I was going through some files yesterday and came across some writing I did for an article for a zine that never ended up happening. I thought it might be interesting and/or helpful to someone so I decided I would share it here. Why not? The article was supposed to be about favourite art supplies. Here's what I had to say:
When it comes to making art, my philosophy is that “less is more”. I think it’s important to keep things simple. If you get all caught up in a mountain of supplies and tools, you can get overwhelmed and lose the fun and spontaneity of creating. Here are a few things that I love to work with:
I first discovered German Glass Glitter the summer that I joined Paper Valise as an Artist in Residence. As a welcome gift to design team members, I received this wonderful kit of goodies, which included a bag of the silver glitter. At first I didn’t really pay much attention to it, but one day, a piece I was working on needed “something” to give it a little punch and I remembered the silver glitter. I added a dash of it and it was perfect!
German glass glitter is really beautiful and not anything like the traditional glitter you used as a kid. This glitter is made from real glass so it has a beautiful antique-like glimmer to it. You might be interested to know that not all glitters are created equal. The German glass glitter Papier Valise carries comes from one of only three real glass glitter manufacturers in Germany and the only factory that does not "cut in” cheaper white glitter with the other colors, which makes the glitter cheaper to produce. That said, you’re probably wondering just how expensive German Glass glitter is. Surprisingly, it’s really inexpensive-under $5 CDN for a 5 oz. package. Let me assure you, a 1 oz. package goes an awfully long way! It comes in a variety of delicious colours: silver, pink, orange, black, chartreuse, red, shell pink, green, clear and my current personal favourite, pale blue. I believe there will be other colours available eventually!
My little trick to working with it is to use a Q-tip, which I dip into the bag. The fuzz of the Q-tip “grabs” the glass and then I just tap it over the glue where I want it on my art. The reason I use a Q-tip is because the glitter is made from real glass and it’s the easiest way to keep it off your hands so you don’t inadvertently get it in your eyes. (If you have worked with any kind of glitter before, you know how easy it is to have it all over you!) Add just a little bit of glass glitter to your work and enjoy the magic!
The second art supply I swear by is a simple charcoal pencil. A couple of summers ago, I took a class with Sally Jean Alexander and she mentioned that she uses charcoal pencils. After class, I went to my local office supply store and bought a few for myself. They are very inexpensive-I bought a pack of 6 for under $5 CDN.
Charcoal pencils are wonderful for adding depth to a piece by outlining an image and then smudging it with your fingers. It also creates a nice finished edge to a collage and can instantly age ephemera. When I am using charcoal pencils, I never draw a solid line, but rather “rough sketch” it in. This helps it look more natural and less contrived. It’s also easier to darken an area if necessary. If it’s too light, you can just go over it, but if you get too much darkness from too heavy a line, it’s harder to remove that, so start out conservatively. It also helps to have a wet wipe at the ready to clean your fingers as you work so you can avoid smudging it anywhere you don’t want it!
The third thing I love using is Staedtler markers. I have the triplus fineliner set of 10. What I like about these pens is that they come in this really great hard plastic case that is only about 1/4 inch thick and snaps shut, This means they are wonderful for travelling. When I went to Artfest, I took them everywhere with me so I could work on my journal here and there. The pens last a long time and if by chance you forget to cap them tightly, they won’t dry out right away. The set of ten includes pink, red, orange, yellow, light and dark blue, light and dark green, brown and black-enough colours to keep me happy, but I know they also come in larger sets. Staedtler pens are made in Germany but again, this is something I found in my local office supply store and they were about $12 CDN, which isn’t bad considering how long they last and how travel friendly they are.
So there you have it, three things I think are not only worth the money, but also help me add the “magic” to my art. I don’t think art tools and supplies need to be expensive to be good, but I do take care in choosing things that are a good quality and will last when it comes to things I use every day.