Tools of the Trade

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is 'What do you use to create your work?' I've roughly gone over this in my FAQ, but today I thought I would do a whole blog post on the tools of my trade. Most of the supplies I use are not top of the range, I don't buy art supplies based on brand or cost I just go for what I feel works best for me and lends itself most to my style of work. So, what I enjoy using may not work for you. It's all about experimenting with different materials and finding your favourite.

To create my black and grey portraiture I use Derwent Graphic pencils in medium and also Staedtler sketching pencils. These pencils are really reasonably priced and I draw really smoothly. There's nothing I hate more than a scratchy pencil. For my coloured work, I use Crayola colouring pencils, believe it or not. I have tried a load of other brands but I just keep going back to these old faithfuls. The colour pay off with them is fantastic and they have a really smooth colour lay down so they blend together really easily. Seeing as Crayola's main market is children they have strong leads so they are less likely to break when you have an artistic meltdown and throw your pencils on the floor in aggravation. Bonus.

When I'm creating a typography piece or some of my other painted work, I tend to ink certain details such as the lettering. If the detail is black, I use a good old Uni-ball with a needle tip for precision. However, if I want to add colour into the piece I turn to my Fibracolour pens which are dual brush, they have one thick nip and one very fine nip so they lend themselves well to any sort of work.

For my paintings, especially the backgrounds to my typography pieces, I use my Winstor & Newton watercolour palette, this thing is ancient and I think it's about time I replace some of the colours I've used up. Before you say anything, yes I know my watercolour palette is extremely messy but that just goes to show it's well used and loved. As for acrylics I use Reeves acrylic paints, they're extremely good quality and versatile so they lend themselves to a variety of different projects. I don't use a particular brand of paintbrush, I just pick up variety of different shapes so I can be precise or create a certain texture etc. Although, I would advise to steer clear of cheap brushes as they have a tendency to shed they're bristles more easily and frequently, which trust me can be extremely frustrating.

In certain pieces, I like to add shadows and highlights using pastels, Reeves are a great brand for pastels too. They're really smooth so they don't scratch and pick at the paper which I have found happens with some of the cheaper pastels. They also have a ton of different colours which is always handy.

When it comes to what I actually draw on, I'm not as picky as you'd think. For sketching paper I like a smooth surface with as little texture as possible, so I tend to buy WHSmiths own brand of sketchbooks. For watercolour paper, I use Windsor & Newton and I like to buy a thicker stock otherwise I tend to find the edges of the paper curl as I work. When I work with acrylics, I either opt for canvas or wood board. I pick up canvases here there and everywhere, so I couldn't tell you exactly what brand I buy because it varies all the time. As for the wood board, I'll be completely honest and tell you I use the backing boards from frames. I found a ton of them when I was clearing out my grandfather's garage and they are amazing to work with. They have a really smooth surface with and paint just sits on them lovely. Sometimes the best materials to use are the ones you just stumble across.

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