When did I start buying the good stuff?

The story of how I learned why Golden paint is the gold standard and why you should invest in yourself by buying the good stuff.

This question came from the January survey. As soon as I read this question from Tanya, I knew exactly what story I’d tell. Buying the good stuff is a leap of faith sometimes but so worth it.

That workshop cost what?!?!

Years ago, I signed up for a very expensive workshop with an abstract painter. The workshop was at a local venue and it was about a year before my first show. I showed up to the workshop feeing confident because I had a show on the books but also nervous because I hadn’t been to an in-person painting workshop before.

As soon as the instructor started talking, I knew I was gonna hate the workshop. He was arrogant and clearly didn’t want to share any limelight with anyone. When I introduced myself to the group I said I was excited about my upcoming show, he immediately felt the need to put me in my place by downplaying the very venue he stood teaching in. He didn’t want anyone’s input on the work. He wanted to critique and perform in front of us students. Needless to say, it was a long two days.

Out to lunch

Since the venue didn’t really have lunch options close at hand, I opted to take my lunch so I wouldn’t feel pressured to get back before the afternoon session started. It was during lunch on the second day that someone asked him what the differences were between student grade acrylic paint and Golden (the gold standard for acrylic paint, you might say). So in probably the best demo of the two days, he borrowed some student grade paint and grabbed some of his Golden in exactly the same colors. He showed how when you mix student grade paints they gray out because they have a lot of filler in them – they literally take on a greyish tinge. Then he took the same colors of Golden and mixed them and the mix stayed bright and vivid. It was, quite frankly, magical.

Up until then I was buying all qualities of paint because I didn’t think it mattered much. After that, I wanted to upgrade all my paints. The workshop was spendy but I learned several really valuable lessons. None of them were about how to paint.

Choose your weapon carefully

I’m a big believer in using what you have on hand. Particularly when you are starting out and learning about what works for you and where your interests lie. If you like to draw with charcoal and colored pencils, having hundreds of dollars worth of spray paint is not your best expenditure. If you are learning, buying a few beginning tools to see if you like it and if you will stick with those mediums seems the wisest choice to me. Then as you gain confidence in your favorite mediums, you can phase out your old supplies as you use them up and replace them gradually so you aren’t outlaying wads of cash all at once.

So that’s what I did with my paints. I used up the economy stuff and when I needed more, I ordered Golden. Because if you know anything about me it’s that I’m going to be painting something. Probably before this hour is over. I’m not gonna lie, some of these supplies are an investment. It’s a big leap to put money into something that may be a hobby for you. You don’t have to do it all at once and you get to be really choosy about your purchases though. And for sure if it’s a choice between low quality paints and not painting at all I’ll take low quality paints every day of the week.

An investment in you

I’ll go on to say that while you might only be a hobby creator and you may never plan on selling anything, there is a lot of pride in using good materials and tools. It makes you take yourself more seriously. Even if not many people see what you make, you will know that you are taking yourself seriously. Many women struggle with investing in ourselves in this way. I get it. I have felt those feels and can keenly remember the work I had to do to say out loud “I am an artist” without undercutting it with giggles. You are worth the good stuff. You deserve to use the good paint, yarn, pencils, paper, or canvas. If for no other reason than good materials are a joy to use and you deserve to feel that joy.

What’s your dream medium?

What’s your idea of the good stuff? What medium have you been toiling away with but you want to try the next level tools? Drop me a comment here, tag me on social media, or email me because I wanna hear about your if-I-win-the-lottery shopping list.

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