Thursday, November 19

Tour an Art Supply Store With Me

Today’s Image
An Icon for Art Supplies
Courtesy of Microsoft

I’ve mentioned before about how much I enjoy visiting art supply stores. I’m like that little kid in the candy store.

In this blog and the next one, I’ll take you on a walking tour of one of the art supply stores where I buy some of my supplies. Of course, I can’t mention ever item or type of art supply, just know that it has a very full and broad inventory. I hope you enjoy reading about my tour as much as I enjoy taking you on it.

Although there are at least a half dozen or so of what I consider to be bona fide art supply stores in my area, I usually shop at three that are relatively close by. By bona fide, I mean they carry a full line of supplies for all media as well as tools, supports, paper, and just about everything else related to the creation of art. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with those big box national or regional chains that include craft, scrapbooking, framing, and particularly holiday seasonal supplies, but that’s not what I’m blogging about today. I’m talking about a “real” art supply store for artists.

First, the store is in a suburban location, which is great for me. Some of the other art supply stores are naturally located in the areas where a lot of artists have their studios, where the art galleries are located (gallery row, etc.), and near art museums. I, however, don’t live in or near any one of those places, so I’m grateful this retailer remembered there are many of us artists who live all over the metro area.

This store is tucked away in a shopping center that is at the intersection of a major freeway and a major thoroughfare, but because of the center's design--all the shops face inward--it’s not obvious to passers-by and never crowded. Maybe that’s too bad for the owner, but great for me.

When you enter, they usually have placed some clearance items right there, so you have to either notice or trip over them. Sometimes it’s canvases; sometimes it’s art books and how-to books; sometimes it’s paint or watercolor. Whatever clearance item it is, I like that they showcase it as it brings out the bargain-hunter in me.

Over on the right wall is all the paper and drafting supplies. There is every kind of paper you can think of from big rolls of tracing paper to full-size, 300-pound watercolor paper and everything in between including all kinds of card stock for printing and even yupo. There’s also a section with electronic projectors for projecting your art project on a large support or venue.

The next aisle over is paint brushes—all kinds of natural and synthetic brushes in all sizes (from no. 1’s to way-big brushes for painting murals or whatever) and shapes (bright, filbert, round, flat, you-name-it) including sponges and foam brushes.

Opposite that is watercolor and gouache. Not every brand is on hand, of course, but I think I counted six or seven of the popular ones. They have student and artist quality paint in all sizes of tubes and forms including tins or square containers of dry watercolor.

The next aisle over is all of their acrylic paint. I do mean all as it takes up both sides of the aisle. I believe this store has the biggest variety of acrylic paint of all the stores in the area I have shopped at including all those down in the art district. There must be at least ten brands available, again in student and artist quality, and they come in tubes, jars, bottles, even tubs of all sizes. The choice of colors seems almost limitless, but it’s not, of course. They have way more than your usual palette colors, at which I’m sure some artists would take offense, but I like the choices available (remember, I’m a big fan of acrylics). They also carry a couple of lines of the new, slower drying acrylics

Moving around the corner to the next aisle, you’ll find all the oil paint. There is every bit as much choice in oil paints as there was for acrylic paint. All the major brands are represented in student and artist quality. I forgot to mention, at each section or display of most brands of watercolor, acrylic, and oil, there is is usually a color chart or marketing brochure or whatever that describes the attributes of the paint to help you make a choice. Very helpful.

Well, there’s still a lot of retail space to cover, and I’ll continue my walking tour in the next blog.


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