When I was younger I drew a lot and dabbled in painting and a few other things, but once I began a full-time corporate job I ended up focusing my free time and energy on writing and art fell to the wayside. I was a better than average artist for my level of training, and could be a decent one with more training and practice, but I knew I could, and would, be an exceptional writer if I put the time and work in.
Well, these days the nature of my corporate work leaves me time for such things.
I dug out my old art box and went through all my stuff. When I was a teenager my dad got me an art box from a garage sale that was loaded with supplies, a bit random but of very good quality. I think the previous artist did technical drawings and painted, there were a number of templates for circuit boards and things like that. It had brushes, charcoals, pastels, some acrylics, some gouache and watercolor, watercolor pencils, a few huge tubes of oil, and various other odds and ends, including calligraphy pens, block printing ink, and some rather sad looking brushes. At the time I experimented with acrylics and to a lesser extent the oil pastels. This resulted in some bad paintings that I carried along with me, with the intent of one day reusing the canvases.
Occasionally over the years I would paint a picture for some reason or other. Most recently, I went to one of those art + wine classes a few times with friends and actually produced some really decent acrylic paintings, considering. I was a little surprised, but I guess while artistic skill can get rusty and need retuning, it never goes away. Once I got started, my hands remembered how to do things. I learned a few new techniques as well.
Anyway, I am still getting my house in order. I splurged and ordered a standing easel. I’ve always wanted one, and after I mentioned it in passing to Marlin he began pushing me to get one and set up a workspace. He actually bought me an easel for Christmas with the idea that I was then committed and would either have to use it or pull the trigger and buy the one I wanted. He’s right, I have a tendency to drag my heels on these sorts of things.
I’ve been playing with the different mediums and bought a handful of supplies I need for proper experimentation. I set up a still life of with things around the house, a random yard of silk, oranges, an apple, and a stemless glass. Bunched silk is an ambitious subject, so I think I’m going to buy some nice citrus and use a white plate on a dark table for the next one.
I still haven’t tried the oils, that is what I’m most interested in and want to set it up on the easel, but I did experiment with the watercolor pencils and tubes. Lessons learned.
1. The cheap brushes I bought to round out my very old brush collection began shedding immediately–the 6 round shed five or six bristles while I was attempting a basic watercolor. Skip the economy brushes and get one or two decent brushes.
2. A little goes a long way when it comes to tube watercolor. I think I previously used a kit with wells, so when I was preparing my own paint from tubes I quickly learned I needed a small fraction of what I was mixing.
3. Because my previous experience was primarily drawing, I am more comfortable with the pencils.
4. Watercolor is not acrylic. I know, I know. I have the reminder sitting in my pile of practice sketches right now!
I did some palette knife painting with acrylic as well. It requires a heavier surface, either a canvas board or framed canvas, as the heavy paper I used warped. Anyway, having looked at the prices of art supplies I have even greater appreciation for the supplies my dad found (and I’m glad I carried them with me, for once my packrat tendencies have been rewarded).