Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paint Box, Another 30?

Tools are the the things that separate the Chimps, Humans, and  Corvids from the rest of the low-life animal kingdom. And some kind of other bird I can't recall. Emperor Bird. Is that it?

And tools are the things that make things like Art possible. A pencil. Paint. Musical instruments.

I guess one's voice isn't a tool, or maybe its like a built in one. Or maybe the idea is wrong.

Anyway, a tool is the thing we can move the moon with. That's a reference, I think, to Archimedes, who said if he had a long enough lever he could move the moon with it. I could never picture this exactly, but the concept is that its how we are able to do a lot of things that we couldn't do otherwise.

For me, i'd say half of the work I do is figuring out the tools. And in painting, the unsung workhorse of it all, the thing you saw Cezanne banging around with, if you looked at the old photos of home and tried to figure out what the heck he carried around, is:  the paint box. Its not even the thing you paint with, its the thing you carry paint with. Its the mule. Its like a tool to hold tools. Maybe that's not a tool.

For me, its enshrines almost my whole feeling about doing art. It's been my companion the whole time. It tells me I want to be a Real Artist someday. Its something you don't have unless you are a Painter. Its a special club of people that have them.

 I got the one I have used til last week from Standard Brands maybe 30 years ago. (Thats the old place you got art supplies before Dan Smth and all the fancy internet companies. Not really an inspiring name, I barely remember it. )And i have built it, and rebuilt it, a ton. Loved it. And it busted on me last week and tested my tolerance. Here it is, on its way to the trash, poor friend:

This box has writing on it. Recent. It has my name (at top), and at the bottom, I have written reminders at the bottom of stuff I usually forget, and curse myself when out in the field. My fault. Age, But this box. 30 years old? Is done with. Loved it, depended on it. But it busted again.

And so I took this ancient Metal Box from my friend Lori Peterson and now it is my PERFECT box and I am so HAPPY with it. A new tool can make you happy. At least for an hour or two. I milk it.  Here is how I customize this box, after many years of trying to figure out what i need in a box without being too complicated.

First, I clean it, sand it , and I cut up short pieces of 1.5x1.5 flashing and I silicone them in so that my paints don't get all mixed up and beat up. And I split the brush tray up into two sections. .

Then i take my Silicoil cleaner, and i bend a piece of aluminum, and I hose strap it on. The hook allows me to hook it over my paint box. Works great.
Then i rivet on some D hooks and straps (you can just see one at right), and this is how it all looks. There is more I do, but this is the meat of making a box that works. It sets on my easel perfectly, it is tough and light. My palette (I also built it, you use shellac and titanium white pigment), fits in here.

I am going to figure out a way I can have my brushes on the back panel when I paint- that's about the last thing I need to figure out and never have. But I have an idea or two.

It's a tool. And as lovely as art, to me anyway. Maybe I get another 30 years working with this one.

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