On my last sketchbook post Eliza suggested that I do a post on my favorite sketchbook supplies- so that’s what I’m doing today! If you’re anything like me, sometimes it feels like all the stars have to be aligned in the sky to actually do something in your sketchbook. One thing that can be immensely helpful is having all your supplies ready to go and easily accessible when inspiration strikes. I have developed a pretty thorough collection of supplies over the years, so today I’m narrowing it down and sharing my faves.
First things first- you need a sketchbook! I’m pretty loyal to Moleskine these days, but really anything that you’re comfortable with and aren’t too afraid of getting messy will do. I love my hardcover red Moleskine for mixed media, but the soft cover ones are great too, and you can do some really cute things with those covers!
Next, you’re going to need some drawing instruments. There are so many options out there, but I recommend getting a couple good felt tip pens in various thicknesses (1 and 2) and of course, you’ll need a pencil. I usually just use a cheap mechanical pencil, because that’s what I always have on hand, but woodless pencils or sketch and wash pencils are a lot of fun to play with as well. And don’t forget your blending tool– it’s not essential, but the art student in me refuses to blend with my fingers.
1. Scissors 2. Glue Stick 3. Acrylic Gel Medium 4. Paper collection
I’m sure some of you neat-freaks out there will balk at this, but in order to really get into collaging you need to have a paper collection on hand. It doesn’t have to be huge- I have this little accordian folder that I’ve filled with different colors, textures, patterns, old schoolwork… it really doesn’t have to be that interesting by itself to work in a collage.
My favorite thing to use for making the collage, well, stick together is acrylic medium. There are about a million different kinds out there with different thicknesses and textures, and it’s really fun to play around with them. I think they’re way more fun and interesting than the glue stick, although that comes in handy sometimes too, particularly for little projects. Just make sure you have a paint brush or some way of applying the medium on hand- that stuff is sticky.
There are so many fun ways to add color! I have a set of water soluable crayons that I had to get for a class my freshman year of college, and they are my go to. I just how it feels to draw with them, and I love having the option of using water with them. I also have a nice little set of watercolors, which can be fun too- although honestly, I rarely reach for those just because I don’t love mixing them and they aren’t great to use in any of the sketchbooks that I listed above. You really need to use them on watercolor paper or in a watercolor sketchbook.
In my opinion acrylic paint is the most forgiving medium that there is. Don’t like how something looks? Throw a layer of acrylic over it. The thing is, it comes in a lot of different varieties, but in general there are three main types: craft quality, student quality, and artist quality. Craft acrylic paint is cheap and comes in a million colors. It works great for, well, crafts (I bought the paint above for my jewelry organizer and it worked just fine.)
The times when you would want to upgrade from craft paint is when A) you’re going to be using a lot of it and it needs to be thick, or B) you want to mix it to make other colors. The higher quality paint, the better the colors will look when you’re mixing it- the lower quality ones turn out to be muddy. For the most part though, I think student quality is the way to go, especially if you’re just starting out. When you’re in the acrylic section of the art supplies, you’ll be able to tell which ones are student grade- they’ll be cheaper.
I hope this has helped! I’ve found many times that when I’m in a rut, buying a new material or “toy” to play with helps me get going. I highly encourage you to seek out your local art supply store- often they have a better, high quality selection. If you don’t have one of those, head to the nearest Michaels, or order online from Amazon or an online art supply store like Dick Blick.
If you’re just starting out, don’t feel like you have to have all of this stuff to have a sketchbook! I had to buy most of this stuff for classes in college, and I rarely use all of these things to create one page. Just pick one or two things that look inspiring, and dive right in! As you explore your materials, you’ll know when it’s time to branch out.
If you’re into this stuff, do you have a favorite medium? I love to hear any suggestions (or questions!) in the comments!