Cherries, or does the brand make a difference, when it comes to oilpaint

Last summer, when everything was still normal, I wanted to do some painting again after a hiatus of 15 years. (During which I did a lot of sculpture, but I hurt one of my fingers and the scar tissue both still hurts, especially if I put pressure on it, and the fingertip is completely insensitive at the same time. This makes sculpting in wax Not Fun.)

I took out my old Talens van Gogh paints, went on the roof terrace and started doodling. But the white spirit fume was rather bad for me, even outside… Some of those tubes I’ve had since I was twelve years old, and never used them up. Oil paint might be expensive, but apart from white, you don’t use much of it.

Then I discovered Talens Cobra water-mixable oils. I got a bunch of them, new brushes, some paper suitable for painting with oils, and had a lot of fun.

When we had a sprint last year (remember when we could have sprints, it sure seems a different country now), I let the artists paint with it, and they had fun, too!

The paper never really pleased me. I had two kinds, something linen-like and something with a bit of a coarse texture. Neither pleased me.

So, when around Christmas, I wanted to paint two small portraits of roleplaying characters, I started working on small panels.

I painted the portraits of Moyri and Khushi. This was lots of fun, too, but I sort of realized that in the first place I could do with some teaching where it comes to the technical aspects of painting. Sure, I have been going to life drawing class every other week for a couple of years now, but the teaching there is more about art and composition and things than technical advice on how to hold your brush, load it, put paint down and so on.

And I wanted to experiment with some other paint, so I got Schmincke Mussini paint. This paint turned out to be much nicer to use than Cobra or van Gogh, with a very smooth consistency and great colors. The Cobra vermilion is much too orange; the Mussini vermilion is just perfect. But the paint is mixed with a kind of resin, following the recipe of Cesare Mussini, who with a horde of other painters/scholars in the Nineteenth century was looking for the The Secret of the Old Masters and thought it were mystery ingredients, instead of just starting young, drawing all day and painting all day.

So I decided to look for a place to learn. I found Art Partout, in Deventer and a bunch of other places in the Netherlands. I took them up on their offer of a test lesson before plunging in. They let us paint cherries, which is a bit boring, but, well, I already found I learned some things, so I decided to join.

Except of course that the day the lessons were supposed to begin, the lock-down happened… They did send out paint, brushes, documentation and a link to a bunch of videos, so we could get started, though. The paint was Schmincke Norma, so now I have four kinds of paint to play with: Talen van Gogh, Talens Cobra, Schmincke Mussini and Schmincke Norma.

The first lesson was…. Painting two cherries. The identical two cherries I had already painting during the test lesson! Anyway, my results then weren’t too good, so I decided to just do it again, but with a twist: I’d paint the original cherries with the Norma paint, and then one with Cobra and one with Mussini, just to check whether the snootiness about Cobra being no good had anything to it.

Mussini, Norma, Norma, Cobra, table and background also Cobra, stalks Norma.

There was absolutely no difference in handling that I could feel between Norma and Cobra, apart from being able to clean the brushes with water.

But the Mussini was a lot better, with better covering, better spreading and fuller color.

I wish I had thought of this experiment before I did the second cherry with Norma, though, because I’d have liked to check with my old van Gogh paints. Though that set is missing some colors, and I cannot get the cap off the tubes of some others.

But there’s a second panel, which is meant to be used to paint berries, but I might just use it for another four cherries, in the interest of science…

And I’ve made a nice place to work for myself, with only one bug: it’s to easy¬† to turn to the left and switch on the monitor of my work computer.

My painting desk