Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Creativity Quest - Pack Your Bag!

“To be prepared is half the victory.”
                                            -  Miguel de Cervantes

Hi I’m Karen, I’m an art supply addict.

A very wise teacher once told me that in order to make art you had to have the proper tools.  But that didn’t mean I had to buy everything available!  My studio is filled with hundreds of items, some useful, some, not so much.  Going into an art supply store is almost a religious experience for me.  The minute I walk through the door I’m in awe of the sights and smells.  Paints, glues, pencils, papers, canvases, brushes, you name it, they all call to me. Even worse are the catalogs that come to my house because every art supply vendor must have me on their mailing list.  Just opening the mailbox fills me with the same excitement that the Sears “Wish Book” gave me as a child.  But I’ve to learned to say NO!  Too many choices confuses my already racing brain. I’ve realized that having the essential tools close at hand was enough to support my creative surges.  

After years of teaching art in public schools I’ve come to realize that you don’t need the most expensive tools to make wonderful art.  You just need the desire to create.  I must admit, I’m a bit of a brush snob.  I love the look and feel of an expensive brush.  But honestly the brush isn't what inspires me to be creative. It's my imagination.  Some of my best work has been painted with my ugliest brushes - the ones I found on the sale table.  So I let my fancy brush collection stay in their special cases (kind of like my fancy shoes - another obsession) while I grab a handful of my bargain brushes when I go on a Creativity Quest!

Often I’m asked about what supplies I think a budding artist should have.  My first response is “a bursting imagination,” but most people want the nuts and bolts.  So here’s a list of items I would recommend:

What to work on:
  • White Paper - there are many different types of sketch pads.  This is the one thing that will recommend that you spend a little money on.  Find a reasonably priced one that can  take both dry (pencils, pens, pastels, charcoal) and wet (paints and glue) media.  It’s cheaper to get an 18 x 24 pad - you can cut it to whatever size you want.  If you want a heavy paper you’ll need to invest in either Bristol board or watercolor paper.  Before you do that ask me - I might have a cheaper alternative.
  • Color papers - construction paper is pretty cheap but is pretty flimsy.  If you want color paper consider painting it yourself!.  Colored tissue paper is pretty cheap and great in collages.  I recommend that you buy it in the gift aisle or recycle it from the next holiday.  
  • Recycled surfaces - old file folders, books, boxes, etc.  Anything that’s flat and could take some glue and paint.

What to work with:
  • Pencils - plain old #2 yellow ones work just fine.  Save the fancy ones for your Drawing I class. Grab some colored pencils too.
  • Pens - I just love good old Sharpies.  They now come in so many colors and tips. Just make sure you have a black fine point and chisel point.    I also enjoy the gel pens.  
  • Markers - I’m talking about good old washable ones - Crayolas rock!
  • Crayons - Don’t you just love the smell!  Broken pieces are the best for so many things
  • Watercolor paint - Those Crayola trays work just great
  • Brushes - buy the bargin pack of assorted ones.  That way if you ruin one it’s easy to replace.
  • Scissors - whatever you’re comfortable with
  • Glue - Elmer is good and so is Mod Podge.  Maybe grab a glue stick too!
  • Stamp pad - black is all you need.  
  • Free stuff: magazines, newspapers, string, thread
  • Items of inspiration - shells, coins, pictures, doodads

Almost everything on my list can be found in one of the millions of dollar stores out there.  If not keep your eye on the newspaper for those 40% coupons.  

As you discover new techniques and want to experiment with those impulse art supplies (why do they always put the coolest stuff near the checkout counter?) your cache of tools will expand.  But for now just keep it simple, get the basics and have them ready for the next step in your Creativity Quest.

Tomorrow's blog: " Memories Spark Creativity"


  1. Great post! I love that you can use Crayola products as well as higher priced items, especially when traveling. Oh, and here's a link to weekly coupons! http://weeklyad.michaels.com/coupons/ Yay!

  2. Wonderful stuff! Looking forward to tomorrow's post!