A post about supplies. Why? Someone asked on instagram just the other day “Do you really love Blackwing pencils?” and that got me thinking about my supplies and how I use a lot of different ones, change some things up often, but others stay and become a part of my everyday kit.
Here are a few things I love. (And a thank you to fellow artists who introduced me to them)
Starting with the aforementioned Blackwing Pencils. I’d never heard of these pencils until a couple of years ago when my friend the artist Francis Marin gave me one to try. She swore it wasn’t just another pencil. I was skeptical then. Not anymore.
If you’ve never tried a Blackwing, buy a single one at your local art supply store and try it. It is buttery soft and dark, but without the smudginess and messiness of a 4B or a 6B pencil. Great if you like to put down a bold line. Pictured above is the Blackwing, but my favorite is the Blackwing 602. (All images below courtesy of the websites I’ve linked to. No affiliate links here, I just linked to some places I’ve bought stuff from)
Next on my list, the Rosemary and Co Sable Blend Dagger Brush. My first brush was a present from Liz Steel, who uses this brush a lot. Now I always have a supply of a few of these around. They last forever, but still, I like having a few to spare. Plus, if you’re paying for them to be shipped from the UK, you might as well get more than one.
My hands down favorite fountain pen is the Sailor Bent Nib Pen. The pen is available in a 40 degree angle version and a 55 degree one. I use both, but if I had to pick just one, it would be the 55 degree nib. Like the dagger brush, I love that it gives me a range of lines, from super thin to thick. I like it better than a flex nib, because pressing down on a flex nib means drawing more slowly than I usually do.
The other pen in my kit is a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Such a gorgeous line that can go from juicy to dry brush-like, and from super thick to thin. I love it for bold drawings especially gesture drawing. Mac has been using these brushpens for a couple of decades and when I first tried them, I had a hard time drawing with them and wondered why he used them. I can’t say why I hung on to them and eventually figured how to draw with them, but I’m sure glad I did!
Hand in hand with pens goes ink. The one ink that doesn’t clog my pens and flows beautifully is De Atramentis Document Ink. Again, a Liz recommendation. If you’re starting to see a pattern here, yup, that’s how I’ve built my kit over the years. Hear about something, try it, if it works for me, it stays. There aren’t any perfect supplies, but if you’re lucky you’ll sometimes find stuff that works perfectly for how you like to draw and paint. That’s kinda why I want to share my favorites: maybe you’ll find something you’ve never used before but come to love?
On the subject of sketchbooks, there’s many I love. But the one that must go with me everywhere is the Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook. The version I use the most is the hardcover wirebound 9×12 inch book. I also use a smaller Alpha softcover book.
And then there’s paint… I have many colors I can’t live without. But that’s kinda different from the colors I love. Two of my favorite colors aren’t really must-have colors in a palette as small as mine, but I really love them and constantly “see” them in everything I paint. Both Daniel Smith paints, they are Cobalt Teal Blue and Transparent Pyrrol Orange. The color of the blue below is quite misleading: it’s a far funner and more vibrant blue, not greenish like the image. I first found that blue mentioned in a posts by Shari Blaukopf and you can see how just little touches of the color really brighten up her scenes.
The rest of my current palette and some other supplies I use? You can find them here but these right here are some absolute favorites.