We’ve spent the past four days looking at gifts artists would love to receive, but here are five presents that will turn your artist’s expression from gratitude to dismay when they try to use the product. In the worst case scenario you may even be accused of sabotaging their art! My top five to avoid are:
Ultra-cheap watercolour paper. Just accept that some things are expensive or they don’t work. Watercolour paper falls in to this category. One of my students once had some particularly nasty cheap watercolour paper, the surface of which appeared to be made of regularly spaced tiny dents, obviously formed on a machine. The paint sank in to the dents giving an unpleasant spotted look to the painting. Ugh! No one will thank you for the gift of cheap watercolour paper, unless it’s through gritted teeth as they try to be polite.
The 50 “Artists” brushes for £10 set. No it’s not a bargain, whatever the retailer would have you believe. The bristles will stick out in the wrong directions before falling out. Possibly useful for creosote, glue or DIY but not for Art. DO NOT BUY. This also applies to any large-quantities-of-something-for-not-much-money e.g. coloured pencils, paints… Anyway, you want to be associated with something wonderful, don’t you, not to be remembered as a cheapskate?
Fabric brush case. A borderline “avoid” as brush cases can be very useful… but in my experience they need to be of a rigid material. Otherwise the top can bend over in your art bag and then the tips of the brushes bend too. It’s difficult to paint with a brush whose bristles stick out at right angles to the handle, and truly heartbreaking if it was your very best brush.
Any product with the “Made Easy” tag: e.g. the Watercolour-Made-Easy book/ the Painting-Skies-Made-Easy DVD/ the brush claimed to make painting trees easy… Sorry, it’s not easy unless you want to do it badly. Buy good quality kit and learn to do it properly. Rant over.
A hardback sketchbook with perforated pages. I fell in to this trap with my Falklands sketchbook. It seemed like a good idea as I’d be able to removed selected pages as necessary. In reality all the unselected pages fell out after a short time too. A spiral bound book would be a better bet; pages can be removed easily but those that should stay put do so.
So that’s it for my 2011 Christmas Gifts for Artists guide. Now you’re all ready to hit the shops or the web and receive plaudits for being so organised.
The next step though is up to you. Share this guide with those who are likely to be buying for artists. Use it to start a debate with friends and family about what arty gifts you’d really like. I’m sure you’ll agree and disagree with some of my suggestions so don’t be afraid to add your comments and suggestions to these posts. We owe it to artists everywhere to get the word out there about what artists really want for Christmas.