Report from NAMTA at Navy Pier

What fun to walk around a vast convention hall filled to the brim with striking displays of art supplies! How frustrating that nothing is for sale! The Artist’s Magazine and North Light Books had booths across the aisle from one another. Our booths were fairly simple, but it can take days for a crew to lay carpet and set up the elaborate manufacturers’ displays. Jack Richeson’s area showed classic easels and other signature art supplies, along with a newly acquired line of student and professional grade acrylics. The display for Golden Artists Colours encompassed a whole wall of the immense hall; to encounter the myriad variations on molding pastes, gel mediums, flow enhancers, etc., lined up in uniform rows, was an impressive (and somewhat intimidating!) experience. Also notable were the displays of Col Art, particularly tubes of Winsor & Newton’s newly released historical pigment, smalt, in honor of Winsor & Newton’s 175th anniversary. Cobalt blue balloons and absinthe green modernist chairs, as well as a daily high tea, enhanced the air of festivity. Indeed, quite a few companies had celebrations: Golden commemorated the 10th anniversary of its Working Artists Program with martinis; Masterpiece Canvas honored the artists whose paintings had won awards in its first-ever contest with a champagne reception on Thursday.

Many manufacturers had something newly packaged or newly formulated to show off. Singular among them was Bernadette Ward, who has created an entirely new product called PanPastel. Packaged like a compact of face powder, PanPastel is pressed pigment, which gives, according to Ward, “artists uncomfortable with using their hands an opportunity to use a tool as an applicator for pastel.” Applicators, sponges, knives, and shapers in clear plastic bags accompany the product. Ward will sell the pan pastels in sets as well as individually. The 60 colors are beautiful, lightfast, and packaged in a way that makes them irresistible.

–Maureen

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