Favourite art supplies
These favourite art supplies started in the back of a notebook as a sort of shopping list. I’d write down my wished-for items, favourite inks, paint and Neocolor colours so I knew what to buy when I went to the art shop. Since then I’ve created new lists in sketchbooks and journals as I found new things I like.
I hope you find something on this list that you are inspired to try. I’m lucky enough to live in a city where we still have art supply shops. The products I’ve listed below are what I find available in art shops in Brighton, UK.
These aren’t affiliate links or ads, just the products I like to use when I make the art you see here and on my social channels. Maybe you’ll find something you’d like to try.
Sketchbooks and paper
I’ve tried so many sketchbooks over the years from budget buys to top quality professional books. Seawhite’s books are made locally to me and are available worldwide. The concertina sketchbooks are affordable, great quality and I love the style.
Their square format books are also brilliant. The paper is cartridge paper and not heavy enough for lots of paint but they are perfect for experimenting, swatching colours and note taking.
Paint and gesso
I started with cheap craft paint and got some good results but I use some student grade or professional acrylic paint when I can afford it. I always buy the best white paint and gesso I can get at the time.
Daler Rowney paint is very easy for me get hold of. It’s available in different price ranges and I find the quality good enough for selling work. The System 3 range is very good.
I have a few GOLDEN acrylic paints that are gorgeous but I still struggle with “saving them for best” which really makes them a terrible waste of money.
I tried acrylic inks for the first time after reading a book by Tracy Verdugo and I have loved them ever since. The vibrant colours, transparent layers and fluid movement just fit how I like to create. I use Daler Rowney FW range because it has the gorgeous Turquoise that I use in everything. The Liquitex range is a bit more costly in the UK but some colours are worth paying for. The reds and purples are gorgeous.
It’s a choice between Daler Rowney or Liquitex for me. I’ve tried so many gesso products, some with terrible results (and horrible fumes). The Daler Rowney is thick, heavy and costly so I use this occasionally. The Liquitex gesso is more fluid, has great coverage and has become my favourite. I buy this online from Hobbycraft.
Willow charcoal sticks are lots of fun but a bit messy so the pencils are a good option for me. In the UK, Derwent pencils are easy to find and I haven’t had a problem with them breaking a lot.
Paint pens are a bit of a luxury item. I received a pack as a gift and I was hooked. I’ve tried Liquitex too but a white Posca pen is perfect for adding highlights.
A good quality black drawing ink is such a great addition to my supplies and worth paying for a good one. I use mine with dip pens, wooden sticks and brushes. For me it has to be Winsor & Newton, others have been a waste of money.
Crayons, pastels and dry media
I bought a beautiful set of Inscribe soft pastels but when I tried them, I got frustrated by smudges and the dust made my skin feel dry and irritated.
Next I picked up a set of Reeves water soluble wax pastels which were lush and vivid. They were really affordable and lots of fun. If you can find some they are worth a try. I’ve since switched to Caran D’ache Neocolor II crayons because the colours are gorgeous and I can buy them individually.
Powertex textured art supplies
If you’ve been around here a while you will know that I’ve been using Powertex products for years to create textured art, crafts and sculpture. I’m a certified tutor in many of the products and some I really love to use in my own art. Here are my favourites with blog links for more information.
Powertex Universal Medium in Bronze and Terracotta for building sculpture or using as a base colour.
Rusty Powder for creating real rust colour and texture.
Bister pigments for muted and blendable colour.
Powercolor powder pigments for intense colour.
All my Powertex supplies are from Powertex UK but there are other distributors around the world.
Brushes and tools
Paintbrushes are essential for most artists but how do you choose? For me, top quality brushes are often unnecessary. Cheap brushes are tempting but the bristles falling out in your painting is not much fun at all.
I don’t always treat my brushes well so I choose less expensive options. I keep a stash of flat brushes which are my favourites and a some small round brushes. A wide soft flat brush is useful to keep just for varnishing.
I buy Daler Rowney Graduate brushes because they are easy for me to find here in the UK.
Stencils and stamps
I use a lot of letter, number and texture stencils and stamps in my art. I also cut my own by hand and using a die cutter. Cheap letter stencils from budget stores are great. Printing out larger letters onto card is good if I need something different. Be sure to use a good ink for stamping like Archival from Ranger.
Letter stencils from budget shops or children’s craft supplies.
Letter stamps and stencils are available in craft shops, office supply shops and online.
What are your favourites?
Maybe there’s something on this list that you haven’t tried yet that you can put on your wish list. It took me a long time to find my favourite supplies and I bought a lot of things along the way that I didn’t enjoy. Watercolours, soft pastels and oil sticks didn’t suit me at all, but I had to try them to find out.
I was lucky to swap some things with a crafty friend who had discovered acrylic paint was too messy for her. She gave a good home to my neglected watercolours.
It’s true that good quality products can come with a high price tag but lower cost items are perfect when trying a new medium so you don’t have to blow your budget. Cheaper items don’t come with a heavy dose of perfectionism either so you can have guilt-free fun. What are the favourite art supplies you couldn’t be without?