How much do you have in the way of art supplies in your home or studio?
Is it just the minimal amount you need for the current project(s) you’re working on?
Is it enough so that you can adequately express any surge of fresh inspiration that might strike you at any time?
Or is it enough to start up your own Art and Craft Superstore and supply the entire artist population of the nearest three cities for at least the next year?
Of course we all need our artist’s tools and materials of some kind. Different media demand different supplies, some far more than others. To pick an obvious example, if you’re a wood carver you need a whole lot more than a novelist.
But I’m not so interested here in the amount you have, but the feelings and emotions and beliefs behind the amount you have, however much or little it is.
When I was younger I was very much into music, and devoured the NME and other music magazines as soon as they came out for the latest new releases. I visited record shops at least a couple of times a week and rarely left without a new purchase.
Music – and my music collection – defined who I was to a large extent, probably more than anything else in my life in my late teens and early twenties. Love me, love my records.
But an extensive record collection doesn’t necessarily make you a music lover any more than anyone else.
Who’s the bigger, more “authentic” music fan of these two?
The young woman who buys every track her favourite band releases and listens to them endlessly on repeat in every spare waking moment, rarely, if ever listening to anyone else?
Or the young man who has a diverse and extensive record collection that makes him appear very cultured but whose records sit gathering dust, resembling an expensive every expanding ornament more than anything else?
I was somewhere between these two, but the point is, having loads of records doesn’t make you a music lover, just as having loads of art supplies doesn’t make you an artist.
What makes you a music lover if how much you listen to music. Simple.
What makes you an artist is how much you create. Simple.
If you find you’re drowning in art supplies, (and still adding to them at every opportunity) and not actually creating much, then you might want to look at why.
What do your art materials mean to you?
What does it say about yourself that you have so many?
What are you trying to prove by having this amount of materials, especially unused materials? And to whom?
What do you think of others who have way more supplies than they’ll ever use – paints that have long since dried up, brushes that are broken and bristle-less, paper that’s molded and decayed?
Most importantly of all, does having so many materials help you be more creative? Or overwhelm you and hold you back from ever finishing anything? Or from even ever starting anything?
These are uncomfortable questions, and maybe they’re ones that you’re asking for the first time.
To be creative you just need your creative mind.
You’re already an artist, you don’t need physical, external materials waiting to be molded into wonderful creations to prove that, to yourself or anyone else.
Your creativity is evident in the way you think, feel, see, act and express yourself.
Stop purchasing, gathering, hoarding, organising and reorganising, choose a handful of materials and a promising idea, and go create.
You’re an artist, you create stuff, the stuff that’s most important to you, the stuff that calls you to be created.
Honour that calling.
You need to. We need you to…
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