New art supplies

Everyone lately, it seems, has been buying new art supplies except me. Paying upfront for my Tafe subjects has left me pretty skint, but I was desperate to extend my acrylic colour range to paint my next pair of shoes. I bought paints last year when I came into a little bit of money, and they are gorgeous! But a number of crucial colours are missing – such as a magenta colour which cannot be mixed from the primaries, skin tone, which just makes life a lot easier, and burnt umber which is also unmixable. I have always used student grade acrylic, but I was becoming very frustrated with how many coats I was having to apply to get good coverage. Last year I was involved with a painting workshop where they supplied lovely pots of thick paint from the Derivan range. I was sold and started my new collection:

This week the need for more colours was too much! I went down to my favourite local shop, Art to Art and quickly found my carefully planned budget in trouble! This range I’ve bought here is the mid range that Derivan offer, better quality than student but not as good as the professional artist range. The difference is in a few factors, one of the big ones is the range of colours available, another is the amount of pigment to binder in the paint. The pigment is what gives the paint colour, the binder is what glues it to paper or canvas. Lots of binder and only a little pigment gives you a paint that you need several coats of before you can’t see through it.  So the mid range is good value for what I do, the pots are good in that you get a lot of paint and they store really neatly being squared. The downside is that as you use the paint up, there’s more air in the pot and you need to make sure you add a little water now and then to stop the paint starting to dry out.

The other big downside is that you have to pay for a whole pot at a time – which is fine if you’re just buying one colour or replacing one you’ve used up. But painful when you’re starting a whole new range! Whereas the professional quality paint comes in a couple of size options – these size pots, huge pots for the really keen, and 75ml tubes. Although it’s more expensive per ml than the middle range, the tubes themselves are mostly cheaper to buy than a whole pot of the middle range. So I could come home with only a couple of pots, or I could come home with a number of tubes. I went the tubes option! After much deliberation. Here they are:

That was my grocery money for the fortnight! I bought milk, $1.34 loaf of bread from a service station, and yoghurt. Apart from that I’m living off what I find in my cupboards. I went to heat an instant chicken rice meal recently, then discovered it had expired in 2006 and changed my mind. Went for homemade risotto instead – yum – much safer!

So, I am very excited about the quality of these paints, I’ve never used anything like this before and I can’t wait to try them. They are very thick – more the consistency of oil paints, so I also bought the Acrylic Painting Medium. This means I can make them more liquid – which is what you need to fabric paint, without using so much water that I reduce the content of the binder to the point where the paint becomes water sensitive. That’s the theory anyway!

And the masking fluid I have been craving for a long time. I’m really keen to try it out for techniques like this. I use a lot of white space in my ink paintings, and at the moment I just paint really carefully and really quickly, which is fine as long as the white space is large, thick, and clearly defined. If I wanted to paint in a dark cloudy sky with white branches weaving across it, I would be in a lot of difficulty. But this product means I can push that a lot further!

And the palette underneath is to try my hand at some Chinese water colour paints I brought back from Singapore this year. Watercolours I have found, are very difficult to use if you don’t have an appropriate palette, or at least a good supply of jar lids or something. So I’m looking forward to having a play with this soon too! Ahhh, the anticipation of exploring new art ideas, just warms the soul. And now I can stop feeling madly jealous and go back to being on speaking terms with everyone else who bought art supplies this month!

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