Thursday 25 July 2013

My favourite art supplies!

Ola groovy art gang. Gosh, it's been a while since I last wrote a bloggie. So sorry, but I needed a bit of a break. :) Andy was away for the entire month of June leaving me alone with two under 4s which was, ahem, challenging to say the least (many a nervous breakdowns were almost had eesh!) And then the week after he came back I taught on an art retreat which was super wonderful but also intense (more on this retreat later btw) and then I was soooo exhausted that I just needed to take it real easy for a while. So I did a lot of Buffy watching (don't judge, it's a good show! ;)) and doing the minimum work possible (which is still A LOAD of work anyway, ha ha but still, I tried). And then I got all excited about some of my new work (mixed media portraits) and decided to create 3 Summer Mini Classes on those (which will be up for sale soon, keep an eye out). So my whole 'taking it easy' thing only lasted for about a week, ha, what can I say; I am a workaholic I tell you! ;)

Here are some pics of the new works and the paintings I made as demos for the lessons, they are called: "Summer Gypsy", "Summer Goddess" and "Summer Fae". :)
I'm doing 3 different portrait types: front facing/ 3/4 and profile. They are all in the same mixed media style but in each class we go over some different techniques. I'm super excited about these new little mini classes. You can sign up some time next week! :) 

summerfae summergypsy summergoddess

On to today's post! I get questions about the supplies that I like using a lot, so I though: let's do a little post on them and enlighten ya'alls. ;) 

So here is a list of the supplies I use the most and some comments on how I use them, hope it's useful to you dear creative friends, I am here to serve you and be cosy artsy buddies *group hug*! :) 

In the comments section, I'd love to know what YOUR favourite supplies are and how you use them. :-)


1. My favourite paper = Daler Rowney - The Langton - Hot-pressed Watercolour Paper - 140lb.

I prefer hot-pressed over cold pressed, the difference is that hot-pressed is much smoother than cold pressed. There is more of a grain in cold pressed which I don't really like. I found a little image on google showing the difference:

Also, if you do heavy mixed media layering with wet work, paints and collage you want to go for a minimum weight of 14olb (300gsm2). Thinner paper will not be able to withstand heavy mixed media work unless you gesso it thoroughly. :)
2. My favourite pencil is the Graphgear 1000 by Pentel. This is quite a pricey mechanical pencil but it's worth it. What I like about this pencil is that it's weighted, so it feels heavier in your hand than some of the cheaper ones (though they are cool too). I like my leads in the 'b' range and the size: 0.9. The size refers to how thin or thick the lead is. The smaller you go, the thinner your lead, the more detailed/ finer work you can do.

Regarding the weight of the lead: 'b's' are softer and smudgier, 'h's' are 'harder' and less smudgy, here is a swatch of lead scribbles (found through google image search) that shows you the difference:

Btw: totally didn't know there was an 'F' option!

I use a variety of paints, from watercolour paints in tubes, gouache, acrylics to watercolor pencils but my go-to and favourite paint supplies are my beloved watersoluble crayons (Caran D'ache Neocolor II). I love them. They are basically really vibrant watercolour paints in a stick. They are really versatile and the colours just pop. You can use them as a crayon (dry) or you can scribble/ add colour to your page and then 'activate' the paint with some water and a paintbrush. You can also lift paint straight off the crayon with a wet brush. Super versatile these babies. Regarding brands, I haven't actually used any other brands than Caran D'ache but from what I hear, other brands' crayons don't seem to compare. PS. careful when buying these, the box that holds the non-watersoluble wax crayons looks almost identical to the watersoluble crayons (Neocolor I's).

My favourite brushes are by Pro Arte - England. I like the "acrylix brushes", they have a nice balance between being firm and soft. They are not too coarse, the hairs are fine and hold up quite well for all the mixed media stuff I do. Shape wise I usually choose the square shaped ones, but I have some round tipped and pointy tipped ones too. 


White Gesso. So, I'll admit, for a long time I didn't really get gesso. I was all like: why would I need to prime any of my surfaces, they're already prepared so I can paint on them, sooooo? Now, I love love love my white gesso. I use it for a variety of things: sometimes when a painting is just going nowhere and I feel like I need to start over, I gesso over a painting and tadaa; I can start again. I also use white gesso as part of my layering process; I love brayering gesso over a mixed media background if I need to 'mute it down' a little. I use gesso as a white paint. In the past I would use white acrylics, but I now use white gesso for highlights or anywhere I need to add white colour paint. Lastly, I do sometimes use white gesso as a primer, if I work on a surface that is thin-ish and I need it to be sturdier, I'll add a layer of gesso (for instance, some of the moleskines have thin pages, gesso helps firming them up). Brand wise, I've only ever used winsor & newton galeria and very happy with that one. There are a lot of different gessos out there though, some are coarser, some less coarse, gesso also comes in black and transparent too.
6. Speaking of transparent gesso, another one of my favs is clear/ transparent gesso. Clear gesso is brilliant if you do a lot of collage with different types of paper and you want to work on top of your layer but you're worried about how your former layer will react to all your different mediums. Apply one layer of clear gesso over your entire painting and you've basically created a new unified surface that is transparent with a nice tooth and new possibilities. You can also apply a layer of clear gesso over a graphite sketch if you are worried about it smudging when adding paints. :) Brand wise I've only ever used the Liquitex one which I love. (Cheaper than Golden).


Some of you who know me and if you've been on my courses you will know that I WORSHIP brayers. I know, strange tool to worship, but truly: they can create super yummy and stunning texture. They create a beautiful grungy pull-me - push-me effect. It's awesome. I love it. Buy a brayer, you won't regret it. ;) Brand wise I use speedball, I like the rubber ones, not the soft spongey ones.

Golden Fluid Acrylics. Ok look, the Golden brand is stupid, stupid expensive. Silly, stupid expensive. Truly. But. But. But. They DO create the most amazingly beautiful paints. They are beautifully vibrant, the pigments are stunning and so, if once in a while you find yourself with some spare moneys, invest in a pot or two of colours that you love the look of. That said, other acrylics brands work beautifully too. It's not necessary to use Golden brands to make wonderful art. The Golden products are a luxury kind of option in my humble opinion, but I do love them and use them a lot. (FYI: apparently Cobalt Teal is out of production, if you find one, scoop it up and SELL IT TO ME ;), it's gorgeous).

A favourite adhesive I use is Liquitex Matte Medium. I use different gel mediums for different things and some are more expensive than others. I have soft gel medium and heavy gel medium by Golden which are much 'stickier' than the Liquitex Matte Medium, but they are not necessary to simply glue down collage papers. Additionally Matte Medium can also be used to 'thin down' some of your acrylics paints, it's like an extender of your paints should you want to do that. For thicker collage papers (like some of the scrapbooking papers) I do like using a heavier gel at times as it tends to 'grab hold' of it more strongly.

Aquamarkers by Letraset are another fav of mine, though the first batch (lighter pastelly colours) I bought were initially disappointing because I expected them to be more 'flowy' for lack of better word. The brighter colours tend to be more potent. So these are markers with water-colour paint inside of them which, much like the crayons, you can 'activate' when adding water with a brush. I particularly love the brighter colours and how they react when water is added. :) I use them quite a bit in my paintings.

So, those are some of my favs! Hope it was helpful to you dear one! Though these are my favourites not all of these products might be or become your favs! I recommend trying out different materials and get to know which ones really work for you.
Let me know what your favourite supplies are in the comment section, I'd love to know! :)


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