I don’t just shop for art supplies at art stores. I see potential art supplies everywhere.
My mother introduced me to this way of thinking by taking me shopping with her for teaching supplies. As a speech pathologist, she needed a way to clearly show her students the difference between how you produce the sounds for the letters “P” and “B”. But, instead of heading to the “teacher supply store”, we went to a party supply store.
The whisper-thin crepe paper she bought was the perfect tool. She would hold a piece of the crinkly, pale blue paper in front of each child’s mouth while asking them to repeat “B” and “P” words. The crepe paper would not move whenever a child said “B”, but suddenly fluttered forward each time they said “P”. The children were delighted by this new “game” that taught them the correct articulation.
Now, when I need a tool or supply for art, I use that same analytical yet creative thought process. Here are some unconventional art supplies I use to make fluid paintings:
1. Kitchen Supply Stores:
Kitchen supply stores are secretly art supply stores too. I need tools for making fluid paintings. Brushes would get ruined by the sticky, thick acrylic medium I use, so I look for surfaces that are easy to clean or are disposable, but are still the right shapes for mark-making. Silicone spatulas and barbeque basters are great for scooping or making marks in the paint and disposable wooden skewers are used for thin lines of ink or paint.
2. Hardware Stores:
These are full of potential art supplies. I found a plastic”under the bed box” there that is perfect for catching spills . I place it beneath gallon buckets as I fill smaller containers with medium and stir in the paint. Any spillage gets poured from the plastic box into paint containers to eliminate waste.
Drips off fluid paintings make beautiful collage materials when dry. But, I need a way to have them lift cleanly off the table or floor. Uline carries rolls of hefty plastic sheeting which are the perfect thickness to protect surfaces, yet allow dried paint drips to lift off easily.
4. Grocery Stores:
While I get my groceries, I’m secretly on the look out for art supplies. Traditional palettes don’t work for the kind of fluid medium I use. These red lidded, airtight storage containers are my favorite ways to store and mix paint.
If you enjoyed the lateral thinking in this post, you may enjoy Chapter 4 of Robert Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The scene focuses on an argument between two characters over using a lowly beer can shim to fix an expensive motorcycle: one character saw potential in the material qualities of things and his friend only saw the surface of things.
I believe there is so much more possible in the world when you look beyond labels of what objects are “meant” to be.