Shopping Independent Art Suppliers

Wherever I go, by auto, plane, or public transport, I have on my agenda finding the local art supply store.

Some I've visited regularly, others I've bought from on line.

New York Central Art Store in New York City, NY, has been around since 1905. I've shopped in this store since the late 1950s, and love it. It has some quirky sales folks, mostly young and upcoming artists, and one of the largest paper collections I've ever seen (on the second floor). They also make some lovely journals and sketchbooks with their own logo from national and international paper manufacturers. If you in the New York City area--make your way down to NY Central, 62 Third Avenue. Nearest subways, R and 5/6 and part of the West Village scene.

Artisan Art
(Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos, New Mexico) was introduced to me at an Art Expo in Santa Fe in 2002. When living in New Mexico, it was my go-to-store. It's a store you will always find an art pal, and a good gab.

Of the three stores, while I've shopped in Santa Fe frequently, it was the Taos store I know best. And if Taos doesn't have a supply you want, the Santa Fe store will come to your rescue and send anything you want up the mountain. You can find the Santa Fe store at 2601 Cerrillos Road; the Albuquerque store is on Monte Visa NE and the Taos store is set back off Paseo del Pueblo Sur (the road that takes you directly into town). More geared to oil painters than other medium, but I never went out of the store empty-handed.

Papers, in Albuquerque NM, on 114 Amherst Dr SE (505) 254-1434, has no web presence, but is a joyful, colour experience. I've bought two fountain pens here, many notebooks, paper accessories and beautiful paper sheets. The staff and owner are extremely friendly and the neighbourhood is funky, and great for shopping and eating.

Art Media, Portland, Oregon, is one of the most spacious art supply stores I've visited, and so well lighted, it is easy to find your cart growing higher and higher. I haven't been to Oregon for quite some time, but I have ordered a supply or two on line.

Guild Art, Northampton, MA, is on Main Street and worth spending some time exploring. It is a little dark inside, and patience and interest is needed to find those special items the store carries. I've gotten some of my best carrying and storing supplies here at the Guild.

JVS, in Great Barrington, MA, is off the Main Street at 38 Railroad Street and while on the smaller side, it is chockablock full of wonderful art supplies of every variety. I've discovered over the many years that I stop in town for a coffee and a shopping fix, that JVS often has the newest, brightest art supplies on the market. Some of their accessories are among the most fun. And it is a treat that they are open on Sundays.

Topknotch in Pittsburgh, PA, on Craig Street and not far from Carnegie Mellon is a must stop for me on all my visits. They are currently running a big web page sale now.

Artist & Craftsman has several stores, two of which I am familiar with and have shopped at frequently, their 5603 Hobart Street shop in Pittsburgh and their Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY on Metropolitan Avenue). They had the full line of Bruynzell Full Color watercolor pencils way back when and it's where I started my collection. They also do some very good, affordable framing.

Fine Arts, Rochester, New York, often has the most up to date supplies. I've purchased many an item from them on line.

Dakota in Washington State, is best known for their pastels, but their brush division is among the best I've ever found. This is a place where personal attention is first rate. I've spent as much as an hour on the phone discussing the whys & hows of a brush and have always come away more knowledgeable and satisfied with the brush that arrived quickly and at an affordable price.

In Raleigh, NC, don't forget to stop by Askew & Taylor. I wouldn't have found this shop without the patient guidance of a friend, but I was delighted to find it and pick up some really good deals on their sales shelf--including my lovely Bruynzeel full colour pencils.

Wet Paint (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota) appears to be on top of new lines, trends and the right stuff with the latest paper products, the entire Daniel Smith watercolour line and good customer service. I thoroughly enjoyed a peak into the shop here at Youtube.

In fact it was viewing Wet Paint's video that get me thinking about how important it is to me to keep all these folks in business.

Cheap Joes (Boone, NC), is a place for artists to hang out in the mountains. Joe's paper, watercolours and specialty items are a real treat. I especially like the names Joe gives his watercolours--Copper Kettle & Fire Engine Red, amongst them.

And his Kilimanjaro watercolour paper is as good as any on the market--and reasonably priced.

Both Cheap Joes and New York Central have terrific offers of paper samples--both of which I've taken positive advantage of over the years. A great way to test out a paper, and not find you don't like those 10/sheets you'll never use.

I am sad to report that since living in and traveling through New England, several independent art stores have closed, one in Montpelier, VT and another in Bath, ME.

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