A Guide to My Supplies
Note: I am not receiving a commission or any sponsorship from any of the links in this post. They are simply there for information, ideas, and because I am a huge fan of these supplies!
Some artists only seem to need a few pencils, some use recycled goods, and some torn paper is all they require, but for me, I love it all. All the colors, all the paints, all the paper, they just make my soul sing. I love to walk into an art supply store and see new paper and stacks of sketchbooks but what I really get excited about are the many different paint colors. When I started out in watercolor I didn’t really have a mentor who told me to buy a certain red or blue or yellow, so I did the next best thing and bought sparkles, and shimmers. I just felt like I needed to collect every color, along with shimmers. I was sure there was a reason why Daniel Smith made at least 10 different blues. So in being true to who I am, I just started to collect them all and found every single color to be different and useful for something I was painting. So now when I get asked about supplies I just smile and say the right supply is the one in your hand. So for those of you who just really want to know about what I use, here are a few of my favorites.
Paper My sketchbook of choice is the Pentalic Travelers Notebooks, they erase with my eraser really well and also take quite a beating. I also am loving my new Strathmoore Soft cover mixed media art journal for a painting sketchbook or anything you want to throw on it. My watercolor paper of choice is Winsor and Newton Blocks, or Sennelier. I have used Arches and Fabriano for projects, but I like the way the other two handle my tiny sketches, erasing, and painting style. Any professional watercolor paper is a great choice, but you need to use various papers to find the one that you like to use. For acrylic paintings, I gesso my own canvas or use the Acrylic paper from Strathmore. It allows me to paint on my table or in my small apartment.
Pencils I stick with the Staedtler Mars 925 in O.3 size with HB or 4H lead. There is a bit of a learning curve to figure out what pencil lead to use but once you do you can figure out what project might need what pencil markings and then you can adjust it. I also like plain Tombo green HB pencils. it feels nostalgic in my hands and helps me have no fear when drawing.
Ink and Pens I am forever buying micron pens. I love Sepia and mostly use sizes 01 and 005. I just was able to buy a 003 for those very very tiny details. For a bit thicker pens I use Micron PN the plastic nib and Unpin fine line, Winsor and Newton, and the Faber Castell have some of the best pens in the best colors.
Eraser- Only Faber Castell will do for me. Moldable and perfect like a stress ball.
Watercolor-This is where it gets tricky. I primarily use Professional Daniel Smith and Sennelier but I also have paints in Winsor and Newton and Yarka, and a random one or two Old Holland and Schminke.
I love Daniel Smith for the minerals, beautiful gradients, and tones that they come in. I am of the mindset that watercolor is its own creature and you need to treat it as a force to be worked with, not tamed. I provide the space, bring the color and let the paint and water collide with my idea and take hold to create something beautiful. I love watercolor cauliflower blooms and heavy and thin spots. I love what some people refer to as imperfections to be the most beautiful part of a painting. Like I said you can’t tame the color you can just provide direction and it will dry how it is meant to dry.
Sennelier is made with a honey binder and therefore creates extra dry time for me in a dry climate as well as provides the tone and look to a piece that for me gives it harmony.
The others I use because they fill in some colors I needed or my art store was out of the Daniel Smith or Sennelier brand that I usually have. They are not a bad paint in any respect, just not my first go-to for watercolor.
Acrylic I have been using Blick Studio set and am very happy with it, for the price and the quality. I also have Liquitex and Golden and love the thick and creamy color but I don’t make the kind of money on my paintings to afford them, so I am grateful for Blick and their prices. (no I wasn’t paid to say that, just an honest answer)
Brushes For watercolor I do buy pretty good quality, simply because I don’t need very large brushes since I paint smaller and because I don’t need to replace them very much. Despite being an animal person, I do buy real animal brushes, but I know since the pandemic it’s been harder to source those, and companies have wonderful alternatives now.
I love my Squirrel Mop brushes by Raphael, I have a 2 and a 000. They are generally what I like to use for skies and large areas, they hold tons of water and release only how much and when I want to. The control on them is superior.
For my tiny work, I am a huge fan of Winsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brushes. They do exactly what I need and hold the amount of paint I am accustomed to.
My other two paintbrushes of choice are Escoda and Princeton Neptune brand. You really can’t go wrong with either of these two brands and they have some reasonably priced brushes.
The main thing with brushes is that it's important to keep them clean and in good condition.
Other supplies I use
Paper cutting and Thread-
Glue Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive
Pearl Cotton in various weights
Finally being that I am an 80’s child, my art supplies wouldn’t be complete without my Cabbage Patch Kids Airways bag that I had as a child. My keychain with my name in Hawaiian and a pin to remind me of my sweet "little black bear" dog named Sweetie.