Because we “know” each other a few months, I thought you might be interested in looking even more behind the curtains of my creative process. Today I am going to show you my palette, the painting equipment I use and the surroundings where all of my paintings and drawings are being created.
The palette - in terms of its physical form, I use disposable palette which I do not throw away at the end of the working day, but clean it in order to use it the next day. When the palette gets too dirty and the paint becomes too dry and stiff, I collect as much usable paint as possible and transfer it onto the clean palette sheet. I have heard people saying that disposable palette is for the amateurs and that a professional artist should use a proper wooden, plastic or a glass palette. Well, my disposable amateur-palette does good job for me and it has never prevented me from making professional quality art.
As for the colors I use, there comes the list of the basic colors:
- Titanium white
- Naples yellow light
- Cadmium lemon
- Cadmium yellow medium
- Yellow ochre
- Cadmium orange
- Cadmium red light
- Alizarin crimson
- Burnt sienna
- Burnt umber
- Yellowish green
- Permanent green light
- Sap green
- King’s blue
- Cerulean blue
- Cobalt blue
- French ultramarine
- Permanent red violet
- Payne’s grey
There are some additional colors which I use from time to time, whenever a particular problem requires it, but the basic colors are always on my pallet. It does not mean that I use all of the colors that are on my palette every day. There are some colors that I don’t touch for days, but still I like to have them near me, just in case I need a tiny bit of it. When submerged in the creative “fight”, I find it very irritating when I have to stop painting and search for a particular color in my color box. It destructs my concentration, and therefore I try to avoid this kind of inconvenience by putting on the palette as many colors as I might use that particular day.
You might ask why I use so many different colors, when it is quite obvious that one can get away by using less color. After all, many masters from the previous times created their masterpieces by using often less than 10 colors, I have at least 21 on my palette all the time. Well, unfortunately nobody actually taught me how to use and mix the colors. Even during my studies at the art academy, spending too much time and energy in learning the technical side of painting, was considered to be regressive and useless, and even potentially dangerous for a young aspiring artist. Instead of focusing on learning the fundamentals of the painting métier, we were very much encouraged to work on the development of free expression and our own unique way of creative expression. The reason for such an approach was the prevailing modernistic dogma. Although very important, this was not enough for me. I wanted to learn how to paint, mix colors and that sort of technical things, but at the end, and most of the time, I was left with the feeling of not being properly “fed”, always latently hungry for that type of knowledge.
Therefore, most of my technical knowledge and skills I had to collect and develop on my own, studying the paintings of the artists I adored, reading books (although at the time of my studies there was not so much literature of that kind, as it is the case these days), experimenting and above all practicing and keep on working.
Back to the question of my overcrowded palette – I have to admit that I do suffer a little from the lack of the knowledge about color. If I only had just a few pages from one of the Gurney’s books on painting technique on my disposal, I am sure my path would be less rocky, and perhaps I might have accomplished even more in my career.
But, on the other hand, because I was forced to find my own ways, I developed my own approach and style. Although I was inspired by many artists, whose art left some traces in mine, one thing is certain – one cannot see my art as being a surrogate of somebody else’s art. I still remember my mother’s comments on my early drawings, that were often copies of the existing works of art. She would say to me: “ Why do you always copy other man’s drawings? Are you not able to make your own drawing without imitating the art of somebody else…?” After such a remark I always felt bad, because, I guess, deep inside I knew that it’s not good to try to be somebody else. My mother’s words contained an important message as well as a warning.
I am happy to conclude that, now, I do not have to worry about becoming an epigone of another artist any more. Somehow, along the way, I managed to avoid that potential disaster. Though there was a time, I must say, when I was suffering from realization that I would never be as good as Frank Frazetta, Arthur Rackham, Paja Jovanovic , Ilja Repin or John Singer Sargent. Even if I would to spend all my life mastering the Sargent’s approach, I would never become better Sargent than Sargent himself. But then, a thought came to my rescue - I realized that perhaps the best thing I could do with my work and my life is to strive to become the best possible “edition” of Petar Meseldzija. I find this idea worth living for…
I use all sorts of brushes of various shapes and sizes. Do you see the brownish-red brushes on the right side? These are my “magic” brushes – the “Stradivarius” among my brushes.
As for the mediums, I use a usual Talens painting medium and I use a usual Turpentine that I buy in a local grocery shop. In the past I have been experimenting with different mediums and gradually came to the conclusion that a proper simple painting medium suites me the best. I use the turpentine to clean the brushes and, occasionally, to mix it with the painting medium.
These are the photos of my little studio. As you can see, it is a bit crowded and the ceiling is quite low, which gives me some troubles especially when working on the larger pieces. But I have plenty of light, which is the most important thing. I have to admit that I do dream of a bigger studio with even better light and enough space for my constantly growing collection of books, paintings, frames and about everything else a professional painter needs. But I am still happy and tremendously grateful for having this little studio, especially having in mind that 20 years ago, when I left my homeland because of the civil war, I left everything behind and had to start again from scratch.
Let me finish this post with a conclusion - Perhaps is great art not to be found in the advanced, bright and shiny art tools and equipment, but rather in the heart of the artist.