A Material World: making good use of the art materials provided by GreatArt Supplies

DATE POSTED: 14th of March 2019

Four ways in which high quality materials make a difference in art workshops

Although we believe you can make art from and on anything (we have had workshop participants paint beautiful ink drawing on napkins from McDonalds and incredible weavings on fast food cartons) we think it’s really important to also provide high quality art materials at our art workshops. We are so lucky to receive sponsorship from GreatArt Supplies to enable us to do that.  We spoke to some of our participants taking part in Room for Art workshops (a programme funded by the National Lottery Community fund) and to our artists to find out why it’s important.  Here are four reasons:

1.       Provides a first-time experience for many


Workshop participants have expressed their delight about the opportunity to use so many different art materials many having never had the opportunity to use materials of this quality before and one of our artists felt that ‘it shows to participants that we value them’. For a lot of our workshop participants, money is often a barrier to being able to access this quality themselves.


Almost half of the people we work with have had no experience of art since school and having the opportunity to explore and develop their creativity at Room for Art workshops is greatly appreciated. Our artists have expressed the importance of the materials not being ‘childlike’ to move away from school experience 



I haven’t painted since primary school and that was with poster paints.  This has been an adventure.  watercolours, acrylics, learning about brushes, the square ones, the Filbert ones, ones to do detail….  It has opened a whole new world; it’s opening my mind


Even those that have bought their own art materials in the past recognised that the difference between GreatArt materials and the cheaper materials they may have used at home was really significant. 


                It feels like being at art college, it’s really exciting


2.       Enables exploration and experimentation of different techniques


Room for Art is a person-centered programme and the artist is leading, guiding and responding to the needs and interests of the participants.  Using GreatArt materials to demonstrate techniques often encourages participants to experiment and provides exciting opportunities for individuals to explore their creativity.   Often the artist will show how a particular type of paint, ink, paper or tool can achieve something that participants had not previously been aware of. Many participants have commented on the importance of being introduced to art materials by the professional artist leading their session and how surprised they were about what they could achieve.


                Leo shows us ways to use achieve different effects.  We can use these materials in lots of              different ways


Our art workshops make use a wide range of art materials including different types of paper, printmaking techniques, paint, inks, pencils and charcoal.  Discovering techniques such as lino cutting, marbling, layering with found materials such as textiles, wire and leaves as well as paint, glue, etc. has been particularly popular.  Participants have discovered that using tools for printing, cutting, shaping clay, etc. can produce really satisfying results. 


                The more materials you have the more your mind can expand


3.       Increases confidence in making art


Our artists have discussed the preference to use materials of a high quality because simply ‘they work better!’. They have seen from experience how sometimes cheaper materials have not worked as well for a particular technique and how the frustration that can develop from this can take people back in confidence.


Better quality materials make you feel better about the work you are producing


Many participants described the ways in which using art materials at Room for Art sessions was developing their confidence to create and exhibit their work.  For some participants, this confidence can come from discovering a particular material or technique that captures their imagination and they will become increasingly confident in their approach.   


                There’s something therapeutic about using these soft pastels, it’s my comfort zone.  I don’t        need to draw, I can make                 marks and create colour       


4.       Develops a creative practice


Providing GreatArt materials means that each individual involved in ROOM FOR ART workshops can develop their interest using the materials that are most suited to their needs and interests and develop a unique creative practice.  Art in Healthcare artists are skilled facilitators and enjoy the opportunity to help our participants on their journey of discovery. Visiting one of the Room for Art sessions is often like walking into an art studio – each person working in a different way using different materials and techniques.


Inks work really well because they form around the shape of what I’m using


I use my imagination to create with clay.  I’m inspired by plaster making and clay and find it really relaxing


 For some people they find the opportunity to exhibit their work equally empowering and many people comment on the wide variety of the work on display at Room for Art exhibitions.  As the comments from our Room for Art participants and our exhibition programme demonstrates, the achievements of our participants are considerably enhanced by their experience of using GreatArt supplies. 




Talking to participants and artists about the importance of good quality art materials has helped Art in Healthcare to understand more about what our art workshops achieve.  We welcome input from others – do these issues resonate for you?  How do you use art materials for your own practice?


Margaret O’Connor

Chief Executive

Art in Healthcare

March 2019