“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan Watts
Change is difficult for many. In general, people like things that are familiar to them. They like routines. They like knowing what to expect.
Cats are like that. I hang around with cats a lot. I had read long ago that cats are most comfortable when routines are established and they are less stressed and happier. I see evidence of that all the time, as when our little rituals here are disrupted for some reason or another, the cats don’t seem to understand and are a bit out of sorts.
For example, the other night both Keith and I were busy a bit later than usual. We usually get together at a certain time in the evening and give the kitties their treats and then they snuggle in with us for some TV time to unwind and relax before going to sleep. We do this every night. But since we were both busy, we were ‘late’. The two of them were in their usual places – Coco on her chair next to the bed and Wolf Blitzer on the bed – and when we walked in the room, we were greeted with reprimanding looks from both of them. We didn’t imagine it. They were definitely not impressed with our tardiness and our disruption of their routine. They expected us earlier and it took a bit for them to settle down. Point taken.
While this may not have seemed like a big deal to us, in their world it was significant. I suppose we all have some types of things in our lives that bring us comfort, and while change is inevitable and many times essential, how we deal with it can dictate our mood for quite some time. Some adapt to change more easily than other. I find that those who are willing to not only accept change, but also embrace it are the ones who have an easier time of things overall. They take things in stride, adapt, and adjust without much thought. Some even look forward to it. They look at changes as new adventures and can’t wait to explore the possibilities. I love that attitude and aspire to be like them.
But this past year has been tough for many. I don’t think I need to explain all the reasons why. Just about everyone’s life has been affected by the global pandemic in some way or another and people are already full of stress and anxiety because of their own routines being so disrupted. No matter how necessary these changes are, they are still something that many view as inconveniences and they add to the feelings of many that they no longer have control over their own lives and feel pretty crummy about that. As a result, I notice that people seem to find solace in doing things that are familiar to them and staying close to home. The home improvement and crafts industry are doing well despite the crisis because people are closing ranks and sticking with what is familiar to them and hasn’t changed. They are doing what I call ‘nesting’ and creating environments that they can feel comfortable in and familiar with. I believe that is how they are dealing with the outside world that is out of their control.
Because of this, it seems that the little changes that come our way do affect us more deeply than usual. It doesn’t take much to upset our balance sometimes. Especially when we are feeling so volatile in so many ways.
So yesterday, when I received a letter from DecoArt that they were discontinuing 36 of their Americana acrylic paint colors, I had a feeling that things would not go over very well in the decorative painting community. The minute I saw the length of the list, my heart dropped right to my stomach and I felt a wave of dread wash over me.
This wasn’t purely for personal reasons. While I was a bit upset at first, as I am in the process of writing out a pattern for a rather large project (my Pink Macaron Bakery) and a couple of the discontinued colors were those that I had used, I was more concerned at the backlash and disapproval of the painting community in general, as every year when DecoArt retires old colors that don’t sell well, there is usually an uproar for a while. Never mind the aforementioned situation that we all find ourselves in now.
Initially, I felt the shock like everyone else probably did. I messaged one of my favorite colleagues to vent to her about it. We discussed the reasons and the scope of the list (she was surprised that “only” 36 colors were retired – she had thought it would be over 50) and by talking to her about it, I came to the realization that not only was it NOT a tragedy, but that it may be for the better in the long run.
After all, we are ARTISTS. We are CREATIVE. We are INNOVATIVE. The Americana line of paint is typically used for decorative painters who create projects that are whimsical, fun, and for lack of a better word – cartoon-ish. While I have used it to make some ‘finer art’ type of painting, for the most part, the patterns calling for it are much more of a ‘fun’ nature. If someone wants to make something that is more refined or specific, DecoArt offers its “Traditions” line of paint that has longer open time and is more suited for this type of creating.
I am not saying that finer art cannot be made with the Americana Acrylics. I did a self-challenge not too long ago and I painted this tiger – Hutan – completely in the Americana paint without any added mediums just to see if it was possible. I think I did OK.
In order to achieve this level of art, I did have to mix and do things like glazing with washes of color. But it is possible. It is part of being an artist and part of the process.
At one time, DecoArt offered over 300 colors in their Americana line. While I am an artist and love color, I started to find that excessive. I really think that doing some ‘light’ mixing to achieve different shades of color not only makes things easier for the consumer, but it also makes a better looking painting. You don’t have to worry if you are shading with a green that has too much blue in it or too much yellow or is too much of a ‘grey-green’. When you add a touch of color to an existing one, you are more likely to be on the right track and have everything look good. It is as simple as that.
I know that those newer to painting seem to be most upset. I have taught enough classes in my life to notice that there are the novice painters who are frightened to deviate from the pattern even a little bit. I was like that as well when I began painting with DecoArt and other acrylic paints. If the pattern called for “Licorice Black” from Folk Art and I had “Lamp Black” from DecoArt in my supplies, I would head out in the car, young children in tow, to the many craft stores that were available to me and hunt down that color (I lived in the Chicago area at that time). It would sometimes take me three or four stops to find the color. Then I would come home and begin painting only to find that the color I worked so diligently to find was only used as the pupil of the eye or some other small area (as a blush on a cheek, or even a line in a sweater). You could insert your own scenario here. Does that flower have to be that identical shade of pink? Or that bee the exact shade of yellow? Or that leaf the ‘perfect’ shade of green?
I think you get my point. . .
From a business point of view, I do believe in my heart that DecoArt is doing everything it can to survive and grow as a company. They offer many different lines of paint both for the decorative painters as well as the home decor market. The Americana line is just a small percentage of their company, and while they focus a great deal on decorative painters, as a responsible company, they need to look at the big picture and do what helps them survive.
So many businesses have closed over this last year. The decorative painting industry has been declining a bit over the past several years. I believe (and this is only my own opinion) that because of the impact of people spending more time at home this year, there has been a slight boost in those who are painting for fun, as I feel the craft industry as a whole has had a little bump. My own business did rather well considering.
If DecoArt has to taper down the number of colors it offers in order to stay viable and healthy, I am all for it. I know I will probably get a lot of backlash myself for having this opinion, but so be it. They are still offering 241 colors in the Americana line, not to mention several full lines of acrylic specialty paints that work well together with the Americanas. What more could we ask for?
Each color requires set-up and expense in order to produce a batch. The more colors they have, the more costly and difficult it is to keep everything in stock and keep making runs of color. While consumers may like having ‘choices’, there comes a point when it just isn’t prudent to keep adding to the mix. Color trends change. Stores don’t want to invest in stock in such a huge number of colors. Consumers want prices to be kept low and not go up.
Sometimes we just aren’t able to ‘have it all.’ That is the time when we have to look at what we DO have and make it work for us. We need to adapt. We need to learn to improvise and not be angry or feel deprived, but grateful. If you were to go back in time and tell an artist like Van Gogh or Monet that we are offered “only” 241 colors to paint with, they would look at us like we had two heads. There comes a time when we need to look at the big picture of life and be grateful for the wonderful choices we do have.
I, for one, feel that I would rather see DecoArt limit their palette that they offer than close down altogether like many other companies have done. I also think that by doing this step, it not only enables them to keep functioning and employing their people, but also they are able to offer us other lines of beautiful paint for our other painting needs and keeping their quality high. This includes paint for fabric, furniture, and even outdoor projects. Again – we need to look at the big picture.
They will also be introducing some new, updated colors for this year:
I do think they are beautiful and I am excited to use them in future projects. Some of these may be viable substitutes for colors that are no longer available. Some are fresh and new on their own. In either case, they are something to look forward to.
In closing today, I want to say that I can understand both sides of the coin. Some of you feel unhappy because you will be forced to change things. Others may be upset because you feel you invested in a color or colors that are no longer available to you. My answer to that is that there is no reason at all that you can’t use what you have. I do it all the time. I have painted others’ patterns and shown them online to many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and I have just pulled my own similar colors from my own stash of paint in doing so. Not once has anyone called me on it and said, “You used Banana Cream instead of Moon Yellow!” The two colors are so close that unless you swatch them right next to each other, you would never know the difference. It is just a matter of mindset.
For those who don’t know which colors are discontinued, I created a Jpeg of the list for you here:
Life is about change. Change is inevitable and those who adapt to it are those who seem to have an easier time overall. I tend to look at change as an opportunity to grow, as we can’t grow if we refuse to change. We become stagnant. Growing often brings discomfort, as we are doing something that is new to us and we don’t feel as sure-footed about ourselves. But isn’t that part of the exhilaration that comes with learning? Isn’t that part of the excitement?
I think it is. I hope you agree.
Until next time . . .