21 February 2021

What A Difference A Paint Makes (Painting A Very Small Bob Ross, By The Numbers, Round 2)


In the immediately-previous missive, I tried painting the PBN style tiny Bob Ross portrait from the set Bob Ross By The Numbers, and documented the results which, while fun, were pretty sad.

Despite using my own brushes (the only things PBN brushes are good for are spreading masking fluid then discarding) the effort was doomed by the low-low-low quality paints included in the kit. Packaged in small, hard-to-open plastic pots, it mixed poorly and flowed even worse. You may follow this link to the previous entry if you're too pandemic-tired to scroll down, if you must. I was okay to settle for the result as I wasn't trying to reproduce La Giaconda after all, just have a bit of fun. But! The Brown Eyed Girl informed me, post-painting, that she wanted to scan this so she could color it in on the computer in Photoshop. 

No longer possible! Oh, well ... we just got us another from I've Been Framed (they're cheap, as they say, at twice the price ... about $10 at IBF, probably even less when you buy on-line). And she scanned them and has them as a digital file and colored on in the 'shop and it does look quite nice. Also, I was able to try something I wanted to try.

It's said, by more than one authority, that, when given the chance, one should spend as much as able when buying art supplies such as paint and brushes. The savings in aggravation and having to cope with (and replace) bad-quality materials alone is supposedly worth it. And there are quality differences between student quality and serious hobbyist quality and professional quality. The aspiring artist frequently does not have the experience on embarking to really make a confident choice and lowballs it, only to spend a little more next time. 

I'm being a bit melodramatic; you're not buying a car here, after all. But it means something because the less aggravation over your materials the more likely an art habit won't be dropped early. What of the quality question, though? Does it make that much of a difference? This experiment shows that it does, and I'll prove it, starting here.

Now, PBN acrylics aren't renowned for their high quality no matter who you buy it from. Some are better than others; Royal & Langnickel are just acceptable and Paint Works are pretty fair, for PBN, but none of them are ever going to be confused with Grumbacher or Liqutex Basic. The quality of the acrylics in the Bob Ross By The Numbers set, though, is bad enough on their own; the producer of the set should publicly apologize to the Bob Ross estate for putting the Ross name on a box containing them. 

What if I found comparable Paint Works PBN colors and tried them? I've had good experience with them, they mix and flow well. To the morgue! The thing about PBNs is you'll frequently have leftover paint, and I keep them, morgue-file style, in a box. The Bob Ross kit came with seven colors: a blue, a red, a green, a yellow, a brown, white and black. Could I find approximate replacements in the paint morgue?

... yes, as it turned out, I could. The tall pots in the back row are from old Paint Works kits; the small ones in the foreground were the ones from the Bob Ross kit. 

That front row may now exeunt; they shall not be heard from again.

I proceed as before. For Bob's face, hair, skin, and parts of the brush as directed, I used brown; highlight tone was a tinted brown, pure brown for the middle tone, and shaded brown for the dark tones. 

Then I proceeded to the blues. there was a light blue, a dark blue, and a blue-gray. As with the brown I mixed white and black to get the tint and the shade, and let the pure blue dominate the sky. Perhaps I should have tinted the dark blue a bit to lighten that sky up, but I'm looking at the finished product and I'm still okay with it. 

There were two greens; the pure green for the light green areas and a shaded green for the dark green areas. Filling those in, the painting is complete.

The result looks pretty good, given the limits of the materials and the context of the form. But where the real point of the whole pursuit becomes plain when the two paintings are compared side-by-side, as does the relative quality of the paint:

What sort of difference even a minimal increase in quality make? All the difference in the world, really. Mixing, flow, coverage ... it's blindingly obvious. 

No comments: