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Non-Obvious Art Tools

Art comes from everywhere: we perceive the world around us, take in details with our senses, and create art based on our impressions and interpretations. We can apply this process of artistic inspiration springing forth from our world to the things we use to create our art as well. Any object in your world can be used in art; we want to look at a few everyday things that can be used for specific art techniques to expand your artistic set of tools.

Old Toothbrushes are an excellent way to create spray and splatter textures. Dip the bristles in some paint. Then, while holding the brush bristles near your paper or canvas, run the thumb of your holding hand, or the index finger of your opposite hand lightly over the bristles. This makes interesting spray and splatters textures which can be controlled by the speed and pressure of the finger strokes over the bristles. The thickness of paint will create different splatter characteristics, so it's best to experiment on scrap paper or canvas before you spray on your working art piece. It gets even more interesting when you dip half the bristles in different colors.

Fruits & Vegetables make excellent pattern stamps, not just in their fresh form, but when dehydrated (by drying them out in the sun), their consistency and fibers allow you to carve them for some really exciting patterns of your choice. Take vegetables like cucumbers, okra, zucchini and slice them in half - let the moisture of the fresh cut dry out a little by dabbing the chopped end on a paper towel.Then dip the chopped end in paint and stamp away. The patterns usually tend to look floral, but if placed together in a planned way, can make some incredibly amazing geometrical patterns. Slices of vegetables such as carrots and potatoes can be dehydrated to be used as little blocks which can be carved to make stamp patterns of your choice. Dipping these stamps in paints of various consistencies and wetness, create endless possibilities of stamp patterns.

Rocks & Bark are incredibly unique sources of texture making. Even though they are available in abundance, each piece of rock or bark is one-of-a-kind. Therefore, if you have a collection of rocks and bark, you can not only print textures by dipping them in paint and dabbing them on paper or canvas, you can also use them to create actual relief textures by pressing them against paper.

Textured Cloth & Sponges can not only be used for pattern-making by dabbing paint soaked bunches and clusters on your paper or canvas, they can be used as brushes as well. You could bunch up some cloth and apply paint strokes while holding them in your hand, or bunch up some pieces of cloth and tie them to the end of a stick like traditional brushes.

Rolling Pins are very efficient pattern makers. Simply wrap a paper or poster board cut-out stencil of your choice around the pin, apply some paint on the stencil and roll away. We've seen some beautiful home-made wall papers and fabric designs created this way. Keep experimenting with different materials for stencils. Cloth stencils are not just great for patterns, they make some of the most characteristic textures as well.