my favorite supplies
As a largely self-taught artist, one of the biggest barriers to entry I've found has just been basic knowledge about the breadth of supplies available to artists. So I've listed some of my favorites below along with some information on how I use them or why I like them. They aren't in any particular order (yet).
I've also listed links to where you can buy them. (The Amazon links are affiliate links, so if you click through and buy, it will kick a few cents back to me at no cost to you.)
If you have questions about any of these, please email me!
I am terrible about forgetting to clean my brushes and even worse about leaving them in water over night. Don't worry. I know my limits and tend to only buy cheap brushes, but this paint cup has be doing so much better. I bought this last year with a little birthday money. It isn't cheap (around $45 as I write this), but it has definitely been worth it, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to save money in undestroyed brushes.
Don't let the words pastel or crayon fool you. These Neocolor crayons are one of my very favorite professional artist's media and one that new artists have almost never heard of. They are shaped like crayons, and because the pigment is suspended in a water soluble wax, they go onto paper (or canvas, or whatever surface you prep) a bit like crayons. The colors are vibrant and true and blend like a dream. And once you've marked your surface, you merely need to come back with a wet brush to melt the binding wax and activate the pigment to flow and blend. Plus, whenever someone inquires about your preferred medium, you can just smile and say you like to color with crayons.
Artist grade materials can be pricey, so if you are buying water soluble pigment sticks on a budget, Crayola's Water Soluble Oil Pastels are a great choice. As with Neocolors (above), the pigment is suspended in a crayon-shaped water soluble stick. They mark surfaces easily--more like a very sturdy oil pastel than a wax crayon. Once on the page, it takes a little more brushwork to dissolve the binder and release the pigment, but not a lot. Also, these are a student grade supply, so the pigment load isn't super dense. But once each layer is dry, additional layers go on smoothly and blend well to increase saturation or blend colors. So, while Neocolors are my favorites, these are a great student grade alternative.
These high flow acrylics come in a variety of beautiful colors and in both opaque and transparent. The colors are highly pigmented and mix beautifully. The transparent high flow acrylics are wonderful for glazing to create depth within layers of what is often a more opaque painting medium. Of course you could use a glazing medium to create your own glazes, but I never do, and these are surely better than what I'd make.
Aquarellabel Stabilo all-surface pencils
If you haven't caught on yet, I'm a big fan of using more than just paint to apply water soluble pigment to surfaces. These Aquarellable Stabilo pencils are a deep true black, will write across almost any surface, and hold a pigment that activates with the addition of water and can be moved or spread with a wet brush like a water soluble ink. A handful of these and a good pencil sharpener would absolutely be in my desert island supply kit.
I prefer vine charcoal because its exceeding softness allows me a vast breadth of mark making potential. I can create quick, light, looping lines or I can dig deep in to the darkest level of shadow. But at the big box stores, the tiny boxes I could find were expensive, poorly sized, and of inconsistent quality.
This willow charcoal has a much more consistent, smooth consistency than charcoal sold as merely vine charcoal. Not to mention, it is a much better price.
There is so much good to be said about the kneaded eraser. It is infinitely malleable, and so it allows you precision erasing a razor thin. It is kneadable, and so when it dirtiest, you need only stretch and fold it to find clean eraser. But mostly it is the ultimate artist's fidget. I almost always have one near by.