Sunday, 21 June 2009

Art shop review: San Clemente Art Supply

Name of shop: San Clemente Art Supply San Clemente Center for the Arts (SCCA) is in the same building
Address: 1531 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente Ca 92672
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Weds 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun Closed
Telephone: Phone: (949)369-6603 | Fax: (949)369-9304
Online Store: none - however try contacting them by email or phone if you have something very specific in mind. Patti has indicated they can take orders and ship.
Of interest to: artists wanting a non-chain art supply shop and the greater range and choice that can mean
  • independent supplier - hence not tied in to a corporate view of which range of goods should be sold
  • excellent customer service - very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful
  • fabulous range of paper and supports
  • carry canvases of all types and sizes - stretched or by the yard;
  • supply many brands of oils, acrylics, watercolors and pastels plus an extensive range of brushes
  • carry a good range of drafting supplies, printmaking supplies, and graphic supplies
  • provides a shipping service for artwork - using specialised shipping containers
  • a place to go to if you're searching for something you can't find in other art supply shops; will order supplies they don't stock
  • committed to the environment - advice re disposal of art media/materials; people using reusable bags for their supplies get entered into prize draw
Think Again?
  • It's a long way to visit if you don't live in Southern California!
  • lack of an online shop for those who'd like to patronise independent suppliers
Summary: This store provides both excellent service and a very good range of art materials. I travelled several thousand miles to visit - and it was one of the highspots of my trip

Back in 2006, I reviewed San Clemente Art Supply on my travel sketchbook blog after a trip to the south western states of the USA in Service with a smile - San Clemente Art Supply.

San Clemente Art Supply

I'm reproducing part of it here and providing an update due to some recent changes which are worth mentioning.

My previous review ended with the following important notice! ;)
You have been warned - DO NOT ENTER this store with any plastic in your hand unless you're prepared for a large bill or can exercise masterful restraint or have spent your art budget for the next six months already and have promised to be really good!
San Clemente Art Supply
This store has a fabulous stock of paper and supports of all different sorts - I came away with all sorts of new goodies which I just can't get in the UK. In this respect, I even thought it was at least as good if not better than the Dick Blick store in San Diego (see tomorrow's post), If you can't find what you want at your local store try giving them a ring! They don't currently run a mail order service from their website but I'm currently thinking along the lines of contacting them next time I want something not stocked in the UK!

They also had an excellent range in both pastels and coloured pencils - and pens and pencils. I do know though that they were stocking the Terry Ludwig pastel sets - including the Terry Ludwig dark set which helped to produce lush darks in the workshop.

The store is also fantastic for having a great supply of small pieces of kit and useful items which make one's artistic life easier at times - and makes browsing filled with lots of loud sqeaks of "Oh look what they've got here!" They had all the material and tools which Dianna had recommended to hand - which was great as some of them were very difficult if not impossible to find at other stores.
Since I visited they added a custom framing shop in 2008.

A commitment to being green: I wanted to update the review because of one aspect which is now much more apparent on their website - and that's their commitment to the environment and being green - which I happen to think is vitally important, in a literal sense.
  • they discontinued their paper-based newsletter and now provide all updates online
  • they provide advice and details on their website about where their customers can safely recycle or dispose of unwanted or used art media
  • They are eliminating plastic bags and will not be reordering any more. They now have reusable bags. Check out the photos of why they do this on their website - the rubbish relating to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch/Gyre
Each time you shop using any reusable bag, or don’t need a bag at all, we will enter your name in a monthly drawing for a $25 gift card to the store.
San Clemente Art Supply website
San Clemente Center for the Arts

The website contains details of both weekly classes and workshops:
The place where the Dianna Ponting Pastel Workshop was held really deserves a special mention in this blog as it was outstanding.

The workshop was held in a large room to the rear and side of the San Clemente Art Supply and Framing building at 1531 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente Ca 92672. (that's the spanish style building with two big palms either side!)

They have an extensive range of classes and workshops - from ones for children to regular classes for local people on a variety of subjects to one day or one week workshops from some of the best tutors around.

Running workshops, classes and demonstrations by instructors from major suppliers on a regular basis means that they are well used to having students in the building - which probably explains why they are so good at hosting classes. Each workshop participant had an easel and a decent amount of table top space - so essential when working with pastels. The wash-up and rest room facilities were fine. They also had a great map of all the local places to get lunch. What was best though was the very easy access back into the store proper where you could find anything you knew you wanted - and a lot more besides.
Sally Strand (see The best ever workshop - pastel painting with Sally Strand) lives just up the coast and teaches a workshop on 'The Color of Light' here every year - which should be of interest to any pastellists who can get to it (that's if it's not sold out already!) The next one a four day workshop running 23rd-26th July!

and finally......

The explantion behind my the title of my original blog post
Patti Herdell, who set up and runs the store, is one of the most helpful and hospitable people I've ever come across in an art supply store - and this is reflected in the range of services and supplies they offer and how one is treated as a customer. As the website says "We provide service with a smile" - and they do too!

Art Supplies in the USA - Resources for Artists
Do you have problems finding art shops or art suppliers or just anywhere that has got that illusive item that you want. Do you forget who stocks which range?

My Favourite Art Shops - Resources for Artists
As more and more sales move online, it's crucial that all artists continue to patronise and support our favourite 'bricks and mortar' art shops in our towns and cities. These are where we can find the specialist art materials which can be impossible to find online. This site contains:
(1) reviews of favourite art shops
(2) photographs of what they look inside
(3) details of how to find them.

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