Monday, February 14, 2011

Who's Gonna Supply My Fix?

[by Theresa Knopf Morgan]
Mother. Lover. Artist

This past Sunday, when all of the Santa Clarita Valley was engrossed in almighty football, I sat outside priming and prepping a canvas to paint on. Amid the faint cheers and buzzing television sets, I glanced around my neighborhood and basked in the February sunlight.

Preparing canvases and panels is often an overlooked aspect of art, but it is the absolute foundation to a good painting. And as much as I bitch and moan about how long the art process can take, I'm addicted to it.

I love the dust left on my hands when I come in touch with charcoal and pastels. I love the smell of linseed oil. I own an expansive collection of palette knives and an enormous roll of thick cotton canvas duck. everyone has his or her vice. Mine happens to be art.

On this mild Sunday, as I sanded down the second layer of gesso primer, I started thinking of how everything I needed to feed my art addiction had to be purchased outside of this valley. Canvas and stretcher bars from Los Angeles and gesso and hardware from the "other" valley. How odd is it that the Santa Clarita Valley is hoe to one of the most prestigious art universities in the world, yet there is no full service art supply store within its boundaries?

There used to be a little mom-and-pop art supply store on Lyons Avenue in the mid 90's. I remember going in and marveling at the display of Conté Crayons in a rainbow of colors, each sold individually. My best friend loved all things purple and insisted we buy her purple crayons from this local gem. We spent many afternoons prowling this tiny shop, ogling all its art wares.

Sadly, the small business closed up mere months after Michael's Arts & Crafts opened on the Old road. I'm not here to say the huge chain-store is evil or anything. In fact, its weekly 40 percent off coupon pretty much kicks ass for big items. What I am saying is the big business stores don't always carry some necessary art supplies to feed my artistic appetite.

I want stretcher bars in a variety of sizes and thickness. I want alternative surfaces. I want aisles with illustration, printmaking and sculpting supplies. I want quality canvas and linen sold by the yard. I want more than two brand choices of paints and mediums. I want drawers full of hand-crafted papers to choose from. I want to get that rush only a well-stocked art supply store can give me. And most importantly, I want a staff that knows and uses its products.

I definitely don't want to have to drive 30 to 60 minutes to feed my addiction.

I have compiled a list of reasons art suppliers should consider opening up shop somewhere in our art-supply-deprived community. So art suppliers, if you're out there, listen to me.
  • CalArts (California Institute of the Arts)
  • Artists like me
  • College of the Canyons Art Gallery
  • Proxart
  • More artists like me
  • 661 Arts - the City of Santa Clarita's Art Alliance
  • Old Town Newhall Art Walk
  • Even more artists like me. there are a lot of us
This is a community with a budding art scene. There are a lot of dedicated people pushing for it to grow. With multiple art organizations and monthly events, we need a proper art-supply store, damnit.

Theresa Knopf Morgan has lived in the SCV since she was a little girl. She is an artist and career woman. She has well-behaved children and a rock 'n' roll husband. She enjoys the quiet simplicity of the suburbs and the loud gritty nightlife of the city. She loves and lives contradiction. Visit her blog at

This was originally printed in the second issue of altSCV, February 13, 2011.