★ PAINT ★
I’m a huge stickler for permanence/light-fastness of my paint. I both can’t bare the thought of my work fading, as well as I could never bring myself to sell a ‘lesser quality product’ to my clients and collectors. That being said, ALL of the paint mentioned below is Artist grade and therefore is quite pricey. In the near future I will publish an extra article with my suggestion for student grade supplies.
A thing to keep in mind: *when setting up your palette and trying new colors note pigments, light-fastness, transparency, granulation and staining rating. Remember that all of the above attributes vary greatly from brand to brand.
Daniel Smith, Holbein, Schmincke. Russian ZK/White Nights, as well as selective colors from Windsor & Newton, M Graham & Co., and Da Vinci
The brand I presently use the most is Daniel Smith (DS). Their colors have great light-fastness rating and are highly granulating (which is one of my favorite effects in watercolors). DS offers a huge range of colors, including PrimaTek® mineral pigments made of semi-precious gemstones, as well as a line of pearlescent, metallic and iridescent colors. These guys have a solid team of scientists and chemists working on developing their colors, as a result DS doesn’t sell any pure cadmiums and all of their Cad colors are beautiful, vibrant and permanent HUE versions of otherwise highly toxic and poisonous pigments.
Next Holbein. I absolutely love their products, however they are often more difficult to get and are commonly higher in price since they are imported from Japan. Holbein also has a large range of transparent, light-fast colors. Great for glazing and illustration, or whenever granulation is not desired. This is not to say that they done produce any granulating colors. They do and the effects you get are lovely. However I’ve seen many illustrators lean towards this brand because of the smoothness of their non granulating glazes. Great bonus of Holbine watercolors over many other brands is that they manage to produce some notoriously staining colors in a way that makes them almost non staining and very easy to lift!
M Graham & Co., and Da Vinci – Both are great brands. M Graham’s however may not be your best friend for a travel kit/sketchbox, since they stay very moist even months after being squeezed from their tubes. Great for re-wetting and even greater for leaking and making a horrible mess in your bag. I love my M Graham’s but they stay at home in my tabletop palette. Da Vinvi however I find to be quite the opposite, and get dry and crackly very fast, especially in the winter when heaters are on and humidity in the house gets low. I use several selective colors from both these brands and I’m planning to make a blog post comparing some of these colors with different brands and explaining their differences and the reasons for my preferences.
Schmincke – I love’em, but just as Holbine they are often more expensive and are very difficult to get, for that reason alone I very rarely buy them. Their travel boxes however are my absolute favourite aside from the tiny tins I make myself and Holbine’s heavy weight 1130-500 palette.
Windsor & Newton – These are of a great quality and very easy to get. However it is not my go to brand. At least in Canada I find it to be more expensive than DS & Holbine and I see no reason to purchase these unless they are on a really good sale (like a badly damaged tube sale pile in my local art supplies shop). I do love their extra large ceramic pans though, but that is probably the only thing I would ever buy.
Russian ZK/White Nights – These colors are highly pigmented and many of the colors are produced as singe pigment colors. Great quality, easy to re-wet, these paints use honey as a binder instead of gum arabic which makes them behave slightly different from other watercolors brands. In-spite of that however, they do play well together with other brands and are very inexpensive! White Nights is Russia’s primary artist quality brand that has been around for over 40 years. Some colors are fugitive but every brand has them. One thing to keep in mind though, is that many of the yellows and cadmiums are opaque or semi opaque, so if you prefer glazing technique, you’ve got to buy selective colors rather than dive into them buying a box.
★ BRUSHES ★
Natural squirrel, sable and various sumi brushes. I prefer natural hair for watercolor, but there are few synthetic exceptions I use and absolutely adore. I also use cheap synthetic brushes when I paint on wood and other surfaces that may ruin pricey natural brushes.
★ PALETTES ★
I mostly use palettes such as Miller’s Workhorse Traditional Palette, Mijello Perfect Color, Mijello FUSION 18 and Holbein 500 as vessels and organizers for my colors. Most of my mixing is done on ceramic and porcelain tiles, as well as small condiment plates and sushi trays :) That being said, our local building supplies store and near by dollar store are my absolute favorite watercolor palette shops :)
OIL & ACRYLICS
★ ACRYLICS ★
I primarily use TriArt, – our local, Canadian brand, obsessed with archival artist quality, science, high tech approach and eco-friendliness they keep their standards high while prices low for their local market. I do use some Golden Acrylics and an occasional left over from the old days Liquitex but together those compose less then 10% of my acrylic supplies.
★ ACRYLIC MEDIUMS ★
★ OILS ★
I use (using the word *use* sparingly, since recently I haven’t done much work with oils) Holbein regular and Water Soluble Duo Aqua Oils, Gamblin, M Graham & Co. and Russian ZK.
★ BRUSHES ★
For both oils and acrylics I use a wide variety of synthetic brushes, both expensive and literally dollar store cheap :) A couple of kolisnly sables for detailing. Variety of palette knives of different brands. Plus anything goes for texturing and other effects :)
★ OIL & ACRYLIC PALETTES
Mijello Artelier Airtight PEEL-OFF, Fredi Weber Peel-able Tray Palette (formerly knows as Multi Palette). Traditional wood palette for oils or a sheet of tempered glass for both oils and acrylics. In case of acrylics, sometimes I also use various lids, food containers and styrofoam trays – whatever comes to me for free and is on its way to recycling bin, makes an extra stop in my studio before continuing its journey to new life.
★ MICS ★
Daniel Smith Transparent and White Watercolor Grounds, Various types of Gesso, Genuine Gold/Silver/Copper leaf, Various brush pens and water-brushes, White and Metallic inks and gouaches, Pigma Micron Pens (Sakura), Various mechanical and wooden pencils, chalk, pastels and oil pastels. Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank.
★ PAPER & OTHER SURFACES ★
Various watercolor paper, Bristol, Yupo, Illustration Board, Watercolor Board, Wood Panels and slices and other surfaces depending on what I’m working on. (this really deserves it’s own post, so I will hold off the explanations till then)
★ FOUNTAIN PENS, INKS ETC. ★
Lamy Safari, Lamy Joy Fountain Pen, Rotring ArtPen, TWSBI. – (Comign Soon), Rapidograph Koh-i-Noor technical pens, Sakura Micron Pens, Deleter and Tachikawa Nib holders,
★ PENCILS ★
I love both mechanical and wooden pencils. I sharpen wooden ones to a very long and fine lead, also leaving a lot of exposed wood (I’ll post a photo here soon). For mechanical pencil I use all sizes, but 0.3 deserves a special mention. I find it to be very useful with some of my smaller works.
I use B, 2B and 4B lead for sketching. I often go even softer when using wooden pencils. I rarely use HB and I can’t even remember the last time I used H or anything harder than that. For under-drawing I mostly use red and blue lead, I love purple but it’s pretty rare and I can’t be bothered to pay extra for getting it.
★ ERASERS ★
I use kneaded erasers, as well as Marie’s 4B, Milan erasers, Koh-I-Noor and Staedtler. I switch depending on the surface and the softens of the pencil. Kneaded erasers are awesome because they are pliable – they feel like a putty and can be made into any shape allowing you to get into those tiny areas or use them for texturing and detailing. Marie’s makes amazing 4B erasers – if you use 4B and softer pencils these babys will do magic. I find them especially useful when i draw on odd surfaces like heavily textured gesso boards which I make myself. Another favourite of mine is Milan 403 Gigante – these really are gigantic, I cut them to sizes and shapes that fit my needs. Koh-I-Noor and Staedtler are my general extras so I won’t be going into details with those.
rOtring 600 – The Lamborghini of all mechanical pencils. There is also an 800 series which is even fancier but 600 remains rOtring’s star and is quite a bit cheaper. I’ve never owned an 800 though, because I simply cant justify the price for the sake of an experiment. Pentel Graph 1000 0.3 – 0.9 mm – Love this one! – Super comfortable and not too heavy but still with good balance and weight, Pentel GraphGear 800 and 1000CS – really comfy and quite heavy, also CS comes in Red, Blue and Black so its awesome for those who use three color leads and want eye candy color coded pencils for it. I use many other pencils as well, some of which are just cool looking cheapo pencils which if comfy enough – still end up in my collection. :)
★ INK ★
Fountain/technical Pen Inks – Noodler’s, Lamy, Koh-i-Noor
Black Ink for Painting & Line-work – I use various Sumi and India inks. I love Deleter Manga Inks, their Black 4 is waterproof and extra dark and Black 2 gives you a nice glossy finish especially when applied with a brush. They come in tiny bottles, but hey, they are manga inks after-all and are meant for inking not washes and painting large surfaces. For washes I use India Ink and Sumi inks depending on the effect I want. Sumi are not waterproof and often not water resistant either – although they do have some water-resistance to them. They are also not as dark as India inks, but the effects and washes can be very beautiful! They certainly aren’t to be dismissed. I can’t name my Sumi inks unfortunately, since I tend to immediately toss the boxes and the writing on them is only in Chinese and Japanese anyway. India ink I use at the moment is by Speedball. It’s very matt, had good coverage and is quite dark. It is completely waterproof. Higgins Black Magic is also a good waterproof ink. it dries really fast and can survive some eraser abuse.