What do an artist's materials
have to do with art?

I do art demonstrations periodically and I am almost always asked what brand of pastels I use.

So, let me state categorically it is my belief that most types of artist's materials, whether they be pastels, oils, acrylics or whatever, and most brands of art material will probably work just fine to create your work of art.

What matters most is what a person does with this artist material.

It is the artist that produces a wonderful piece of art, not the materials he or she uses.

A creative artist will find a way to make a good piece of art using Crayola crayons if that’s all that is available.

Having said that, let me also admit that I, like many artists, have developed personal favorites in both the materials I choose to use and the makers of those materials.

This is not because one artist material or brand is inherently better than another. It is because my way of painting and drawing have evolved over the years to where some materials just suit my personal taste more than others.

This is true of other artists as well. If you get a bunch of artists together, you’ll find they can disagree not only on which brands work best for each of them, but also on the best way to use their materials.

Each group will argue vehemently for the correctness of their view and, as far as I’m concerned, they’re all correct. You just have to keep in mind that each person’s view is formed by their personal preferences.

Let me give you a few examples of my preferences and why I have them.

When I was an illustrator, I used both Winsor Newton and Schminke watercolors. I preferred Schminke, not because it was better paint, but because it came out of the tube softer and I could start painting immediately.

With Winsor Newton I had to squeeze out the paint, add water to it and let it sit and soften up a bit before I could start painting.

One brand didn’t make my illustrations any better or worse. The quality of my work depended solely on how good my design was and how well I executed it.

One other example is my choice of pastels.

I bought a set of Rembrandt pastels when I was in art school (think a long time ago). It sat around unused for many, many years, because I dread throwing away art supplies.

Finally, some years ago I wanted a change from watercolor. I stopped painting with watercolors and took out the pastels again. They worked fine for me for quite some time and the sticks were less expensive to buy than some other brands.

Gradually over the years, as I tried and added individual sticks of other brands, I began to like and want pastels that were a little bit softer. For the way I like to paint, softer pastels seemed to work more easily for me.

You, however, in the same circumstances, might reach a very different conclusion.

That’s why I say: use whatever artist material you are attracted to and whatever brand of art materials you like that fits your budget.

It is you that creates the art, not the materials you use.

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