Patience and Process: Part II

February 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

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The beauty of oil paints is not only the way they flow and breathe; the way they can bend and curve to your brush ‘s command like spreading soft butter or icing a cake; it’s also their longevity. A tube of good oils can last years and years and years, and I love that you can “wake up” a painting after a month or a year, the paint still pliable.

The un-beauty of their longevity is that the caps may become stubborn as a mule, or a little dog who doesn’t want to go for a walk. They won’t budge. And if you did a really lame job of replacing the cap, the paint inside will harden, which definitely isn’t conducive to a good experience.

Of course, if you’re a tidy painter who takes precise care of their tools, such as deliberately cleaning off any paint residue from the top of the tube before putting the cap neatly back on, this may not happen to you. But I’m not a tidy painter. This is kind of in opposition to my general character (a topic that could easily lead me to talk of astrological signs, but I’ll spare you…); nevertheless, it’s true.

And so, when I sit down to twist open the first glorious tube of Titanium White, the cap doesn’t cooperate. I then have to resort to using pliers and muscle, or if they fail, I’ll use fire. (First time I used fire I was pretty nervous. But it does work, briefly heating with a match just around the bottom edge of the cap. Still, don’t take my word for it, please. There are all kinds of remedies, so read up first if you find yourself with a stuck cap. And by the way, I’ve heard that running a little vaseline around the rim before replacing the cap does wonders.)

If it’s irretrievably old and crusty, the last resort would be to buy a new tube. Because of my Scottish blood and a father who taught us, perhaps too well, about re-using and making things last for eons, I’m loathe to buy unless necessary.

Luckily, today, pliers did the job. And once I’d gone out for new turpentine – which I unexpectedly did need (ugh) – I was now, finally, ready to dip the brush and slather some paint on a couple of ever-patient canvasses.

It was so much easier when everything was all “set and ready.” All the stop and go and stop and twist takes away some of the vibe. The good news is, I’m on course again.

So. Patience. Process. Progress.

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