My go-to art supplies

Art Supplies List: My favorite things

I’ve been talking about my favorite (and not so fave) art supplies on here, on an ad hoc basis, basically rambling on about whatever strikes my fancy on any given day. The other day, I was pulling out my supplies to make a simple colored pencil piece, and realized there are a lot of bits and pieces I use, that may be helpful to readers.

And then, of course, I thought about the *other* kinds of art I do: acrylics, watercolour, pastels, markers, digital art … well, the list is constantly growing, it seems. And it would make no sense to lump them all together in one big post.

So, in an effort to be considerate, and really, just to make it easier for myself, I’m going to split this up into a separate section on the blog and set up individual posts just listing the specific supplies I use for each.

Here’s the master list (links will be added/updated as I publish the relevant posts):

  • Colored pencil supplies
  • Acrylics supplies
  • Pastels supplies
  • Markers supplies
  • Sketchbooks and other surfaces
  • Digital tools

The list will be updated if and when I pick up new media, or even try some fun not-necessarily-art projects (who’s been wanting to try scrapbooking? how about coloring books?)

 

A new addition to the Caran d’Ache Watercolor Pencils

Supracolor 30th Anniversary Set

If you have been following this blog for any time at all, you know I tend to get very excited about new art supplies, especially when it’s anything to do with watersoluble media. I have tubes of watercolor paint, and pans and half-pans in nifty travel kits. I have watersoluble graphite blocks and watersoluble graphite pencils. And, of course, several lines of watercolor pencils (how else do you get fine detail on your watercolors or do quick sketches outdoors without a whole plein aire kit?).

One of my favorite sets of watercolor pencils is the Caran d’Ache Supracolor Soft Aquarelle pencils. The set contains 120 pencils, each with splendid rich pigmentation and a creamy texture like all of the Caran d’Ache pencils (have you ever tried their Luminance line?) I was absolutely certain they couldn’t have picked a better range of tints and swore I’d never need another set of watercolor pencils.

But now I have to eat my words. Caran d’Ache is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. To celebrate, they’ve released a special Limited Edition 30th Anniversary set: 30 all-new colors in the Supracolor Soft line.

 

Yes, that’s 30 all-new colors. These colors are not present in any of the other existing Caran d’Ache sets, by the way, so unless they decide to release an anniversary set of their other lines as well, you’re out of luck trying to get an exact color match on the regular colored pencils.

I’ll admit, I’m drooling. I need to get my hands on those shades of pinks and purples! And that set of greens … I didn’t know I needed that particular shade of almost-dry-grass-green, but now I know I can’t live without it!

So yes, I have just pulled out my very tired wallet and ordered this new set. Do I need it? Well … need is a perception thing, yes? Someone looking at the stacks of art supplies in my home would tell me I definitely don’t need yet another set of watercolor pencils. Only another artist friend would appreciate the “need” I feel to own this set.

So, to all my artist friends out there: will you be buying this fancy new set of watercolor pencils? Just “to round out your collection”, if nothing else? Or am I the only one who has zero sales resistance? Let me know in the comments below!

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Sennelier Artist Quality Oil Pastels Test Pack

Sennelier Oil Pastels Test Pack

If you’ve never tried oil pastels, you don’t know what you’re missing! Try this delightful Sennelier Artist Quality Oil Pastels Test Pack and see if you like them.

Light-weight and portable, this little kit contains 6 small sticks of black, white, green, yellow, red and blue as shown in the image. The colours are highly pigmented and lightfast, however, note that like all oil pastels, they do *not* dry easily. You’ll need to spray your artwork with a fixative to prevent damage to your finished painting.

The Sennelier oil pastels go down soft and creamy, with a feel reminiscent of their oil paints. This is nothing like the Crayola oil pastels you may have tried before (I certainly have!), which are dry and gritty and nowhere near as fun to work with nor as capable of creating rich, oil-painting-like final products.

Like all the Sennelier products, this is a top-of-the-line set of pastels. The colours blend smoothly, just like oil paints. And yes, they have the familiar odour of a typical oil paint medium, too, so be prepared to use these in a well ventilated room!

This is a limited set, obviously, but it will give you a good feel for the product and help you decide whether oil pastels are a medium you wish to explore. If you do decide to invest more in the medium, you would probably want to go for the full set of 120 assorted colors which come in the wooden box, or the largest cardboard box set which contains 72 colors.

Disclosure: This blog often reviews/recommends products from one or more 3rd-party e-commerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, AliExpress, etc. Please assume that any link you click on will probably result in a small commission paid to me: this commission does not increase the cost of your purchase. Please see the Affiliate Disclosure page for additional details.

Derwent Water-Soluble Sketching Pencils

Derwent Watersoluble Sketching Pencils, 6 pieces

Everyone learns to draw with graphite pencils. You know, your basic HB pencil when you were in school, and you used to scribble doodles in the margins of all your books? Well, as you progressed in your art, you discovered all kinds of fancy things, like watercolor and acrylics and oil paints. But sometimes, you want to go back to the simplicity of the basic pencil, and still be able to create some nice painterly effects.

You could turn to watercolor pencils … Derwent, Faber Castell and Caran d’Ache all have their watercolor pencil lines and they are fantastic. And pricey! If you’re going for color, you’ll want as many colors as you can get your greedy little paws on … and that will set you back a good $100 at least. And try carrying those large sets on a field trip … they are too bulky and unwieldy (although very pretty).

This is where the Derwent Water-Soluble Sketching Pencils shine (literally … they have a graphite core!). The set of 6 featured here is small enough to be easily portable, and the metal tin holds them securely.

Use these as regular pencils, and you’ll be happy with the quality and the control you get. These are slightly harder than the Tombow Mono pencils, but that is a plus, as you get to use them for fine detail if you want. And if you really prefer the blended, watercolor look – just add water with a brush and blend out the marks you’ve made on the paper.

Note that once you’ve activated them with water, they will not erase cleanly. This is usually not a big concern for me because by the time I add water, I usually have my base drawing completed and am looking to add that wash of liquid graphite.

There are 2 each of 3 pencils in this set: 2 HB (light wash), 2 4B (medium wash) and 2 8B (dark wash) pencils. That  makes a versatile set of grays to give your drawings and line-and-wash sketches that extra range of depth from these deeper tones included here.

The metal tin also includes a sharpener. Take that sharpener out and replace it with a two-hole sharpener, as the included sharpener is far too small for the extra-thick core in these pencils and simply will not work. You can use the sharpener with your regular school-grade HB pencils that have the normal-sized cores.

You may also want to invest in a kneaded eraser for better pickup of your pencil marks. A kneaded eraser lasts a good long time: just knead and reuse!

If you’re going out for a plein-aire sketching expedition with these pencils, remember to grab one of the Derwent Waterbrush sets as well … no need to carry a bottle of water, just fill and go!

Disclosure: This blog often reviews/recommends products from one or more 3rd-party e-commerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, AliExpress, etc. Please assume that any link you click on will probably result in a small commission paid to me: this commission does not increase the cost of your purchase. Please see the Affiliate Disclosure page for additional details.

 

150 Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, Soft Core

150 Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

I’m back with another great deal on Prismacolors today: it’s the big honking set of 150 Prismacolor Premier Color Soft Core Pencils! This is pretty much the holy grail set for Prismacolor colored pencil afficionados: soft, creamy, rich pigments lay down smooth as butter on your surface of choice. The wax-based soft core makes blending and layering super easy, and you can use odorless mineral spirits (my favorites are the Mona Lisa and Gamsol) for fantastic blending abilities, turning your drawings into paintings.


Right now, this set is deeply discounted at Amazon, so snap it up … you won’t regret it!

Prismacolor has been the go-to brand for colored pencil artists in North America for several decades now, and for good reason. Let’s start with the fact that, like any good artist quality colored pencils, these pencils are extremely lightfast. And then there is the question of blending: while you can achieve great results with a smaller set due to the easy blendability, the range of colors in this set means that you will spend more time creating the art you love and less time blending colors to get the exact shade you want.

Note that this set does not include a colorless blender, but whether you need that depends on your art technique: as I alluded to above, I much prefer blending with OMS (Mona Lisa is what I have right now, but Gamsol is pretty much identical). If you do want/need a colorless blender, they are very cheap on Amazon as well. Check out the double-2-pack of Prismacolor Blender Pencils (yes, that’s four pencils, rather than just 2).

While working with the Premeirs, keep in mind that erasing is not going to be easy due to the rich pigmentation in these pencils. The best way to work is to start with the lighter colors and build up the intensity and depth of color as you go.

Pro tip #1: Storage: You can keep these in the gorgeous metal tin they come in (6 removable plastic trays), or, better yet, invest in some of the pastel storage boxes I reviewed in an earlier post. Those boxes allow you to have all the colors in plain sight, which makes it much easier when you are working on a more intricate piece of art.

Pro tip #2: Sharpening: Due to the soft cores (and occasionally not-quite-centered cores), you want to sharpen these pencils manually. Either use a hand-held sharpener like the Mobius & Ruppert Brass Round Double Hole Sharpener [use the larger hole] and rotate the sharpener while holding the pencil steady with your other hand, or, my favourite technique, use a craft knife to take off the wood casing around the core, then just gently rub the core on a sandpaper block to bring it to a nice point.

Disclosure: This blog often reviews/recommends products from one or more 3rd-party e-commerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, AliExpress, etc. Please assume that any link you click on will probably result in a small commission paid to me: this commission does not increase the cost of your purchase. Please see the Affiliate Disclosure page for additional details.

My latest art hobbyhorse: Watercolor Pencils

Art is likely to be a major theme on this blog, because art is a huge part of my life.

There’s almost nothing, no stress, no worry, that cannot be soothed by creating something. The zen-like flow state I go into when I’m working on is very similar to meditation, and I always emerge refreshed and renewed.

Sometimes creating art takes just a few minutes, as in this pigment marker sketch above, and sometimes it takes weeks, as when I work on a large project using colored pencils (my favourites are the German FaberCastell PolyChromos pencils and the Luminance line from Swiss manufacturer Caran d’Ache – you just can’t go wrong with either of these sets).

When I want something quicker, I turn to watercolor pencils. I have been loving the Museum Aquarelle line from Caran d’Ache for the brilliant colours. If you’re looking for a more traditional watercolor look to your art, check out the Derwent Watercolour pencils … they’re an absolute dream to work with!

The Museum Aquarelles are brilliantly pigmented, and the resulting work is not very much like a watercolour because of that spectacular colour. Like all Caran d’Ache products, these pencils have a fantastic creamy core and excellent lightfast ratings, so you can use this set to create works you can sell with absolute confidence.

The Derwent Watercolour pencils, as I said, have a more traditional watercolor look and feel, which, as you’d immediately expect, means more pastel shades and a general softer, more flowing result on your finished work.

Both brands are wonderful, each in its own way, and I’ve been loving using both to create art.

What do YOU do when you’re stressed? Working out and “arting” are two of my favourite stress relief options!

Disclosure: This blog often reviews/recommends products from one or more 3rd-party e-commerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, AliExpress, etc. Please assume that any link you click on will probably result in a small commission paid to me: this commission does not increase the cost of your purchase. Please see the Affiliate Disclosure page for additional details.