♥ TOOLS of the TRADE ART

I thought I'd put all the artwork I've done about my tools in one place. I have found that almost all artists love looking at art supplies and it's even better looking at art about art supplies! I think it has to do with being able to see how an artist sees their supplies and how they interpret what they see. It also lets us covet what others' have and still claim to be looking at art. ;o) Remember, if you want to see any picture in a larger format, just click on it!

When I started in watercolor, like most newbie artists, I didn't know anything about the paint. All I knew is that I loved the effects you could get and I wanted to be a watercolor artist. My mother was an artist who worked in oils so it also felt right to choose a different medium so I could make it all my own. 

Cotman Palette with large Moleskine
I went to an art store and asked for help. I was told that Winsor & Newton was a great brand and their Cotman watercolors were a great price for the beginning artist. Now, that in and of itself is true but it doesn't take into account that I emphasized to the sales person that I ultimately wanted to be a professional artist. I wish she'd told me that Cotman were  actually student grade paint and it was better to get fewer tubes of Artist grade paint. It would have saved me a lot of frustration.

I believe artists do better learning with artist grade paint. You'll get better results using better paint because Artist Quality paint means mixing less mud. Anyway, I had a bunch of Cotman colors as I started to learn to paint in watercolor. I then inherited a bunch of used tubes (Grumbacher, Da Vinci, W&N, Sennelier) from a friend who's father used to paint, she'd kept his watercolors for years after he passed away. When she learned that I was painting in watercolor, she happily donated them to me.

Holbein tubes
As a Christmas gift my mom got me two days of lessons from a well known watercolor painter in Victoria (where we lived). She suggested that if I could I should upgrade my paints. She said there's no reason to do it now but when you can it'll make it easier to learn. So, for my birthday I invested in some Holbein Artist grade watercolors. I immortalized them on the first page of my new Moleskine Watercolor sketchbook. A friend had given me a Cotman palette so I filled it with the artist grade paints I now had (including the inherited paint). I worked with those paints for about a year until the palette started to seriously discolor. Every time I used it I had to scrub it down then use a kneaded eraser to try and remove the shadowing from the staining colors.
Salty Chicken leaning on Extra-large Watercolor Moleskine
Colored Ballpoint Pens
As I learned more and more about watercolor paint, I started planning my ultimate palette. The Holbeins were too opaque for my liking and by then I had fallen in love with Daniel Smith Paints. Oh those Quinacidone colors!! Who wouldn't love the brightness and clarity of them? As I planned and saved and waited, I painted. When I didn't know what to paint, I painted my supplies in my new Moleskine. I've tried other sketchbooks but I kept coming back to my watercolor Moleskines. I just love them the most. I have two sizes of the watercolor Moleskine, the large (5 1/4" x 8 1/4" landscape) and the extra-large (8 1/2" x 12" landscape). They're great for watercolor as they really don't buckle with the 200gsm weight paper. Every time I start a new Moleskine I draw or paint a bunch of art supplies. I find that doing that takes the pressure off of choosing "the right" art for the first page. If it's always tools of the trade then the decision is made.

SBS Cup with Waterbrushes
In the interim, as I saved up to purchase my ultimate palette, I started taking Sketchbook Skool classes. I had started using waterbrushes when I began painting mostly in my Moleskines so when I bought an SBS mug it became my storage cup for all things pen & waterbrush related. The classes really helped me loosen up my painting and I finally started enjoying myself. I painted a lot and actually filled my first Moleskine. 

Because I'm addicted to supplies, just like most of my artist brethren, I decided if I was gonna collect anything, let it be the least expensive thing, pens. Mostly I stick to black and permanent ink but I have to admit, I went through a stage where I thought I'd somehow use colored pens so I got a bunch of those too. Mostly though, my favorite are black liner pens like the go-to Sakura Pigma Micron pens with permenant archival ink. They come in many tip widths, I think starting at 005 and going all the way to 08. I have a ton of them in 01, 05 and 08 widths, they're the pen I reach for most often for outlining or inking a drawing. I do, however also rely on Uniball fine and micro (they have really black ink) on smooth paper and the Pilot Drawing Pen in a range of thicknesses.  Don't forget the Pentel pocket brush pen. I haven't been using it much lately, but it's really expressive. You can see that in Roz Stendahl's artwork.
I'm a Pen Addict
More Pens
Now we have to talk about the pencil. SBS teachers mostly don't like pencils, they say you're more immediate going in at the beginning of a drawing and using pen. Not for me, I love my pencils. I have all the different hardnesses but like the lightest lead color the most so, I tend to stay in the F, H and HB leads. I also use mechanical pencils, hey, you don't have to sharpen them! You gotta have a kneaded eraser if you use pencil, by the way. It leaves no eraser particles, I love that. OMG! Don't forget the almighty WHITE PEN. I use both the Signo Uniball white pen and the Sharpie extra-fine water based white pen.

My Schmincke Palette with extra Daniel Smith tube watercolors
Da Vinci Brushes & More Pens
I was so lucky last Christmas to come across Wet Paint and their exclusive Schmincke Palette because it saved me a boat load of money. I had added up the Daniel Smith paint I wanted and added to that the empty Whiskey Painter's Master Palette. It would come to over $300. When I discovered the Schmincke Palette I realized the colors were much the same as the ones I had chosen in Daniel Smith and on top of that you got the palette with twelve extra spaces for more paint! That was my Christmas prezzie last year (I got the 2014 version). Over time I've switched out a couple colors and added a bunch of Daniel Smith colors to complete my palette.

My Final Palette filled with Schmincke & Daniel Smith Artist Grade Watercolors

Today (July 30, 2015) my final two colors arrived. I added Phthalo Yellew-Green and Manganese Blue from Daniel Smith to the last holes in my palette. It's taken time to save the money to have Artist grade paint but it has been so well worth it. Over that time I learned all about my own paints, what colors I liked best (the bright ones!), how much I loved the transparency of watercolor and how much fun it is trying to manipulate the movement of water. I also just discovered that I LOVE good brushes. I didn't know a good brush would make such a difference. I've invested in Kolinsky Sable hair brushes over the last several months. I got the Da Vinci Maestro 1503 ones. I like that they're also travel brushes so I can go Plein Air painting when I want to and I can still use my usual brushes.

On the left is my final color selection that fits in the Schmincke Palette. I've tried to double the size (use a full pan) of the popular and well used colors but also try and use those full pans as "markers" so I can easily find the color I'm looking for. Funny, most colors look so dark in the pans that it's sometimes hard to tell what is what! When I had all half pans I tended to have to count from one end or guess and get it wrong sometimes. With this method I find it easier to get to the color I want.

That's about it for now, although I have a penchant to go paint up every tube of paint I own (I still do have a bunch of extra colors that I inherited or are left over from the Holbein stage). I think that would be a fun exercise. I could also do that with ALL my pens, line them up like soldiers and tell them to stay still while I immortalized them on paper. I do love painting my supplies, I'm sure this page will grow. Until next time, peoples! ;o)

MORE about my palette, color picking etc here.
For 2017, here's my newest palette. There will be more palette and paint pan/tube art soon!
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