Sometimes I look at an artists work and wonder- what kind of brushes does he use? What brand of pencils? Erasers? Well, for the record, I’ll share with you what it is I use….
For pencils, nothing beats Staedler. A German company known for it’s drafting tools, their white block erasers are pretty much the bomb too, not to mention their drafting pencils.
If you can’t find a Staedler pencil tho and have nothing to choose from but yellow #2 pencils… it’s all about the Dixon Ticonderoga. Yellow pencils are about as ubiquitous as ballpoint pens. Everyone is happy to lend you one and more often than not you end up swearing at it as it skips or fails to leave the crisp line you want. After much trial and error in this arena, i found that the Dixon Ticonderoga pencil really is the shit. Even the eraser works like it should, which is not something you can always expect with a yellow number two pencil. I mean, even if you go to their website, you see it says” Home of the Ticonderoga No. 2 Pencil”. They’re pretty damn proud of that pencil.
With regards to pens then: the Pilot V5 is the pen I have sworn by for like the past ten years maybe. It used to be a different variety of Pilot pen, before I discovered the V5 (as in .5mm tip). The other variety was their ballpoint version which, i might add, kicks most other ball point pens asses, that is, if they had asses. But the V5… words cannot express how happy I am with this pen and it is only because not everyone has used it that not everyone uses one. It never skips! It leaves a clean deep black line, unlike that pseudo-black line ball point pens leave. It’s perfect for drawing, writing, signing your name, scribbling on the back of a napkin or the front of your hand… it is perhaps the most perfect all-purpose pen ever. EVER. The Pilot pen, by the way, is made by the Japanese by the way. It figures. They like precision as much as the Germans and their Staedlers. Leave it to Americans to go ga-ga for Bic pens, perhaps the worst pens known to man.
Moving along then… I would like to add that perhaps my favorite little metal pencil sharpener is also made by Staedler.
Moving along then…
We come to a more delicate subject… Paint.
I use a combination of paint products: Liquitex, Golden and Windsor Newton… The only thing you need to be careful of here is to not use anything that says “hue” as you’ll end up with a thin substitute for the color you were hoping for. The cadmium orange hue is going to be a pale substitute for the real thing because the “hue” is a transparent version made up of inferior ingredients. One other thing: Metal paints. As far as acrylics go, I’ve been liking the metallic paints made by Modern Masters. Good stuff. Next…
I am not certain off-hand of the exact kind, but I like this really fine weight Fredrix canvas I’ve been using. Comes in rolls… If you are going to stretch your canvas, I recommend using the same brand of stretcher bars for all the sides of your canvas. Different stretchers are cut to subtly different measurements (like the way that different brands of plastic dishes all have different size tops) so best use only Fredrix or only Imperial or whatever. Using one of these metal gripper canvas stretchers will definitely help you get the sweetest stretch. As well as spritzing the back of your canvas before you stretch it with some water.
After that, gesso it well, sand it, then gesso it again and repeat the process a few times, if you are after a nice smooth surface…
Brushes are interesting because occasionally you can find some really good brushes for cheap. Other times, all you’ll end up with is bristles in your painting and that’s no good. So really, the safest bets are Princeton, Windsor Newton, and… well i have a nice brush I’ve been liking made by Robert Simmons, whoever he is and one that is the Da Vinci brand. I wonder how he’d feel about that. Da Vinci I mean.
You know, then there are all kinds of glazes and mediums but my favorite medium is this stuff called Water. Comes out of the tap. Works great.
Masking tape: If you are going to need such a thing, use a good brand like 3M or something. Everything else will rip to shreds every time you try and pull a piece off. Annoying as anything.
I’ve got all kinds of charcoals, colored pencils, pastels, etc and they all work great but I’m sure there is plenty of crap out there… Anything that looks like it is selling itself to the beginner is best avoided. People know that the beginner doesn’t know a thing yet about quality.
Regarding quality, that brings us to paper. I have been using a Strathmore sketchbook for like 15 years. I used to use the (i think) 9″ x 11″ size but, when I started traveling more, I switched to the smaller size. Great tooth to the paper, as in just enough, durable little book. perfect for writing phone numbers, email addresses and lists all over the back.. I’ve tried a lot of different sketchbooks over the years but I always return to the Strathmore book because it is reliably good, easy to find (just about any town with an art store will sell it), has a spiral binder (so you can have a flat page, give up the pretentiousness of the hardback binder- there is no grabbing the sketchbook and flipping it open easily with that). The thing about the sketchbook is that it has to be easy to use, unpretentious. It is like the closest thing to your creativity, your creative journal.
And on top of all of that, I use a Mac.
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