Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Worth the wait

How do you feel about paintbrushes? Are they a big deal to you? While I am not solely a painting teacher, I do plenty of painting with my classes - most of which are foundational in nature. Because they aren't super advanced artists (yet!) I insist upon using top-of-the-line brushes and I mostly just want to focus on ones that are solidly built without sacrificing key things I want my students to learn - like which brush type/size is most appropriate for specific tasks of painting - meaning I want to be able to have a wide array of brush types for them to be able to choice from for their individual purposes.

All of that said? I have found that the best brushes to use with my classes are the Big Kids Choice Paintbrush sets (with the classroom caddy if you can get them like this!!) by Royal & Langnickel. They are short-handled craft style brushes (vs. being long handled artist length for painting on an easel) with synthetic bristles and both flat and round tips in three different sizes each...

They are very popular among art teachers (as I have come to find out) and around this time of the year they are almost always sold out because they are so highly sought after. Years ago when I first discovered them on accident, I got them for a STEAL by buying them in bulk (I bought more than 3 of them) and they were only $55 a piece!!! Amazing! Nowadays it is much more likely that you see them for at least $75 a piece and if you are lucky you MIGHT score some for just a little less than $70. I have ordered them every time from Dick Blick and if you search for them you will find that there are two listings that appear to be for the exact same thing with the exception of the price. One is listed as $2 more than the other. Why? Because one of them has a blue handled teeny-tiny brush perfect for details and then a red handled one with a nice wide flat one perfect for painting reasonably large areas and the other one has six sizes - three of round, three of flat that I would guess are in sizes that are the most popular overall for artists of any ability or age. That being said? If I were you I would spring for the set that has the teeny-tiny blue handled brush because if you are buying them in bulk, the price difference is only 9 cents. I made the mistake of not ordering that set and though I wish I hadn't I have enough of them on hand that I am not bothering with sending them back and exchanging them.  Below is a picture of three baskets of the cheaper set.

Better than bouquets of flowers in my book!!

Now, while I have made it pretty obvious that I work at a school with great means (read: budget) as it pertains to supplies ordering or just resources in general? I actually don't always just get whatever I want, whenever I want it. I Do have a budget that I adhere and it doesn't allow for me to just order my favorite things all the time/every year. The way I manage that is staggering the ordering of the the frequently used/favorite supplies that might also happen to be more on the pricey side of things like these brushes. I feel like even if we did have the money to buy these brushes though, I might not do that because then I feel like the students wouldn't understand the importance of taking care of your materials so they last. Afterall, art materials (and nice art materials at that!) are not meant to be used once and discarded forever. To be an artist also means learning how to take care of your materials and that includes maintaining them so you can keep using them if they work so well to begin with.

Something else about the Big Kids Choice Classroom brushes with the caddy? They come in these really great plastic cylinder packages that are so useful to use as storage in the studio classroom! I like using them for every day materials because it's easy to chuck things into them without them looking messy - similar to the way a glass cookie jar might look! Currently I have some of these from my last order that are storing/organizing markers and other coloring materials and it is so nice to put these in a cabinet and be able to SEE what is in them so I can pick and choose what will be taken out for use.

These brushes were back-ordered so I only just got them shipped and despite the fact that I received a heads up email that they were coming, I forgot about them and it felt like Christmas unpacking them, setting them up, and preparing them for use. I completely agree that "Good things absolutely come to those who wait" even if that wait means waiting every 3-4 years to be able to get these brushes.

That being said? I also am the proud owner (FINALLY AFTER 1.5 YEARS OF DILIGENT PRAYER AND ASKING AROUND!!!) of something pictured here...

If you watch my instagram feed, you might recognize this as a picture I posted a couple of weeks back when I was in the throes of attempting to acquire some of what is pictured without success. Am I being annoyingly elusive? Don't get what I'm talking about? I don't expect you too because I wanted to share the fact that I have been working on something VERY special (and I guess secret as it has been) for my school to enjoy - both current art students and not AND faculty as well - that seeks to make art appreciation stretch far beyond the confines of it happening in the studio classroom alone. This "idea" of mine is one I have been carrying around for a seriously long time and this year I finally got it in me that I had to make it happen - no ifs, ands, or buts. And that is ALL I will tell you for now until it's good and ready to go for me to present it as something for you to do in your classes too. ;)

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