There are definite benefits for the worker to have good tools. As a musician, it is worth investing in instruments that are a pleasure rather than a chore to play. In visual arts, too, there is a lot to be said for investing in decent materials. Artist grade watercolour paints applied with decent brushes onto heavy paper make painting a joy. You waste money if you buy things you never use but you are also wasting it if you only buy materials that make you work hard for half the result. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I should have a small set of Sennelier ‘Abstract’ acrylics arriving; these aren’t the most expensive by a long shot but see well regarded and I expect them to be several steps beyond the budget paints I have been working with so far in this medium.
However, you can go too far in that direction. Better is the painting done with cheap materials than the one that remains in a set of expensive tubes. Furthermore, if you aren’t mentally calculating the cost of each stroke, you are more willing to take risks, learning how to work the materials and go beyond unsatisfactory beginnings to a deeper level of art. I recently got a large box of very thin paper – it can’t be more than 40-50 gsm and certainly isn’t the kind of thing recommended for artists to paint on. However, as well as giving me a surface for throw away drawings, I’ve had some fun and some quite interesting results by working on it with watercolour and acrylic paints.
I’m determined to invest in my art… but also to keep on having fun in the cheap seats!