I'm as much a sucker for art supplies as I am for office supplies. I don't know what it is about new brushes, pencils, and pens but I just love them. I don't think you necessarily have to get the most expensive to produce good art (but it can help, depending on what it is). Here's a few of my favorite and most frequently used art making items!
(I've provided some links to these, they aren't affiliated but they are mostly from the same source for simplicity's sake. Of course, where and what you purchase is 100% up to you.)
*Edited to include Van Gogh watercolor paints!
I've been a cold-pressed watercolor paper loyalist for yeeeears until trying hot-pressed last fall. It handles water differently, but I really enjoyed it's smooth surface. Strathmore is a brand I've bought over and over again, with Canson and Fabriano being newer additions to my paper selection. You can't go wrong with Strathmore's cold-pressed watercolor pads, or Canson's watercolor or mixed media pads. I use the mixed media one for creating illustrations to digitize for clip art, and the watercolor paper for fine art purposes. Fabriano also makes a decent sketchbook. I feel like the paper has a similar feel and grit to Moleskine's, but is way more budget friendly.
Pencils & Erasers
I don't really stick with a specific brand as far as pencils go. I just gravitate towards which is most comfortable to hold. I really like how easy the SumoGrip mechanical pencil is to hold, but the Zebra Frisha pencil is so enjoyable to use. I found this pencil back during my college days and if I had known how hard they would be to find in the future, I would have bought an arm full. I think they've been discontinued, sadly. The blue ones I have I hunted down online and promptly ordered them. I also keep some standard pencils of varying hardness for transferring drawings to paper for painting. I use a harder lead and a light touch to keep lines from showing up too much in my paintings. As for erasers, I like the retractible ones. The small Tombow one is convenient for small areas, and the rectangle eraser for large areas. And of course, a quirky Blue Q bag to carry it all in.
Brushes & Paint
I have an assortment of brushes, some with brand labels on them and others without (some are really old, they were my grandmothers!). A brand I've found recently that I really like are the Princeton Artist Brush Co. Select Artiste brushes. They're affordable and hold their shape really well. I also like using water brushes. Pentel makes some good ones but ArtnFly has a more affordable version, too. I do feel like the ArtnFly ones are easier to flush water from, but sometimes a little too easy because it can be tricky to blend color with when the brush is sopping wet. I usually just dab it off a bit and it's fine.
For paint brands, I like Winsor & Newton and Van Gogh. I've also used Da Vinci. I'm a Daniel Smith newbie but I love how pigmented the paints are. I think if you're going to splurge anywhere, it should be paint. I've noticed that cheaper paint can look chalky when building layers, but a good, high quality paint is well pigmented and blends nicely. I've had many palettes, ranging from extra large to small, but this little metal 48-pan palette is my new love. I'm able to put all of my current color collection into it (I can't do that with my other palettes). Mixing area is a little limited but it's not a deal breaker.
So I hope that's a bit informative! If you're starting out, I think these are all good materials to begin with. Remember though, tools don't make the artist. Practice and dedication do! Even still, it never hurts to play with materials and find what works best for you.
- Strathmore Cold-Pressed Watercolor Pad
- Canson XL Cold-Pressed Watercolor Pad
- Canson Mixed Media Pad
- Fabriano Studio Watercolor Paper Pad
- Fabriano Eqoqua Notebook
- Pentel Aquash Brushes
- ArtnFly Brushes
- Simply Simmons brush
- Winsor & Newton Cotman brush
- Princeton Select Artiste brushes
- Winsor & Newton watercolor paint
- Van Gogh watercolor paint
- Da Vinci watercolor paint
- Daniel Smith watercolor paint
- Meeden Empty Watercolor palette
- SumoGrip pencil
- Zebra Frisha pencil
- Tombow Mono Eraser
- Pentel Eraser
- Blue Q bag