I hate winter in UK with a passion. Drizzle depresses me, storms scare me, cold winds chill my bones, I dread fog and I fear ice. So, what is the use of winter? Well, it keeps me in my studio for even longer that usual and forces me to have a good clear out and prepare for the coming sun-filled new year.
First off, I check my paints. There is always a temptation to buy yet another blue or red or pre-mixed green but the more experienced I have become the fewer colours I think I need.I get ever-closer to the half-dozen or so, warm/cool versions of the three primaries, plus white and black. Yes, black. I know it's frowned on in some places but I love it - used sparingly - to create lovely greens and to temper my tendency towards "brightness". For portraiture, one additional "must have" colour (for me) is burnt sienna ... it could be mixed from the others but it is such a lovely hue. I add it to the basic skin colours to create more warmth and, mixed with a touch of blue perhaps, to move into the shadows.
From paints to brushes ... last year, for oil painting, I bought new ones from Rosemary and Co - their Ivory range - and can recommend them totally, They have just enough spring, keep their shape despite a fair bit of "rubbing" and do not lose hairs along the way. Well worth having a look. For acrylic, I'm using Pro Arte Sterling. In each case, short flats and filberts are my favourites. Of course some old brushes can be retained for rough work ... but there comes a time when it's best to say "goodbye old friend" and invest in something new.
Frames are next on my list; I have a feeling that - like clothes hangers - picture frames are able to breed! Despite selling paintings through the year, there always seem to be more frames hidden away under the desk or behind the browser. And, sadly, they do go out of fashion - and will depress the look and value of a decent painting. So ... the charity shop beckons.
Final stop ... magazines. Now is the time to go through all those Artists and Illustrators or whatever, cut out the photos or articles that inspire and ditch the rest. Recycle, naturally!
OK ... maybe winter does have its plus points. For once that clear out is complete ... my easel calls me back.
Enjoy your painting in 2016.