Making Fun And Cool Sh** (Stuff) out Of Cheap Art Supplies

My thoughts on Crayola Watercolors: Going back to my roots. My first official art lessons, at age twelve, were watercolor lessons. My teacher had me pick up some how-to books; the type that you can find at any book or craft store; some crayola watercolors, and a good brush– a number twelve, if I remember correctly. (I would look, because I still have that brush and still use it, but the size is long worn off. Another argument for buying quality brushes Because They Last.  Also, for you budding watercolorists, I will tell you all about my brushes and brush care in a post solely dedicated to such– so if you are interested, stay tuned.)

Some of My Art Supplies

Some of My Art Supplies

So here it is: The coming series of watercolor sketches is all about one of My Little Soapboxes: Making Fun And Cool Sh** (Stuff) out Of Cheap Art Supplies . Sorry, Windsor and Newton– You know I love your product– but painting with supplies that cost nearly the same as 24 carot gold is not what I want to teach people that you have to do to have a little joy in painting– or to make a statement through your art… and that’s just it. I volunteer and teach children about making art and I want to demonstrate to them that you can make something interesting out of something ordinary. There are no excuses for not making art because of “lack” of supplies… heck, go get a lonely ballpoint pen and freakin’ make something happen! Some of my most interesting work (at least to me!) is made out of ordinary ballpoint pen. I’m talking the type that Bic makes; the type that people give out free in order to promote their businesses. I’m certain that I’ve done several sketches out of pens with prescription drug ads that most doctors will let you have (if you ask them) from the doctor’s office. (Other good solids for free pens: the bank, or a copy shop.)

Now you might say: But Rachel, what about acid-free and archival blah-blah-blah? …And I will say to you back, Yes, those have a place– so do luscious high-quality pigments of the M. Graham & Co. variety, but that is what a scanner is for– or a camera;  to preserve your work. Photograph/ scan everything that you do and you will always have it to treasure no matter what Time and Seasons do to your work. (Photographing and documenting what you do is so critical, either way. I will dedicate a whole post to convincing you of this– if you are not already sold. Again, stay tuned.)

So, I say, lighten up and just put your brush or ball point pen to paper/ cardboard/ canvas and express your thoughts and make some work.



(PS If you are interested in exploring a tangential discussion to this project, on LinkedIn, I asked a group of artists what makes a “high quality” or “low quality” peice of art… some interesting points about choosing materials…   Feel free to pipe in either in the comment section or on LinkedIn. Thanks for reading!)

About Rachel Heu

"Creativity is an act of defiance. You're challenging the status quo. You're questioning accepted truths and principles. You're asking three universal questions that mock conventional wisdom: Why do I have to obey the rules? Why can't I be different? Why can't I do it my way?" --Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life (pg. 133)
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4 Responses to Making Fun And Cool Sh** (Stuff) out Of Cheap Art Supplies

  1. Satina Scott says:

    For me, art is a way of connecting to the Divine, and it’s most about the process and not the product, though I love the product much of the time. I don’t care at all about archival stuff. I have learned that I can better realize my vision with higher quality supplies, but I also adore experimenting with cheap sh** and seeing the magic that results. I love love love this topic and have had intentions for awhile now for doing a category on my own blog that plays with cheap-o art supplies.

    • Rachel Heu says:

      I love what you said about “art [as] a way of connecting to the Divine”… I often feel that way when I am working– drifting between consciousness and subconsciousness in a sort of meditation. I have to say that I do appreciate the final product and my emphasis is equally on both. I think that it makes a work more meaningful– which is a key element, imho for a piece of art to achieve to awesomeness.

      Oh yes, Satina, you need to do this project with cheap-o art supplies. I would love to have a link to it on my blog for people that are interested. I don’t know how many times I’ve been invited over to someone’s home who loves art, only to discover that they have all of these packages of expensive art supplies unopened and therefore haven’t been doing anything. From personal experience, expensive supplies can be intimidating if you are not used to how they work. Also, I think that a talent shines through even when the supplies aren’t expensive… it’s just about the doing and the making; gaining experience with anything you can until you can get past that intimidation factor.

  2. Betty says:

    the “qualiy” art discussion is very interesting. I do love your thought that specific art materials are not necessary to make great art. And I personally think that sometimes great art is not permanant art. Keep up all you are doing. you are inspiring me.

    • Rachel Heu says:

      Hi Mom (Betty) Yes, I really love that discussion. I felt that what some of the artists had to say was so interesting that I asked them if they would join my network. I agree that some art is sort of fleeting… that it is still worth making… sometimes that is the beauty of it… to savor then move on… like chalk art or a beautifully crafted latte… or thoughtful piece of graffiti… Thank you again for your comment. I hope that my work can inspire people the way that I have been inspired; full circle. Love, Rachel

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