Today I was in my art supply closet putting away some supplies and looking to see if I owned odorless mineral spirts (I do not). I am very carefully, slowly and thoughtfully selecting supplies to start oil painting with and do not want to overbuy.
I have a lack of knowledge but an overabundance of curiosity. I want to do things but lack the know how. At certain points in time I have had an excess of cash so have found it easy to purchase supplies that I never use. At other times I have been in the presence of discounted art supplies and was tempted as it was on sale or at an overstock store for 90% off so I bought it not even having a real plan to use it.
Right now my current debate is which oil paint brushes to purchase and how many. I had overbought synthetic brushes at great discount from Tuesday Morning. What good did that do me now that I am tempted to buy natural bristle brushes?
One thing I have learned from taking and finishing the Drawing I class is that really all that matters is doing and practicing. Art making is a process and you learn by doing. You have to do, do, do. When it feels scary or intimidating you need to push through and just do it as that is when you learn. The struggle and frustration and trying to fix a mistake or make a thing look better is how you learn and grow because you learn through trial and error and by correcting and improving.
With the drawing class I was able to use a lot of the previously purchased art supplies from our homeschool days. However I realized that by using sets of pencils that the ones I really used were a small number compared to the set so I have untouched supplies here. Lesson learned: sometimes you save money by purchasing a la carte even though seeing a set somehow seems to be a bargain or gives you the idea that it has all you need to help you learn that medium. Also I later found out that some of what I owned was crap that only belonged in the trash bin or a pencil that was repurposed for daily writing or maybe should go to the library for patrons to use to scratch down notes of book numbers.
My advice to myself and others at this point is this:
1. Explore possibilities by reading and watching videos
2. Choose a art method to try.
3. Use a limited supply list to try that medium. Buy decent paper and decent supplies but keep it to a small number. Avoid buying sets unless you have a plan to use 90% or if you would spend more buying basics a la carte.
4. Dive in and make art with that medium.
5. Avoid shopping until it is absolutely necessary. I found myself needing a better pencil sharpener and an eraser that actually worked, for example. When I ruined one chamois by accident I had to buy a replacement. Buy the smallest size paint tube to start.
6. If you are frustrated by your end product it may be due to you lacking art fundamentals such as how to draw in general, not undestanding how to represent value, scale and/or perspective, not knowing how to draw a face or bodies or people. Knowing color theory and helps with harmony, sometimes what is off or wrong is due to the color or too many colors being used. A decent understading of composition is necessary. Knowing to know how to use a material is self-limiting if you are frustrated with trying to represent something that looks awful in the end. Go back and learn the fundamentals so you can use that knowledge to make the art you want look the way you see it in your mind.
7. My new mindset is before you break the rules you can learn a lot by learning the rules.
By chosing to not overspend on art supplies you have no real plan to use, and therefore have no real intention of ever using, you are helping yourself focus on what it is you really want to do and how to spend your time.
The only way to get really good at someting is with practice and practice takes intention, time and energy. Get the smallest amount of necessary supplies with your money then spend your emotional and physical energy on making the art and on learning.