We Sent Free Art Supplies. This is What Came Back.

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As an adjunct professor in the Visual Arts/Humanities Department at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, I’m always challenged to create informative, educational and fun exercises for the disciplines that I teach.


Art students are always on a budget, and let’s face it, art supplies is one of those subjects that deserves that age-old comment, “You get what you pay for.”

I graduated from a top art school, The Art Center College of Design in California. I was an instructor there for seven years. While I was a student, most of my fellow students and I saved and sacrificed so that we could buy the supplies that were required by the instructors. At first I have to admit I suffered from sticker shock, however, with practice and positive reinforcement from a faculty that consisted entirely of professional artists who knew how to teach, I started to develop an awareness of what was meant by professional quality. This terminology was applicable from graphite to oil paint and tracing paper to stretched canvas.


Last semester, Steve Mason, the head of our drawing/painting department came into my painting class with a look on his face that reminded me of a kid on Christmas morning. He proceeded to tell me that there was a large box of art supplies (Student Outreach Program packets from Professional Artist magazine), and I was to share the materials with my painting students…free art supplies! I couldn’t wait. The kits consisted of Canson papers, Dick Blick Primary Acrylics and a large Faber-Castell Stamper’s Big Brush Pen. Along with the supplies there were a number of fliers/promotional material and a copy of Professional Artist magazine. After reviewing the kit, I realized this packet should be made into something more than a freebie so I added a new exercise to my syllabus. The criteria for the exercise stated that the students were to use only the supplies in the packet and each media sample had to be expressed to some degree. The subject matter was open.


From an instructor’s perspective, I have to say that the primary colors made the students work harder to create clean color and the size of the paper samples took several into a platform size that they had not explored. I have included samples of my student’s efforts and asked them to comment on their experience. I enjoyed creating this exercise and know the students found the exercises and free art supplies fun and challenging. I hope you will enjoy their efforts as well.

Student comments

Cissy Plantek: “I loved the Dick Blick sample package and assignment. Thank you Dick Blick and Professor Ottinger! Getting free art supplies in college is a good thing. Our assignment was to create as long as we used every item in the sample package. It was a challenge and great fun. I especially loved working with the Canson XL Acrylic Paper and the Faber-Castell PITT artist brush. Thanks again!”

DSCN1982_t180Michelle Schoppe: “I really enjoyed the Dick Blick Acrylics. It was very kind of you to provide us with them. The classroom challenge of using only the contents of the kit added to the fun of experimenting with it.

Katie Duffy: “Love Dick Blicks Acrylics. They inspired me to reach further with my work.”

Bill Knight: “The Dick Blick three primary color acrylics, Faber-Castell Marker and Canson paper selection was a challenging kit; educational, very fun, and even inspirational.”

View all of the artwork on our Facebook page.

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