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10 Indispensable Art Tools

10 Indispensable Art Tools-You Won’t Find at the Art Supply store

Artist tip-10 indispensible art tools, you won't find at the art supply store

Here is a list of art tools I find essential and none of them come from the art supply store. I love visiting an art store, however, much like Target, I spend way more money than I anticipated and buy way more than I need! This list will save you money and make life a little simpler.

Glass Cutting Board

Visit your local overstock type store such as TJMaxx or Home Goods and pick up a glass cutting board. It will be a fraction of the cost than the glass palette sold at the art store. Glass palettes are durable and easy to clean with a razor blade scraper.

Value Viewer

Great for laying in your major shapes and values at the beginning of a painting. ValueViewer is an easy-to-use tool for artists who paint from life. Whether “en plein air” or in the studio, ValueViewer will allow the user to take a photo of their subject, view it in grayscale, or posterize it into two or three values. You may also select an existing image directly from a photo album on your iPhone or iPad.  View the NOTAN patterns in photo references. I love this art tool!
Value Viewer iphone app example: photo to not an image to finished painting. Learn more at

Simplify using Notan

Accuview App 

An indispensable gridding tool for your iPhone or tablet. This is the best app to add grids to photos. This art tool allows you can get exactly the type of grid you want, positioned where you want, using standard canvas sizes. Use the grid to test various compositions. take a photo of your subject, save it to projects. Open the saved project,  Using 2 finger method, enlarge, shrink, rotate and move your photo for desired compositional effect. Double check your drawing accuracy by comparing the negative and positive space within the grid.

Squeegee Scraper 

Better known in my studio as “as the magic tool” You can read more about it here. What is the magic art tool? Simply a squeegee inserted into a paint scraper tool handle. Here are the two components, I ordered on Amazon.
My indispensible magic painting tool.


Flip your painting upside down, you’ll see all kinds of things that aren’t quite right. Look at your painting or drawing through a mirror, the improvements needed will practically jump out at you.look at your art through a mirror if possible, learn about more great tools for your art at



Viva Paper Towels

Ask most any painter, VIVA is the bomb! Most noteworthy is the texture, thick and cloth-like its the best paper towel for cleaning your brushes, hand and the last paint remnants from your palette after scraping with a razor blade.
Helpful tip: lay a Viva paper towel over areas you’d like to change and press, rub gently, this will pick up excess paint=overworking appearance + less mud.

Bed Sheets

Now, what on earth can you do wth a bed sheet? Pick up used bedsheets at the goodwill or garage sales – cut into 18×18 inch squares and you have a huge pile of rags handy, for next to nothing. Use the rags for everything from a rub-out technique, oil in your painting, surface, applying glazes and texture, to simply wiping up. A 40/60 percale blend is best.

Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil

I love using coconut oil to clean oil paint from my hands and arms oh and my face, sometimes my toes, usually on my ears.I must ponder the next steps in a painting by touching my ear! Rub coconut oil into skin, wipe off with a viva you’re clean in a jiffy.

Instant Pot

A girl’s gotta eat! If you are at all like me you can become so involved in a painting that you lose all track of time and suddenly someone says are we gonna eat tonight? Love that I can set the instant pot before I go into the studio and forget it. In addition to its programming feature, it also comes in handy when I forget the “before I go into the studio”  step and can make a heart-healthy dinner in under 30 minutes.


By now I’m sure you’re familiar with my love of Evernote for Artists. Keep track of workshops, shows and exhibitions. Store art piece information all in one place. Maintain an artist’ library. Divi up art processes and art biz tasks into bite size chunks.Be more productive with to-do lists and checklists. The list goes on and on.


Not every item in the artist toolkit comes from the “art store” I would love to hear about your out of the ordinary  tools. Share your creative uses of non-art supplies in your art process in the comments section of this post.

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The Key to Shopping for Art Supplies

Knowing where to shop for Art Supplies

5 great Online Art Supply Resources ad a free downloadable supply inventory template.|

Recently, I was asked where I purchase my art supplies.
It had not dawned on me this was something I learned from other artists. The day I decided I wanted to become a fine artist, I thought Michael’s was the end-all and be-all of shopping for art supplies. Well, not really, because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town with a really good art supply store. It wasn’t until I lived in the middle of two no-wheres that I had to rely on mail-order. There, I learned what my options were from others.

Experiencing the Five Senses while Shopping Art Supply Stores

Nothing quite beats walking into the local art supply store…
  • Smelling the reams of paper, the mineral spirits, and painting mediums
  • Touching the hairs of the brushes and the texture of the paper, or testing the flow of a new fountain pen
  • Hearing other artists exclaim their joy, feeling like kids in a candy shop
  • Seeing the array of colors, comparing one brand’s Indian Yellow to another’s and eyeing the size of a canvas for the painting in my head
  • Tasting might not be such a wise idea, but sipping a glass of wine while I shopped would be in the shop owner’s best interest!
All of this together creates a magical place, where every big idea can become a beautiful reality.
An Artist in an Art Store is Like a kid in a candy shop! Learn how to shop smart for art supplies + download a free art supply inventory template|

An Artist in an Art Store is Like a kid in a candy shop!

Ordering Online Tips and Hints: Coupons, Sales, Bulk, Clubs, and Co-ordering.

Knowing the basic supplies and the better brands is the first step to saving by ordering online.

  • Once you know the brands you prefer and the amount you need, waiting for annual sales and monthly coupons is a great way to save
  • Many online retailers offer a value discount with larger purchases. If you need less than the minimum order, my guess is that you know someone else that would love to share shipping costs for a larger discount.
  • If you plan on attending any art conventions or large workshops, visit the vendor tables. Many vendors offer special discounts at events. Once you are producing enough art to merit it, use this time to order bulk consumables and equipment.

Another great alternative to craft stores are shopping clubs, such as If you can afford to order ahead, this is a great resource.

Quality over Quantity

  • Buy the best quality you can afford and start with the basics. As I mentioned, there was a fantastic art supply, called Rechenbach’s, in my hometown. Starting out, that didn’t seem like a good choice to start my stock of supplies because I perceived it to be quite expensive. What I didn’t know was that the big box craft supply stores carry mediocre brands. The mediocre brands cost less on your receipt at checkout but don’t last as long, perform as well, or inspire a fervor to create just by their texture.
    • The better the quality materials, the better the painting.
    • Sure, just buying high-priced supplies will not make you a phenomenal painter, but it sure will make the road that much smoother getting there.
    • When you are struggling to learn all the principles of art and design and the techniques to achieve the painting you imagine in your mind’s eye, why add to the struggle? (Maybe have something like – When learning to julienne a carrot, you don’t use a dull knife, sort of thing)
      • Take oil paints, for example. Paints that have more filler and less pigment don’t flow very easily, and they are hard to control.
      • The color from tube to tube isn’t always consistent, and learning to mix colors can be more than daunting.
      • Having to stop and sop up excess oil every time you squeeze out paint will derail the flow of that white-hot moment of pure creativity.
5 favorite resources in no particular order
  1. Jerry’s Artarama
  2. Rosemary Brushes
  3. Raymar Art
  4. Utrecht
  5. Dick Blick
Shopping for art materials online can save you time and money if you
  • Keep your inventory list up to date
  • Wait for sales
  • Buy ahead
  • Pool-Shop with fellow artists to save on shipping

Download this free Art Supply Inventory-Artrepreneur Outliner Evernote template and start getting organized so you can focus on your artwork.

My gift to #30in30paintingchallenge! Participants

My gift to #30in30paintingchallenge! Participants

Heads up #30in30paintingchallenge! Participants  I have a gift to give. With January around the corner I have somtheing for #30in30paintingchallenge!Participants, I think you’ll truly love! I’ve put together a free mini Artrepreneur Outliner kit especially for participants of #30in30paintingchallenge! Leslie Saetas’s challenge.

The AHA radio show produced and hosted by Leslie Saeta has been a godsend to many artists, me included. When I set out to become an artist as an empty-nester this podcast became my go to for inspiration and information! Serendipitously, much of the information that I have researched and studied for  the Artrepreneur Outliner came from listening to the weekly shows.
The kit was designed last September to help me accomplish this lofty goal, 30 paintings in 30 days! in which I planned to write lengthy blog posts to support the challenge on my blog, along with, posting to daily paintworks each evening. (I didn’t complete the challenge but learned a lot!)  
I’ve learned how important it is to be organized, to have a plan and to work that plan. I discovered having a theme made it much simpler to start each day knowing just what I was going to paint. I was excited to learn having a theme and reaching out to an audience that would connect with that theme opened up a new audience to my art.

Personalizing the theme “Oh the Things I’ve Seen” to be about a walking trip through Wales, I reached out to an audience in Wales. Contacting the innkeepers, the official trail organization and hiking groups about the challenge. The result? A spike in the traffic to my site.Readership doubled that of the previous months.

#30in30paintingchallenge! Participants-Increase your readership and art appreciators by targeting a new audience, learn more at

#30in30paintingchallenge! Participants-Increase your readership by targeting a new audience


The AO#30in30paintingchallenge!Mini Kit Contains

Supporting documents for the #30in30paintingchallenge!
#30 in30 Theme Planning Worksheet
Theme Starter Blocks
#30 in30 Calendar 
#30 in 30 Daily Checklist for Posting Progress Template
#30in30 Promotion Checklist Template
Photography tips
Press Release Template
Supply List Template

Inspiration for the #30in30paintingchallenge! Mini Kit

The July 14, 2016 episode of the AHA show really got me pumped to plan around a theme. Not only a theme for a that particular challenge but also for future ones. As I listened to Leslie and Dottie Leatherwood brainstorm ideas for themes the wheels in my mind began cranking with more ideas. Starting with a theme is also a great idea for artists building their next body of work, also known as a series. As a result I started composing lists and strategies in Evernote for theme planning.
Thats when the idea to share these templates and outlines with listeners of the AHA show came to me. I so appreciate the effort Leslie and her cohost put into the show and I am very thankful for their generous spirt of sharing. I Want to pay it forward.
The theme planning worksheet guides you through choosing a theme with starter blocks, 30 of them! Designed to be a jumping off point the each block could be used to fill a calendar page of 30 days or the artist could choose one theme for each week, or as I did in September, one block for one series. The starter blocks are open for interpretation, and I prompt you to align your theme with your main goals for the challenge.

Features of #30in30paintingchallenge! Mini Kit

And with theme prompts like, Goat POD (Painting of The Day) what gets your goat in your painting techniques, TOOL TIME focus on the tools of the trade, push them to the limits and VIP’s Paint the great influences in your life, the inspiration may take you beyond merely 30 paintings.
Once you’ve chosen your theme there is a worksheet for Daily Posting Progress Complete this worksheet , you’ll have all the information in one place. Therefore when you it down to post to the challenge site, share on Facebook , Instagram, Pinterest or twitter or sit down to write a blog post, it will be a simpler task.
example of #30in30paintingchallenge-post progress

#30in30paintingchallenge! Participants-post progress example

#30in30paintingchallenge! Participants-How to use these worksheets:

  • Take inventory of your art materials with Supply List Template
    • make a copy ,
    • date it,
    • personalize it
    • Then order everything you’ll need to complete the challenge.
  • Choose a theme from the Theme Starter Blocks
  • Save theme Block to Theme Planning Worksheet
    • the ease of drag and drop functionality in Evernote make this a breeze.
  • Refine your theme and make a plan
    • fill out the questions on the Theme Planning Worksheet 
  • Add specific plans or even reference photos to the #30in30 Calendar
    • Refer to the calendar each day for you plan you POD(painting of the day).
  • Once your painting is finished
    • make a copy of the template #30 in 30 Daily Checklist for Posting Progress
    • Fill in this template before you begin posting your progress.
    • You’ll really thank me for this! Because all the information you need will be in one place!
  • Get some extra exposure! Make a copy of the Press Release Template
    • Craft your press release
    • send it to local newspapers, associations related to your theme,artists blogs and websites, etc.
Since templates are by definition designed to used and reused, remember to make copies of templates, so you’ll have a fresh sheet the next time you need it.
To make a copy : Note>Copy to Notebook OR Note>Duplicate

#30in30paintingchallenge! Participants

Artrepreneur Outliner #30in30paintingchallenge! mini kit giveaway

Use this kit to make the process of #30in30paintingchallenge! A little easier


12 Must-have Notebooks for Artists using Evernote

12 Must-have Notebooks for Artists using Evernote

Today I want to share with you an indispensable tool for organizing and simplifying the road to success in you art career. Artists using Evernote are more organized and save time on the drudgery of business enabling them to focus on creativity.
I’ll go over how I use 12 notebooks in Evernote that makes the craziness of creating works of art while being a marketer, manager, and CEO of your art career, a lot more bearable.
I have been an artist using Evernote user for 7 years, but it wasn’t until I got serious about becoming a successful artist that I realized it’s incredible potential.
Artist using Evernote learn the Inbox Notebook is the top priority of my day. See How it can Make your creativity work flow easier @

Evernote Inbox Notebook is the top priority of my day.

How this Artist uses Evernote

My day starts with opening the Inbox inside the Leslie Miller Fine Art notebook stack, where I keep a running to-do list and a note for completed tasks. The Inbox contains all of my yearly goals and my YTD (year to date) accomplishments, which I have moved over from my yearly goal sheet. This gives me a great overview of what I need to do, next.

12 Must Have Notebook for Artists Using Evernote| Artists Using Evernote are happyier and more productive|Learn more @

12 Must Have Notebook for Artists Using Evernote|

Blog, Newsletter, and Social Media Notebooks

  • Blog,
  • Newsletter,
  • and Social Media Notebooks
are where I store drafts and current posts, along with a running list of ideas for each. Once the posts or emails go live, these notes and outlines are moved to an archive notebook. It’s at the bottom of my notebook stack and titled zArchive. The archive notebook is labeled with a “z” to place it at the bottom of the stack alphabetically, because I want the option to access it in the future, but it is not pertinent information. I don’t want it to take up prime viewing real estate.

Expenses, supplies and receipts, prices, sales.

I really hate dealing with numbers and finances, but the reality is that I have to if I am going to sell my art.  One of the reasons I love Evernote so much is the email feature in which you can forward email receipts to a notebook and know just where they are come tax time. Another way you can save those receipts is by scanning them into Evernote with your smart phone using Scannable.
Evernote is compatible with many of a types of files. For instance I keep a simple spreadsheet, to help me, keep track of my sales.


Brand Cheatsheets help me keep everything consistent from business cards to social media and everything in between. These are drag-and-drop capable between apps. So, if I have a logo I want to use over and over I can easily located it in my marketing notebook inside Evernote. I just choose the image, then “Drag and Drop” it to Canva or my Blog Dashboard, for example.

Idea Incubator

The Idea Incubator is somewhat of a “dump all” for half-baked ideas, epic projects I would like to undertake, inspired artistic endeavors, and the like. It is so important to write down inspirations, some are ready to be implemented immediately, more often than not time will marinate and develop the complexities of these epiphanies. This notebook contains ideas for series, writings that might accompany my work, plans for a art mentoring group.
For quite some time I’ve heard multiple inquiries about how I manage to keep track of social media, shows, exhibitions, workshops and travel related to my art business. How I am able to put my hands on the information I am looking for so quickly, (for example we may be talking about a particular technique, I can search Evernote and pull up any instructional PDF or example of that technique I have saved. Not flipping through stacks of notes, books, photos, or my Pinterest account.)
With so many fellow artists coming to me as an “artist techie” I have decided to share my workflow and teach others how simple it can be to promote yourself, run a business showcasing their creativity while still having loads of time to concentrate on honing our craft.

Upcoming Opportunities

We all know our art will not sell if it’s not seen. That means we always need to be looking for upcoming opportunities to show it. Evernote is very useful for keeping track of exhibitions and shows in which I would like to participate. I am able to keep track of every step in this notebook.
This past year, I participated in an Open Studio event and kept detailed notes and reviews so that next time, there won’t be nearly as many surprise tasks. I created a Open Studio Checklist template making the preparations easier. After the 3 day weekend event, I then reviewed what worked and what didn’t, much the same way I do for large parties I have hosted. Noting how much time tasks can take and working backward from a goal time or date makes each experience run more smoothly, and better each time. Keeping records of displays, pricing, logistics etc. will be indispensable information when I reach my goal of I hosting a solo exhibit.

Other great reasons I love Evernote

With the web clipper, I am able to save the articles, instructions, inspiration I see on the internet that will help my art career flourish. I am a visual person, so being able to look over these is very important to me. I love Pinterest; as a matter of fact, I have 124 boards and nearly 20,000 pins! Thats a lot to look through when I am looking for a specific article that really changed the way I want to approach a technique.
It's easy for Artists Using Evernote to save webpages, such as Artists Calls, to their Upcoming Opportunities Notebook

Example of simplified format in Evernote web clipper

Since every item in Evernote
(be it a web article,
a handwritten note,
text within a photo or
simply a note made within Evernote)
is searchable!
[highlight] Searchable![/highlight]
That means if I remotely know anything about what I am looking for I can find it quickly within this giant virtual filing cabinet! I can make the search even faster by assigning tags to notes.
If it’s on my Pinterest board, I first have to find the board then the pin.
I have to click the link to the site
where sometimes it connects directly to the pin,
other times,
It’s up to you to search for the information because the pin only leads you to a home page.
I love that the web clipper gives me choices for the format, I would like to save.
I most often use the simplified version.
It’s very similar to the Reader View in Safari; it looks like three and a half lines stacked on the left hand side of the search bar. No advertisements and sidebars- just the info you want, quickly.


Artists have a reputation for being disorganized.
We typically don’t care for having responsibilities
other then creating beautiful things to share with the world.
For Artists Using Evernote, the business part of having an art career can be a pleasurable experience. It can help you organize everything, from your ideas and inspirations to your expenses,scheduling events and workshops and planning a consistent branding and marketing plan, giving you more time and space to create.

12 Must Have Notebooks for Artists Using Evernote

Here are the 12 recommended notebooks every artists needs in their toolbox.
1. Blog
2. Brand Guide
3. Client Lists
4. Expenses
5. Idea Incubator
6. Newsletter
7. Open Studios/Solo Shows
8. Social Media Library
9. Supplies/Receipts
10. Upcoming Opportunities/Submissions
11. Templates
12. Libraries

How I  Name Notebooks in Evernote

These are the Notebooks I have in my Evernote Stack for Leslie Miller Fine Art
I use the following format for naming my notebooks.
for example,
.LMFA[notebook title]
.LMFA Clients
The period before the abbreviation of my business name (Leslie Miller Fine Art) sorts the notebooks all together, when viewed in alphabetical order.
As you begin using Evernote you’ll discover many other notebooks you’d like to add to your account. Perhaps you love to cook, Evernote is great for digitizing all your recipes into one place. Home owners manuals, doctors records, your children’s art, knitting patterns, travel documents, even the plant tags from your garden are all easily accessible in Evernote.The possibilities are endless.
Do yourself a favor,

Download Evernote today!

Artrepreneur Outliner-Artists’ Knowledge Base

What are Artrepreneur Outliner Evernote Templates

Today I’m so excited to finally share with your an organization structure for Artists. It’s a project I’ve been working on for over a year and something that I’ve been bursting at the seams to share with you. Today I’m introducing Artrepreneur Outliner Kits, building blocks for your own personal Artists’ Knowledge Base. Artrepreneur Outliner Kits take the guesswork out of how to organize your art biz. Each kit is designed around a certain aspect of being an Artrepreneur a virtual Artists Knowledge Base. Like printable worksheets and outlines, Artrepreneur Outliner Kits only digital. That doesn’t mean you can’t print out anything you like if you plan better with pen and paper but it will always be easily located and searchable.An Artrepreneur Outliner Kit is essentially a digitized personal workbook, reference library and organizational tool. So instead of getting a bunch of PDF’s that are designed to be printed — you’ll receive Evernote templates designed especially for Enterprising and Emerging Artists. Instead of printing, everything will be kept digitally for your convenience.

Why I created Artrepreneur Outliner Evernote Templates

Does this sound like you? Get your Artrepreneur Outliner Kits and get organized today!

Does this sound like you?

Well, for Artrepreneurs of course!

* I have been researching for nearly three years about becoming a successful artist.
* I’ve taken courses, read articles and listened to numerous podcasts on blogging and Instagram, Pinterest, creating graphics for social media, analyzing my art, setting up an open studio event, staying creative, and most importantly, balancing being an artist and living in the real world.
* I have used Evernote to help me organize that information for both the business of selling my art and the methods used to creating art. It is a virtual Artists’ Knowledge Base
* I have found I keep some of the same types of information over and over again.
* So I created worksheets to complete tasks related to my Art career path in the form of templates I can reuse .
* I don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time I want to save pertinent information about any aspect of my art. You’ll love having outlines and worksheets to help you achieve your art career visions.
* Using Artrepreneur Outliner Templates in Evernote is an incredible time saving tool for artists to use performing tasks over and over.

Have you ever felt like this?

When I first began painting and being approached about whether my art was for sale, I began researching selling art, promoting my art to collectors and galleries and entering competitions and shows. I was overwhelmed by all the tasks recommended to be successful. I felt like someone must have a guidebook for those of us who didn’t attend art school. Those of us who by nature aren’t particularly organized. I found it difficult to set up a blog or a website, I didn’t grow up with computers.I felt like someone must have a guidebook for those of us who didn’t attend art school. Those of us who by nature aren’t particularly organized.

All the organizational legwork and research have been done for you. Organized into bite-size kits to get you started on the way to your art biz dreams. I’ve turned all my research, thus far into a system, a road map, if you will, to being an organized and thriving artist.I want to share it with anyone who’s ever felt this way:

  • I have no formal art education!
  • No marketing course!
  • How will I keep up with it all?
  • How do I even begin?

You’ll love having an-Artists Knowledge Base! I do! Artrepreneur Outliner Kits-Artists Knowledge Base get yours today

Open a Free Evernote Account

In order to use these time saving tools you’ll need to open a free Evernote account.

Setting up your new Evernote account

You’ll have to provide an email address to open an Evernote account. I highly recommend downloading the desktop version as well as iOS or android apps. All your information will be available to you from any device!
I find the desktop app slightly easier to navigate than the online version or the phone and tablet apps, for that reason, I do the bulk of my work on Evernote for desktop.

The Benefits of Multiple Platforms

With a simple sync function, the list you made at home, is available on your phone, at the art supply, or on the plane to your gallery opening. Even the notes you scribbled on your iPad at a recent workshop are ready to review at your desk when you come home.

Open email from me for link to templates notebook

Whenever you purchase an Artrepreneur Outliner Evernote Template Kit from me, you’ll receive an email with a download link. Simply click the link. Open with Evernote

Copy Artrepreneur Outliner Templates Notebook to your Evernote account

It is the best practice to copy and save these Artrepreneur Outliner templates to a dedicated template notebook. That way if you forget to duplicate before editing you’ll always have the original template available to you.

Start filling in the information to customize it for your own use

Many of the templates in Artrepreneur Outliner can be individualized to suit your needs and especially to suit your business profiles. For instance, a link to your Facebook page, or you blog dashboard. Fill these fields in one time inside your template notebook so the are already pre-entered. That is part of the beauty of a template.

Artrepreneur Outliner-Artists Knowledge Base

Get Yours Today!

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