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At this point in my life, I only care about investing my money into two high quality things: skin care products and art supplies... (ok any maybe shoes- you need good shoes) Anyone else feel this way?!
With the exclusion of let's say, my family- Nothing brings me joy like new art supplies. So when I get DMs though my Instagram asking for art supply recommendations, I practically squeal with delight! Over the years I have certainly bought my fair share of "sub-par" supplies, but I have also established a pretty solid group of supplies that I can't create without and that are definitely worth the investment. Take a look at the photo below- one of these paintings was made with $20 watercolors and the other was made with a much higher quality product, can you tell which painting was made with which?
With that being said, let me share with you my absolutely FAVORITE art supplies that I love and use all the time in the creation of my personal artwork. Now I should preface this blog with the fact that I am primarily a 2D artist, with a focus in watercolors, gouache & acrylics. I absolutely love painting in oils and hope to integrate them back into my line up- but at this time they are not a focus. In this blog I will be providing you with not only links to my favorite art materials and brands but also why I love them so much! Are you ready? Let's go!
MY FAVORITE SUPPLIES AS AN ARTIST
If you've been following me on Instagram for a while you know how passionate I am about keeping a sketchbook (or 3) on me at all times. Sketchbooking has single handedly allowed me to integrate art into my life on a daily level. There is something about the privacy that a sketchbook provides, as well as ease and portability. I keep at least one sketchbook in my bag at all times and whenever I find myself waiting for a period of time (ie: at the DMV, in a doctor's office, etc) I try to pull my sketchbook out instead of my phone. Creating > Consuming. I could go on for forever and a day about why I love a sketchbook- but if you'd like to learn more about why sketchbooks are important in the classroom, you can check out my previous blog here.
I have several favorite sketchbooks that I will be linking below, but one you might note is that each of them are on the "smaller" side. My preferred sizing for a sketchbook is well under 8". When you have a smaller sketchbook it's much easier to find the time to actually complete a page in it AND be proud of your work! My favorite sketchbooks are:
Stillman & Birn Zeta Series Sketchbook - the quality of this brand is 100000%. The Zeta series provides thicker paper perfect for all types of media. Whether you're using it to paint, sketch, collage, etc. It's perfect for it all! Also, I love the soft cover of this sketchbook. The spine is bound but flat lays beautifully. I also am trying out the Stillman & Birn Epsilon series which has more lightweight pages that I am hoping will encourage more frequent, imperfect creating from me!
Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook - This sketchbook is honestly the perfect size in my opinion (5" x 8". A *fancy* hardcover but also lays flat perfectly. This sketchbook is obviously intended for watercolor so the pages are thick with some tooth to them. Perfect for throwing around in your bag with your water brush and travel set of watercolors!
Moleskine soft cover sketchbook- Ok, truth be told: when I initially bought this sketchbook it was because it was cheap. LOL. But the more I started to use it, I absolutely loved the thinner, smoother paper in it. It was perfect for pencil sketches, colored pencil, and pen and ink. I did dabble a bit with paint in it even though the pages weren't necessarily intended for the media but it's probably not the best sketchbook for paint. Again, a beautiful flat lay which makes creating so much easier!
Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover Sketchbook - This is my current sketchbook and the bright yellow hardcover just brings me so much joy. To be honest, this sketchbook is larger than I prefer ( 8.85" x 8.85") which makes creating something in a reasonable amount of time trickier (let this also be a lesson to you all to read the sizing in the description and not just fall for the pretty yellow cover) but I am absolutely LOVING the paper quality and how I can use all materials in it. The Leuchtturm 1917 brand is top notch.
When it comes to paints- all brands are NOT created equally! Here are my favorite paints with the best quality at a variety of price points. I will go ahead and indicate the price range with a 3 scale $ to help you find the best paint (that is still great quality!) for your budget!
Arteza Gouache paints ($$) - This Arteza gouache set is such amazing quality for it's price point and for how much paint you get! 60 colors probably isn't necessary, but if you are a novice to color mixing, it might be a good idea to have a set of paints with tons of options that way you don't have to try and mix the color you are envisioning. I use the Meeden Empty Watercolor Tin & half Pans to store my Arteza paints and it's perfect.
Himi Gouache Set ($$) I have seen these gouache set all over social media and what can I say? I was influenced! The thing that makes this gouache set so appealing is that all of the paint are in these perfect cups that are just so beautiful to look at and make painting feel easier, because all of your paints are right there! Now, there is definitely a learning curve with these and you absolutely have to scoop the paint you want to use on your palette and then mix and paint from there or else you will contaminate your entire paint well. Another downside is that though the lid is air tight, the paints will eventually dry out if you do not use them frequently enough and spray them with water. The quality is pretty good- more transparent than other brands but they are also just really fun to paint with because of the packaging. So if that's what gets you to sit down and paint, well then I'm all for it!
Winsor Newton Gouache ($$$) When you think of high quality paint, the name Winsor Newton usually comes to mind. Well, this set of gouache is no exception. This is a set with 10 tubes and more traditional colors. I used this as my foundation and then purchased individual tubes of other colors I wanted to have in my palette ( like the Cobalt Turquoise light, and Opera Pink - major heart eyes!)
Kuretake Watercolor Paint ($) THE most value for your money! Originally introduced to me by Ashley (@ashcanworks) through instagram, I was super pleasantly surprised by this set. The perfect watercolors for someone wanting to get started but not quite ready to invest in a more expensive set of watercolors. In my opinion these Kuretake watercolors behave a little bit like gouaches in the way that they can be more opaque allowing you to layer lighter colors on top of dark (something traditional watercolors do not allow). These are fun and great to have!
Winsor Newton Watercolor travel set ($$) This set is my OG. My husband bought me this travel set of watercolors when I was postpartum after having my son and I swear this set breathed life back into me creatively so it will always hold a special place in my heart. The perfect set to throw in your bag and take to the park to paint!
Daniel Smith Watercolors ($$$) This was my splurge. I have had my eye on Daniel Smith Watercolors for years so I finally decided to invest in this set. I would still like to purchase a few tubes of other DS colors I have my eye on, but over all ,this palette gives me just what I am looking for with quality that is just *chef's kiss*
Dr. Ph. Martin Hydrus Fine Watercolors ($$) Ok yall- I won't lie- I was very skeptical about these high end liquid watercolors that I was on my supply list for a course I took a few years ago, but WOW. Hands down my favorite new supply! These Hyrdus watercolors are incredibly high pigmented watercolor inks that are just absolutely gorgeous. In fact, once I started using these liquid watercolors more in my class I gained the courage to use them as my final project and could not have been happier (shown in the picture below). They can be used wet or reactivated with water. Highly recommend if you're looking to up your watercolor game!
Arteza Waterbrush set & Pentel Aquash Water Brush : These are my absolute favorite for travel! I keep my waterbrushes and my travel palette in my pencil case at all times! The waterbrush does take some time to get used to, but that's what sketchbooks are for right? To have a safe space to practice, learn, and grow!
Travel Watercolor Brushes- These beauties are-again- perfect for travel without the anxiety of learning how to figure out the water brush (I'm kidding- they really aren't hard at all!) But if you are looking to paint on the go, this set is for your!
Polina Bright Brushes- These brushes are the Rolls Royce of watercolor brushes. If you follow Polina Bright on Instagram you know what an insanely talented artist she is. So when I found out that she has her own line of watercolor brushes I just had to try them. A few years ago I purchased the size 2 brush and use it in every single painting I do. The quality is unmatched. Yall- I'm so excited, if you decide to invest in Polina's brushes you can get 10% off if you use my code ARTWITHMRSE.
Grumbacher Goldenedge Brush Size 8. This was a gift from a sweet friend/ IG follower, Sarah, and it has become one of my absolute favorite brushes in my line up.
Meeden Empty Watercolor Tin & half Pans - This is the perfect palette to fill with either gouache or watercolors! Tons of space for mixing!
Nailea Sarait- Never have I ever thought that an empty paint palette was beautiful until I laid my eyes on this hand crafted palette by Nailea Sarait. This was a splurge for me but worth it because of the amount of joy it brings me.
Arteza Table Top Easel - This easel is perfect for painting on the go or at our desk. I love the storage underneath and the wide range degrees the easel can be placed at.
Prismacolor Pencils- My tried and true. Smooth and creamy, opaque and blend-able. These Prismacolors are worth the splurge even on your students if they are in your budget!
Caran d’ache Neocolor II Aquarelle pastels - Confession: I don't own these... yet. But boy do I want to!! I have been swooning over these water soluble pastels for years and am adding them to this list so I don't forget to ask my husband for them for Christmas ;)
Arteza Fountain Pens- These beauties are incredibly reasonable priced and are perfect for sketching, practicing calligraphy or journaling
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush- I love a good brush tip pen, and this Tombow one is the perfect amount of flexibility and resistance. I love drawing and doing modern calligraphy using this pen. It permanently lives in my pencil bag!
Pilot Bravo Pen - This pilot pen is part pen, part marker! It has such a juicy mono line that is so fun to draw with. Somehow my 6 year old son got his hands on one of these pens of mine and has claimed it as his own because he loves the way to draws (and who can blame him??)
Prismacolor Double-ended Markers - I love these markers. The mix of the chisel tip and fine point are perfect for all types of artwork. These have lasted me quite a long time!
Papermate Sharpwriter - Call me crazy but these Papermate mechanical pencils are one of my favorites to draw my doodles in. I have purchased other more expensive drafting pencils but I seem to always go back to my Sharpwriters! I wouldn't necessarily recommend for shading while drawing, but for light sketching- I love these!
Strathmore 400 Series Cold Press Watercolor Block - I love using a watercolor block simple for the fact that I don't have to tape down my watercolor paper to work! I love that with this watercolor block, when I am done painting for the day I can just close up the book and put it away- as opposed to leaving out my painting, taped to my work space, and run the risk of one of my kids hopping up and trying to "help mommy paint" (can you tell I've learned the hard way with this?) Also- for those who don't quite know the difference between cold press and hot press paper- cold press paper has more of a tooth (texture).
Strathmore Ready Cut Hot Press Watercolor Paper - The first time I used hot press paper was a few years ago when I took a watercolor class and though I was hesitant about trying it, I ended up loving this paper. Unlike the cold press paper, hot press has a smoother texture to it. Paired with the Dr. Ph. Martin Hydrus Fine Watercolors I mentioned earlier, the results were magical. I will say, the hot press paper is a bit less forgiving then cold press (with cold press if you add too much paint you can use water and your brush to pull the paint up- but it's a bit more difficult with the hot press.) Still worth trying to see which kind of paper you prefer!
Ampersand Aquabord Watercolor Panel - These Aquarboard panels are perfect if you want the look of a canvas, but with a watercolor paper surface. They are just *chefs kiss* sharp looking!
Well, thats it! Some of my favorite art supplies that I have in my studio! I hope this blog is helpful to you as you continue (or start) your creative journey!