Monday, 22 August 2011

Oil Paints (and Poverty)

Recently I’ve been lurking outside art supply shops with my face against the windows, gazing longingly inside like a hungry Victorian urchin, gasping: please sir: can I have some oil paints? For ages I was fine with sewn text art – totally affordable, but then I had to go and get ambitious, which costs money, lots and lots of money.

I’ve closed my eyes and asked the art pixies for oil paints (and an easel) (and brushes) (and linseed oil, turpentine, and rags) but nothing happened. I will even supply the deluded and self righteous sense of doing proper, traditional art, like Caravaggio and other similar chaps of the renaissance persuasion. And no: acrylics won’t do – they also dry to fast. But at least I’m poor. Poor is authentic. Poor is how proper artists used to live, until they started covering skulls in diamonds.

Yes, I am poor. Too poor to achieve my art. I’ve even done my special naked voodoo oil-paint dance, and that was expensive after paying the fine and everything (although I did get all five tassels spinning in different directions.)

At the time of writing, I am faced with a choice: food, or oil paints, which means I’ve arrived: I am a poor, impoverished artist, faced with pursuing my creative muse or eating real food (and not the cardboard box that food comes in).

I’ve been testing the boundaries of watercolours and they have been found wanting. They dry too quickly, colours are insipid, and they are not suitable for layering. I’ve done my best, I really have. Watercolours are fine for sketching, but I want some oils.

Oils are what I want. Oils are what I need. You can layer them on with a trowel (so symbolic) and amend work a few days later. You can place massive 3D splodges of colour, and then form it into a shape. I know there are skills: canvas stretching, under painting, etc, but lack of skill has never stopped before (cue indulgent pause for readers to enter your own gag here.)

I am currently all over the place (by which I mean I am travelling *further pause for reader to insert own gag*) and couldn’t carry a box of oils, but even so, I am still craving them. The smell is so evocative, and oils are not considered dry until 60-80 years old, at least. I’ll be dead by then. Still: I love the idea of finishing work, and then scraping or wiping off an entire layer.

All of which is entirely academic: I can’t afford oil paints, and am resigned to this until I look at the names of the colours: Alizarin Crimson, Viridian Green, Prussian Blue, Rose Madder (need. Need a lot.) I have to find some ‘trainer’ oils, and use them up to practice, refining some semblance of a technique.

Food or paint - hardly Sophie’s Choice is it? Even so: I want some oils. (And canvasses. And an easel.) Art pixies? Where are you.

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Life drawing again.

Life drawing again.

Life Drawing

Life Drawing
Almost human