From paints to paper, colored pencils, and everything in between, today I’m walking you through some of my favorite art supplies and where you can find them.
My Favorite Art Supplies:
As I mentioned several weeks ago, over the past several months I’ve been diving headfirst back into my art practice. While I’ve taken some courses and dabbled here and there over the past couple of years, I’ve really been focused on making art a daily habit in 2021.
If you’re looking to start or restart your own art practice, I wrote a post all about my journey and shared tips for becoming an artist. You can find that HERE.
It has been such a joyful and learning-filled experience. I’ve just finished up a fun hue series in which I created a painting, drawing, or study based on a specific color every day for the past 31 days. It was so much fun. (I have an IG Stories Highlight saved on my Instagram feed if you want to see more of my work.) This coming month I’ve signed up for a weekly painting class at a local art school and I’ll be participating in another challenge with friends. I’m so looking forward to it!
As you would expect, one needs art supplies to do art. In this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite and go-to art supplies. When I share my work, I often get asked what I use, so I thought this post would serve as a great resource for whenever those questions arise. I will try to cover every supply and update this post often as new favorites emerge.
A couple of quick points before I get into my art supply list:
ONE. I am not a “professional artist” nor do I have a degree in art. I just have a passion for art and thoroughly enjoy what it brings to my life. I will be sharing information about the products that I currently enjoy using. I will continue to update and adjust the list as I discover and experiment with new art supplies.
TWO. I’m a firm believer that anyone can and should be able to create art. If for some reason the products that I love and use are financially restricting, I will do my best to include budget options. While the budget options that I will link to may not be something I use every day, I know of their quality either from personal use or another artist’s recommendation.
THREE. If you’re looking to create art just for fun and as a form of expression/relaxation, any art supply will do – really. However, if you are looking to sell your art or want it to stand the test of time, I recommend purchasing archival products that were designed to stand the test of time.
FOUR. “But, Michael what colors do I need?” As you develop your art practice, you will discover the colors and palette that you like to work with. I do realize that if you’re just starting out it can feel overwhelming. An artist I love, Sandi Hester, has created a great YouTube video walking you through the very basic colors you need for several different mediums. I found it very helpful. You’ll be surprised at how little you need to get started. So, if you’re curious what colors to purchase to get started, check out this video HERE. It’s worth watching and Sandi is a JOY! (Give her a follow too. You can find her on YouTube HERE and on Instagram HERE. I hope you love her as much as I do. She’s fabulous!)
FIVE. While this list is extensive, do not get overwhelmed. You see, I went a bit overboard in buying art supplies! My recommendation to you is to start with the one medium you have the most interest in and go from there. In the end, you need very little to get started (I’m speaking from experience). Do not let a limited budget prevent you from delving into the world of creating artwork. And I repeat, avoid becoming overwhelmed. Simply start small and work from there.
With all of that being said, let’s get into the good stuff!
My Favorite Art Supplies:
Watercolors are available in tubes (liquid) or pans (solid). After working with both, I prefer the tube variety and Daniel Smith is my go-to. (You can find the introductory set HERE.) It is great working with these watercolors and the colors are so vivid.
Budget-Friendly Option: In general, I found the Arteza brand to be great introductory watercolors for the beginning artist. You can get various sets of Arteza watercolors here.
Metallic Watercolors: I love this set of Metallic Watercolor Paints. If you need a touch of gold or silver in your art, this is a beautiful collection.
Gouache is a new-to-me medium, but at the moment it is one of my favorites. It’s a cross between watercolors and acrylic. Gouache is used like watercolor but is more opaque. It’s water-soluble, so once dry, you can reactivate it with water. Because of this, it’s also very easy to clean-up. My current favorite is Holbein Artist Gouache. (You can find a smaller set HERE, but it ships from Japan so allow for more time.) It’s available as a set of individual tubes.
Budget-Friendly Option: Again, I recommend the Arteza brand gouache as a great alternative to the higher-priced brands. My mom has a set of Arteza brand gouache and she really enjoys working with it.
Note: I personally avoid acrylic or acryla gouache as these cannot be reconstituted with water.
I think oil paint will eventually end up being my favorite medium, but I need more practice with it. Since oil paint is not water-soluble, it requires a bit more time for prep and clean-up. After working with some Gamblin oil paints, they are my current favorite brand.
Budget-Friendly Option: Oil paint tends to be pricey regardless of the brand. I’d suggest Winsor & Newton as a budget-friendly option. To help reduce costs, know that you don’t need a lot of colors. Reference the video I shared above for more details on color selection.
One of my first mediums in art was colored pencils. Prismacolor Premier has been a go-to since I was in high school. I also recently purchased a set of the Faber-Castel Polychromos. These are heavily used by many of the artists I follow. I’m excited to try them. The difference between the two brands is that Prismacolors are wax-based and the Polychromos are oil-based.
Oil Pastels are another new-to-me medium, but one I’m just crazy in love with and have been using quite frequently. At the moment, I’ve been working on relatively small canvases. Because of the size and buttery-ness of oil pastels, I was not able to add much artistic detail when working on a small canvas. in general, working with oil pastels has been so freeing and fun. I love the vivid colors too. I could go on and on, but let me mention that the most luxurious oil pastels are from Sennelier. I’m enthralled. (I recently purchase the large set for even more color options.)
Budget-Friendly Option: Before knowing what oil pastels really were, I bought this Mungyo Oil Pastel set. They are lovely too, just not quite as buttery.
WAX PASTELS (WATER-SOLUBLE):
Wax pastels are like glorified crayons. However, they would be the crayons “the Queen” would use. They are just so smooth. What’s really special about them is that you can move and blend them with water. In effect, they are almost like a watercolor pigment. The set I have is the Caran d’Ache Classic Neocolor II. I have the largest set, but you can also buy a smaller set here.
Budget-Friendly Option: I’m going to recommend the Lyra Aquacolor Water-Soluble Wax Crayons, but I want to mention that I don’t have personal experience with them. I have seen them being used by other artists and they have a 4.5-star review on Amazon.
As you can imagine, there are dozens of brushes available. This is definitely a section I will need to update, but I’ll do my best to share my findings thus far.
My go-to source is Rosemary & Co. They basically have every brush you could ever imagine for any medium and their prices are wonderful. No budget-friendly option needed. I’ve been so pleased with every brush I’ve received from them.
I do have some favorites that I can recommend. Not all of these brushes are from Rosemary & Co.
- Escoda Prado – Size 4 and Size 12 (These are great brushes for travel too.)
- Jerry Q – Detail Brushes
- Winsor & Newton Cotman Angle Brush 1/2in
Again, the options are endless here, and this is a list I will need to continually refresh, but here are a few things I’m loving.
These Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Artists tiles are a favorite. I’ve used them for watercolor, gouache, and my oil pastel work. They are so convenient as they come in a 6×6 size. (You’ll see I used these frequently in my Hue Series that I shared on Instagram.)
If you’re looking for a paper pad, Arches seems to be the best across the board whether you’re going oil, watercolor, or anything in between.
Budget-Friendly Option: Try Canson or Strathmore.
Stillman and Birn is the go-to sketchbook for me. This brand has something for every medium. I prefer the Beta series for gouache and watercolor and the Zeta series for sketching, ink, and colored pencils.
An artist friend, Michelle Wooderson, also sells a beautiful natural color paper sketchbook. You can see how she used it on her Instagram feed. It’s lovely. They aren’t always-in-stock, but when they are you can find them HERE. (She also sells other great goodies like vintage tin palettes for watercolors and oil painting.)
Budget-Friendly Option: Again, Strathmore is a great option and has a variety of paper types, sizes, etc. Arteza also has a collection of sketchbooks.
Watercolor/Gouache – My favorites are from Sylvan Clayworks. Everything is handmade and it’s stunning. It is pricey but well worth it. If you plan to buy, you need to be on Sylvan’s newletter and/or follow her on Instagram. She only does inventory restocks a few times a year and when they go on sale you need to purchase within minutes or you won’t get anything. (I’m dead serious. She sells out in minutes.)
Budget-Friendly Option: For watercolor/gouache, use a yogurt lid – seriously! For oil, find a piece of glass and paint the underside gray to make it more like the one I linked above.
Other Palettes worth noting:
OTHER ART SUPPLIES:
Last but not least, these are some other things that I use in my art practice. I won’t describe them in detail but did want to link them here as I may reference them in future posts or on my Instagram feed.
- Masking Fluid (used to preserve white paper in watercolors)
- Date Stamp (to date my work)
- Stamp Ink Pad (for the date stamp)
- Painter’s Tape (to create clean edges)
- Pencil Sharpener (for Prismacolor and Faber Castell)
- Pencil (to sketch before painting)
That’s a Wrap on My Favorite Art Supplies!
Yowzah! That was a doozy of a list.
Again, as I mentioned above, I will continue to update this list as I try new things and find new favorites. If there is something I’m missing or something you’re curious about, please let me know. I’m happy to test things out and continue to add to this list.
If you’re looking for more of my blog posts about art, I’ve compiled a list below. (I will continue to update this list as it grows.)
Inspired by Charm Art Series:
- How to Become an Artist: My Journey
- My Favorite Art Supplies – you are here!
Now you should have all the tools you need to get started. Starting is the hardest and scariest part. I’m a firm believer that ANYONE (yes, even you) can do art! I believe in you.