My Life as an Artist . . . Impulse Art Supply Purchases

Have you seen those television commercials that promote a program about hoarding? The commercials were enough to scare me away. I mean just the mess of it all. Possibly I didn’t watch because the difference between me and those commercials might only be that I keep everything I own very organized. Okay, okay, that’s not the only difference. I don’t have anywhere near as much “stuff” as I saw in those commercials either.

However, that doesn’t mean I am not an impulse buyer when it comes to art supplies. When I look around this room, I wonder what anyone would think if I were gone and they came in to clean out my cupboards and drawers. It’s like a mini store in here.

First off, they will think that I have more pencils than anyone could use in a lifetime. Now let’s be honest, you and I both know that a number of these pencils might be left over, but we buy the big set because many in the big set won’t last six months even though I now use my pencils until they are only about an inch long—and it’s more economical than buying individual pencils.

Then will open this cupboard door to find my stash of watercolor paints. But hey stop, add water, I bet they still work. Goodness knows, I needed all these beautiful colors. Okay, maybe not those colors that I only used once when called for in a class in 2018.

The paint brush collection would tell a fellow artist what I liked to paint. They would appreciate the need for this eclectic collection and probably decide that they should not be thrown out and simply offer to give them a wonderful new home.

If you close your eyes and think about it, I bet you can imagine the collection of paper around here. There is the extra big ream of computer paper, pads of watercolor paper, the colored pencil paper. Cardstock in all colors to mount finished pieces. It’s all here.

How did I come to own all of this? For the most part it happened one online order at a time. If I watched a video, took a class, read a blog, or talked to my BFF, I undoubtedly heard about an art supply (maybe only new to me) that I just knew I needed. I would rush to find it, order it, and then wait with anxious anticipation for it to arrive.

Once my package arrives it seems that the excitement often turns to anxiety. Now what? How am I to use this? Why did I think I wanted this? Some items go right to the drawer or cupboard, while others sit on my desk and whisper to me, “come on you know you want to use me”. Eventually I muster the courage and try the product. Some never get put away and others do . . . for a long time.

But that brings me to the happy part of my little story here. I’ve started using so many of my supplies lately. You know when you have gathered many supplies over time, it is bound to happen, you enroll in a class that has required supplies . . . and you find them in your stash! So happy number one, you don’t have to buy it again before class starts. Happy number two comes when you are taking the class and find out how to use that item that’s been just sitting so patiently waiting for you to come along and use it. Happy number three is when you realize months later you are still using that supply in your normal art routine.

So, you ask, what have I started using on a regular basis lately? Let me see.

  • Glassine paper – this is the barrier between my hand and my colored pencil project when coloring (oh how I wish I had done this from the start, this is a hard habit to establish now but I will conquer it)

  • Prismacolor Colorless Blender #1077 – I have learned that it really does blend color pencil pigment once you lay down enough pigment

  • #4 Filbert brush—this is a great brush to use with graphite powder for cast shadows

  • Daniel Smith watercolors—learning to control watercolor for both watercolor projects and backgrounds for colored pencil projects

  • Arches Watercolor Paper—it’s so expensive I told myself I couldn’t use it until I was more proficient with watercolor

None of these items were recent purchases. They were all right here. The catalyst to get me using each of these was all the same, a recent art class.

You might wonder why I haven’t been using these all along. Well, except for the watercolor paper, it was because I never deviated from the instructions in an art class. But lately, for some unexplainable reason, I seem to have taken a lot of what I’ve learned and thrown it into a virtual art blender. I am mixing and matching supplies and/or techniques without permission. I am experimenting before I start a project. As a result, I believe that I have reached an artist milestone and have been rewarded with a new level of confidence.

This is truly the result of my practice routine. I mix up technical drills with coloring images. I try out my supplies and papers. The more I get to know them, the more creative I seem to get.

If you recognize yourself in my impulse buying tale here, I want to just encourage you to start trying out your supplies too. If you are afraid to use your paper, change your thinking. Remember, it has two sides. Practice on one side, if you don’t like it, turn it over and practice some more. Or cut it up and use the backside as scraps for color swatching. If you have a supply that you can’t recall why you bought it, or how it’s to be used, check online I bet there is a video all about it!

The more time you spend with your art supplies before you start that next masterpiece is where you will build your artistic confidence. If nothing else, just remember this:

Practice isn’t Boring - Practice is Exploring

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Did you make a New Year's resolution to put coloring back into our life? But now you aren't sure where to start? Why not join with fellow colorers as we focus our attention on creating more realism in our projects as we put the "value" of color into our practice as we start the new year.

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Value here.

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