Monday, March 25, 2013
Keeping Stored Oil Paint Fresh for the Palette
Over the years I’ve tried many ways of preserving paint, using everything from closeable palette boxes; which only work in the short term – ultimately the paint hardens, or submerging blobs of paint in water overnight; works okay, but it’s a chore fishing the paint out of the water and getting it ready to work with, and there may also be problems with the water breaking down the binder. Overall, the best and easiest way I found was to put the whole palette in the freezer. However, as my palettes have grown larger this has become less convenient.
Recently I learned a new trick. I have smaller pieces of glass to hold the paint, like these from School Specialty. These are lightweight and have smooth beveled edges. I load them with individual colors and line them up around my regular palette. I take color from the smaller glass panes and mix it on the larger glass. The smaller glass stays clean and at the end of the day I put them in the freezer. The cold slows down oxidation so that the paint doesn’t dry out. They are small enough that they don’t take up too much room.
The panes are 4 x 6 inches; inexpensive and small enough to slide into a Tupperware container to prevent accidentally getting oil paint inside the freezer.
Why save paint? One – it’s economical to do so and two, I’m keeping in mind that some of these pigments are mined and once they’re gone - they’re gone. I prefer not to waste them. Three, I don’t want to add anything to landfills if I don't have to. Four, any leftover paint fragments need to be dry before tossing and it’s messy and space consuming to have smears of half used color scattered about drying.
I like to put out more than enough color on the palette when I start painting. Have you ever heard “paint like a millionaire?” It seems to me this makes the work looser and more confident, plus it seems a waste of time and stops the flow to stop in the middle of painting a passage to squeeze out more color.
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