As an artist I know the value of having plenty of my materials at hand. There is nothing worse than having to worry about conserving paint because I’m almost out of that indigo blue I adore. It’s also difficult to know the cost of the materials I use. Some of the paint I’ve got cost $20 for a 15ml tube! I spent much of my time in college worrying about the cost of my materials and thus attempting to work small or lean so that I wouldn’t have to worry about buying another tube of whatever color I may run out of. My final project for painting 101, for which I was required to work big, I decided to work in a sepia tone, because I had the most of those colors. This annoyed the crap out of my professor.
If I could go back and do it over again I’d have bought tubes of Liquitex Basics, despite my professor’s sneers toward student grade paints. I’d have felt much more comfortable and free had I not had to worry about replacing $20 tubes of paint.
It’s part of the reason I preach “buy the best you can afford now, upgrade later.” I’d have been better off in college buying better brushes than splurging on the pricey paints. I’d have made better art too.
We’re all after the magic bullet; that special brush, watercolor set, color of paint, stencil, rubberstamp or glue that will propel our art into perceived territory of amazing. WE see what our friends make and compare, usually unfairly. We see them using a particular pen, or ink, or cutter and suddenly we think, “My art could be better if I HAD that particular tool.” We watch some YouTube videos on that product and soon enough we’re convinced, “MY art WOULD be better if I only had that tool.” We buy into the hype. Then we buy it and it sits gathering dust in a corner of our art room and soon enough we’re regretting the purchase. We forget that regret as we get onto the hunt for the next new product.
In the end we feed the machine and our guilt. Eventually the guilt is deep enough that we can’t even go into our art room because we’re reminded of the hundreds (thousands) of dollars we spent accumulating our stuff.
The reality is, if we learned better to use our current stash of stuff we'd be less insecure when we look at art on the interent, Ustream and blogs. Knowledge of our tools is what makes us more secure. Knowledge is security.
Knowing what you can and can't do with the tools is the first tool in the arsenal against the cult of stuff.
I have a rule that I need to use anything new in experiments. I have to learn how to use it to the best of my abilities. It's why anytime I buy a new color of paint I test it out on a page of it's own in my journal. I make blobs and lines, little squiggles. I try and mix it with other colors to see what colors I get. I see if I can add it to the tools I have. Sometimes It doesn't make it and sometimes a new color is magical.