My first attempts at watercolor painting didn’t look great. The pencil drawings were fine, my technique wasn’t terrible, but my art supplies weren’t very good. I had bought cheap art supplies, and the result was a washed-out looking painting.
I asked Kathy Decker for advice. She recommended the paints that she uses and let me try them. They resulted in brighter colors while using less paint. I was shocked at the difference. It was more expensive initially, but years later I am still using the same tubes of paint.
My next major art supply purchase was brushes. The inexpensive brushes wouldn’t keep a fine point, which made it difficult to do detail work. They also kept shedding bristles into the wet paint on my paintings. Once again, I asked Kathy Decker for recommendations. I love my new brushes. I use an inexpensive brush for washes, and it does sometimes shed, but I can deal with that.
Now my children use the cheap brushes and paint for their art projects. I have some inexpensive travel watercolors, too. They are handy when I travel, but the colors aren’t vibrant.
Kathy gave me a palette that she didn’t need. I like that I can keep damp sponges in it and close it and keep my paint wet. I use a mason jar for water and paper towels to blot at things.
My husband offered to buy me some large sheets of Arches watercolor paper as a gift. I learned to ruler cut it into smaller pieces so it lasts a long time. It’s really nice paper.
I like white art erasers and Ticonderoga pencils. I use a brush pen sometimes for ink work. I like sharpie extra-fine tipped pens to draw cartoons. If I’m practicing with brush and ink, I use Speedball Super Black Waterproof India Ink and an inexpensive palette.
For a long time, I painted sitting on or next to the treadmill in my room. It wasn’t very comfortable. I saw a nice, inexpensive art desk on craigslist, and we drove to Eugene and bought it. It has drawers and shelves and is the perfect height and size. I can draw or paint for a long time and my feet don’t fall asleep. I love it.
Matt bought a nice light for my desk a month ago. It’s great for night time or cloudy days. It’s not as bright as the sunlight through the window in the middle of the day. At those times, I can’t even tell that it’s on. Otherwise, it’s wonderful. It’s nice to point it in the direction I need so that my hands don’t leave shadows that get in the way.
My Craiglist Drafting Table
At some point, I would like to get some nice colored pencils. I have some watercolor pencils, but there aren’t many colors and they aren’t good for when I want to sketch outside in iffy weather. Maybe I’ll get some for my birthday?
Art books and dvds are a separate category. I think if I start talking about my books, I’ll run on for pages and pages or just list titles. Both of which would probably be boring. I do love art books, though. I love reading about artists I admire and seeing their work. I want to know all about their education and process and inspiration. Full color photos of the art is the best. Why doesn’t Stephen Cartwright have an art book yet? I keep emailing Usborne books, but so far, nothing.
What art supplies do you love? What ways have you found to keep costs low without sacrificing quality? What art supplies didn’t you love? Do you have any great art book recommendations? Please let me know!