Thursday, October 18, 2007

Organization of Tubes

Awhile ago Richard and I were discussing organization of tubes. Although I love having tubes of the exact colors I want ready and waiting, the sheer amount sometimes can get frustrating. I originally wanted to get a tube rack from an art store that was going out of business, like an OH case. Then, I had the bright idea that one of those old college mail box cabinets would be great, you know the ones with all the little doors and windows. Well this is what I have come up with, (and it is all free).

If you go to any Starbucks (yeah, my second home) and ask for any extra "Mug Boxes" they will usually give them to you for free. The order the mugs, and most people just buy them and don't take the boxes and so they just throw them away. The fit 9-15 tubes perfectly, depending on how full they are and how long they are after you fill them. Then I got some milk crates from a convenience store (again for free) and the boxes fit about 18-24 boxes per crate depending how you pack them.

This means you could basically have one hue per crate. 2.5YR 9-2/2 = one box, 2.5YR 8-2/4 one box, /6= 1, /8=1, and then 5YR 9-2/2=1, and the same for 7.5 and 10YR. Then when you want some YR you just pull out that crate.

Not a perfect system, but hey, "Free is a very good price. - Tom Peterson"

Here is some of my paint collection, and yes there 9 or 8 values in each box. DAS A LOTTA MIXEN!!! :)


D.O.Jones said...

As a student, my first thought was "das a lotta money."
Can I ask what's in the Bouguereau box?

nystudios said...

I work A LOT! :)

Hmmmm, I don't know if I can tell you as they aren't of my finding. Needless to say, they are two strings of colors that Boug. tended to use in his flesh painting. They were found by laying munsell chips directly on several original Bougs.

D.O.Jones said...

Fair enough.
I wish I had the chance to look at Bougs' work in person. His hue/chroma shifts in the lights and halftones seem quite unusual to me.

Rich said...

I saw my first Bouguereaus with Neal and Ray in Frisco last month. They are very powerful and I wished I had my chips with me. Spending a couple of days analyzing his color would have been wonderful.

Rich said...

Oh yeah, Neal, you're my hero! The James Brown of color-mixing.

marsha said...

I've been pondering this organization problem as well, Neal.

So far, I only have 1-2 tubes of the Neutrals and their 1/2 steps and am using empty cigar boxes.
(However, my husband will lose the use of his lungs by the time I get the 5YR chips done,so am re-thinking this!)

Just noticed that your tubes have black tops. The case I got from SP have white tops. Sure hope the insides of tubes are same and coated as you mentioned earlier, and that I wasn't sent a bad case.

Thanks for the idea!

ewschott said...

Very impressive Neal - I love your resourcefulness. I think it's great the way artist come up with clever ways to solve a problem or fix an issue!

So... did you just hire some extra spotters for ...say about three weeks and mix those at work? :) What's the difference a little chalk vs a little oil on the parallel bars! ;)

Richard we have Bougie's "Girl Eating Porridge" hanging here and it's awesome, I think the size blew me away too, I thought it would be smaller. Just like you would expect Sargents Vanderbilt in the chair painting to be large, it's actually quite small.

nystudios said...

Chalk in paint and on P Bars is a good thing.

Oil on the P uh...not such a good idea. :)

ewschott said...


The white caps are the ones from SP that crack, I don't know if you can interchange the black caps with those tubes, but I would try.

E-mail them and see - if you can't change them, I would ask for an extra stash of the white ones.

I just got out a new tube of flake and noticed it was stiffer than stiff, then I saw the white cap was cracked. I retube a lot of their paint.

graydon said...

I mix up paint one day every other week. I can tube about 10 or 12. In the end, it saves time.

painterdog said...

ewschott why do you buy SP paint if you have to re-tube it? Why not just mix your own or buy from a better company.

Every color they sell can be bought from another company for less money or at least better quality control.

marsha said...

Yes, Beth, the tubes I was referring to are empty ones for tubing my own mixtures. At least the tops to these are flats like the blacks ones in Neal's photo and hopefully will not crack!

I will NEVER buy FILLED tubes from them again. Many of the tops of the paint I bought, cracked and after months of asking for new lids with no response, I finally gave up.

Besides that, I'm not fond of their paint - if it's a nice color, it's gritty.
If it's a good consistency, it doesn't cover well and is not pigment rich. There are a few exceptions, but true for the most part.

I'm with Painterdog - buy better paint elsewhere, pay less and get better results.

marsha said...

Graydon, do you have a rule of thumb for estimating how much paint you'll need for your 10-12 tubes?

I know that's a weird question I don't quite know what to ask!

Maybe: how much paint of which colors must you have on hand in order to tube the 10-12 tubes?

Just ignore if this is too vague/silly a question.

graydon said...


The only rule of thumb I have is to tube many smaller tubes, 40 to 50 ml, rather than one large ones. It keeps the paint fresher.

However, I don't have any specific recipes. That could be developed here.

graydon said...

I will list Bouguereau's colors when the new forum is up and running.

ewschott said...

Marsha and Painter (please call me Beth:)

I bought a ton of SP's paint way back when... well, never mind.

Just starting I ended up with such an eclectic group of brands - so I decided to try some of the other ones people spoke highly of, and back when... I love the small tube of the SP vermillion hue, they also make the ruby color I Iike.

Until recently the difference between the brands, excluding the student grade and Bob Ross - was like the difference between what kind of golf ball I would play with. I'm learning.

Graydon, if you have/or would like to have a studio assistant - would you let them mix and tube for you? I would think not, no matter how much the work, just curious.

graydon said...

Of course. I'd just have to teach them mixing first. : )

The Pyrrol Ruby by SP isn't a significant help in chroma. At the color workshop, we tested WN Perm Alizarin Crimson, and it was as chromatic. Pyrrol is very expensive, and if it were worth the added cost, I would recommend it. Ceninni gets their pigments from sources shared by other companies. So, likely, you can find a replacement. An almost identical paint from Williamsburg can replace their OMG Vermillion for half the price.

Scott said...

This just gets more educational every day. I love the organizing of the tubes, and am wondering if there is a date for the new forum to be up and running. Will this be like Art Q, where if someone goes to the page, if they are not part of the community, they can't read the posts? I kinda hope so....oh, I do hope so...

Scott said...

graydon said...

I will list Bouguereau's colors when the new forum is up and running.

October 18, 2007 6:29 PM

Whooooo whoooooooo!!!!!!!

John said...


After tubing those, I imagine you are like a ninja with a palette knife!

John said...


I really hope to have the privilege to learn more about your tubing process. How do you know which colors to tube? Is it painting specific?
Stupid questions I'm sure, but I'd never heard of that before.
New forum!!

painterdog said...

Wow that's about 90 tubes of paint.

How did you decide which values to tube up?

ewschott said...

John LOL!

The Pyrrol Ruby by SP isn't a significant help in chroma...WN Perm Alizarin Crimson, and it was as chromatic.

On palette whose name we do not speak aloud... both of these are listed, except I use Ruby instead of a WN Perm Rose (I did not like this at all).

I thought both were included because the Alizarin has more of a blue tint? Perhaps compared to the Rose it does and not the Pyrrol Ruby... so that would be my bad.

So, likely, you can find a replacement.

Graydon I think this would be a great sub-chapter for one of the new forum topics. It would be wonderful to hear what others have found that work better if not the same for a lesser price or better quailty for certain paints. Especially for those of us without a wide spectrum of brands! Well in addition to the many times repeated question of which brand/color matches the best for the color wheel/chips.

nystudios said...

Marsha, my suggestion would be to have A LOT of white on hand of different types. Zinc is great because you easily change it with almost any color because it is such a weak tinter. Lead is great because of the properties is possesses. Titanium is nice if you need to increase the value dramatically, but you don't want to add copious amounts of paint to your current volume. Most of the colors for the values 9-4 you are going to start off with a pretty good pile of white, and then change it. I have been starting with a 50/50 pile of zinc and lead.

I find that mixing by tertiaries seems to help me the best. Graydon said it was a bad idea at the July color course, but it works for me. I use a reddish blue-ultramarine, a greenish blue-Pthalo, violet-Red= Quinacridone Rose, and yellow Red= Cadmium Red Lt., Cad yellow lt. and Cad yellow lemon round out the yellow. Obviously, I try to start out with a starting color that is closest to my goal, and use these to push and pull it into submission. Graydon advocates mixing the proper value first, then the chroma, then the hue.(Please correct me if I am wrong in that)

I hope that helps.

Olan said...

Graydon advocates mixing the proper value first, then the chroma, then the hue.(Please correct me if I am wrong in that)

Neal I am confused by this. What would one start with to begin with the value first. I would think that one should start in the proper hue family. Or is that it? Choose the proper hue family, mix the value, adjust the chroma, then correct the hue.

graydon said...

You have to find the closest pigments to the hue needed. If its flesh, for example, burnt sienna and yellow ochre. Mix each, separate pigment to the value desired, here value 6 for caucasian flesh, or 3-5 for darker complexions. You will then have a value six mixture of burnt sienna and white, and a value six mixture of yellow ochre and white. Mix these together until the desired hue is achieved. Keep some in reserve for corrections. Then, one must adjust the chroma by adding a neutral value 6 until chroma 3 or 4 is achieved.

Some adjustment in the hue will have to be made because the addition of even a perfect neutral seems to pull mixtures toward yellow.

Again, find the general hue range, one hue on either side of what is to be mixed. Mix each to the value needed and then adjust the chroma. If the chroma is too low, new, higher chroma pigments must be chosen.

Here are the terms I am using.

Pigment is the pigment needed to mix something usually given a pigment number on the ASTM scale: PY 35 means pigment yellow number 35. This only tells a small part of a color's hue, value or chroma.

Hue is thought of for most as the color of an object: red, yellow or blue. With Munsell, this is one part of his notation and is separate from value and chroma. Each hue has 10 steps until it changes to another.

Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Munsell has a range of .5 for Ivory Black to 9.75 for Titanium White.

Chroma is the colors intensity and is distinct from hue. That is one can have a dull red and a chromatic (intense red) Chroma distinguishes a brick from a fire engine.

marsha said...

Thanks Neal! Your description gives me a good idea of how to begin.

I have found that making the Color Wheel/pigment file,(a must do exercise!) and the NOTES of what I used,in a notebook, have given me a starting place for mixing paint/matching chips for the day's work.

After matching some green chips for leaves the other day - some more towards yellow, some more towards blue, and I hit each one exactly! I knew where to begin and then corrected for VCH as needed. It's so much easier with the chips to guide me, having neutrals already tubed and an idea of what pigments to use!

I could kick myself for not taking the time to mix up enough to tube - 'cause I know I'll need those greens again- perhaps today!

Graydon, it's going to be so good to have all this info gathered together in a coherent manner, instead of dotted around in various posts.