How to choose Art Supplies

artsuppliesI receive many questions on Facebook and Instagram about what kind of art supplies I use so I decided to dedicate and entire post to this subject. I know that purchasing art supplies can be intimidating at first, especially if you are just getting started. There are so many companies and products to choose from and some of them can be really expensive so I’m hoping you’ll find this review helpful. The products listed below are from brands that are well-known among artists from all over the world for the good quality of the products they offer. That said, please also keep in mind that, in the end, it all comes down to personal preference. The following list reflects my current favorite art supplies and therefore my personal taste. I costantly discover and try new art supplies so I’ll try to update this post whenever I fall in love with a new product.

cartaWhen it comes to top quality watercolor paper you’ll hear most artists naming Arches. I personally believe there are other companies out there making good quality paper, my current favorite being Hahnemühle. I have tried other brands in the past, but I must say, I wasn’t very impressed with them.  I did a full review of Hahnemühle papers which you can find here. The series of Hahnemühle watercolor paper I am currently using and loving is Cézanne 300gr, 100% cotton, hot pressed.

If you are just getting started with watercolor painting and you are looking for a more affordable paper I’d suggest you try Strathmore 400 series/best paper which I reviewed here and you can purchase here.

pennelliAs for the brushes, again you don’t need to spend a crazy amount of money on them. The ones I am currently using are from Kolibri. I both use synthetic and natural hair brushes, (the second ones being more expensive). As for the size I use relatively small sized brushes because my illustrations are pretty small and detailed. If you are just getting started you definitely don’t need to buy lots of different brushes. I started out with three of different sizes which may be different for you depending on what you are planning on painting.

Here are some of the brushes I use the most:

– synth. golden sable 5/0

– golden star kolinsky size 4

– sqi line size 2

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For watercolors you may have to invest some money to get good ones. I use Windsor & Newton The Cotman Studio set – 24 whole pans ( which my sister got me for Christmas and I just now realised that it retails for over 90$ on their website…). If you are not willing to invest that kind of money, I would suggest you go for the 12 pans set which is a lot cheaper. Another good way to save some money is purchasing from websites such as Jackson’s Art Supplies or MisterArt.com, they usually offer very good deals.

The reason why I love Windsor&Newton watercolors is because you can achieve beautiful washes. They are also very pigmented, so you don’t need to use a lot of it, which means they will last you longer. I’ve had this set for a while now and I paint almost everyday but, again, it depends on what type of illustrations you draw. However, next time I will purchase watercolor I am definitely not gonna purchase a big set like the one I am using now. The reason is that I mostly use happy colors for my illustrations (like pink, purple, red, yellow and so on…) but a third of the hues in this set are various shades of brown, umber and sienna which I don’t use very often.

finelinerLast but not least, I always like to contour my illustrations with a Staedtler black pigment liner (size 0.1). I have been using and loving their products since I was in high school. I also reviewed their triplus fineliners here.

So these are pretty much all the art supplies that I am currently using, let me know in the comments if you have a favorite brand or if there is a specific product you’d like me to try and review.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Melissa

Strathmore Artist Papers

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One of the most important tools an artist need in order to create wonderful artwork is good quality paper. Choosing good paper is essential not only for experienced artists but also for beginners . This may be a difficult task as there are many different companies producing all sort of paper and you may have to try different ones before finding the one that works for you. I remember when I first started using watercolor I tried different brands and struggled to find the one that allowed me to achieved the best results. So I’m hoping this post will be helpful to those out there who are looking for some advice on this subject.

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Recently Strathmore was kind enough to send me some of their watercolor papers to try out. If you are not familiar with this brand, it’s a U.S. based company and its products are one of the highest quality art papers available on the market.

You can find more info about Strathmore here http://www.strathmoreartist.com/

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This is the Dolce & Gabbana inspired illustration I painted on their 400 Series Watercolor paper. It’s a 300 g/m2, cold press, acid free paper and it is advertised as suitable ” for watercolorists of all levels because of the fine and even washes that can be achieved using this sheet. It also has a strong surface that will allow lifting and scraping applications.”

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Here is my personal opinion:

I found this paper really pleasant to work with. As you can see from the photo I chose a very detailed subject to illustrate and as I was painting I felt like watercolor pigments responded very well on the paper surface.

I liked the way watercolor performed on it and the washes I was able to achieve. This paper has good absorbency but it didn’t soak wet paint too quickly. It is also pretty resistant and it didn’t buckle. I did make a couple of mistakes here and there but I was able to scrubb it off without ruining the surface. It is an acid free paper which means that it won’t yellow and colors won’t degrade overtime.

I checked out the price on the internet (each website offers different deals) and it is not pricey at all if compared to most European brands I have tried before (I don’t know about other countries but in Italy watercolor paper in general is very expensive, even if it’s not of the best quality…). It’s not 100% cotton paper so I think that is why is so affordable but I feel like it performed well nonetheless and is totally worth the money you pay for it.

Overall I am really happy with this paper and I would definitely recommend it.

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Hope you’ll find this post helpful.

xoxo,

Melissa