Tooling for Alternatives

Cotton swabs

Recently, I went with a fellow artist to a children’s museum in San Francisco. This particular museum is well known for its clay animation studio where visitors can create clay figures and then use them to create animation on a CD or “flip book.”



As I was working in this studio, I began to get frustrated, commenting to my friend how much better my work would be if I only had access to the plethora of tools in my studio. Just then we looked around us at all the 8- to 10-year-old children happily creating, and we realized we might just be missing out on the creative possibilities of using more innovative tools. For instance, what about the hull of a ball point pen and other goodies? We quickly searched our purses for possibilities. I can’t say that at the end of our time at the studio that we had created masterpieces, but we certainly had fun and both of us were anxious to get back to our studios to create.

Brush handle

There are a variety of items you can use in place of your brushes. For example, here you can see clouds and shrubbery painted with cotton swabs (top, left), backgrounds painted with leaves (above, right), plaid and background painted with twigs (above, left), plaid and a fan shape painted with a brush handle (at right), and an interesting background painted with a Koosh Ball (a children’s toy manufactured by Hasbro?below.)


You can use virtually anything to apply paint to a surface. The plastic center to a roll of adding machine tape will create interesting patterns. Your kitchen can provide a virtually endless source of tools that create interesting patterns (but don?t use these tools with food again once you?ve used them with art materials.) Look around. Your world is full of alternative items that you can use to brush up your creativity.

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