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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Finding the Right Materials

“The scholar specialized in any field will find that the more he knows, the more he will have to learn…”  

Alberto Giacometti

We have a great idea, have prepared our materials, get excited about what we are doing, and nothing is working or falling into place!  The materials are not doing what we thought they would or should do.  Yes, this can happen.  Sometimes it is how we are using the materials, but sometimes we have faulty materials.  You can have a bad substrate, a tube of paint that has separated because of age, or a pastel that has not been ground properly and leaves irreparable marks on your paper.   Other times we just pick the wrong materials, either to use together, or to express the idea we have in our head.


If you are an experienced artist you have your “tried and true” favorite products, and probably don’t encounter this problem often.  However, with all the new and exciting products on the market and our creative desire to try them all, we will probably encounter a situation where something is not going to work like we had hoped it would.

Take time to research new products and read about them on line. Watch a couple of the millions of u-tube video’s, which are out there, on using such products.

Artist trying new ideas

Mastering the use of a new product takes time and effort, so plan to experiment and don’t set out to do a masterpiece with new materials.  Keep a box of end pieces of substrates that you use, for this purpose. If you have a substrate that is not taking paint, pastel, or other materials like you expected it would, consider using gesso or paint over what you have. Start the idea again or save the surface for something else.  If you have a good start and the paper is not heavy enough for what you are doing, consider mounting it on something heavier.

Cultivate idea. Practice techniques. Do your homework when purchasing new materials.

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