Kelli McNichols Art
Observing the world one painting at a time.
Favorite Art Supplies
I often get asked what art supplies I use so here is a list of the materials that I find myself using over and over. Please use this list as a guide and don't worry if you have something different. I am a huge advocate of using what you have.
I am not affiliated nor sponsored by the brands of the products I list below. They are merely materials that I enjoy using. I have not posted links to products as these are available to purchase at all good local and online art suppliers and larger retailers.
Paints & Watersoluble Crayons
Watercolors are available in tubes or pans. The brands I most often use are VanGogh Watercolors and White Nights Watercolors.
A small palette of pans is a great way to get started. The palette also makes it easy to transport your paint. When the pans are empty I refill them with tube paint.
Watersoluble pastels/crayons are a great addition to your art box. The creamy sticks of concentrated color can be used like an oil pastel or watercolor paint. I like to use them over a layer of watercolor to add texture to my paintings. My favorites are Caran d'Ache Neocolor IIs. A small set can be mixed to create loads of new colors.
My favorite brushes are made of synthetic fibers that can hold a large amount of water and paint. Round brushes are a great all-around brush but if you want to paint larger areas or experiment with a looser style, a quill or mop brush is wonderful. If I had to pick just one brush, it would be a 1/2" dagger striper brush. It forms a great point for fine lines, can be turned to cover large areas, and with a little practice, it makes wonderful leaves and textural marks.
My go to brushes are (shown left to right):
Raphael Precision Imitation Sable Round in sizes Size 6 and 0
Raphael SoftAqua Quill in size 0 and 3/0
Princeton Umbria Dagger Striper in 1/2"
Princeton Select Dagger Striper in 1/4"
Pentel Design Fude brush (FDM5-2) - this is a hard brush to find, but it is fantastic for fine line work like flower stamen and tiny details. A script liner is a good substitute.
I use a variety of papers in my artistic pursuits. Some papers work better than others depending on what you are trying to create. Below are the common papers I use.
The endless array of watercolor paper can seem overwhelming. Look for paper that is labeled as 140 lbs or 300 gsm. The heavier the paper is the more water it will be able to hold without warping/cockling. Warping occurs because paper fibers expand when wet. Personally, I don't have a problem if this happens because the paper can be flattened once the painting is dry. My go to watercolor papers are:
Bee Paper Aquabee 100% cotton watercolor sheets
Bee Paper Bee Creative spiral watercolor sketchbooks with 100% cotton paper
Strathmore Ready Cut Sheets - cold-press, 100% cotton
Strathmore Toned Gray Mixed Media Pad - 184 lbs
I am more inclined to experiment with non-watercolor papers so this list can change quite frequently. For now, these papers have found a place in my collection:
Yasutomo Torinko Japanese-style paper for painting, block printing, and collage
Legion Paper Stonehenge White for drawing, collage, and block printing
Strathmore Artagain Toned paper for drawing, collage, and block printing
Fineliners & White Pens
I use fineliners to add textural marks and outlines to my work. The pens come in a variety of point sizes from 0.05 mm to 1.0 mm. The most versatile size for me is the 0.3 mm. I can create both thick and thin lines depending on the amount of pressure I put on the pen.
My favorite multiliners are:
Copic Multi Liners are great long-lasting pens. In addition to black they also offer 9 additional colors.
Staedtler Pigment Liners - they have a range of 12 colors usually split into a regular and light-colored set.
I think it is safe to say that I have tried a lot of white pens. The ones that work best for me are:
Artistro Extra Fine Tip 0.7 mm
Uni-Ball Posca PC-1MR 0.7 mm Marker Pen
Sharpie SAN35574 Extra Fine Point Poster Paint Marker (extremely hard to find but if you can it is worth it)
Although not a pen, white gouache can be thinned with a little water and applied with a small brush to mimic a white pen. The more water you use the less opaque the results are so experiment on scrap paper first.
I hope you've found this list useful. I would like to emphasize that you don't need lots of colors, expensive papers, or every size of brush. Start small, keep experimenting, and use what you already have. Embrace mistakes and happy accidents, they are what make art so much fun!