The Future of Decorative Painting...An editorial.
By Diane M Kellogg
None of us actually know what will happen in the future. We can guess and make our predictions, but it truly is unknown. In the arts and crafts industry, it has always seemed as if things come and go in popularity. Quite often an art or craft reaches a pinnacle of popularity, then recedes only to make a comeback years later. Macrame is a good example, being huge in the '70s and making a comeback decades later. Decorative Painting seems to be joining the club.
In the '80s, arts & crafts stores were full of painting books and supplies, ranging from acrylics to oils, faux painting to watercolors. You could find anything and everything you wanted. Surfaces were found in abundance, local wood cutters kept shops stocked with surfaces to match the books. Shop owners held classes, bringing in both local and nationally known teachers and many students were introduced to the delightful world of decorative painting. I remember first attending the ACCI *or Association of Crafts and Creative Industries trade show in Chicago decades ago. The catalog of classes offered there for trade attendees used to overflow with painting classes. Meant to showcase product, they were an awesome example of how popular decorative painting was.
Recently, we have seen the demise of several decorative painting conventions. Once well attended and revered painting venues, however, with an ever-changing economy, they slowly lost attendance and popularity. Truly missed but fondly remembered.
We have also witnessed the shuttering of beloved businesses and shops. From large companies to small Mom & Pop shops, their loss has affected the industry. Even online merchants have not been exempt, with one of the most popular recently joining the aforementioned list.
At one point it was easy to find painting magazines and books, titles abounded. They slowly started to dwindle until few remained. It seemed decorative painters were on a forgotten list when it came to publishing. Books were still published but at a much smaller rate with fewer titles and artists. They were no longer found in many stores.
One's best chance of getting new patterns fell to the individual pattern designers who did their own publishing, to flea markets and yard sales; hoping to come across one of the beloved magazines or books in an old box. A convention was a great way to see all the new designs, books, and packets that were still being produced.
As things seem to be fading, there is a brightness on the horizon.
We look to the internet and the vast fountain of information and camaraderie available there. From a vast social media presence, you can find multiple groups on many social platforms that share their knowledge of decorative painting. From these groups to online blogs that cover almost any aspect of the painting industry, to instructional videos and tutorials. Many painting related companies offer free classes, projects, and learning experiences. Paper media, while we still have a few, have been joined by online magazines...they have everything the paper ones offer, you just print them yourself or store them on your computer. Many pattern designers have started adding electronic versions of their patterns.
Simple classes in a store setting have started popping up all over the place. Some involve wine and paint, drinking one, applying the other. Some offer things like simple signs, easy painting techniques. Painting parties have also become a thing. For me, the benefit of these classes is that they may bring the novice painter into painting another project, searching for more, learning more. Conventions do still exist, some with us for quite some time. Some are newer. All are worth visiting.
In conclusion, I think the future of decorative painting is luminous, perhaps even glittering. With so much available to us, perhaps we just need to make use of it all. Support the designers, the businesses that are still here for us. Encourage others to join our club, let them know how much joy decorative painting can give. Go to those conventions, take a class or two, meet the people who promote the industry, bring home a few bags of painting goodies. Support those businesses, both mortar and online. Take advantage of what is available for the decorative painter!
In short, paint!
The comments above are entirely my own and I hope they encourage discussion and participation.
Photo Credit - Free Photos from Pixabay.