A few days ago a friend of mine who is a journalist, and who has for some months been amusing himself by drawing and working in gouache and water-colour, came to me and asked what he should do to begin working in oils. He was without schooling of any artistic sort and professed his entire ignorance of even the fundamentals. He did not know what sort of brushes he would need and had an idea that quite a complicated equipment would be necessary. It was not easy to advise him, as I had no idea what sort or style of painting he wished to do. Neither had he. The advice given then, was the same I should give to anyone in a similar position. That is, start with an absolute minimum of equipment: three or four brushes of the sort to which he felt naturally attracted; a small bottle of bleached linseed oil; a little rectified turpentine, or some pure gasoline; a piece of metal, wood or glass to use as a palette, and five tubes of paint – Black, White, Middle Madder or Deep Cadmium Red, Lemon Cadmium and Cobalt Blue.
He might continue to work the rest of his life with no more outfit, or he may develop a style of working which will necessitate a much more elaborate equipment in every way, but by starting with the minimum and buying only what he feels absolutely necessary, he will be more likely to gain an appreciation and knowledge of each element than if he left his selection to the colourman, who might suggest a catalogue which would make any beginner dizzy with discouragement.
I started with a slight variation on this arrangement, and have added a couple more colours and some spray varnish since then. There is a lot to be said for trying to make do with what you have, and buying what you really need only as a last resort.
Incidentally, a few pages later in the chapter on glazing, Hiler talks about another friend:
The modern painter who uses glazes to the extreme possibility is my friend, Francis Picabia. I have seen some late paintings of his where as many as three or four glazes were superimposed in certain parts. Sometimes where forms of six different colours meet at a common point, a glaze was applied covering portions of all of them and thus giving rise to a very interesting if somewhat complicated gamme of combinations.
To explain: suppose that in a wheel with five spokes giving rise to as many divisions, each division was filled with a different colour. Let's say – red, green, yellow, blue and white. The surface adjoining the hub is glazed with rose madder to a distance about halfway to the circumference. This transparent coating of red at once gives rise to five new colours: over the red, to a dark red; over the yellow, to an orange; over the blue, to a violet; over the green, to a dark warm green, over the white, to a pink, etc. The possibilities of glazing may be, therefore, recognised at once as endless.