I love to visit a high street stationers, an independent art store or gallery selling work by local craftspeople. There’s so much variety and choice in these places that are run by people who are passionate about what they sell and do. Arts and crafts have always been a popular activity. More people than ever are engaged in art and understand its value. For some it’s a rewarding hobby that becomes a way of life.
The highest quality art materials produce wonderful results and are worth searching out. Artist John Hersey couldn’t find a pastel that was strong enough in both tint and physicality so he began to make his own. Unison Colour were created by an artist for artists. They are made in beautiful Northumberland and sold worldwide.
Two Rivers Paper is a traditional water mill with solar panels fitted on the roof. They combine Exmoor water with cotton and linen flax to create wonderful paper. Sometimes hemp, flower petals and recycled rag are also added. You can arrange to visit them in Watchet, Somerset or buy their handmade paper directly.
Nearby, also in Somerset, St Cuthberts Mill have been Master papermakers since the 1700’s. They are famous for producing Bockingford which is the best watercolour paper and Somerset paper which provides an excellent ground for printing.
Willow growing is based in the wetlands of the Somerset levels. It is an important part of the landscape and there is a long tradition of basketweaving and charcoal production. Coates have been growing and making since 1819, it is still a family firm that has adapted and developed its products over the years. This artist quality Charcoal is made in 3 days from the raw willow that grows quickly to become the deep, dark black sticks we love to use when sketching.
The type and shape of brush that you use when painting can affect the marks you make. Yorkshire based Rosemary & Co is an established Mother and daughter run company that manufacture a vast range of brushes from stubby flats for oils to fat oriental brushes for washes and calligraphy.
Canvas or linen stretched onto a wooden frame is a surface to paint upon. Peter Greig & Co were established in 1825, they are bespoke weavers of linen and natural fibres. Scottish linen is woven, designed and made in Kirkaldy. That’s a long history of traditional weaving that also now includes beautiful printed cloth for upholstery and fashion.
For the finest linen you need the best oil paint. Pip Seymour developed his own paint when he couldn’t find what he needed for his paintings. Oil paint has a luminosity and texture that is really wonderful. Explore your local Art shop such as Bristol Fine Art which stocks Pip Seymour products.
As I skip away to try out my new materials, I find I will need somewhere to store them. Rowley Abbey makes a lovely selection of Pochade boxes from sustainable pine. Perfect and compact. You can see more paintings here.
If you really don’t feel like getting your hands dirty then it’s easy to support our creative and inspiring artists by purchasing their work. You don’t need to be a rich patron. Printmaker Sarah Hamilton began the campaign “Just a Card” after hearing this quote “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.” The Campaign reminds us that we can really make a difference to an individual maker by spending only a few pounds. So next time you buy a greetings card seek out this logo!
By Julia Langley.
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