Usually I write a monthly blog post on my garden, but it’s been very quiet this last month (apart from Medge the Hedge wandering in to my next door neighbour’s garage and getting stuck in a wellington boot – rescue ensued). Therefore, I will forgo my gardening notes this time and write not of plant pots – but of paint pots.
First-time visitors to the Gallery workshop may be somewhat taken aback by the myriad jam jars of paint that are stacked higgledy-piggledy on shelves all around the room. Looking not unlike a traditional sweet shop it contains a jamboree of brightly coloured pots, the contents of which are definitely NOT for eating. A rudimentary attempt has been made to group them into colours, so a given area will contain all the different greens, for example. Problems arise when colours defy categorization – is it a yellowy-green or a greeny-yellow? Do I put it with the greens or the yellows? These pots tend to float betwixt the two areas, and end up being tucked behind the oranges.
Our pots of paint start out life from around a dozen basic pigments in an emulsion base. Colours are expertly mixed together according to customers’ requirements – it could be a colour to compliment the artwork, or one to match in with a particular area of the painting. Paint is tested along the way on little offcuts of wood. The samples are left to dry, for some paints alter dramatically once dried and waxed. That pale grey you thought was a perfect match turns out to be something entirely different.
About two thirds of our colour mixes are bottled for keeping – especially if it’s some bright or interesting colour that could warrant use in the future. They may be labelled and named after a client or a particular mountboard colour, but personally I like to have a little fun with the descriptions and give them interesting names, such as Tomato Soup, Clanger Pink, or Poiple (a particularly delicious shade of purple that has long since run out but is kept to be gazed at every now and then).
Every so often, when the shelves are groaning heavily and the jars are tottering dangerously we have a purge of the old and dried-up pots.
Everyone contributes to the empty glass jar box for the reception of more paint. A picture of the gallery staff’s dietary preferences can soon be formed, with many jam jars, pesto jars and mustard pots present, and my husband’s somewhat dubious addiction to a certain brand of German hot dogs!