the color snob

for a while i continued to buy supplies at university art in palo alto ... brushes, watercolor blocks, palettes, a few more paints at a time. but i soon realized that there were many paints and many supplies that university arts didn't carry.

so i paid a visit to this other place i'd heard about — accent arts.

university arts was clean and organized and tidy, with computerized inventory control and plenty of bright lighting. accent arts was a bit shabby and disorderly and jumbled, rather dark inside, using handwritten receipts.

i had to paw through piles of supplies, jumbled on the shelves. as i poked around, my wife idly looked at the shelves, listening to "car talk" chattering from a radio behind the checkout.

this wasn't my usual retail experience. the patrons and upkeep immersed me in the unfamiliar side of art, the disordered, whimsical, erratic, random side of art, the somewhat tacky and stifling side of art ... very unlike the overeducated, professionally groomed, highly directed approach to life that made up my own delusion of life's meaning, wrapped around me like my soft leather jacket and porsche sportscar.

the clerk was in his early twenties, dark haired with sallow coarse features and intense black eyes. standing among the clutter, i asked him which paints were the best, and for some reason he grew adamant that i buy schmincke paints.

he called himself the color snob and said schmincke was all he used. winsor and newton cost way too much, this is him in the aisle waving his hands. they told this woman, if it's good enough for j w turner, it's good enough for you. fucking arrogant!

i went ahead and bought the winsor & newton, and tried the schmincke too. the color snob fumed at the price on every winsor & newton tube i bought. i bought a lot, too.

through personal experience, i found that his preferences for schmincke weren't that well founded. (hm, maybe it's important that the winsor & newton agents were rude to him at an art exhibition.) i also began trying paints by holbein and old holland, brands i'd never heard of before.

then i discovered how incredibly cheaper it was to buy from online retailers. so cordial. so efficient. so businesslike.

so i stopped going to the disorderly little art shop and doing business with the color snob. though he did teach me something about the quirky mentality of artists.

the last time i was there, a genial elderly man demonstrated his calligraphic skills on a scrap of paper: wrote my name with the pen he had just purchased ... for way too much money.

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