Tools of the Trade
by Ashley Lodato, Arts Education Director
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Behind nearly every residency in Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program lie the tools of the trade: the paper, paint, clay, ink, scissors, fiber, glue and other art supplies that students use to make art. Although rewarding art can be made with copy paper and a box of Crayolas, we believe that it’s important for students to learn to use high-quality art supplies that are appropriate for the medium they are exploring. This means painting watercolors on 90-140lb watercolor paper, or at the very least heavy-duty drawing paper; it means pulling block prints on proper print paper; it means using durable acrylic paint instead of tempera, which tends to flake when it’s dry.
While we’re not using professional artist-quality art materials, we are giving the students we work with the best chance of success and satisfaction by using the best quality art supplies that our budget allows.
We’re no art supply store, but our teaching artists can find on our shelves the materials they need to most effectively manage the residencies they’re contracted to teach: linoleum blocks and carving tools, roving wool, clay, clay tools, glazes, charcoals, oil pastels, chalk pastels, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, liquid watercolors, watercolor palettes. The papers: watercolor paper, drawing paper, block print paper, construction paper, tagboard, cardstock, banana paper, mango paper. And then there are the brushes: #9 and #10 watercolor brushes, wash brushes, brushes for clay glazes, brushes for painting large-scale murals, brushes for doing fine detail on 3D sculptures.
Our teaching artists are, of course, the Artist-in-Residence program’s most valuable resource. But they are best able to work their magic in the classroom when supported by an arsenal of supplies that allow students’ creativity to shine.
Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program serves more than 5,200 students and 370 teachers across Okanogan County with arts programs in classrooms in the Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Bridgeport, Pateros, and Methow School Districts, and in the Paschal Sherman Indian School. Program sponsors include the Public School Funding Alliance, ArtsWA, Omak Kiwanis, Okanogan-Omak Rotary, Okanogan Kiwanis, Webster Furniture, Hamilton Farm Equipment, the Brewster BearBackers, Pateros PTO, the Methow Valley Fund, and the Community Foundation of North Central Washington. Without these sponsors, we could neither buy art supplies nor pay artists, and we could not offer our Artist in Residence program.