Oct 30 2010

Shopping for Art Supplies Among the Toasters—
A Bargain Watercolor Board From Walmart

I’m always on the lookout for a bargain. And bargains turn up in the unlikeliest places. I’d wanted a portable drawing board for a while now, but the high prices in the art-supply catalogs put me off. Then I visited the local Walmart and found just what I was looking for, at a price I was happy to pay. But I didn’t find it in the Arts and Crafts department. I found it in Kitchen Supplies. Walmart thinks it’s a cutting board and labels it accordingly. I knew better. And I was right. My new drawing board ticked all the boxes: It was lightweight, compact, and nearly impervious water. Perfect for the alfresco studio, in other words. Best of all, it’s made from bamboo, that infinitely renewable, one-stop shop for everyday miracles. What’s your pleasure? Scaffolding? Bike frames? Herbal medicine? Staple food? Textile fiber? Chopsticks? Whatever the need, Bamboo’s got you covered. I love the stuff.

Of course, this sort of fortunate accident happens only once in a blue moon. I certainly didn’t expect lightning to strike twice. Then, just last week, I discovered that Walmart still had a few surprises up its corporate sleeve. I went back in Kitchen Supplies, searching the shelves for utensils that wouldn’t scar the hard-anodized aluminum pots in my new Trangia cooker. As luck would have it, however, I didn’t find the utensils I needed. But I did find exactly what I was looking for to complete my backcountry watercolor kit. And here it is:

Watercolor Paintboard

It’s rigid, completely waterproof, and easily cleaned. It’s also just the right size for painting on the go. The matte finish doesn’t glare, and the board slips easily into pack or pannier. Best of all, at less than three bucks, it was a bargain. (Larger poly cutting boards are available, at equally attractive prices. They’d be ideal for studio work.)

The upshot? I’m two for two. And I’ll probably be shopping among the toasters at Walmart for art supplies again.

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