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Less is more

In the last few days, I have finally tackled a decluttering project that I have been avoiding for months: Sorting out the oil paints I was given last year. I had initially asked for 2 reds, 2 yellows and 2 blues to experiment with, but ended up accepting the whole collection of old paints - over 90 tubes!

Here are some of the lessons I have been (re-)learning:

Free items still have a cost. I initially said yes because I wanted to save the paint from landfill and did not want to make a wrong choice. I have now been reminded that there are other important costs apart from money to be considered when taking on something new: Time and physical and mental space.

Less is indeed more. 70 tubes are going to a new home tomorrow, with money raised for charity. I have now been left with a more manageable collection of 20 paint tubes. The collection may get further reduced after I have attended a colour course, but I already notice less decision fatigue when picking my next colour.

Looks can be deceptive. In many cases, the tubes were sticky and looked manky; the labels were long gone or illegible. I decided to open the tubes to find out what was inside. Amazingly, only one small tube had dried out. All other colours were still usable.

Colour can transform a space. I overpainted old canvasses and art boards (all part of the "inheritance") to make use of the paint I had squeezed out - I did not want any paint to end up in our waterways. Luckily, our decluttering efforts have freed up some shelves which can now act as a temporary gallery while the paint dries. I love the injection of bold colour in a room that has always felt a little drab and dark. Whilst I previously avoided the room and have increasingly used it to store clutter out of sight, it has now become the additional studio space I have always wanted.

It is important to remain mindful of the environment I found some tubes which contained ingredients which are nowadays seen as questionable (for example cadmium, cobalt, lead white.) I am wondering whether we may one day find that pigments and ingredients we currently consider environment-friendly are also damaging. So I will continue to experiment with palette knives, which can be easily cleaned on old rags, to avoid any paint going down the drains.


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