My painting this spring has felt unsatisfactory. When my students tell me that, I always encourage them to return to first principles. It finally dawned on me that my studio hasn’t been in order since mid-August when I left for Alaska. Some artists thrive on disorder but I am not one of them. For the past two weeks I’ve focused on integrating the things I brought from Rochester into my Rockport studio. Finally, on the eve of my trip back to western New York, I organized my paints.
My paint-makers, RGH Artists’ Oil Paints, have discontinued one of my favorite pigments, a deep quinacridone red-violet. It is a sort of higher-chroma, more permanent version of alizarin crimson. I could buy it elsewhere, but I’m very partial to this brand.
I decided to mix up all my quinacridone pigments and see if I could make a decent analog of this much-loved paint. These consisted of quinacridone-based carmine, red, red-violet, and two violets. I felt comfortable doing this because they’re really all the same pigment in different formulations.
If I were doing it again, I would use two quinacridone reds to one quinacridone violet instead of the 1.5:1 balance I used, but since I mixed about 425 ml this time, I don’t expect I’ll need to do worry about it soon.
With the exception of two colors—quinacridone violet and Prussian blue—I carry my field paints in a plastic pill box. The violet and blue are both high-stain colors and tend to leak across the box. That means that once in a blue moon I have to tube some of these colors. I don’t like tubing pain. I am thinking of finding some surplus jars that I could use to carry these colors in, just like a Paint-by-Number kit.
Over time, all paints tend to separate. In a tube, you’re out of luck; all you can do is squeeze out the paint and try to jolly the separated parts back together. When you keep paint in jars, you can just rewhip it and it’s just like new. It being spring, I did that with each of my paints before repacking my box.
This morning I’m in Buffalo, preparing to head to Rochester to paint with some of my former students. My kit is ready to go!