Hi there Polkadot!
Already one week has passed after our stay in Metz, France. I have so much to share, I will break it down in to several post, so I don’t bore you too much 😉 Let’s start with our afternoon in Saarbrucken. Yes, that’s Germany and not France, but when you are this close to the border, you just have to go and see what the fuss is about! Nancy, and the whole region of Lorraine is so much intwined with Germany, heck, it was part of it until only 250 years ago. So it isn’t that weird really.
We didn’t do much of culture during our afternoon in Saarbrucken, we just went for the shopping to be honest. I really wanted to go to Boesner, it is a chain of art supply and fine arts stores in Germany, France, Switserland and Austria. I didn’t realize how many art supply brands are actually German, until I started to think about it: Faber Castel, Smincke, not the little league!
I recently enlisted for the ‘Happy Watercolor Course‘ by Marieke Blokland. – I know, I didn’t really need another online course, but who could resist?- And it is a medium that scares me, so why not try the Marieke-appoach to try this medium on for size? But just one reading session in, it was clear. I needed to invest. The only watercolor supply I had was a very very cheap children’s set with pans. So I grabbed the opportunity of being in Smincke country and I looked around for the good stuff.
My German really sucks. If they speak slowly I understand, but it seems like my mind froze over in the store. After several days of hearing and speaking French, being in an art store what triggers my inner English because I’m thinking of you guys… Nope, couldn’t get a word over my lips 🙂 Thank God for Thibault. He lets me do the French talking, and takes over in German. So yeah, that is a good reason to do take your significant other to the art store!
Anyhow, I managed to purchase the Artist half pan set, and a few bright colors in half pans open stock. I wanted to buy some of their own brand of whole pans too. Thibault didn’t find that very clever, because I wouldn’t be able to get that brand at home if I ever ran out. Well, I haven’t really run out of anything in the paint departement except for gel medium, so I took my chances!
The store wasn’t overly large. I scanned the place for my usual items: I didn’t find Caran D’ache Neocolors II in open stock, just the small tin with 10 colors. Caran D’ache is Swiss, not German 😉 I don’t think Faber Castell has anything in their ‘green’ line that is comparable to Neo II. They didn’t have any of the Faber Castell Design Memory Craft line. So no gelato’s either. I find that really weird. It is always either the one (craft) or the other (art). I have NEVER seen both of them in the same store, up till now. A limited choice in art journals… It seems like the mixed media virus isn’t that big here, or it’s like I said, more considered to be a ‘craft and hobby’ thing.
So yes, they had nice displays of their national treasures. Not a lot of stock on the tins of pencils though. You know, even the departement store in the main street had a similar display with pretty much the same articles (Kaufhaus), but mind you they are more expensive!
I’m not a connaisseur, but I don’t think our Belgian stores carry this much of Smincke articles. I know for sure French stores don’t 😉 The half pans of watercolors where only available in the artist quality, if i’m not mistaken.
What also grabbed my attention: they had almost everything in their own brand too! I think probably medium grade quality. But I can testify to the quality of their watercolor: nothing wrong with them!
So yes, pretty happy with my finds! I will show you how they look in another post.
To conclude, I think Boesner is a real good place to stop by if you are in the area. Their prices are good compared to other stores in the region. They have a choice between well known brands, and their own. The employees are friendly and don’t mind speaking uber slow (get it, uber) if you don’t know German like I do. You can find Boesner in Saarbrucken behind the central Railwaystation. But you can find them online too. Check out their other locations here.