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Painting Art Lithuania Vilnius Uzupis Europe Travel History Culture Sculpture

Oil Painting in Lithuania

Among my other hobbies, I often times pose as a famous artist and travel for much needed inspiration. Oil painting is a great way to express creativity, emotions, relax and unwind. Finding the materials is where the real fun begins.

Generally I use pre-made, pre-mixed oil paints from the neighborhood art store in town. It is often difficult to locate premade paints when traveling abroad. The great thing is you find beautiful, rich paint pigments in old fashioned glass jars, which allows the artist to mix their own colors and add oils according to how much is necessary depending on the dimension of the project.

There are several things to keep in mind when mixing and effectively working with paint pigments. Some of the general terms used in reference to pigments are opaque, translucent and transparent. Opaque is when you are mixing the pigment into a can of white paint. Translucent is mixing the pigments with oils or some form of glaze which allows light to reflect onto the pigments and as is the same with transparent mixing depending on the materials you use. Another thing to keep in mind is deciding what color palette you are trying to attain. If you want to work with muted, light, soft colors then mixing with a solid white paint will achieve this. But if you are working with oils and want to create a sharp, bright, bold color then you need to determine what brands and products to work with. Keep in mind that pigments are also somewhat misleading since they are slightly different variations in color when wet versus bone dry. Pigments different in quality, potency and composition as well. A pigment based of clay perhaps will not be as strong as one with iron components. Thicker pigments will have a higher concentration of minerals and be bolder, stronger colors than others. When mixing the pigments remember to go slow, test out the quantity, don’t dump or pour too quickly. You will end up creating a mess and a lot of unusable pigment.

Traveling to Lithuania and staying in the capital city, Vilnius, I immediately took a short stroll from the Old Town to the well-known, funky, hip artist quarter called Uzupis located on the Vilnia River. The area of Uzupis, known properly as the Republic of Uzupis, is also unique in that it has its own municipal town, laws and is governed by its own parliament as well, being separate from Lithuania and Vilnius. It was a quaint locale rich in culture, art history, great style and fresh ideas. Characteristics of this interesting area are the Saatchi Gallery which hosts an incredible collection of works from all over, the Uzupis Angel which is a sculpture in the middle of the square made of brass and bronze and the Uzupis Mermaid which is a bronzed sculpture located near the Uzupis Bridge.

Being here among the brightly painted wooden buildings, galleries and old barn-style studios, I was ready to jump in and start painting. I discovered a small shop which had leftover pigments they were more than happy to dispense of. The little old man, his face weathered by time and his hands covered in a myriad of colors, helped me mix the pigments with oils. Like a chemist creating a potent substance he picked oils from this jar and that, none of which were marked and all lined up perfectly. It was incredible to watch him with years experience choosing the proper oil for each certain brand of pigment, mixing and creating beautiful raw colors that you will never find in any generalized art store. We threw down a tarp and at shy at first, started with small brush strokes and then laughing and dancing around creating a mural of color and design, an abstract sense of nothingness, but a work of art in the end.