Monday, January 5, 2009

Art Day: Art Tips - Buying and Trying New Art Supplies

Happy 2009!

Art Day January Schedule:

1/5 - art tips - buying and trying new art supplies
1/12 - art tips - pen and ink
1/19 - art tips – ink washes and color
1/26 – illustrator Katherine Zecca

Art Day features will be posted Monday evenings instead of mornings for 2009 :)

Art Tips is a new Art Day feature for the new year! Art Tips will feature tips on topics such as: art supplies, techniques, mediums, and portfolios that will hopefully be useful for new artists and established artists. I’ll post a few tips each time, and some topics may be repeated if there’s more to share.

Today’s Art Tips is on trying new art supplies.

* New Artists: It’s good to try a wide range of mediums when you are just starting out, so you’ll know what you’re good at. It might be something you never tried before.

* Established Artists: Trying a new medium, a new brand, or a new type of paintbrush can shake things up in your art. It could be enough to take you in a new direction, or just breathe some new life into your old style.

I thought it might be useful to other artists to talk about trying new mediums or art brands and buying new art supplies. I always want to try new art supplies. Going to the art store is like going to the candy store for me. I want to try one of everything. Since I haven’t won the lottery (that I know of), I’ve got to be a bit more selective than running through the store screaming, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” or grabbing items off the shelves and throwing them into the cart like it’s a shopping spree, and the first one back to the counter with a full cart wins!

So, here are my tips for buying something I want to try but don’t know if I’ll like:

1. Compare prices before you buy. Dick Blick is a great online and retail store. I’ve also shopped at Pearl Paint, Utrecht, Daniel Smith, Cheap Joes Art Supplies, and Michaels.

2. Some stores have coupons, which are good for buying things you might not have bought at full price.

3. Sets can provide a larger range of colors for a smaller price than purchasing each tube of paint or pencil separately.

4. Don’t buy the cheapest thing they have available at Target, Walmart, or Kmart. Art supplies at super low price points (usually made for children) don’t use the same pigments and materials as high quality art supplies. You won’t get the same results and might be frustrated with what you create.

5. Do try the student grade art supplies from the manufacturers of high quality supplies. These are well made and will give you a good feel for the medium. You may never want or need to move up to the professional grade supplies, or you might want to. If you look at the packaging and the website, you should be able to find out what the difference between the student grade and professional grade materials is.

6. Try different surfaces to paint and draw on. If you’ve always used Bristol, try drawing on parchment or rice paper, or if you’ve only painted on canvas, try painting on paper, etc.

7. Once you get your new art supplies and paper home, play with it like you were a little kid. Doodle, paint with your fingers or a sponge, draw something fun then paint outside the lines when you color it in. Create something fun, new, different, wild, or insane. Play.

8. After you’ve played for a while, try to draw or paint like you usually do, but with the new supplies. See what happens.

I hope you all have a happy accident that turns into a new portfolio piece or a new style!

p.s. If you have any tips for trying new art supplies, feel free to share them in the comments section. Thanks!


  1. I agree with you about the brand being important even with materials I buy for my children. You can tell right away when you start using the paint (or even crayon) what quality it is!

  2. It's great that you buy good stuff for your children to use, especially since you seem to do a lot of art projects (yay).

    Some art supplies for kids are ok, especially for experimenting (like crayola crayons, most markers and certain watercolor paints).

    There are others that are not worth buying (like Crayola colored pencils ... actually, most non-artist colored pencils) because they are hard to use and don't have great results.

  3. This post makes me want to go out and paint something! :0D

  4. I wish I was an artist. I was when I was a kid. I was when I was pregnant....part of some weird nesting thing. I had all the brushes, the paints, the canvases. I just didn't have the talent. I have never taken a class. I guess when my friends are people like you, Stephanie, and other professional artist, it is hard to look at my remedial work and feel much pride. Maybe, some day soon, I'll try again.

  5. Christy, yay, go paint! :)

    Jill, sorry you feel that way about your art. Hugs! The thing about art, though, is that it's a lot like writing. You have to practice to get good at it, but you can also just have fun and do it for you.

  6. I'm with Jill. But this post just made me want to go have fun....fingerpaint!

  7. I've always loved buying art supplies, whether it be a new box of Crayons for my boys or a sketch pad for my daughter. There's just something fun about this for me.

    I wish I could go paint right now, but my meatloaf awaits -- sigh!

  8. I went to the big art store downtown last weekend - I always think the same thing - it's my candy store!
    I bought some ultra-soft pencils to play with :)

  9. Angela, finger paint is great fun. Enjoy!

    Rena, hope your meatloaf was yummy and you got to paint after that.

    Adrienne, yay for new pencils! I went to the art store the other day too. All I ended up with was a stuffed elephant!? But I ordered my art supplies online when I got home. :)