art materials

I often get asked about the materials I use for making drawings, so I thought I'd share them all in one post.

I start every drawing in pencil. I've had this blue mechanical pencil for at least 15 years. I go over the drawing again in pen, then I go back and erase all the pencil lines. Staedtler erasers are the best: they get pencil marks off easily without having to rub the crap out of the paper. Other white erasers seem the same, but they don't work as well.

I use Sakura Micron Pigma pens in various thicknesses. They're the only ones I've found to be truly waterproof. Here's the thing: I brush on the watercolour paint after I draw the outlines in pen . Other pen brands tend to smudge when I do this, despite their claims of being waterproof. When I need thicker lines I use Staedtler permanent pens, Fine and Medium points, like I did on this drawing.

For watercolours, I use small tubes of Winsor & Newton and Holbein. I like both brands. I don't use much paint, so some of these tubes have been with me for over 10 years. (On very rare occasions I use gouache, which I haven't included in this photo.)

These are my paint palettes. I started out with one round one, then got another, then another. I like the metal ones better. I leave the paint to dry when I'm done. That way I can reuse the colours I've mixed next time by just adding a bit of water. 

I used to use this Winsor & Newton Cotman Pocket Box Set all the time, back when our kids were really little and I was sleep-deprived and I needed to keep my setup ultra quick and simple. It's pretty worn out - some of the colours are just about all used up. The quality of the paints are really good - highly recommended.

I got this 24-colour 24 colour Field Sketch Set by Sakura as a replacement, and because I got greedy and wanted more colours, and because it came with this really cool brush that holds water in the handle. I never got the hang of the clever brush though, so I don't use it. Instead I have two regular cheap brushes that I sawed short so they would fit in the box.

Speaking of brushes, these are what mine look like. They're a variety of sable and other kinds. You can spend soooo much money on watercolour brushes, but I usually don't. Many of these are store brands from Opus Art Supplies, a terrific store here in Victoria or from DeSerres (also a great shop), which I picked up last time I was visiting family back in Quebec. I'm not even sure what sizes they are - most of the numbers are worn off. I think the ones I use most are #0, #3 and a #6.

Here's the most boring art supply to photograph: paper! The challenge I have is to find paper that's both good for drawing and watercolour painting. So I usually go with hot-press watercolour paper, 140lb weight, like this kind from Strathmore (hot-press is smooth, cold-press is textured which watercolorists often prefer). Most of my drawings are either 5 by 7 inches or 8 by 10 inches, so I buy large 22x30 sheets and cut them down, or (whenever possible, because cutting paper is tedious) buy packs of precut paper. If I was only using watercolour or only drawing, I would probably use something else.

Every now and then I make Post-it Note drawings, which I colour in with highlighters. I like to keep the art-with-office-supplies theme consistent. I don't pre-sketch these, and I have to block in the colours first, and then do the black lines. Why the reverse order, you ask? Because the black lines get smudged by highlighters, so the pen has to be used last.

So I think that's it. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or if there's anything else you're curious about!