Save the USPS!

#SaveTheUSPS

If you have placed an order with us in the last few weeks, you might have noticed that your order is getting to you more slowly than expected. This is because of new policies put in place by the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who was appointed in June.

As a small business who does most of their shipping with USPS Priority Mail, this is a potentially devastating turn of events. The normal shipping time for Priority Mail packages was one to three days before the pandemic started impacted service. Then it started slipping by a day or two.

In the last few weeks, packages we handed off to our mail carrier took as long as a week just to get scanned in at the local distribution center. Packages dropped off at our local post office have been scanned in within a day or two. Even once they are scanned at the distribution center or post office, packages are taking several days, if not longer, to make it to the next distribution center on their way to a local post office for delivery.

We have had packages to Oregon and Nevada take nearly two weeks to be delivered after they left our hands. But it’s not all bad! We also continue to have a number of packages make it all the way to New York or North Carolina in four days.

We will continue to drop off packages at our local post office so that they get scanned into the system as soon as possible and you can follow the tracking as they make their way to you. This also seems to avoid them going through the Los Angeles International Distribution Center, which appears to be the biggest local bottleneck.

The American Postal Workers Union has a page full of resources with more information on these slowdowns and how to get in touch with your congressional representatives to encourage them to get the USPS the funding it already desperately needed to manage the impacts of the pandemic, and also restore the footing of the postal system instead of trying to carve it up and privatize it.

As always, thank you for your support, patience, and understanding. Stay safe!

Supplies for starting with Acrylics

A selection of supplies you might want to get started with acrylic painting.

We get questions about what basic supplies are needed to start creating with different mediums, so here is a series of posts about the fundamentals we recommend for artists beginning their creative journey. First up, Acrylics!

Acrylic paints are easy to start with: they dry quickly, clean up easily with soap and water before they dry, and although you can work with a variety of techniques, it is very easy to get started by simply applying paint to a surface right out of the tube.

The paint

Royal Talens makes two lines of paints that we recommend for beginning artists.

ArtCreation Expression Acrylic Paint Sets come with five to 24 colors. The sets with 22ml tubes work well if you’re going to be painting small, and the 75ml tubes are a good size to get larger quantities of paint onto a larger surface.

If you have a specific idea of what you want to paint and/or have a color scheme in mind, we recommend you opt for individual tubes of Amsterdam Standard Acrylics, which we stock in 120ml and 250ml tubes, plus a few colors in 500ml jars.

When you are ready for a higher quality paint, our recommendation will be to step up into products from GOLDEN, whether it’s their Heavy Body Acrylics, the Fluid Acrylics, or the slow-drying OPEN Acrylics for when you want the ability to blend colors on-canvas, or just need more time.

The surfaces

You will need something to paint on, unless you plan to start out by painting murals directly onto your walls.

Canvas Panel Super Value Packs from Art Alternatives are a cost-effective way to try out a variety of small surfaces that are easy to paint on. Great for experimentation and playing around, yet not so expensive that you’ll feel bad about messing one up, but also easy to pop into a frame when you strike creative gold.

Canvas Paper Pads from Strathmore are another easy way to get started, but we found that because they don’t hold up as well to a lot of paint, some beginning painters can find it a frustrating surface to start with.

Stretched Canvas from Raw Materials (that’s us!) is a step up from canvas panels, and as you get into larger sizes it is less prone to warping out of shape compared to canvas panels. While you can frame stretched canvases (like in one of these floater frames), these also look great if you hang them on the wall as-is.

While we don’t want to overwhelm you with choices, Cradled Birch Panels from American Easel are another great alternative, especially if you prefer a more rigid surface.

The brushes (and more)

You’ll probably need a way to get the paint from the tubes to your surface, and brushes are the most frequently used tool here.

Painting small? Check out this set of Short Handle Snap Brushes from Princeton Brush. Three brushes, no waiting. Painting large? Check out the set of Long Handle Snap Brushes from Princeton Brush.

We say “painting small” and “painting large”, but what really makes the difference in determining which handle size you choose is whether you are painting on a surface laid flat, or placing your surface on an easel. For a flat surface, a shorter handle is generally easier to manage, and on an easel, a long handle works better for most artists.

Looking to get overwhelmed by choices and pick out your own brushes? The Catalyst Brushes from Princeton come in short handle and long handle varieties, and both are excellent with acrylics. (They have a fancy synthetic filament that holds more paint in the bristles.)

You can also use a painting knife to help mix colors and paint with. This basic set of Plastic Painting Knives from Art Alternatives is a fast and easy way to start, or you can pick and choose your own shapes of Italian Plus Painting Knives from RGM.

Did you opt for tubes of Amsterdam Standard Acrylics? These Dosing Nozzles are a fun way to deliver paint straight from the tube to your surface in interesting ways.

The accessories

It is very handy to have a surface to mix your paints on, and this Mijello Fredi Weber Palette is great because once the acrylic paints dry, they just peel right off, and just like that, you have a fresh palette for next time.

We also recommend these Palette Paper Pads from Strathmore for an easy tear-and-toss way to clean up when you’re done painting.

When painting with acrylics, it is very important that you wash the paint out and not let them dry on your brushes. This Brush Wash Basin from Art Advantage is a great way to keep the water close to where you’re painting. Sure, you can use an old coffee mug, but it’s really easy to accidentally drink it instead of your coffee. Blech. Learn from our mistakes.

SavvySoap Hand and Brush Cleaner is an important aid to keep yourself and your brushes clean.

We hope that helps you get started painting with Acrylic!

An update from Raw Materials Art Supplies

tl;dr We aren’t open yet except for online ordering, hope to open for curbside before June 15, and not sure when we will be opening to in-store shopping.

Celia is recovering now, but after her fever spiked and she started showing other symptoms two weeks ago, she tested positive for COVID-19. She never required hospitalization, but it’s hard to convey how terrifying this has been experiencing symptoms that could spiral out of control at any moment, given how little is still known about this disease.

We don’t know how Celia was exposed. Jim hasn’t shown any symptoms, tested negative at the same time that Celia tested positive, and is waiting to get tested again.

All of our staff have been furloughed, and they were all able to receive extended UI benefits that meet or exceed what they were earning at the store. Our landlord was able to extend forgiveness for some of the rent due during this time, we have cut every possible expense, and while the road ahead looks tough, we at least feel that we are in a position to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and customers above the strong desire to get back to business.

If Celia recovers, Jim’s next test comes back negative, and the local numbers on COVID-19’s impact continue to improve, we hope to start up with curbside service, local delivery, and shipping from the store by June 15. As we do that, we’ll also work on making the changes to the store layout and securing the necessary equipment and supplies that would allow us to welcome staff and customers back into the store.

If you’re new to us, please understand that we’re a mom & pop operation, even more now than ever. Our first priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and our customers. While we have made sacrifices and taken risks to grow our store, we also know that we have benefited from privileges and opportunities that aren’t accessible to everyone.

There’s so much more to say about what is going on in our city and country, but we also know we’re not necessarily the people to deliver the message and want to get back to how we think we can help most: putting the tools of expression into the hands of artists.

Thank you, and please stay safe and healthy.

How Faber-Castell Makes Pencils

This video shows the 14-step process of making a Faber-Castell pencil.

From the selection of the wood, to the thickness and quality of the lead, Faber-Castell pencils stand head and shoulders above the competition. Since 1761, they’ve been perfecting the pencil. Check out the video to see the 14 step process behind their superior products.

What’s special about their pencils?

  • SV Bonding glues the lead the entire length of the pencil for break-resistant leads.
  • Thick leads use the highest-quality pigments for gorgeous color lay-down.
  • Graphite pencils with dipped ends or erasers on ends.
  • Coated with eco-friendly water-based varnish.
  • Made from reforested wood grown in their Forest Stewardship Council certified forest.

You can see all the Faber-Castell products we carry in our online store, including pencils, markers, sharpeners, erasers, paints, and kits. New to the store are the Albrecht Durer Watercolor Marker Sets, and we don’t think you can go wrong by starting out with Goldfaber Colored Pencil Sets or Goldfaber Aqua Watercolor Pencil Sets.

Free Tutorials with Amy Shawley Paquette

Amy teaching leading a tutorial on Golden Artist Colors Facebook page.

If you have been shopping with us for a while, you may remember Amy Shawley Paquette, the awesome Golden Working Artist who broke our hearts by moving out of Downtown Los Angeles and going on and having a great life, kids, and all that. (You probably don’t remember the Paquette part, that happened after DTLA.)

Now that we live in a time of global pandemic and the Internet, Amy is back – virtually – and through May and June will be offering free weekly Facebook Live tutorials on her Art by Amy Shawley Paquette page!  These events will happen every Thursday at 4pm PT and will feature a different topic each time.  The first demo is Thursday, May 14 on the topic “Customize your Painting Grounds”, and will last about 30-45 minutes. If you can’t catch it live, it will be available from her Facebook page for later viewing.

(And if you get inspired, you can order everything Golden from our online store.)

Get organized with mesh bags

How can you make an art studio at home even when you have no space? Use an art pouch like these Mesh Bags from Art Alternatives.

If carving out a dedicated art space in your home is impossible, or you like being able to make art at the kitchen table and sometimes by the window, a portable art kit is essential. We’ve been using pouches in varying sizes as portable art kits for some time, but find that the more special it feels, the more we want to pick it up and use it. Check out this mesh bag that we covered in faux fur:

Need some more tips for organizing your studio or crafting space? Redfin collected has more tips here.

Wonton’s Art Lessons: Types of Ink

It’s Flashback Friday and we’re feeling nostalgic for the series of comics we used to run, Wonton’s Art Lessons! Created by a former employee, the very talented artist, Lisa Kash. This comic is called, “Lesson 13: Types of Ink”. Enjoy!

Wonton’s Art Lesson Comics: Art Therapy

It’s Flashback Friday and we’re feeling nostalgic for the series of comics we used to run, Wonton’s Art Lessons! We also miss a former employee, the very talented manga artist and creator of the series, Lisa Kash. This comic is called, “Lesson 33: Art Therapy”. Enjoy!

Isolated but not Alone: Lunch Doodles

For all artists staying safe at home, we salute you for all efforts to stay creative during these chaotic times. One of those artists sharing their creativity and processes online is Mo Willems, the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence. In his first LUNCH DOODLE, Mo welcomes you into his studio at home and guides you through drawing activities using one of his favorite characters as inspiration. So grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and let’s doodle together and explore ways of writing and making.

“You might be isolated, but you’re not alone. You are an art maker. Let’s make some together.”

–Mo Willems