Art Supply Overwhelm and One Way to Overcome It

Do you ever look at all your arts and crafts supplies and not know which media to use? Do you ever sit down among your gear, and not know which technique to try? Do you ever feel guilty that you’re not using all your stuff as often as you think you should? Yes? Well, the bad news is: you’re probably suffering from Art Supply Overwhelm, but the good news is: you’re not alone, and it’s curable!

For me, one of the pleasures of arting and crafting is trying out new media, tools and techniques. Every time I see something cool on Instagram or Youtube, I’m tempted to surf straight to Amazon to see how much it costs and how soon I can have it in my hot little hands. Maybe, like me, this has resulted in you having a few products that are pretty similar to each other: Gelatos, watercolour pastels, Scribble Sticks and Neocolor IIs for example. These are all water-soluble pigments in stick form, some harder than others, some creamier than others, some waxy, some non-waxy, some blendable with baby wipes, some not so much. You could argue that I don’t really need all of these products, and you’d probably be right – I’ll address that particular issue in another post – but in this post, I want to tell you about a way I’ve found that is enabling me to use everything I have, and to use it in innovative ways, no matter how similar the products I have may be.

It started when I visited Rae Missigan’s website and came across three sets of inspiring prompts. Each set contained 30 words or phrases to get the creative juices flowing, words like petal-like, chevron and hidden. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a bit stuck in my art and keep using the same things – marks and colours for example – over and over again. The 90 prompts I found at Rae’s site unlocked something in me, and I started broadening my mark-making horizons by trying out different things. Rather than work through the marks in order, though, I decided to write them in my bullet journal and number them 1 – 90. I then downloaded a random number generator app onto my phone, and now, when I sit down to create, I generate a few random numbers and use the corresponding prompts to inform my mark-making. It’s actually very exciting – I have no idea what combination of prompts I’m going to get!

After a few days of this, it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with more than just mark-making; I could do it with all my media, tools and techniques. So, I sat down in my studio with my bullet journal, and went through all my trays, boxes, draws and shelves and wrote down all the ways I had of laying down colour and assigned each one a number. It turns out I have 60! I then did the same with all the tools I have and all the techniques I know. I have 80 of those!

Over the last few days, I’ve been using my random number generator to give me three or four things from each of my lists (Mark Making, Colour, and Tools and Techniques) and trying out all sorts of things I’d never have tried otherwise. Today I found myself scraping watercolour down a page with a pallet knife, making blurred bubbles with 3D Pearl Effects, and pulling a scrap of paper out of my rubbish bin then writing the word ‘Tuesday’ on it! And all because I’d randomly chosen the prompts: scattered, numerous, blurred, Winsor & Newton watercolours, 3D Pearl Effects, transparent, old scraps, and pallet knife.





Of course, I’m not going to use random prompts every time I sit down to create something, but I will use them often because it’s exciting and liberating – exciting because I don’t know what media, tools or techniques I’ll be prompted to use, and liberating because, eventually, I’ll get to play with all my media in all sorts of new combinations and ways. Gone will be my guilt about having stuff I don’t use and about not being creative enough with it. Who knows, maybe one day, my random number generator will tell me to use Scribble Sticks and NeoColor IIs in the same project and the tools, techniques and marks it picks will give me ideas on how to use them differently and creatively. How exciting is that!?

How about you? Do you suffer from Art Supply Overwhelm? What do you do to overcome it? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading! Catch you soon!

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