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Butte artist's quest for rare paint color pays off after worldwide search

Butte artist Kelly Packer
Posted at 11:37 AM, Oct 05, 2023

BUTTE — A Butte artist has been scouring art stores around the world for her favorite color, and recently Kelly Packer finally found what she says may be the last magenta oilbar in the world.

Packer is inspired by the pink houses that she comes across on her daily walks and she has recently been on a quest for color that has taken her around the world.

"The color is very important. It creates like an emotion in the pieces, like the sidewalk might not be pink but there are times when sidewalks are pink and you might not notice it or you might want it to be pink," says Packer.

Packer draws inspiration from the homes that dot Butte's upper west side, collecting dozens of photographs of a home or neighborhood that happens to catch her eye. She says the crisp mountain light heavily influences her work.

"High mountain light that's very crisp. It's very, just pumped up a little bit. So my drawings are like, pump it up even more," says Packer.

And her favorite color to use to pump up the volume in her work is magenta.

"It pops everything, like, you use that and all the greens pop—it just does like a cascade effect of what that one color does to something; it makes everything else jump out."

Packer's core medium is oilbar, a type of oil paint in solid form, but her favorite magenta oilbars are running scarce after the Winsor & Newton art supply company discontinued them, sending Packer on a quest for color.

"I've looked all over the place to find these. This one's running out and I was getting antsy about trying to find another one."

So she scoured internet art shops.

"I've looked many times on the internet and I just looked once more just to see and I found this store in the Philippines."

Packer ordered the magenta oilbar a couple of months ago.

"I had to Paypal them in like PHP money and so there was a conversion there," says Packer.

After a series of "interesting" email exchanges with the seller, she doled out more money for shipping. And then she waited.

"I didn't know if I was ever going to get something in return."

But after all the searching and shipping negotiations, Packer did get something in return.

"It was delivered in a big yellow box and the van that came was just an unmarked van and this couple just dropped it on my porch."

Kind of mysterious.

"Yeah it was very mysterious," says Packer. "It's had a journey. Yeah, I think this is the last magenta in the world. I mean, other companies do make similar things—but it's not quite the same."