Cult of Stuff part 2

The initial anti-cult of stuff response is, of course, that you need less, but the more reasoned response is that you need to find the media that is most suited to you in your expression.

For years I used a fountain pen. I set it aside for a set of Sakura pens and then for a set of Pitt pens until 10 years later I’m back at the fountain pen. Why? It works for me. I like how it works; I love the lines I can get.

I also use acrylic paint, watercolors, as well as various other tools. Why? They work for me and I like the effects I can get.

It took me awhile to figure out what I liked and how I work. Even still a break from my usual pen and ink work to make gelatin prints to liven things up. A workshop or a class at Michael’s, AC Moore, or your local community college can really shake things up and get you out of your creative rut. What about finding an art buddy? Someone you can head to a coffee shop with, or walk the park with, or sketchcrawl that pretty town you’ve never bothered with?

It’s a lot easier to head to the craft store and buy some premade ephemera and slap it in your journal than it is to trek to a coffee shop you’ve never been to isn’t it?

I’ve been there.

My point is that we need to get back to the process part of art journaling. Step away from the scrapping aisle. Head to the “fine art aisle.” Look at all the stuff there. Student Grade. Artist Grade and the more recently introduced “Professional” grade*. Here’s the thing, none of the stuff in that aisle is going to make much sense until you get dirty with it. Sure you understand pencils, colored pencils and pens but what about those tubes of paint? Where do you even start? Head to YouTube, Google, or search through for some technique videos and tutorials. The internet is crawling with great (and shitty) advice.

  • Try to avoid buying supplies on a whim**.
  • Buy student grade if you aren’t sure you’ll like this media***.
  • Don’t start with a full contingent of mediums and additives.

Make a promise to yourself that you will sit down with that one material and experiment with them in every way you think possible and a few ways you didn’t think were possible. Make notes. Get to know that material.

Get curious. Perform mad science in the pages of your art journal.

Ask yourself this question: What would happen if I did this? How would this respond to this?

Now that you know that material inside and out, add to it. Layer your spray inks over watercolor, and acrylic over that, glue down some ephemera from that coffee shop you tested out last weekend.

Now that you’ve read all this, you’re thinking, “I don’t have time, I just want results.” Here’s my answer to that, “You need to make time to experiment. You can’t get results without putting in a lot of time. If you take short cuts the only thing you’re doing is cheating yourself.”

When you decide a media isn't for you get rid of it. Craigslist and eBay are wonderful tools for getting rid of stuff you don't want anymore. Also consider donating unused art supplies to a school for use in their art room.

If you are new here, this is your first visit, please realize this is a (so far) 4 post rant on stuff. Feel free to head here to read the rest of my tirade. Also, please don't assume that I hate pretty pages or would sneer at your art. This rant is about empowerment not judgement.

*Really we now have "prefessional" grade, at least at Michael's they think that professionals are one step above artists, and they also lock their "artist grade" watercolors up, because obviously if you are an artist you are also a theif.

**If you are itching to burn that 40% off coupon from AC Moore, try replacing an almost used up supply? Which one of us couldn't and won't use another tub of gesso or Golden Titan Buff? Or, how about buying a better brush as a way to pamper yourself?

*** I am a proponent of the buy the best you can afford now, upgrade later mentality. In some cases student grade paints, especially if you stick to the traditional colors are very good. If you are mixing glazes liquitex Basics line is damn good. Infact, for art journaling and just starting out Liquitex basics is a great line to start with. It comes in big tubes a variety of starter sets and is better than some of the other paints.