A collection of art a junk.
A sleeve I cut from one of my mom's old shirts to use for brush cleaning.
Tubes of dried up acrylic paint.
A set of watercolors that my favorite art teacher gave to me; I never clean out the right side just in case I want to use the colors I've already mixed again.
A watercolor value scale.
A destroyed set of PrismaColor colored pencils; I used them for four years in a row. Even though I have a new set, I've kept these ones.
A box-set of soft pastels that I dropped all over the ground before putting them on display.
It was actually my mom who gave me this idea for this exhibit. She had found one of my box-easel sets and asked if she could put it on display in the living room. “It looks neat!” She said and set it on top of a dresser. She fiddled with the clasps, trying to decide if she wanted to display it open or closed. That’s when a rag covered in paint fell out. “Is this a piece of one of my old shirts?”
“No,” I said. It was.
Seeing that paint covered rag got me thinking about every scrap test piece of paper or paint palette I had ever tested or mixed colors on. So I went on a treasure hunt to see how many I could find. Unfortunately, not a lot. I had thrown several of them away before my family and I had moved houses several years ago. But what I was able to find was so interesting to me. Every time I finish a drawing or a painting, I often forget about it—it’s like it never existed. But seeing all these little bits and pieces remind me of my thought process while creating. I got curious about what other artists think about their artwork, their processes, their habits as creators; I also just really wanted to see what they had lying around.
I asked my friends for any test pieces of paper they might have or any old palettes that I could add to this exhibit alongside my own. I felt hopeful that they would’ve kept theirs just like I had kept mine; after all, surely everyone enjoys looking at nondescript blobs of color as much as I do! Wrong. Here are some of the questions I asked them after my initial disappointment:
Do you prefer traditional or digital art?
Brennan: I actually like to draw my sketches on paper, and then do any line-work or coloring on my iPad.
Maxwell: Traditional. I've never done digital art before.
David: Before I became a freelance artist, I preferred traditional, but now I mostly do digital art. It just makes things easier.
Do you test color combinations or techniques on a scrap piece of paper before moving onto the final draft?
Brennan: Not really. If I'm coloring, I'm using my Copic markers. I only have a couple of colors so I usually already know what's going to look good together. Sometimes when I don't try things out beforehand it can turn out really bad and I'm super upset about it. I just pretend it never happened...
Maxwell: Sure I do. My art training was very formal, and I spent a majority of my time practicing before trying to apply it to a full-blown project.
David: Sometimes. It really depends on my mood. Either way, I've ended up with a lot of finished products that I hated.
When you paint, what does your palette look like? Is it organized? Messy? Do you use the same palette again even if it's disposable?
Brennan: I actually don't paint. It freaks me out.
Maxwell: It's pretty organized, yeah. I usually throw away all my palettes because I use wax paper. There's not really a need to keep any of them.
David: Are you kidding me? I used to have an entire box of pieces of cardboard I had used to mix my paints. I only threw them away after they became unusable.
Do you like seeing the process you've taken on the way to the finished product? Why or why not?
Brennan: Oh yeah, you know I'm always taking pictures throughout if I'm liking where things are going. Maybe that's just in case I mess up, I at least have a picture of when it looked good.
Maxwell: I've never really thought about it before. My focus is usually on the end result. Of course I'm thinking about how to get there, but I've never paid that much attention after the fact.
David: Sure. It's kind of a cool thing to see--creating something from nothing and all that.
Do you hoard art supplies?
Brennan: You know I do, dude.
Maxwell: I try to keep it organized!
When do you throw things away?
Brennan: I guess when they're all used up. Like, if I can't use my marker because there's no more ink, why keep it? Well unless I want to buy another, then I need the old one to buy a new one. But I keep all of my filled up sketchbooks of course.
Maxwell: When I'm finished with them. Like the wax paper, if I'm finished with it and I don't need it again, I throw it away. Empty or dried up tubes of paint, I don't need those either.
David: When things get too crowded or if I don't need them anymore. I switched to digital art, but I kept all of my stuff for traditional art just in case, especially if they're still useful.
As for myself, I can answer all of these questions pretty easily. I prefer traditional art when it comes to drawing, but I like digital art for painting because it means no messes or clean-up! I think you know the answer, yes, I use test pieces of paper before applying anything to the final piece. When I paint, my palettes are usually very messy! I like to reuse the same palette over and over again just so I can remember how to mix a certain color. I love seeing the steps I’ve taken to a finished piece of artwork! Like my friend Brennan, I also take pictures of my sketches throughout because one, I’m proud, and two, it’s a good backup just in case. I hoard so many art supplies, and I have a very hard time throwing them away—even if they’re all used up.