What a Waste! Testing New Products in the Studio

Pigments? Adhesives? Surfaces? Tools?

There’s nothing more exciting than discovering new materials, tools, or colors to test in my studio. Exploring new materials and techniques is one of my favorite ways to spend downtime between paintings. So much so, that sometimes when I go to reorder studio standards I’m running low on, I’ll end up with way more than I intended because I’ve found new colors or materials that look fun to try. It’s the fault of beautiful art books and YouTube videos! 

The downside is when new materials don’t work out the way I imagined. Art supplies are definitely not cheap, so most artists won’t throw them away. What do I do with them? Toss them in a studio ‘junk’ drawer or leave them in a corner to gather dust? What happens to those materials I bought that don’t meet my standards? As a sustainable artist, I’m loathe to waste any of my supplies.

I’ve learned that the best way to test out new materials is to buy the smallest amount possible. Even though I might be sure I’m going to use more, if it’s new – I go small. Testing the material to confirm it’s what I want, it meets my expectations, and that I’ll definitely use it before blowing my budget buying more significant amounts. Mainly since many artist materials can’t be disposed of in traditional landfills.

Artists are masters at recycling. Usually, if a material or tool is sitting around the studio long enough, I’ll find an exciting way to use it. Often not in the way I initially thought, sometimes based on something another artist said, something I read, or a YouTube video I found. Inspiration can come from anywhere.


Photo credit: Peter F. via Unsplash

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