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10 Tips 'n' Tricks

Who doesn't love a good list? Me! Me! Me! I'm a sucker for'em, happily clicking that link KNOWING it's clickbait... but but but, it's a L I S T

Here are 10 tricks and tips for artmaking that I use all the time, in no particular order:

  1. Brush cleaner: I stash the small bits of soap from the bathroom that are annoying. You know what I'm talking about... not big enough to do the job but too big to chuck out. I keep them in a plastic container in my studio, spritz water on them and eventually they turn into soft soap perfect for cleaning my gel plate. I also smoosh a piece into a scrub disk (just learned they're called paint pucks. who knew?!) that you can buy specifically for the bottom of a water container only I put mine in a dish right beside my water with said sliver of soap. Perfect for getting your brushes squeaky clean.

  2. Mechanical pencils: I use one for writing on my pieces of art, drawing, sketching etc but also with the lead retracted it makes a GREAT mark making tool through paint or oil pastel. Always at the ready!
  3. Parchment paper: SO many good uses for this product outside of the kitchen. I use a sheet over some soaked shop towels as a palette. It keeps acrylic paint from drying out. I also have a few bits right beside where I collage as it's perfect to lay over a glued down bit of paper to really burnish onto the page. The glue doesn't stick to the paper and it can be used for weeks even months.

  4. Bits of paper: I have a little box on my work desk where blank bits of paper reside. I use them to test colours or take off overzealously applied paint on a stamp or starting a paint pen or trying out a verse or mark. These bits then go into my collage box. 

  5. Working photos: The internet has always been a treasure trove for finding photos to use in your work. Copyright, however, is something to be aware of. Cue @owasowfoundphotos from instagram. He offers found photos for free use. And they are magical! 

  6. Cheap Supplies: I know I'm not the only one who trawls the Dollar Store for cheap art supplies. I often find great wood substrates in their craft aisle. You might have to give a good sand, add a cradle or frame but 5-4 1/2"square panels for $2 bucks? Can't beat it. Also think of self-adhesive foam sheets to make built up custom stencils for your gel printing or cheapo brushes for glue applicators. Even craft paint. Perfect for gel printing or patterned stencils for backgrounds. 
  7. Boxes for Collage: Beside my main work area I keep 2 open boxes for collage bits. One, I've labelled SMALLS (have I mentioned? I LOVE my label maker?!?). This is for torn bits that are to big to be chucked but to small to reside in my collage drawer. Think less than 6" long or wide. I use this box when I'm doing a Three Piece collage. Or in my small #dailycollage book. The other is for larger pieces of collage but still smaller than goes in my collage drawer. Think waste paper that I use beside my gel plate...rolled off excess paint, stencil tests etc. If they look cool this is where they end up.

  8. Multiple boards/canvasses: My easel always has a Work In Progress on it not to mention other WIP surfaces around the studio. Whenever I have excess paint from another piece, I slap it onto these waiting surfaces. Over time you get a phenomenal background of disparate colours - a thin coat of gesso tames most - and it really gives an amazing depth to your finished work. This is a cautionary tale, however, as I sometimes go overboard with this tip/technique and never get to the "finishing" stage, so take it as you will.

  9. Tools: My current faves are silicone brushes and wedges. Love. Love. Love. I did buy a set of smaller applicators and I should've known how chintzy they'd be as they're made in China. I keep looking for a small 1/2" one that is better quality. If you know where I can get one? Hook me up wouldya?

  10. Drying Paper/Shop Towels: I hate the amount of waste that my studio produces. I try to separate my garbage. And I've tried NOT using paper or shop towels but sometimes? you just NEED that thin absorbent material. So what I've started doing is straightening out my towels at the end of the day and letting them dry overnight. I've gotten a week out of a paper towel and considerably more out of the shop towels. Bonus: it's reduced my garbage to a monthly bag vs a weekly bag. Is it the best solution? No. But it is a workable solution. 

Have a tip, trick, technique to add? Let me know and I'll start a separate page list. Because... I. LOVE. LISTS!