One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive via my Instagram is, “what art supplies do you use?” Here is a quick post to share in detail what I use, and why.
I’ll note firstly that accessibility is a major selling point for me. Buying luxurious high-end brands sounds neat, but I don’t want to have to ship expensive pans or tubes in from Europe or America every time I use a colour up. I can’t delay work by two weeks waiting for my Sap Green.
Most of my painting work is done with Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolours (above). There’s an excellent colour range, and most major art stores will likely stock sets, individual pans and single tubes, so replenishing dwindling colours is no great expense or hassle. Sets are inexpensive, especially if caught in online sales, compared to many other brands, but the pans in particular last well. Some darker colours do granulate or split, but this is found in all grades of watercolours, from the children’s sets to the most expensive professional artists’ sets.
Despite popular belief, granulation is not a sign of cheapness or reduced quality. It is simply how some colours are mixed. It is more common in earthy tones, though if a full set of colours granulates, it may well reflect quality. But if it works for you and your style, go for it.
These paints are regarded as student grade. Student grade is perfectly acceptable for home use and even paid work (scanning for printing, etc), but it tends not to have the light-fastness suitable for gallery work. If you want to hang your paintings, cheaper paints may well fade in sunlight.
I also do own and use the full 36 pan set of Kuretake Gansai watercolours (above). These are bright, gorgeous paints that shine like thick inks on the canvas! I have not used mine too much, I forget to include them, but they are also worthwhile sets to have around if you can spare the coins.
My gouache set is the Winsor and Newton Designer gouache (above). Again, these are regarded as student grade, but they’re excellent little paints, whether working straight from the tubes or as dried blobs in your pallet. I’ve done a number of quick sketches now just from my initial test daubs – they’re pretty long lasting! Provided you don’t waste the paints by washing them away after every image, they should easily last you a few months of routine paintings.
Gouache tends to be less common in shops due to its lack in popularity, but they’re easily available online in many countries.
Pencils… I just use pencils. Generally 2Hs through to 2Bs. Mechanical are great for sketching and ideas, but they tend to lack the character of traditional pencils.
For my inked lines I use either Steadlter or Uni Pin fine liners, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4 and 0.8. I don’t really have a brand preference for these pens, though they do have mildly different coloured blacks in them – the Steadtler black tends to be a bit richer, to my eye, while the Uni Pin is a little softer, like a smudge from coal. Both are water resistant once dry. Leave for an hour or so before painting over it, just to be safe.
My pallets are just standard pallets, plastic and cheap. One (left) is roughly twenty years old. Awww.
Brushes are a mix of shapes and grades. None of them are particularly fancy, and I think they’re all synthetic hair – I have tried using natural fibre brushes, but found them quite difficult to use. But that is just my personal preference.
Please remember that all of this is just my personal preferences from over a decade of experience, but that doesn’t mean I know everything. Go with whatever works best for you!