Artist Tools

Here are the basic tools I use for drawing –

a 2B pencil for basic drawing

WHITE erasers for all those changes I make

(I use both the regular rectangle and the smaller one – like a fat pencil)

sandpaper on a stick for cleaning my erasers

black or sepia color pens – an 03 and two types of 05

(the numbers mean how thick the nib is – small numbers are finer)

the 3H pencil is a very hard lead – I use it for transferring my drawings

My only advice for pencils is – use what you feel comfortable with – some people like a HB and some prefer a very soft 8B – or a mix to draw and shade with

(higher numbers of B means a softer lead)

GRAPHITE PAPER is a sheet pf paper with the same material as your pencil on one side of it. As you press down the graphite comes off leaving a line. It comes in boxes or by the sheet. The easy and inexpensive trick many artists use is to rub pencil all over the back side of their drawing and transfer their drawing that way.

There is a special very light graphite paper for watercolor artists – I find it is makes too light a line for me.

And always check you have your graphite paper the right way down!! I cannot tell you the number of times my students and I have started tracing over our drawing – and find out the paper is the wrong way!!

WATERCOLOR PAPER comes in so many types and weights – I could write a whole book on them. The two basic types are HP (hot pressed) which gives you a lovely smooth finish, and CP (cold pressed) which is rougher. Paper comes in full sheets (22 by 30 inches) or in pads – where the paper is cut, stacked and glued together. All paper will buckle when wet so it must be stretched and fastened somehow before you paint. For most things I use FABRIANO classico pads – it is a good quality smooth white paper and comes in several sizes. For larger paintings I use 300 pound paper that it so heavy it does not buckle.

If you wish to know more about watercolor papers (or any artist materials) I recommend

these are my favorite brushes for watercolor –

The black one is a number 2 travel brush (the top screws on to protect the brush)

then a 12 round synthetic

a 2 round in gold sable

and finally an 8 round kolinsky sable brush

the kolinsky are one of the best brushes available and will last your lifetime if cared for properly – they are expensive but worth the investment for a serious artist

This wooden box is for drying brushes or holding them while I work. The words are Finnish and mean – the first step is the hardest. I agree, once I get started I just flow with the paint and time disappears.

On the bottom is the quote – the work of my hands is my prayer – (from the Bible)

I have the word SISU on the sides. This is also a Finnish word – there is no direct translation to English. It reminds me I have sisu and I can accomplish my goals.

Sisu is a Finnish term loosely translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. However, the word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any language. Sisu has been described as being integral to understanding Finnish culture. The literal meaning is equivalent in English to “having guts”, and the word derives from sisus, which means something inner or interior. However sisu is defined by a long-term element in it; it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain an action against the odds. Deciding on a course of action and the sticking to that decision against repeated failures is sisu. (

 The patterns are taken from my grandmother’s embroidery designs and drawn with a pen made for woodwork over a cherry finish, followed with several coats of clear Verathane.

Here are all my paints – blues in the blue box, reds in red, and yellows in yellow along with boxes for neutral colors and iridescents. At the back is the tray to hold them all.

ALL my paints are from Daniel Smith. They are based in Seattle, Washington, USA. Their in-house chemists create the richest colors I have ever used. They perform their own testing and are very honest about the performance of their paints. I love them. They have a whole line of pigments made from natural sources.

These are my paint swatches (just like at the paint store) Every time I get a new paint I paint a swatch and also perform some of my own tests to see how the paint handles. When I start a painting, I choose a red, yellow and blue from the swatches – carefully making sure the colors look good together. Then I add a few other colors, take the paints to my work table and leave the rest behind.

In the background, you can now see my painting apron. I designed and painted it myself – it is a fun remembrance of the days of flower power!!


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