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Pointless Art Products: Crap You Don’t Need!

November 10, 2010

useless art productsThis is a follow-up to 3 Things that Really Do Make a Difference in Your Paintings. While you shouldn’t cut corners when it comes to the quality of your paper, brushes and paints, we all want to save a bit of cash.

The thing to remember is that the art industry is like any other industry: it is littered with products you don’t need. Don’t give into pressure and marketing! Most of these things are gimicky little devices that may look cool, but aren’t very useful.

Here are some areas where you can cut corners without affecting the quality of your art work.


Don’t spend your money on fancy contraptions that you don’t need. A palette is just a place to mix your paint. You can use an old ice cream bucket lid, a dinner plate or even a piece of glass. You can also make your own painting palette.


These certainly look “official” but aren’t necessary for painting. All you really need is a way to prop your painting upright. If you’re working on canvas, you can hang it directly on the wall to paint on it. If the canvas is particularly large, set it on two blocks to raise it off the floor and lean it against the wall.

Brush Cleaner

Another unnecessary product. When it comes to getting brushes clean, special brush cleaners don’t work much better than a regular old bar of soap. I have noticed that brush cleaner works slightly better when getting oil off brushes, but it’s not enough that I’d recommend you run out and buy some. Bar soap works just fine!

Brush Stands

Yes, they exist. No, you don’t need one. Store your brushes laying flat, or standing up resting on the handle. Never store your brushes on the bristles, it can bend them permanently.

Wooden Mannequin

While these models aren’t specifically painting related, they are another pointless art product. I remember when I first saw one of these and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was given one for my birthday and realized that it wasn’t good for much of anything. These mannequins don’t make a good reference because they don’t give a very accurate depiction of the human figure and don’t mimic the body’s movements well at all.

Portable Easels

If you’re into plein air paintings, you don’t need to shell out for a portable easel. Lori Mcnee has some great information on how to build your own pochade box.

If you’re on a budget, the things you should really worry about are brushes, paints and paper. These are the essential painting tools that can make or break your work. Everything else is just fluff. Some fluff is more useful than other fluff, but none of it is necessary.

Have you seen any other ridiculous art products?


From → Art General

  1. Great post, and I totally agree with all of them. None of these things really make a difference.


  2. Great tips! Thanks! 🙂

  3. Wait Miranda, you’re not saying that you don’t use turpentine to clean the oil off your brushes, are you?!

  4. PLease don’t tell me that wearing a beret while painting in public isn’t absolutely necessary. How will the ignorant masses know for sure that we are artists?

  5. An artist mannequin can be useful, but only along side anatomy books and some imagination. One of the Andrew Loomis drawing books has a chapter on how to do it.

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