(Read only if you are interested in art supply stores and my seedy* first apartment in Somerville back in 1996.)
*Seedy. Term I learned from my grandfather when we were on a road trip and the hotel our entire family was staying at in NYC, was not all that he expected.)
When I first moved to Boston in 1997, I lived in an apartment building in Davis Square, the best apartment I could find within my price range, within walking distance to the Red Line. I worked for Longyear Museum, which at the time was in this huge old mansion on top of a hill in Brookline. My commute consisted of two ten minute walks on either end, and a good amount of time riding the Red and Green Lines.
The apartment was all mine, I had lived with parents and roommates far too long for my liking, and I didn't care that the commuter rail ran by every half hour, twenty feet from my living room window. I was the only single girl in the building amongst families and professionals, who's diets consisted of curry and cabbage, this was a heavily populated part of town where Haitians and Indians lived.
In my newfound independence, with a job, apartment with my very own refrigerator, and a t-pass, I also set up a little home studio in my living room.
When you ask an artist where she likes to shop, it won't be a department or liquor store for me...this one will tell you where she buys her paints, paper, tape, glue and random brushes to get the charcoal dust off the paper.
Not to date myself, but this was back when there was no "online ordering" of ANYTHING (or if there was, I didn't know how to do it). When I needed supplies, I tended to save it for a Friday, when I would make my 90 minute commute home. If I got off at the Harvard Square T-stop, just short of my own, I could walk two blocks to the now-out-of-business art store, Charrette.
I was there just recently and I walked by and saw a shop in it's place, pointed up to it and said "hey kids, that's where I used to buy all my art supplies TWENTY years ago!". They didn't really care, nor did they see the emotional impact on a middle age woman walking with her teenage daughters in her old stomping grounds.
I remember the feeling of happily walking into that store on a Friday evening on my way home from a long week of work, drop $300 in about ten minutes, and walk out with a bag stuffed in my backpack and box of 29x42 inch cold press watercolor paper (which I swear is heavier than hot press).
My favorite weekends were spent in my little apartment at my makeshift painting table, the train racing by every half hour, shaking the building, burning candles to ward off the cabbage/Indian food smell and sticky traps set for the roaches (yes, roaches, I didn't mention that before, but they were there too).
Now, over 20 years later, I am still an art supply junkie and will go to great lengths to get it, but it is now easier, since I have a car, and the ability to online shop.
There are two factors that determine where I go.
1) How lazy to I feel? Can I wait a few days to get it? If I am lazy, or if it is cold out and I rather stay in my pajamas all day, I place an order at Dick Blick.
2) Do I want it now? Like, RIGHT NOW? If I need the instant gratification, I drive 20 minutes to North Beverly to the Wholesale Art Store
Dick Blick is just pretty cool. Stay up late at night and peruse and get some retail-therapy-in-you-pajamas while sipping a bourbon. But even then, you can't smell or really see what it is you're buying and so I tend to make the trip down to the actual art store.
There is beauty to my most recent trip to Art Supplies Wholesale, which is by no means any comparison to AC Moore and Michael's. This is the real deal. If you are local, be sure you go there.
Last week, I was going to buy myself new paper, brushes, whatever else I really "needed". This time, I took my 14 year old daughter, who after a five year hiatus of being interested in anything except hanging with her friends or binge watching stuff on Netflix (with her door closed), decided she wanted to paint. She excitedly carried her own basket, I tossed stuff in it for her, and now, a week and a half later, I am still waiting for her to actually DO something with it. It sits stacked on her desk in her room. Still.
I have no ending to this. I am just merely throwing out information along with some semi-interesting information about art and living with cockroaches. But I guess this is primarily about art supplies.
Did you follow?
Oh. Here is a photo of my daughter and me when we drove to the art store last week. Yet, this is my 16 year old daughter who a) does not paint and b) is the only one who will take a photo with me and c) came along because I bribed her with a trip to Starbucks.
Footnote: see below for storage options for art supplies. Yes, these are all filled with paints, paper, candle wax, sewing. wood block, staple guns, my electric sander...I am not quite sure what else, but when I need it, I usually can find it in there.