Making Your Tools Work For You

Posted October 10 2016
I recently had the chance to interview artist Patti Molica and in preparing the questions, I revisited her three excellent workshops.

What impresses me about Mollica is how thoughtful she is to process, materials and the technical aspects of painting. She clearly has a deep enough understanding of value, color and brush stroke to create three excellent separate videos on them.

But it’s her set up that really struck me. Mollica uses a bead box filled with heavy body acrylic paints. This gives her access to her colors with a pop of a top. It means she doesn’t have to spend time squeezing out paint and deciding which to use or not use. If she has 15 minutes to paint, she doesn’t spend those 15 minutes making choices about materials. Instead she spends that 15 minutes putting paint to board.

Mollica uses her tools to work for her. It shows even in her mixing palette, which is a mid-toned grey.  By mixing on a mid-tone grey, Mollica is giving herself a way to gauge if the pigment is too light or dark and then she can adjust accordingly. Because all of us who are painters know how distracting hue can be when we’re trying to focus on value. Mollica has found a way to make this truth easier to deal with.

Every medium is different, but it’s worth taking the time to think through if there are ways to make our materials work for us. Easier to set up. Easier to store. Easier to clean. Easier to think. So many of us lose precious minutes or even days to the set up barrier alone. It’s exciting to imagine how a slight reworking that would fix those barriers.

What do you use to make painting accessible? Do you have preplanned palettes for particular subject matter?