Smart Art Subscription Box Review – August 2015

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Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - box

Smart Art is a fine arts subscription service that sends a new project every month and all the supplies needed to complete it. My husband and I are both artists, so we were very happy to have the opportunity to try this box out!

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - inside

The Subscription Box: Smart Art

The Cost: $49.99 per month with free shipping

The Products: A fine arts project, complete with instructions and supplies

Ships to: US only

Good to know: It’s a different project in a different media every month, using different techniques!

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - contest

When I opened the box, I saw this little card attached to the inside lid. Subscribers can upload a picture of their finished project to Smart Art’s Facebook page for a chance to win a free box! That’s really cool! On the other hand, our projects usually take forever, so we always seem to miss the boat on this contest.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - booklet

This month’s project was painting a Van Gogh landscape! With oil paints! Which I have never used before! And my husband was too busy this month to do the project! So I had to do it myself, and it was very, very intimidating to me. Just know that upfront.

This is the inside of the booklet that Smart Art sends every month. It includes art history related to the project, a list of the included supplies, project pointers, and instructions.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - instructions

Here’s a closer look at the instructions. They are pretty loose, but I like that. I wouldn’t want instructions on art to be too much more detailed. I think most artists would appreciate the lack of rigor. This exact landscape, however, didn’t speak to me. So instead, I decided to turn to this for inspiration:

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - inspiration

The greeting card picturing Mt. Jefferson that came in my Cairn box this month! We also just saw Mt. Jefferson when we were in Oregon earlier this month visiting my in-laws, so I was really feeling it.

This turned out to be a big mistake on my part, but we will get to that in a moment.

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - supplies

These are the supplies that were included for the project:

Pro Stroke Red Sable Brush Filbert Size 6 – Value $10

Creative Mark All Edge Media Cotton Canvas 8″x10″ – Value $12.58

Creative Mark Painter’s Edge Painting Knife 2″ – Value $3.99

Soho Urban Artists Colors, 4 50mL tubes – Value $2.69 each

Chelsea Classical Studio Lavender Brush Cleaner – Value $12.79

A couple of notes on the supplies, first, I think I stumbled upon Smart Art’s wholesaler when I was looking up the values of these items. These are the sale prices, but the list prices are obviously higher. Second, I am so happy to see a non-toxic alternative to turpentine for the brush cleaner!

And now for the reveal:

Smart Art Subscription Box Review August 2015 - painting

Voila! OK, I am trying to not be too hard on myself, so I will say I think it turned out pretty good for my first ever oil painting. I wanted so much to get that whole psychedelic Van Gogh vibe, but every time I tried it looked like a child was painting it, so I kept “fixing” it. So, while it does look like an insane person painted it, that person was clearly not Van Gogh.

The Verdict: This was my second project from Smart Art, and I loved doing it! I loved learning how to oil paint, I love the creative process, and I loved learning more about Van Gogh, he’s one of my favorites! I am not totally in love with my finished product, but I think this will also make an excellent gift for someone who loves me enough to overlook my artistic shortcomings. In terms of value, I think the value was really solid this month, as the sale prices just about break even with the cost of the box. On top of the supplies are the instructions, the curation, etc., which is really what I want from an arts or crafts “kit” such as this one. So far, Smart Art’s curation has also been excellent. This was a blast!

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Written by Anna Rodriguez

Anna Rodriguez

Anna has been a fan of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013, but didn’t become a true addict until discovering subscriptions she could share with her children. Her favorites include Kiwi Crate and Fab Kids.

Posted in SmartArt Reviews, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: smart art | 38 comments


  1. I love it!

    • Thanks beth!

  2. It’s lovely and your review cracked me up!

    • LOL! Thanks Josie!

  3. You did a great job! I never did oil painting in any of my art classes in school but I know how you feel. I always fix and mess with my paintings. I did a bottle & brush with a friend last year and I had to get the brush away from me so I would stop adjusting.

    • ooooo I love a bottle & brush. That’s where I do the MOST fixing! I see paintings by other, more naturally talented women and then I try to make mine better and I can’t stop. So, I know what you mean! Thanks Ann!

  4. Beautiful!

    • Thank you Erin!

  5. I think all you need is a frame to see it differently. Put it in a frame and hang it on your wall and I think the change of perspective will help you appreciate it more!
    We had to do a lot of projects like this where you copy the masters in art school and it really helps you appreciate how great they really are because their technique looks simple but isnt!
    Great review and thanks for sharing your painting with us!

    • Good idea, and thank you, MJ!

  6. I think that your painting turned out great! I especially love the foreground. The flowers against the grass is beautiful. The transition up into the mountain is perfectly balanced and looks great. I thought that there should be more contrast between the mountain and the sky but looking at the photo, there wasn’t much contrast. You definitely have talent and should continue painting.
    On another subject, although I know that you didn’t intend to offend anyone, the word “insane” has negative connotations. The mentally ill have many challenges not the least of which is the negative image that many people believe about them and the feelings of shame and guilt that they shouldn’t have to endure. Van Gogh was most likely bipolar, not “insane” or “crazy”. Neither of these are clinical diagnoses. This wasn’t meant to scold you but to educate anyone who reads this.

    • Thank you Donna! And that is really a great and insightful note you are making about the mentally ill, and very well stated. I appreciate your taking the time to say that.

  7. Looks like a fun (and definitely intimidating!) project. Yours really turned out great!!

    • Thank you Deborah!

  8. Don’t be hard on yourself, I think yr pic turned out great! Working with oils is way harder than acrylics or water paint ! It’s just so thick !I live in Oregon and that pic is a good representation of the beauty of this state. I love that u decided to paint it. It’s beautiful!

    • Thank you Sarah! My husband is from Oregon and going there is just a feast for the eyes. I wish we could move there.

  9. This would be a perfect sub for my mom – she’s an artist but hasn’t been keeping up with it in recent years. Thanks for the review, Anna!

    • You’re welcome, Sue! All I can say is that I am really enjoying it. I might not let my husband do it ever again! Just keep in mind that it is a different technique every month. I like it because I’m a confessed dilettante, but some months are going to be more fun than others.

  10. Lol- not insane! Since it turned out so nice… I wonder if you’ll start oil painting now? ( and kudos to you for showing us your first painting! )

    • LOL, thanks Wendy! Yes, let me see if I can squeeze in a new career in oil painting!

  11. Such a cool box! Thanks for posting your result. If it had been a perfect replica, I would have been discouraged.

    • Thank you marilyn, and I definitely know what you mean.

  12. Wow! What a fantastic job you did, I would love to hang this in my house!

    • Kirstin, you are too kind! Actually my husband asked me if he could have it. He is being super sweet to me, but he says he wants to hang it by the bed to pretend it’s a window, and that he’s home, looking out at Mt. Jeff.

  13. Anna, that’s fantastic – great job!!

    • Thank you Laurie!

  14. What a cool sub box. I think your painting came out really good. Oil paints are intimidating for me as well, so it’s cool to see that they included everything including a non toxic cleaner for the brushes. The end result is great!!

    • Thank you so much Diana!

  15. Beautiful painting!

    • Thank you Kay!

  16. I love your painting!!!

    • Thank you Brooke!

  17. Admittedly, I don’t know anything about painting because I’m terrible at it myself, but I honestly think your painting looks really good!

    • Aw, thanks Heathery! Y’all are so kind. I promise I wasn’t fishing for compliments!

  18. What a fun box. I will have to check this one out. I too love the painting!

    • Thanks walking!

  19. I actually really like your painting! You were setting this up as if it was going to look terrible but I think it looks pretty. (And I don’t even know you!) 🙂

    Also “So, while it does look like an insane person painted it, that person was clearly not Van Gogh.” = hilarious.

    Looks like a fun box to me!

    • LOL, thanks chris! It was lots of fun.

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