Color is an important element of my work with 50 Little Birds. I’ve described my work (and more interesting I’ve heard it described) as three dimensional paintings. Non-bird elements of my work — bases, cabinetry, shelves and boxes — are also painted. I use a limited palette to maintain the look and feel that I desire.
When I first wrote and taught about my painting techniques I was a bit of a snob. I only used the highest quality aritst acrylics. I mixed each color it was used.
Last summer my wife, Julie, was painting our Hannah’s, our oldest at home, bedroom. I particularly liked a smoky grey-black that she had chosen for her trim. I began, without much thought, to substitute this color for the black that I used on my crows and penguins.
I began to haunt the mis-tint shelf and home improvement stores. I discovered a great robin’s egg blue that I’d been trying to mix with limited success.
Lowe’s began to advertise that they would mix any color in sample sizes. I collected paint chips (Which I do anyway…Is that an artist thing?) and looked for the colors that i needed to execute my work. (Valspar, Lowe’s House brand, has Indianapolis roots)
With few exceptions these paints perform as well or — in some cases like yellows and blues — better.
The best news? These paints cost about half what artists’ paints cost and I’ve eliminated most of the messy and wasteful mixing.
Recently I reviewed my basic rules . Here’s Number 2.
2) I use only wood, found materials, tools and finishes that would have been available to vernacular artists in the 1930s or before.
The use of locally mixed colors from Steve (Yes, I’ve come to know the paint man) at Lowe’s fits well with this rule. In fact, I’m not sure that artist paints should have been used in the first place.