Sunday, January 4, 2015

Confessions of an Art Supply Hoarder

Artists are hoarders.

Every artist I know has a stash of stuff.... be it papers, paint, brushes, collage papers, markers, crayons, other drawing tools, books, pastels, texture mediums.... We love art supply stores. We buy stuff not having the slightest idea how we're going to use it. I myself have a sizable stash, though not nearly as large as some other people I know.  Still, I will struggle to do something on cheap paper that falls apart, when there are sheets of heavy cold-press paper I've had for 5 years and not used. It's silly.

Only a small sampling of my art gear...
When I was cleaning up my studio recently, I came across a few small books I had made out of watercolour paper with the intention of using them as art journals. But I didn't know how to art journal, so instead of actually using them, I figured I'd get something cheap and learn how first, and THEN I'd use them. So I went to my local Goodwill and picked up a few kids board books, which I've been using ever since. My lovely hand-made "journals" never got used. I also have a pile of blank 30x40" canvases leaning up against a wall in my studio. I bought them on sale for a fantastic price, but I thought I'd save them for when my work was better, and could do something awesome on them. They've been sitting there over a year. At this rate, I'll be 90 before I think I'm good enough to do something that large. Silly.

I got a book for Christmas by Sue Bleiweiss called "The Sketchbook Challenge". It is a part of an online project that includes a blog, and provides themes to inspire your creativity. As usual, I'm late to the party... seems the blog ran for a few years but is no longer going to be active. Still, there are a couple years worth of monthly themes to work from... certainly enough to keep anyone going for a while. I've never really been one to keep a sketchbook... I get a new one every year and use it mainly when I travel. Pen and ink doodles, notes, quick line drawings of compositions I see that strike me. Mine are not these lovely moleskin books filled with beautiful drawings like you see online. I think of myself primarily as a painter, and most sketchbooks don't have heavy enough paper to paint in. Even after using gesso on the pages they still tend to fall apart when subjected to my abuse. But wait... I've got those watercolour books.....

As part of my one and only 2015 resolution to USE UP THE STASH, I chose a theme from the book that is out of my usual realm, got out one of my books and did my first pages. The two pages together are roughly the same proportions as my large canvas, so my plan is to work the 6 spreads in the book on the theme, choose one that works for me, and use it to create a large painting. The theme I chose is PATTERNS AND GRIDS... completely out of my comfort zone. I found this theme incredibly difficult to paint... and I find sharing this difficult,  mainly because I think it's crap. But the thing about art... you have to do the crap to get to the good stuff. I'll keep going, it's not that big a commitment. And I have my Cab Calloway painting in progress to go to when I need a break from all this uncomfortable stuff.

First spread in my Patterns and Grids workbook. The "pattern" is a stamp I carved years ago... probably too big for this size painting. The "grid" thing is too rigid for me, but hey, it's my book so I can use it as I see fit, right? Maybe I can do more a series of overlapping blocks... anyway, I'll think about it and make it work somehow....