In a recent post I briefly discussed how artistic tools bring a practical element that goes beyond their symbolic representation in magical work. I favor using my paintbrush as a magical tool, or a colored pencil, or anything else along those lines, because there is a level of practical application that goes beyond the symbolic representation that the brush can represent.
In fact what appeals the most to me is that the practical application of a paintbrush involves transformation. A blank canvas is transformed by the very brush stroke that leaves a mark, a manifestation of the concept being painted. The same applies to pens, pencils, clay, and any other artistic tool you can think of. The tool is used to change something. This appeals to me, in terms of using magical tools because its not just a symbolic act, but an actual action you can take.
Of course there is some symbolism associated with the artistic tools. For example, I think of my brush as symbolically representing a wand and all the attributes associated with the wand. But the practical aspect appeals because it moves a tool to a level of expression that exemplifies and carries out the magical act of transformation. You don't get that same experience with more traditional tools, and given that experience is a crucial part of magical work, shouldn't we draw on whatever resources allow us to embody it?