Some painters claim you aren’t worthy or a purist unless you can mix every colour you need from just red, blue, yellow, black and white. Others eschew even black. They tell you that buying lots of tubes of colours is a waste of money and that you will never use them all. They point to the mixtures of pigments listed on the tube and scorn you for paying so much money for a tube that is basically adulterated titanium white. They say you ought to buy tubes of pure pigment and concoct your own admixtures.
Somehow, their goal seems to be a grail quest to make every colour there is from just a tiny number of pigments. Well that’s one way to paint, but not mine.
I love having a paint box overfilled with a myriad rich colours. I love the variety of pigments and pigment mixtures you can buy. I challenge anybody to mix a convincing quinacridone pink using just red and white. Good luck!
I like instant colour choices.
I like the inspiration that I get from having lots of tubes of paint assaulting my visual sense all at once, like a tsunami, when I open the paint box.
I love the freedom to go in any colour direction I want, quickly, without the frustration of mixing and remixing to try to get the colour just right. That way, I probably mix too much and throw some away in the end, thereby negating totally any economy I may have achieved by not buying adulterated white.
I like being able to see what unusual colour combinations look like before I go to the trouble of slavishly mixing them on the palette from primary colours.
More than that, I love the consistency. When I want a flat area of colour, I don’t want the mixing mistakes and streaks of uneven pigment. I want a colour that somebody mullered for hours using a purpose built mill. When I run out of that colour mid-painting, I want to be able to open that tube of colour and get a perfect match for what’s on the canvas, without having to labour over it or rework what I have already committed to canvas.
To me, pre-mixed colours are not a crutch or a sign of my mental deficiency or even of poor technique. They are, quite simply, an absolute bargain. They give me characteristics and sensations that a limited box of paints cannot.
On the other hand, it’s a great exercise to sometimes pare your palette down to just a few. I’ve even been known to opt for the primaries alone. But at those moments, it’s my choice. It’s not an article of faith.
When you love colours like I do, the more the merrier, I think. The more subtle the distinctions, the more fun it is. At least it is to me.