Trying and testing your creativity can be daunting at any age, but retirement is the prime time to experiment with creating new things or rekindling a long lost love for art. Cass Art, the nation's leading art supplies store, has everything you could wish for to get you started with creative practice from paper and pencil, canvas and paint right through to clay, stencils and fabric dyes. Follow our top tips to get started with craft.
It's always best to take some time to envision the final piece beforehand, particularly with model making and sculpture. Invest in a sketchbook and some pencils or fine liners to draft up your design beforehand, this will ensure you have reviewed all the materials you need before you get your hands dirty. Of course, this is most important if you intend to create a life-like piece, if you're hoping for a more abstract effect then playing it by ear could be the key to an inspired outcome.
Invest in an apron and the necessary cleaning materials, while water-based paints will wash out of clothing, acrylic and oil doesn't so if you're prepared mistakes can be easily avoided. Art wipes from Loxley are invaluable as they remove pretty much everything - glues, every kind of paint, the list goes on.
Try a little before a lot
As with all materials, it's best to test what you've got before you attempt to begin your masterpiece. With clays, break off a small piece and manipulate it with your hands. If it has a tendency to crack rather than bend to form shapes then that's a sign you need to add more water.
If you're using papers and cards to cut, fold or stamp then you should allocate a piece for testing. Use a cutting mat and a sharp scalpel to ensure that you achieve the smoothest edge you can. The card or paper will tear if you use too much pressure, equally so if you don't use enough, so having a practice run is important. If you're stamping, with block printing or a similar kit then you will need to practice how much ink you need to apply to your stamp and how much pressure you need to press with.
Consider how much help you need
There are no limits to what you can create and which materials you choose, but sometimes it's easier to stick to the essentials before branching out for more equipment. For instance, if you're tempted to try out fabric painting it might be best to use the three primary colours and mix them yourself. This lowers the risk of the colours running, merging and creating a murky brown effect. Keep it simple to start with.
Know your materials
Working with new art materials doesn't have to be a nightmare, it's like science really. Take the time to know what goes into what you use, for instance imitation gold leaf isn't actually made of real gold - this means you can't decorate chocolates or fruit with it as it's not edible. Copydex is the best glue to use on fabrics as it's made of latex and is really flexible, also despite the unusual smell, be assured that all its ingredients are 100% natural.
Once you've learnt the basics, the best thing to do is to get stuck in! Don't be afraid of what will happen, the best outcomes are found through experimentation and spontaneity.
Natalie Ratkovski, Sketchbook
Mike Dutton, landscape sketchbook
Highland Fairy, Small Clay tile
1972-2014 giambattista marcucci sculpture