Hey there art friend! I'm so glad you're here!
In this post I will be sharing the list of my current favorite and most used art supplies. I am also experimenting with oils and gouache as much as I can, but would like to gain more experience with different brands of these types of paint in order to include them in a future list. For now, let's begin with the supplies I love and can honestly say I've used a substantial amount of so far.
1. Watercolor Paper
I have been able to try out a few different brands of watercolor paper by this point. Though I am far from being a paper connoisseur, I am slowly reaching a conclusion about which brands and varieties I should continue buying and which I shouldn't. Three of the brands I have had a chance to experiment with are Canson, Fabriano and Strathmore.
I have had good experiences with the heavier weight varieties of these brands because, even though I rarely do wet-on-wet, I do have a tendency to be a bit rough when painting and enjoy being able to apply many layers. Even though the Fabriano paper I bought was heavy weight and allowed for lifting, blending, and layering, it ended up being way too textured for my taste, especially when trying to add colored pencils. I have liked both the 300 and 400 series of Strathmore paper and hope to try out the 500 series soon. The Canson watercolor pad is my latest watercolor paper acquisition and I have just started using it. What I can tell so far is that its texture is smoother and it can take a beating, which I think complements my painting style.
2. Idea Notebook and Planner
The reason why I've decided to include these two items in the list is because planning and keeping track of ideas has been a FUNDAMENTAL part of my development as an artist. I believe in setting plans and goals when trying to improve at pretty much anything in life and love writing things down. Because it is one of my objectives to improve my artistic skills, I set plans each week for myself. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you probably already know that I start my days with sketching specific subjects I want to improve at (last month it was the female figure and this week it's hands).
In my personal planner, along with every other important thing I have to do, I include daily and weekly art goals that I make sure I complete. I also have mentioned that I love carrying a small notebook with me wherever I go so I have somewhere to jot down ideas if I need to. I bought this little red notebook at Target and my planner was ordered through Amazon. You can find the link to order this beautiful planner for yourself here.
I have bought very few individual expensive paintbrushes and am using them mostly for painting with oils. For the most part, I use round and angled paintbrushes from sets that I have ordered through Amazon. I ordered this Artify set a while ago and they are still going strong (even though the ones I use most have chipped handles due to my cat attacking them mid-painting session). Their bristles have also endured my not-so-delicate usage as well. Most recently, I ordered this set of smaller detail brushes and they are working pretty well so far.
4. Small Mixed-Media Strathmore Sketchbook
Almost every sketchbook I have bought so far is of the spiral, mixed-media variety. I like being able to use all sorts of different supplies in them for any kind of study/exploration I feel like doing. I have even used oils in this little sketchbook (having gesso-ed the paper). I love this smaller sketchbook because Strathmore paper has worked for me and I can take it with me wherever I go.
5. Prismacolor Premier Soft-Core Colored Pencils
At the beginning of my art journey I was very in much into mixed-media. I still like the idea of combining different media in one same piece, though lately, I am pushing myself to complete more paintings using only one type of media because I think this will help me improve in each specific technique independently.
What led me to this conclusion was noticing that I was using colored pencils as a crutch whenever I couldn't achieve the effect I wanted using only paint, OR because I was being too lazy to continue painting layers. However, when a specific subject calls for finer details or specific textures, I do bring them out. I have bought myself a package of white Prismacolor pencils because they finish fast and I find them very handy.
6. Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor Pocket Box
This is my latest watercolor acquisition and I really love it! Colors are super vibrant and creamy. However, I have found that I do pull my Sakura Koi watercolor set out when I need specific colors that this set doesn't have (like gray and black). I'll probably go with Winsor and Newton when I finally decide to invest in fancier professional grade watercolors because I am loving them so far.
7. Sakura Koi Watercolor Set (24 Colors)
This was the watercolor set that started it all for me. At this point, I have already bought two. For the price, you get an incredibly wide array of colors of, in my opinion, excellent quality. These are not as creamy as the Winsor and Newton watercolors, but they are by no means chalky or grainy. The color payoff is great. They are great for those who paint outdoors because of its portable design. I got mine through Amazon for $22. Go here if interested.
8. Drawing Pens
Though I rarely mix ink and watercolor myself, I do enjoy creating ink sketches from time to time. I really like Micron Pens (who doesn't?) and have also used Staedtler pigment liners. I tend to reach for .3 and .5 points most. I bought the brush tip LePen Drawing Pen out of whim at my local art supply store and it has been a nice addition to my collection. I am still experimenting with it. Here is a sketch I created using a combination of the Staedtler and LePen pens (this sketch was made in my small mixed-media Strathmore sketchbook).
9. Canson Mix Media Sketchbook
This is the third Canson Mix Media Sketchbook I have bought. I love them for daily studies and explorations using all sorts of media. Though I love spiraled sketchbooks, I will probably be buying more and more non-spiraled varieties as my journey progresses. Even though the paper in these Canson sketchbooks is pretty smooth and it does buckle, I have been able to produce great watercolor paintings in them like the ones below.
10. Blue Scott Shop Towels
These towels are the best. I have used regular paper towels before and end up using so many! I use them throughout my painting process (they are great for lifting and drying when I get sloppy) and also for cleaning. I use them when painting with all different types of media, including oils.
11. Pencils, Mono Eraser, Kneaded Eraser, Charcoal Pencil and Blending Stump
I am not a pencil/eraser snob. I create my drawings with anything I can get my hands on. I have a wide array of pencil grades in my studio of both Prismacolor and cheaper brands. In many of the pictures I upload to Instagram and Twitter you can see my used-up ugly erasers that I refuse to replace, for some reason. I enjoy gum erasers very much and these are what I use in my quick pencil sketches.
For more realistic drawings that will take me longer, I use kneaded erasers and have also recently acquired a Mono eraser through Amazon that has worked pretty well for me. Mono erasers (or similar) are essential for realistic drawings that require erasing very thin, delicate lines. You can get one here. I bought this set of Derwent blending stumps and my kneaded eraser at my local art supply store that I use like a mad woman in my more realistic drawings (you can see the poor things in the picture below). I also enjoy using the all-graphite pencil and charcoal sticks that were part of this Castle Art Drawing/Sketching set I bought last year.
12. Wooden Desk Easel
Last but not least, I just HAD to include this easel in my list! I ordered it through Amazon a couple of months ago and I have found it incredibly useful so far. It is very inexpensive and its design is pretty practical. The reason I was looking for a desk easel is because I noticed the perspective was slightly distorted in some of my drawings because of the angle I was working on them. Sitting and drawing on a flat, horizontal surface can lead to distorted drawings. Having my reference photo and my drawing/painting at similar angles allows my eyes to better create an initial sketch to move forward from. You can find the easel here if you are interested.
I hope this was helpful in some way or, at least, gave you a few ideas for you to use! Thank you for reading and I wish you an amazing rest of the week! If you have any other great supplies that have made a difference in your own art journey, please comment below! I'd love to hear them!
``You want to make an omelette? You've gotta break some eggs.´´
-Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
In today's post, I will be taking you through the process of preparing an old canvas painting in order to reuse it to make a new artwork! I am a firm believer in using what we have and in being as resourceful as possible in our explorations. Because, as most of you already know, us artists explore a WHOLE darn lot and we have to be smart about how we spend our money.
First and foremost, a bit about the original painting. This canvas was a part of an artwork composed of three separate panels (three long rectangles meant to be hung vertically side by side). The paintings around 35 years old. Probably more. Another important note is that these artworks seem to have been created using very thin applications of acrylic paint. It is definitely not oil. And they don’t have much texture to them at all.
I took all of these points into consideration when I decided to use them in my oil painting explorations. I knew resurfacing them was going to be easy and that they presented good opportunities for me to work on a size and format I had never worked on before. Canvases with thickly applied paint (either oils or acrylics) or a lot of texture on them will probably require more work because more sanding will have to be done.
Secondly, I used regular Gesso I had at hand in order to resurface my canvas. There is a lot of debate whether or not it is ¨safe¨ to use oil paint on a canvas prepped with gesso. A lot of folks believe that it should not be done because it is just a recipe for cracking, peeling and an overall less durable painting. Other artists believe that a good quality Gesso can serve as base for practically any type of paint or medium.
I think it is up to you to figure out if this will work for your specific type of artwork or not, and the only way of finding this out is through first-hand experimentation. Perhaps your just experimenting and learning like me, and aren't really looking to create a masterpiece that will be passed on from generation to generation. In this case, it doesn't really matter.
Something you DO have to keep in mind is that if your goal is to resurface an old oil painting, a whole new set of rules apply. Regular Gesso cannot be used for this purpose. You would need an oil-specific ground and/or primer (I will not go into this process today because it is not something I have personally tried). So, once again, you CAN create an oil painting over traditional Gesso, but you CANNOT apply gesso over an oil painting. Are you with me? Ok!
I personally didn't worry much about creating an impeccable surface for this project because, as previously stated, I knew since the beginning that this was mostly an exploration for me. However, if it worries you, a solution is to apply Linseed Oil prior to starting the painting process. Simply brush this all over the previously dried gesso and allow it to soak for about 24 hours. Afterwards, wipe off the canvas with a dry cloth and let the games begin! The idea is that the gesso will absorb some of this oil and it is less likely to make the painting crack later.
How to Reuse an Old Canvas Using Gesso:
You will need:
-Old canvas painting/print/pretty much whatever as long as it's not an oil painting
-Thick used up/cheap brush
-Glass containers for water
-Linseed oil (*Optional)
1. Wipe clean the old artwork. Make sure it is clear of dust and other particles.
2. Sandpaper the surface using light pressure and focusing on highly textured areas. Don’t fret so much about getting the surface super even if the painting has a lot of texture to it. Wipe surface using a cloth.
3. Apply first layer of Gesso as evenly as possible and allow to dry for a couple of hours. If your Gesso is too thick and this bothers you, you can add a bit of water to it. Make sure that first layer completely dries before continuing with the next step. If it feels damp to the touch, this means you should wait longer.
3. If you want to start off with a textured surface, simply apply a second layer of Gesso. If you don't want so much texture, sand your surface gently once more, wipe to remove particles, and apply second layer of Gesso (you can sand it once more after it dries).
At this point it should be ready to be painted on! But if you are still a bit nervous about not having a quality surface to work on, use the Linseed Oil suggestion I mentioned before. I will be trying this out on the next one!
To end this post, I would like to encourage you to always keep learning and not be afraid of devoting time to a process that might not produce the most amazing of artworks. Keep experimenting and be proud of yourself for simply going through a learning process. I firmly believe that the process matters more than the final outcome in both life AND our artistic journeys.
After I have devoted a solid amount of time into any artwork, I like to analyze it and make notes about what I learned throughout the process. In this case, here is what I wrote:
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