Addicted to buying and hoarding art supplies?

Ever walk into an art shop to pick up one thing and end up with five? I find that it's really hard to walk away with just what you need.

So many mediums that could turn you into the artist you dreamed of, a variety of papers that could finally give your work that extra spark, or a collection of pens you've been dying to test.

The possibilities are endless!

I recently noticed that my art collection is growing and probably needs culling. I went to look for some watercolours only to find dried paints, bought four years ago and muddied. I tried to revive it with water, only to find the pigments had dulled with time.

Brand new. That went unused.

And now...


I had waited four years to feel worthy of using those paints. I thought...

"One day, I will be skilled enough to use those paints."

My most expensive sketchbooks lay unopened and empty because I am afraid of ruining them with a bad drawing. I don't want to spoil a good sketchbook with mediocre artwork. I want page after page of beautiful work.

For me, fancy art materials can make it challenging to create good art. The better quality they are, the more precious they are to me. Instead of 'ruining' them, they go unused.

Saying this out loud, I know it sounds ridiculous! But I know I am not alone in feeling this way about MY PRECIOUS art materials.

My precious.

Have you found yourself hoarding art materials? Here's how you can avoid this mistake too.

1. Don't wait for one day.

The perfect day to use your fancy art materials is today! It doesn't matter if your drawing is messy or if you make a bad painting. Just move on to your next artwork. Your art materials work for you, not the other way around. So don't be afraid to make mistakes and messes with your art tools.

2. Share the love.

Consider donating your art supplies or doing an art swap. Every year take stock of what you use and what could be given away by sharing things you won't use.

3. Less is more.

The quality of your materials doesn't determine the quality of your work. I encourage you to focus more on your skills and creativity first and foremost. Expensive materials can't replace good ideas and better execution.

4. Avoid being a sucker for trends.

It is easy to get carried away and buy the latest trending art tool on Instagram, but it won't improve your art. Pause before you purchase. Consider whether you see it as part of your long-term goals and if it fits your art style.

5. The financial load

Buying more materials than you need can quickly add up, leaving you with a hefty bill. It's important to be mindful of your spending and only purchase supplies you will use. This way, you can save money and invest in materials that enhance your artistic practice.

6. Consider the environmental impact.

Ponder what would happen to your art materials after you died. Would they all end up in a landfill? I know it sounds morbid, but it is a sobering thought. Picturing my art supplies in a pile of junk reminds me to be more mindful of what I purchase and how I should be more cautious with my spending.

Environmental impact of waste.

I aim to be more conscious of my spending habits. Would you consider joining me in this endeavour?

How to determine which art supplies to keep and which to let go of

1. Frequency of use: Assess how often you use each item; if it has been sitting untouched for months or years, it may be a sign that you no longer need it. Consider donating the ones that can be used.

2. Versatility: Certain materials have multiple uses, while others are more specific. If you have a supply with limited applications and seldom use it, consider replacing it with more versatile options.

3. Quality: Discard any low-quality or worn-out supplies that may hinder your artistic progress. Investing in quality materials can enhance the outcome of your work.

Avoid buying the cheapest supplies. I have found that cheap materials tend to degrade quickly.

I advise budding artists to purchase inexpensive but quality materials first and ignore the surplus choices in art stores. Worrying about damaging your overpriced drawing paper makes it harder to create. You'll be more concerned about ruining it from the first stroke.

Excess art materials.

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Organizing and decluttering your art supplies can seem daunting, but it can be a rewarding experience. Here are some practical tips to help you get started...

Tips for organizing and decluttering your art supplies

1. Categorize your supplies: Sort your art supplies into categories, such as paints, brushes, sketchbooks, etc. Sorting will make it easier to see what you have and identify duplicates or items you no longer need.

2. Assess the condition of your supplies: Check the condition of each item and discard anything that is no longer usable or past its prime. Get rid of dried-out paints, broken brushes, loose sheets of paper, etc. Keeping only high-quality and functional supplies will enhance your artistic experience.

3. Create a storage system: Invest in storage solutions that suit your needs and space limitations. This may include drawers, shelves, or containers specifically designed for art supplies. Having a designated place for each item will make organizing your space more manageable and finding what you need.

Organising your art materials.

The same principle of decluttering applies to digital software and hardware. Today, there is a constant push for newer and better technology. But expensive software alone cannot help you become a better artist. High-performance computers do not improve your drawing skills. Persistence and practice are key elements in developing your artistic abilities.

From experience, I have learnt that my most vital purchases have been a firm chair to support my back, a sturdy table, good lights and basic art materials. Everything else is just frills and tassels.

Always remember that the aim is to gather a carefully selected range of art supplies that match your creative aspirations and personal preferences. Letting go of any unnecessary materials can free up space physically and emotionally and enable you to explore new possibilities in your artistic journey.

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