I’ve never been an art supply snob, I’ve always used the tools I had at my disposal or those I could afford. The humblest ballpoint pen; the most basic paint set; the HB pencil that somehow lived with me for 20 years; the A4 office print paper; and the cheapest paintbrushes in the history of art. My philosophy was: If it gets the job done, then why change it?
That is why, in my absolute nonchalance I’ve managed to gather a few very prized materials, and only realised it after comparing them with the “basic” ones, and (admittedly) fawning over the crème de la crème on art websites. This is how I managed to acquire a set of Derwent Graphite Pencils (I’ve had them for 18 years and only lost my H pencil) and a modest collection of Daler Rowney brushes.
My other brushes pale in comparison with the Daler Rowney’s. The smoothly varnished wooden handle, tapered to fit snugly between my fingers, which is a big deal, because I’m left-handed, and it is challenging to find even a pair of scissors or a cake fork that feels comfortable to hold. Even the act of writing cursive is somewhat arduous. But the Daler Rowney’s feel like they’ve been crafted to fit my hand precisely. Especially my ½ Flat Wash Brush. It feels almost magical.
Magical, like a wizard’s wand from Ollivander’s Wand Shop: A wand that chose to make me its wielder. It glides effortlessly around me as I paint on my imagined canvas in the air: Swish and flick. The bristles sigh contently when I dip it in oil paint and cast it onto canvas. It dances like a ball of light. Afterwards, the ritual of cleaning begins: washing all the paint off with the finest quality dish wash liquid I can afford, wiping it dry with a soft facial tissue, and inspecting each bristle with great affection. I’ve even considered storing my dearest Daler Rowney’s in a silk-lined casket or mounting them on a wall bracket within a frame. My other brushes are ashamedly not handled with the same care. The porcelain brush rest is reserved only for my favourite brushes, and the others will have to make do with recycled tin.
If I were to turn into a brush snob, I still have a long way to go when it comes to collecting superior quality paintbrushes. But for the moment, I marvel at my unassuming little collection and believe that the wand chooses the wizard.
“A paintbrush is the only tool I use extensively in my works, to push paint on canvas and conduct melodies.
And that’s exactly what Garden Avenue is, and all of my projects after that.”