Friday, July 9, 2021

I think I need to stop buying pencilcrayons

You know how, when you're in love with yarn, you want some of everything? And you want to make sure your favourite yarn stores and fiber artist feel (and are, financially) supported? And you cannot get enough?

Yeah. Art supplies are just like that. 

This photo is of my pencilcrayon/marker/gel pen station on the windowsill over the table that does triple duty as a faux-coffeeshop perch, writing desk, and art table. From the top left it's:

Derwent drawing pencils

Caran D'Ache Supracolor watercolour pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos drawing pencils

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils

Derwent Graphitint watercolour pencils

Caran D'Ache Museum Aquarelle watercolour pencils, a huge vast birthday splurge

Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils, a huge Boxing Day splurge

and Tombow dual-tip markers

and scattered here and there, blenders, burnishers, Gelly Roll markers, a masking pen, and more Pigma Micron pens than any non-artist should ever reasonably need.

Let me catch my breath for a minute... okay. And finally, all those open slots are where I put drying paintbrushes, which I have for the sake of self-preservation not included in this photo. So in theory, they'll never fill with more art supplies. Let's not think about 'in practice'.


I don't remember how the first crazy yarn purchasing started for me. I knit as a teenager and had tremendous self-control. Later, when I returned to knitting as an adult, not so much, as you'll know if you've been around here for a while. It was a general sort of freefall into hand-dyed and hand-spun yarn.

I do, however, remember distinctly where the art bug bit me. My artist friend Ady casually mentioned a tiny student-grade watercolour field set she took on camping trips and did beautiful things with. I bought one, and found I could do practically nothing, so I upgraded to a Winsor & Newton student-grade watercolour field set. Honestly I could have stopped there and enjoyed myself without running out of paint even now. 

But it's relentless, the appeal of new arty things and the illusion that better tools make better work (spoiler alert: only constant practise makes better work, as with most things.) I'm still not good at any of it and I want to try all of it anyway, within reason. Not oil paints, which smell, or acrylic paints, which I fear will take over the house, or alcohol-based markers, which give me a headache, or charcoal or pastel because they are messy. Anything else is fair game.

When I started knitting, I got good enough to want to make things from scratch, and then I got good enough at that to publish patterns, and then I got good enough at socks to want to spin my own yarn for them, and then I got good enough at spinning to produce viable yarn. When it came to the point that Trish and I were discussing buying and sharing a fleece, we both drew the line. See? I can be sensible sometimes. With help, anyway. Trish is my Sensible Friend, and is therefore a Good Influence.

If only I could approach painting and drawing like that. Art supplies are much cheaper than yarn, and you can do something with them much more quickly too. Maybe that's why my in-house art shop has expanded the way it has, without the matching increase in artistic skill.

Mind you, I'm not sorry to have a ridiculous array of pencilcrayons even though it turns out I have no interest in adult colouring. I love using them over top of or underneath watercolour paints and with gel pens and Pigma Micron pens (which I love most of all, hence the ridiculous number I own.)

And there are so many different kinds - oil based or wax based, watercolour or not, and also, inky. Derwent's Inktense pencilcrayons are great for backgrounds because once you wet them and move them around and blend them and let them dry - they are fixed. Which means you don't need dexterity or masking fluid to get a nice steady backdrop for whatever you want to put in front. The key is to scribble onto a plastic cutting board or a Caran D'Ache paint palette, wet the scribble, paint the liquid onto your paper, and let it dry. 

The bottom line here is that with pencilcrayons and paint to go with, you can pull off things that look good enough for a greeting card in about five minutes, even without much skill.

See what I mean? It's not socks, or bright colours even (why I picked these ones I'm not quite sure) but it's still pretty satisfying.

I think I need to stop buying pencilcrayons though. If I don't, the plants that rest on top of their storage cubbies might get altitude sickness.


Hope all's well with you and that any irresponsible shopping you're doing is entirely enjoyable. I have to dash off now and see if my pizza dough rose enough while I wrote this to be ready for stretching out and taking toppings. See you again soon!






Laurinda said...

SO. MUCH. FABRIC! My husband doesn't mind, but man, it's insidious :-D But on the bright side, I FINALLY have a top pattern that I can use on wovens, that actually fits me!
So not only can I make a million comfy dresses, I can make fun, holiday themed ones. & Winter dresses, too! I'm very excited

Mary Keenan said...

Oh Laurinda I so hear you about fabric!!! and it takes up SO much room. I am immensely grateful we were able to tuck an attic into our renovated house and that Pete can shove bins of fabric up the ladder to reach it :^) But having a great pattern like that is a huge win and I envy you being able to use up your textiles in such a fun way... I find I'm stuck sewing drapery panels and pillow cases and masks and nothing fun at all. Lucky you!

Gina said...

You're building quite a collection, but you can never have enough of the materials for any craft that you love. As far back s I can remember, I have collected yarn and fabric with the best of intentions of transforming them into beautiful (and sometimes useful) objects. In an effort to corral my last few years of yarn purchases, I bought 8 30-gallon and four 45 gallon plastic bins. I kept asking myself, "What should I do with the unused bins?" All the bins have been filled, and I'm off to order more. At least pencilcrayons are small!

Mary Keenan said...

Gina, you are SO right about pencilcrayons being small. This is what I tell myself every time I buy more, and also when I recently purchased acrylic marker pens. Small! Plus I limited myself to six and will hopefully stay there. I am trying without luck to imagine the dimensions of a 45 gallon bin but I think we are on the same page in general: why love an artform and not have your own personal shop in the house?