I have bought a lot of paints over the years. A lot! I started with Enamels, building model aircraft. I remember the acrid smell and having to use turps to clean the brushes. When Games Workshop brought out their first acrylic paints, it was a small miracle for me. No more smell and you could wash the brush with water. Brilliant! Enamels hold no nostalgic value for me.

It’s quite scary when I look through the jumbled mass of paint pots and think each one of these has a history of how and why each of them got there. Most I have bought. As regards the others:

  • Some I’ve been given. Never look a gift horse, I say. Thanks Garry and Crouchie!
  • Some I’ve reviewed for the magazine and decided to use them afterwards.
  • Some I inherited. When my good friend Paul Houghton died, his sister wanted me to have his wargames collection, including his paints. His collection included an excellent wood colour that I can’t find anywhere now.
  • Some I’ve bought twice, thinking I didn’t have that colour already. I really should take a list with me when I go shopping…
  • Some I’ve bought plenty of times. I tend to use a lot of white (undercoat) and earthen colours (basing) for some reason.
  • Some I had for a very long time. Thanks to a good seal the paint didn’t dry out.
  • A few are dried out husks. Due to bad seals, they need to be thrown away. Funnily enough, some of the old original Citadel paints have lasted while their second and third generation versions paints haven’t.

Do I really need all these paints? Do I need so many of them? Probably not. Perhaps I should take the advice of Richard Lloyd (see his various articles in WSS), who has a minimalist approach to paints. He only uses a small selection (no more than 30) and relies on larger and cheaper acrylic paints – sold in 60ml bottles or 120ml tubes – rather than the admittedly small 18ml (or less!) pots that we use.

Some painters simply mix the colours that they need. I’ve been wanting to do some articles on colour theory and tips on how to mix paints, including paint formulas. “So why hasn’t it been in WSS yet?” I hear you ask. As always, it all depends on finding the right author to write the article.

I’ve become far more organized with my paints, partly as a result of seeing my boss Jasper’s paint collection, which is organized with military precision (editorial note: this is when people come to visit…!) So the paints that I regularly use are now in a “Really Useful Box”, so I can take them out and put them away neatly. I also believe in recycling whenever possible, so old paint pot lids with a little “blu tack” become useful holders for when I’m painting miniatures.

So what would the minimum number of paints be? I’ve been told that – theoretically – a painter could mix any colour from five paints (red, blue, yellow, white and black). It would be interesting to see what the results would be. Actually, there’s a painting competition in that!

I’ll talk more about paints in future blog posts.

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