Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tools of Choice

See what my face looked like when I got these?
If a group of artists were standing side by side, we'd be peeking into each other's toolbox. I love to hear what works well for others. I'm taking a gamble you do too!


When it comes to saturated watercolors, I don't think you can beat Mission. I was turned on to these by Paper Fashion's blog. She graciously bragged about their colorfulness. I've never seen hot pink be so hot and the greens can get psychedelically acidic. They're up to $22 a tube but most of what you're paying for is pure pigment. You'll need to change your water out often because it gets dowsed with color quickly. They are so bright you may want to save them for punches.

A completely different beast--Dr. Marten's liquid watercolors--gets the runner up position for most saturated color. It's is wonderfully saturated and glides nicely. These inks rival Mission's watercolors in saturated punch. But it gets the runner-up position in my toolbox since I find them trickier to layer or fix mistakes. So if you've painted super red blotch on those silky lips, it's there to stay even if you think your madame is more of a bubble gum pink kinda lady. They're also wonderfully messy, they bleed beautifully, but if you've got to be confident working wet on wet.

For all-over color or base color, I go with Winsor & Newton or VanGogh

You're looking at some real Arches grit.


No watercolor artist would argue against Arches. It's a standard upper echelon of quality and for good reason. It's thick got thick layers of cottony quality that can take your watery abuse. Of course, it's not inexpensive and so it's best bought in small amounts or bulk, depending on your need. 

For everyday use, I use Canson coldpress. Being coldpress, it has a bit of a tooth to it. If you're doing lettering, highly-detailed work or work small, I'd recommend a smooth hot press. I'm not picky about my everyday watercolor paper since I just want to keep painting. I don't want to become a snob about it and then not paint for fear of ruining my paper investment! But the thicker the yummier. Paper quality does make a difference, even my most saturated paints don't shine on thin, synthetic stuff. I often treat myself Arches leftovers and sometimes even to clayboards.

My fave is the one that's taped up.


Brushes are tough to choose because there are so many! And you end up buying so many and only using two all of the time. And that's been my experience. Overall, Robert Simmons have been good to me. But my favorite brush is of a cheap brand: a #4 round Master's Touch. 

Again, the key is to keep painting... and choosing materials that excite you and don't frustrate you. I didn't realize my ability to paint until I splurged and tried something good. It turns out I was trying to make crap look good while not being settled in my style yet. Exhausting. 

What's in your toolbox?