Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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05/06/2004: "Are you Suffering from FUPA? (Frequent Uncontrollable Pallet Anxiety)"

Does this scene look familiar?

You come into your studio determined to start painting. Sitting next to your easel is a beautiful, white, virginal pallet waiting to receive your creative fluids. You pick up one tube of paint, hesitate, fingers trembling on the cap, a bead of sweat pops out on your forehead, you hastily set down the tube of paint without opening it, you pick up a different this the one you want, no, the one you NEED? Again you hesitate. Now the room seems to be getting hotter and hotter. The pallet seems to be getting brighter and brighter; it's blinding you now as you sink to the floor in a quivering mass of unfulfilled artistic genius.

Some painters get hung up on looking at a blank canvas; I on the other hand, get hung up at looking at a blank pallet. Itís the getting started part thatís the worst. I have a hard time just picking up the tubes of paint and squishing them out onto the pallet surface. It's a level of commitment that, no matter how much I may want to paint, I sometimes can't push myself to do it.

Another problem is that because of the ďOsiris FactorĒ, I canít leave a pallet out at the end of the day or during breaks. Instead Iíve been storing them in the pantry. Then the next time I go to paint I see the pallet I was using before, and itís all messy with little blobs of contaminated color and a mound of half-dried-out Liquin and it doesnít look very inviting anymore.

But on the other hand, oil paints are expensive and I donít want to waste them by just throwing the pallet away, so I tend to start a new one, leaving the old one in the pantry with the intentions that Iíll come back and use it later. ..of course, I donít come back to use it later and all the paints dry out and I end up throwing them out several weeks later. I think this is the same psychological phenomenon as leftovers. Like Iíll keep 4 ounces of plain overcooked spaghetti noodles rather than throw them outÖIíll wait until itís an unidentifiable mass of blue/green mold and then throwing it out doesnít make me feel as guilty (obviously no one can fault me for not eating rotten food).

Well, itís the same principal. Iím not exaggerating when I say that I currently have SEVEN pallets that are completely *#%!!#!. My preferred types of pallet are the ones made from layers of waxed paper on top of a cardboard pallet with a hole through the center for your thumb. I have three of those and whenever it's time to say goodbye to one of those pallets, all you have to do is rip off the top sheet of waxed paper and there's another fresh one waiting right underneath it (it was there all along).

I have two actual plastic pallets with the little round bowl areas for holding the different colors. Those only work for awhile and are more expensive when you have to throw them out. I also have sheets of Plexiglas that I use. If you buy Dick Blickís wooden gallery frames (which I recommend, theyíre a great value and really make your work look more pulled together in the end, even if you use gallery wrapped frames with painted sides) anyway the DB frames come shipped with Plexiglas which you donít use for displaying oil paintings. Even better, the Plexiglas is covered with a thin layer of plastic to protect the surface from scratches.

This means you can use that surface as one pallet, then peel off the protective coating and use the actual Plexiglas as another pallet. I also recently started using the surface of the actual table that I use for holding the pallet. I just squirt a tiny bit of blue or white or whatever I need, right onto the wooden TV tray surface, and when Iím done, I wipe it off with a paper towel.

Another thing I've started using are the gessoed panels I bought to paint on instead of canvas. They all come shrink wrapped, and again, you can paint over the shrink wrapping and when you're finished you can just rip off the shrink wrap and you have a nice gessoed panel all shiny and ready to paint.

But seriously, I have SEVEN pallets with various amounts of half-dried paint on them stored in my pantry. I feel a little like Bluebeard with a dirty little secret. I can't even store food in there anymore as all the storage surfaces are taken up by sticky pallets and the air is rather fumy. I need help. If anyone knows a good therapist who deals with FUPA, let me know

Replies: 3 Comments

on Friday, May 7th, Dio said

Being a acrylic kind of guy, I find the stay-wet palettes a life saver. I'm in need of a good mixing palette at them mo, as I'm working out of babyfood jars...

I think Tom Phillips came up woth the ideal solution to your problem in his Terminal Greys series of paintings. I actually quite like them and the concept behind them...

on Friday, May 7th,">Elise said

Wow, I checked out that guys stuff, I'm impressed. I can't stay excited about an idea for more than a couple of months, let alone 20+ years.

The 21 Places project looks kind of trippy too. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy conceptual art. Thanks Dio!

on Saturday, May 8th, Dio said

I saw a big retrospective of his work a decade ago and have liked his stuff ever since - he has lots of nice ideas which actually translate into interesting paintings.

Utilising the waste material like that is really nice - and it should be an artform more of us try!