Sunday, July 8, 2012

tubing paint again

My shipment of paint arrived from my colormaker today and I think I will show you how I get it into the tubes. When you read this and look at the pictures it looks like a lot of trouble but with a little practice it goes very quickly and I enjoy tubing it up. I get about 6 or 7 big tubes out of a quart of paint. I try to keep enough paint on hand to last for months. I start to feel insecure when I don't have a big store of paint in my taboret. It is probably a hold over from the old days when I often didn't have enough money for both food and paint and hard choices had to be made.Most of you are not going to tube your own paint. Unless you use LOTS of it . There's plenty of good paint available from the many suppliers online and for most of you, of course, that's the answer.
I buy the empty tubes from Jerrys Artarama or Pearl Paint.
I order my paint from RGH Artists Oils. They sell 65 ml. and 250 ml.,jars, pint, quart, half gallon and gallon quantities of a very wide selection of different colors. Check them out at;
I think they make excellent quality paints and I particularly like their cadmiums. They are extremely affordable as you can see on their web site. Tell them I sent you, please.
I buy boxes of nitrile gloves from a nearby auto parts store because this is a messy business. I use nitrile gloves a lot. They don't seem to be as clammy as the plastic sort. They are cheap and disposable. I shovel the paint into the open end of the tube with a flat palette knife. I try to put the knife well into the tube and scrape the paint off on its lip. I inevitably get paint on the outside of the tube, but that's OK, I can clean it off later with mineral spirits.

I repeatedly rap the cap end of the tube sharply on my palette to get the paint to the front of the tube and eliminate any voids. Only fill the tube about four fifths of the way so as to leave room to close it up. I am using 175 ml. tubes in these pictures but you can buy small tubes as well. I use so much paint that I almost never buy small tubes. I do put up a few small tubes for use with my pochade box (pronounced "pochade"). I don't use pochade boxes very often though, as I like my big Gloucester easel and I am willing to put up with carrying the weight of a heavy paintbox because I often work on larger canvasses outside than most painters.
Next I close up the end of the tube squeezing out any extra paint that is there.
I then lay the tube on my palette and press the side of my palette knife down firmly on the tube about
3/8 of an inch from the end.

I lift the tube to vertical putting a nice clean fold in the end. It works like a box brake bending sheet metal, as shown below left. Then the next step is to crimp the folded over end with a canvas pliers. My canvas pliers are from the late 19th cent. or perhaps the early 20th century, a friend of mine found them in a junk shop more than 30 years ago and made a present of them to me.They are a far better design than the new ones They have a ordinary coiled spring unlike the new ones which have a sort of leaf spring, consequently they open when the pressure on their handles is released.
They are however not chromed, they have that old timey drop forged look. I really squeeze those pliers hard to crimp that end, and sometimes I will turn it over in one more fold and crimp it again. Below you can see the finished result.

After cleaning any excess paint off the outside of the tube with a paper towel dipped in mineral spirits I label the tube using a permanent marker. I recently began to paint a stripe of the color mixed with varnish or liquin to make it dry more quickly, around the top of your tube. Then it will look like a tube of Old Holland paint or like its from one of those fancy boutique manufacturers all the thoracic surgeons' wives use. I like the way my paint box looks, open on location. When other artists look in there, all they see are my non commercial tubes . Looks tough as hell.
It also is useful to know if you want to premix certain colors that you may be routinely cooking up on your palette.


DesB said...

What a great blog!
Wisdom, expert tuition, humour and the nuts and bolts as well.
Couldn't ask for better.


Sergio Lopez said...

Great tutorial, thanks.

Kelden Cowan said...

Informative as always! The pronunciation guides are particularly helpful. To think I've been pronouncing "Bouguereau" and "pochade" wrong all these years... Also, thinking about the cost difference between the paint I currently buy and the paint I am now going to buy makes me feel quite warm inside. Over a lifetime that will buy a lot of food.

Unknown said...

I just started buying the quarts. I knew I couldn't carry them out in the field but was looking hopefully at old peminto jars. Tubes are the ticket. I am going to be a self-tuber as well.

willek said...

Tubing is old hat for me as I have had 4 years of pharmacy school and many years of compounding (Mixing) ointments and creams under my belt. My trick is reusing old tubes. You just uncrimp the bottoms and use a tongue depressor to open the tube up. Using the squeezeie crimper paint saver tool makes this very difficult, however.

Robert Ellefson said...

A great skill to have! One thing I'd like to add:
For people tubing smaller tubes, I like to cup my hand around the bottom of the tube and hit it against something (usually the palm of my other hand) to force the paint to the bottom. Smaller tubes are weaker and tend to get crushed when I do it as you've pictured.

Albert. S said...

I wonder if this is cheaper to do then buying them..??