one that is not. You simply have to have a real cadmium yellow, and not a series one hue. Nothing else is an effective substitute for that. I would spend the money and get that big tube of Lefranc, it will last a long time and the quality is good. Most the other colors can be sort one. You will need yellow ochre, thalo blue ( a tube of this will last a long time so if it isn't series one it will still be economical, and a proprietary red. Rembrandt makes a nice one, most of the makers market a permanent red. You will need burnt sienna and although I usually recommend permanent alizirin you will perhaps want to buy the Alizirin from one of the student grades or maybe a permanent rose. Winton in the 200m ml. tube will do for this. Ultramarine is usually a series two, so buy the Winton version of that in the big tube also. For your white I recommend either the Lefranc, it is about 14.00 for 250m m ls. that pretty cheap and it is excellent. The other possibility is Permalba. The warehouse mail order guys often have 3 packs that are very inexpensive. Permalba is a high quality but unusual white. But we are out to work as cheaply as possible so some compromises have to be made.

I recommend that you work small, as the amount of paint you will use is much less and it is usually easier to sell small low priced paintings. You won't be stretching your own canvas will you? So I recommend painting on Ampersand or other similar pre primed panels. Order Damar and stand oil from Utrecht, they have great prices on those by the quart and you can then make your own medium very afford ably. You WILL have to make that with real turpentine though. After that use odorless mineral spirits from the hardware store for thinner.

That ought to save a few bucks, if put your mind to it you can paint very cheaply indeed and I have had periods in my life where I have had to do that.


Unknown said...

More stuff on the cheap: (because I am the queen of cheap)
piece of windowpane glass from the Hardware store - about $4 makes a great palette. If you don't have a container of some sort to fit it in, tape the edges real good with duct tape, or even better, tape the glass securely to a piece of masonite or plywood or even foamcore cut the same size. Put a piece of toned drawing paper in a neutral color about a value 4 or 5 in between the glass and plywood for better color judging.
Pads of canvas sheets come in various sizes, from 6x8 up to about 18x24. They are decent canvas, and not expensive in these pads. You can buy a large size and cut them to whatever size you want, and glue them to masonite or other panels for support. This is cheaper than either stretched canvas or pre-made panels. They are also good for practicing or doing value studies.
Ocean State Job Lots or Michaels often have decent stretched canvas at really low prices. It's not the best, but, we're talking cheap, right?
Of course, you could make your own panels as Stape has demonstrated earlier in the blog.
If you stick with standard sizes, framing is much less expensive.

But, who needs cheap? Now that we all know MOXIE is the secret to artistic success, we will all be millionaires soon.
(still slightly odorous around here)

mariandioguardi.com said...

Wait a minute..something smells fishy here. East Boston; No container docks any more and no fifth floor walk ups by the docks or wharfs. If it weren't for those facts I'd think this letter was from my own mother.

Something to think about: I have an old friend that says "cheap pays twice". It's a real problem if you do a painting you love on an inferior support. So whatever you use for a substrate, prepare it as if it will last forever.

PS for Deb: Detergent, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is the appropriate neutralizer for skunk chemicals. You can find the exact recipe on the web. It's science that works.

mariandioguardi.com said...

I almost forgot my story about Moxie.
I love Moxie and I always did, even as a young child. Years later when Moxie was very hard to find, I was alone and too sick to get out of bed. So I called my parents and begged them to find and bring me Moxie. I had a real craving. A couple of hours later they arrived. I opened the bottle as fast as I could and poured the Moxie down my throat with great relief. Five seconds later, it all came back up. I've been feeling just fine and dandy ever since. I love my Moxie.

willek said...

Great post Stape. I am going to give your suggestions a try. I just have this feeling that modern chemistry is being under rated in this area and perhaps, we are missing something by insisting on the natural pigments.

Joe Kazimierczyk said...

Hey Stape, when I buy paint in a can, there's always a skin that forms on the paint - even with the can tightly lidded. Any tips on avoiding this? I end up throwing a lot of paint out when removing that skin.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks for the tip. I believe I will ad another cheap palette in tonight's post. That cheap canvas from Michaels etc. looks bad under a painting though. Better to gessso a pizza box.
What if you shellacked that dog? Then could clean him with 409, or even carbon tet..

Stapleton Kearns said...

oops, I meant WEST Boston.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will comment on that over on the blog side.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will comment on that on the blog too

willek said...

Is cadmium yellow a must because it does not lose its identity as it is diluted with white? Or just because you like the mixtures it makes compared to other yellows.