The Key to Shopping Smart for Art Supplies

the key to Shopping smart for Art Supplies

the key to Shopping smart for Art Supplies

Knowing where to shop for Art Supplies

Got a question? Please ask; it helps me out and may help others as well.
Recently, I was asked where I purchase my art supplies.
It had not dawned on me this was something I learned from other artists. The day I decided I wanted to become a fine artist, I thought Michael’s was the end-all and be-all of shopping for art supplies. Well, not really, because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town with a really good art supply store. It wasn’t until I lived in the middle of two no-wheres that I had to rely on mail-order. There, I learned what my options were from others.

Art supply stores to an artist is like a candy store to a kid!

Experiencing the Five Senses while Shopping Art Supply Stores


Nothing quite beats walking into the local art supply store…
  • Smelling the reams of paper, the mineral spirits, and painting mediums
  • Touching the hairs of the brushes and the texture of the paper, or testing the flow of a new fountain pen
  • Hearing other artists exclaim their joy, feeling like kids in a candy shop
  • Seeing the array of colors, comparing one brand’s Indian Yellow to another’s and eyeing the size of a canvas for the painting in my head
  • Tasting might not be such a wise idea, but sipping a glass of wine while I shopped would be in the shop owner’s best interest!
All of this together creates a magical place, where every big idea can become a beautiful reality.

Ordering Online Tips and Hints: Coupons, Sales, Bulk, Clubs, and Co-ordering.

Knowing the basic supplies and the better brands is the first step to saving by ordering online.

  • Once you know the brands you prefer and the amount you need, waiting for annual sales and monthly coupons is a great way to save
  • Many online retailers offer a value discount with larger purchases. If you need less than the minimum order, my guess is that you know someone else that would love to share shipping costs for a larger discount.
  • If you plan on attending any art conventions or large workshops, visit the vendor tables. Many vendors offer special discounts at events. Once you are producing enough art to merit it, use this time to order bulk consumables and equipment.
  • Another great alternative to craft stores are shopping clubs, such as If you can afford to order ahead, this is a great resource.

Quality over Quantity

Buy the best quality you can afford and start with the basics. As I mentioned, there was a fantastic art supply, called Rechenbach’s, in my hometown. Starting out, that didn’t seem like a good choice to start my stock of supplies because I perceived it to be quite expensive. What I didn’t know was that the big box craft supply stores carry mediocre brands. The mediocre brands cost less on your receipt at checkout but don’t last as long, perform as well, or inspire a fervor to create just by their texture.

  • The better the quality materials, the better the painting.
  • Sure, just buying high-priced supplies will not make you a phenomenal painter, but it sure will make the road that much smoother getting there.
  • When you are struggling to learn all the principles of art and design and the techniques to achieve the painting you imagine in your mind’s eye, why add to the struggle? (Maybe have something like – When learning to julienne a carrot, you don’t use a dull knife, sort of thing)
    • Take oil paints, for example. Paints that have more filler and less pigment don’t flow very easily, and they are hard to control.
    • The color from tube to tube isn’t always consistent, and learning to mix colors can be more than daunting.
    • Having to stop and sop up excess oil every time you squeeze out paint will derail the flow of that white-hot moment of pure creativity.
5 great Online Art Supply Resources
5 favorite resources in no particular order
  1. Jerry’s Artarama
  2. Rosemary Brushes
  3. Raymar Art
  4. Utrecht
  5. Dick Blick
Shopping for art materials online can save you time and money if you
  • Keep your inventory list up to date
  • Wait for sales
  • Buy ahead
  • Pool-Shop with fellow artists to save on shipping
 Download this free  Art Supply List  Evernote template and start getting organized so you can focus on your artwork.

Artist Crush-Qiang Huang

Artist Crush-Qiang Huang

Qiang Huang demo at #PACE16

Qiang Huang demo at #PACE16

I have an artist’s crush his name is  Qiang Huang.

Of the twelve demonstrations I attended at#PACE16, my favorite wasQiang Huang- Capturing the Texture of Old Architecture. An inspired artist and exceptional teacher, Huang managed to explain his process so clearly I felt as if I could accomplish a passable representation of an architectural piece, a genre that,so far, has eluded me.
I first noticed Qiang Huang‘s (pronounced Chong Wong) artwork on Pinterest
Then in March I listened to his incredible interview on AHA . I knew from that point on he was someone I could connect with, learn from, and have an affinity with his vision. Serendipitously he was on the teaching staff at #PACE16, held in all places, Tucson! Just about 40 miles from my home. #PACE16 hosted by Plein Air magazine and Eric Rhodes know how to pick’em!

His demo, much like a mini workshop, at #PACE16 was a breakdown of his painting process. He shared the reasons for his color palette choices,such as using Naples Yellow Pale for warmth in the lighter values.He also gave us tips for drawing with the proper perspective and shared some great nuggets of wisdom.

If you see a happy accident,try and keep it.

Signature Style

Huang uses various painting methods to create contrast and variety in the same color notes. Some of his most used tools include the palette knife, bristle brushes,paper towels,calligraphic strokes, and even a credit card.

way better than a photograph

Qiang Huang’s philosophy on painting.

Qiang Huang-inspiration tip

I think I’ll use this reference for a painting and consciously recall Huang’s mini workshop

I have signed up to take his workshop in February, at Scottsdale Artist’s School in Pheonix, and can hardly wait! Last I checked spots were still available. If you have never been to the Scottsdale Artist’s School, I highly recommend it. You can read about my experience in the post-Workshop Review-Michelle Dunaway.

Qiang Huang demo at #PACE16

Qiang Huang demo at #PACE16

I hope you have enjoyed this latest “Artist Crush”, please feel free to share on social media, it really helps me out 🙂