The 3 filled syringes with 3 values of paint
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH LEFTOVER PAINT?
I normally subscribe to the adage ‘shortcuts make long journeys’. However, there are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the last 30 years that I have found hugely helpful. Maybe this one will help you too.
OK, so you’re painting a grisaille and using 5 values to create form. You are taking your time with this painting over several sessions but you don’t want to spend an enormous amount of time mixing up those 5 same values at the beginning of every painting session.
What do you do?
I have heard that you can submerge a glass palette with the mixed paint in a tray of water. The paint shouldn’t be affected by this but I would certainly use the paint within a couple of days. You might also have mould problems if left in the water for too long.
You can buy a covered palette that will protect the paint from drying out. You should keep your mixtures in piles of paint because flat little mixtures will dry out more quickly. Then you could put the covered palette into a plastic bag (with as much of the air squeezed out as you can). After that put your palette-in-a-bag in the fridge or freezer It’s a bit bulky and you have to be oh so careful that it’s nowhere near food. When you’ve removed it from the cold it’s important to wait for the palette to reach room temperature before unwrapping your ‘parcel’ this is to avoid condensation problems.
The paint will usually be as fresh as the day you mixed it but it’s a bit of a palaver, isn’t it?
I have been using another method.
An ingenious idea was passed onto me a few years ago and although I don’t use it often it has been a huge help especially if I’m working to deadlines. My students have found it great too in a busy workshop studio because once the correct values have been previously mixed they can get on with the business of painting, saving time and paint!
This is how I do it
The first thing is to head down to the pharmacy and buy 3 syringes (I buy the small 5ml ones). I haven’t had a problem buying them yet but I always show a photo of my filled syringes to the pharmacist so that there isn’t a suspicion of dodgy doings!
Mix your values. Paint like a rich man and so you shouldn’t skimp on the amount of paint used. Only mixing a small amount is a false economy, wastes time and can have an effect on paint application.
For a 5 value grisaille, you will actually only be mixing 3 values because the darkest value and the lightest value will usually be pure paint. It’s important not to add any liquin or calcium carbonate at this stage as this will affect drying time.
Now take your 3 syringes and snap off the needles and carefully throw them away.
Take the plunger out of one of the syringes and scoop one of the mixed values into the well of the syringe with a palette knife. Do this a little at a time and knock the syringe down on your palette in between scoops so that the paint falls into the well. Put the plunger back into the syringe and the cap back on the needle end. Repeat this with the other values into the syringes. Finally, number each syringe with a permanent marker.
How do I store the syringes?
I keep the syringes in a jar in the fridge or freezer. It takes up less room than a palette and less time to reach room temperature when removed from the cold. Also, you will be surprised at how little paint needs to be put onto your palette on your next painting session.
Please note that I only use this method with an underpainting. When I am mixing colour I make fresh batches every time. I clean my palette frequently and remix more paint if and when it is needed.
What do you do? I’d love to know.