"If I Weren't So Stingy..."

Glorious Gold
This is how one of Julia Cameron's questions begins in her book THE ARTIST'S WAY. The question is: "If I weren't so stingy with my artist, I would buy her/him..." The reader is supposed to finish the statement.

Boy, that really struck home when I read it the first time many years ago, and each time since.
Reclining Nude
I'm awfully stingy with the child-like personification of my artist self. Although sometimes I take her shopping and buy her new tubes of paint, that's usually prompted by a great sale, not by timely need.  I can't tell you how many hours I've spent comparing cool travel easels online, deciding which accessories I could live without and then end up not buying one at all. I still own- and use- the wooden French easel I bought when I was 21.  I turned 56 today.  A little subtraction will reveal how many years I've traveled with that box.  All the hardware desperately needs replacing.

It took me until this year to buy the metal spirits can with the clamp-on lid I've wanted since I started painting in oils.  And I only got it because it was in Jerry's Artarama's Deep Discount Super Sale. 

Stephen and Ben Wenzel

Just today I dug all the sticky tubes out of the disreputable lunch bag I've been using to hold my paints and organized them in a VERY inexpensive (No, really- $6.98) plastic tackle box from WallyWorld. Well, at least I don't have to scrabble around and dig through the tubes to find the one color that's sure to be on the bottom and be the stickiest of all. 

My frugality is a sickness. And it's deeply, deeply ingrained. 

In contrast, I see fledgling art students come to their first class or workshop outfitted to the teeth. They've researched and bought the best. The best easels, best brushes (I could eat for three months on what some of those brushes cost), the best paints and a shiny new spirits can with the clamp-on lid. And they've never painted anything yet!  I sometimes wonder if they think the expensive supplies will paint the painting FOR them.

Online Workshop Painting
Somewhere between my stingy sickness and the stupendous supply splurge is some kind of healthy approach to equipping our child-like artist selves.  We need toys.  Okay, it's more like: WE NEED TOYS!  I know, I know, a cardboard box could entertain us as children for hours, but eventually we needed crayons and fingerpaints and an Etch-A-Sketch and a computer with image-editing software.  We need time to make messes and "waste" paint.  We need a palette knife so we can ladle on the gooey goodness of great color.  We need canvas and gesso panels and we need them in every size.  We need to scrape off the old dried-up paint from our palettes and squirt generous dollops of each color onto our fresh surface well before the time we actually need that color.  We need a few decent brushes. We need paint that does not have the word Hue in the name.  (Ok, I still have a few of those...)  We need to SHOP.  

Let's wrestle to the ground and hog-tie our sickening stinginess. This year I'm going to buy a great travel easel.....   I am, SO!  
Happy Birthday to my child-like and worthy inner artist!