So here goes!


Quite a few years ago, at the dawn of time, I was enrolled in a local community college taking something called Advertising Art (I believe these days it’s called just Graphic Design). There, the instructors took great pains to make our lives miserable. Even though the computer revolution was well under way, we were still doing quite a bit the old-fashioned way. That meant lots of fun assignments like this one: constructing and painting our own colour wheel. Fun stuff!

To keep things fair, we all had to use the same colours, mediums, and manufacturer of paint. Windsor & Newton Gouache Bengal Rose, Cadmium Yellow and Cobalt Blue. We had to mix all the secondary colours ourselves. Gouache seems to have a bit of a resurgence these days, but back then, it was getting pretty hard to find. Graphic Designers had stopped using the stuff, and water colourists weren’t using that much of it. Not to mention, you have to sacrifice to the right gods to get a nice flat coverage (which we were being graded upon), dark colours dry lighter, and light colours dry darker. Always and adventure to find out what you might be getting! Especially at 3 am after the umpteenth dozen failures.

So you go through the paint like there’s no tomorrow, and it is pretty hard to find. The 2 local art supply stores had stopped carrying the colours (and the brand, and pretty much Gouache entirely). And the instrutors weren’t cooperating with the local vendors on alternatives.

Basically, we were all screwed. Especially me. I was a drawer, not a painter. This was all very new and very scary to me. Someone in the class had found a supplier out East that would help us out, but it was looking more and more like the shipment wouldn’t arrive even close to on time.

Enter, my maternal grandparents. They were wintering on the West Coast. My Grandfather, a retired furniture designer, painted as a hobby. He checked out a place called Opus Art supplies in Vancouver. They had it in stock. Did I want some? YES! How much? ALL OF IT!!!

So I got my little box full of paint tubes. The other shipment from the supplier out East did come through last minute for everyone else. Those tubes lasted me a long, long time.

Every time I’m in Vancouver, I make a pilgrimage to Opus to pick something up. I’ve only been to Van-City twice in 25 years, so it’s not that exciting. But it is a fun story to tell.