Using Low-Quality Materials

It is such a cliche; “Always buy the most expensive materials you can afford.”

Like most cliches It is based on a nugget of truth.

The reason is that you will be wasting your time and neither will the finished piece look as beautiful as it could. It will, in all likelihood, not last as long either.

If you are a painter in Oils, at least get the best Linen canvas you can afford, stretch it yourself. Never buy these horrible pre-stretched canvasses. They are fine for students to practice on but you are a professional.

The same applies to watercolour paper; get some nice thick high-quality brand paper.

In Oils, buy the best quality professional grade Titanium White you can. Cheap white will ‘yellow’ after only a few years, likewise any other colours you mixed with it.

When my budget has been tight, there are some ‘essential’ colours after white which I spend as much as I can on, the cheaper versions simply are not as good.

When I say that they are not as good, I need to qualify that. It means that with good paints they slide off the brush onto the canvas, they cover area so much more easily, they texture is so smooth and silky; using them is a real pleasure against the practice paints which are so much cheaper.

For me the colours I have as essential after White are:

  • Cadmium Red
  • Burnt Umber
  • Naples Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Prussian Blue

Collectors can see if you are willing to ‘bet on yourself’ and if you are not willing to take a punt, why shoudl they?

Sure, art is what you can get away with, but that does not mean that the work should set out to be the second rate. Even Piero Manzoni the headline-grabbing artist of the 1960’s used good quality cans for his work.

If the paint is obviously thin paints or loose bristles from cheap brushes stuck in the painting. That is not to say that you need to buy expensive brushes. You do need to buy the right brush for the job, in terms of size and shape, but you CAN buy cheap brushes and throw them away as the work is done, or as they begin to lose their shape or start to not perform as well.

This flies in the face of some other advice I have read online; but is exactly what I do and I was taught to practice this way by my mentor too.

The advice in summary:

High-quality canvas stretched on solid wood frames, professional-grade paints, and don’t worry too much about brushes.

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