There is nothing that will confound the creation of art more than buying new art supplies.

Within the walls of your favorite art store, the brightly coloured tubes, phalanxes of brushes and pristine stacks of paper possess a universe of possibilities. But something drains out of them when wrapped lovingly in colourful paper bags, placed carefully in a backpack and quickly squirreled home. Pulling the new supplies out, unwrapping and laying them upon a table exhibits only the corpses of your dreams.

Alizarin crimson, so gay and lively among its ultramarine blue and chromium yellow compatriots, lies lifeless and forlorn on your desktop, and cannot be resuscitated despite prodding with a finger. A pad of acid free, 250 g/m2 fine grained cellulose paper cannot easily be distinguished from a pile of plain photocopy paper — except one of them has a derisive, condescending artistic cover page. And what looked like an exquisite sable-haired 2mm round fine-point detail brush has nothing on any of the other brushes in your copious collection.

I think what disappears from art supplies you buy is the muse. Vendors are eager to sell you countless items enfused with the promise of art, but like a fossil chipped from the precambrian sedimentary rock when placed in a glass case, the magic is lost. Akin to the loss in value from driving a new car off the lot, the art supplies in your grubby little hands lose half their value as you step out the art store door.

It’s much the same with art books. Despite the book addressing the specific aspect of art you’re working on, every art book is a canard written solely to distract you from your task. Instead of actually doing art, you will read it from cover-to-cover (including forewords and codicils) and a day or two later wonder why you haven’t actually generated anything.

So, ignore the carnies standing on their soap boxes pointing at the shelves of brightly coloured art supplies shouting “Step right up and buy your dreams.” Instead, grab a magic marker lying around from your garage sale last week and scrawl some art on a blank surface — but maybe not the bedroom wall.

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash



A Canadian electrical engineer living in Switzerland, developing software for over 40 years, e.g. big data for electric distribution utilities and the cloud security space, but now retired.

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