Thursday, January 10, 2013
I was puttering away in the studio last night, thinking. I often work late at night, until midnight or later. I find there are fewer distractions, no phone calls, it's too dark to see what needs weeding. And one thing struck me, what I would have told myself as a 20 year old who wanted to be an artist. Aside from the obvious, "just paint, you need to paint at least 100 bad paintings before they start getting good" was the other thought...make do.
Early in my "career" I worked in an art supply store. It was the perfect place for me to be. It opened doors to other artists, classes, supplies, information on framing. A thousand good things came from that job. But one thing that it also did was surround me with bright shiny arty things. Bundles of pencil crayons in pretty boxes, beautiful hand rolled pastels from France, x-acto knives in stylish containers. I had an employee discount and I used it. But now, 25 years later, I have learned to make do.
If I were starting again, I would still buy a few good things, that expensive aluminum ruler they made me buy in college? Still have it. Paint? Even to the chagrin to some artist friends I still buy top of the line paints, papers, and canvas. But the other stuff? Meh.
Now I buy packs of cheap brushes that cost about the same as one gleaming russet colored beauty. I have dropped the x-acto knife for a hardware store knife, and when I've lost that, a single edged razor blade works perfectly well, and you can buy them by the hundreds. Rather than buying expensive pre-printed papers to collage with, I make my own with tissue from old dress patterns, for free. The pencil you found in the back of the drawer works about as well as the sparkly new one at the art supply store. A palette? A chunk of tempered glass from a yard sale and old yogurt cups.
Make do, make it part of the process. It's a sure fire way to avoid the "sameness" so common in the art world. Let the creative part start from the beginning.