Recently I received a few emails from fellow artists and art-students who were curious about what products and tools I use, mostly things related to creating texture and specific colours. A few months ago I discovered (mostly due to a successful grant application for The Braille Project) a couple things that I now use all the time, so I figured I’d put together a quick list of those things as well as well as my most-loved products from the beginning.
HERE WE GO!
Until now I’ve been pretty sold on pallet knives, and while I still use them (see below), these have been kind of a game changer for me. I’m pretty sure by now I have this whole set; I thought I’d only use the grey version pictured above (No.1) or the basic white one, but eventually I went and ordered the rest of them because each of textures they produce is so different and, given that I’m working on a project heavily focused on texture & touch, I decided I should give them all a try. Catalyst also produces a more rigid (plastic?) version of these, and I’ve tried a couple of them, but I still prefer the flexibility of the silicone option, and I think that’s why I think I now prefer them to the traditional metal knife. Since in the last year or so I’ve grown more attracted to finger-painting, I’m really enjoying the feeling of control I have using these things with my hand so close to the canvas. With that said, they do offer an option with a wooden handle, if you prefer distance from your canvas. (I actually own this one, but my dog bit a chunk out of it.)
I do still use a knife occasionally, and this is the shape of the one I tend to use most. I don’t care at all about brand when it comes to painting-tools (or let’s face it, pretty much anything), but this is the closest I could find to the one I use. The edges make it pretty versatile and the length of it allows it to bend fairly easily.
My mom got me this set for Christmas last year, and now, anytime I need a brush, I use one of these. I really hate spending money on brushes because I’m super lazy and hate cleaning up after myself, and even though these aren’t expensive I’d probably still wake up crying if I forgot to clean one after I used it. I use the smallest two the most often, but lately I’m enjoying the spatter brush (which is a bit of a luxury since you can create a similar effect with a normal paintbrush, but hey). The bristles on all the brushes hold firm and are great for applying super-saturated paint or dry-brush techniques, which is what I resort to most often.
Yes, seriously. I can’t stress enough how much easier my life became once I invested in a bunch of these to use for scooping paint out of containers. In the past— because my friends worked at coffee-shops and would steal me supplies— I used those really skinny coffee stir sticks, but they are so brittle and I’d more often find myself using ten or twelve to fashion something strong enough to hold the weight of acrylic, and because I’m insanely messy and moronically lazy when I paint, I’d leave them in piles around the studio. The tongue depressors can be used over and over, given that they’re sturdy and can stand to be wiped clean, or (if you’re lazy like me) left out to dry.
I also occasionally use these things to smear paint on my canvas if I want a square, dry-brushed look.
Gel medium is something I discovered early on when I realized I loved creating peaks and thick, obvious textures and generally just extending the life of my paint, if nothing else. Even though gesso is an actual primer, I tend to think of gel medium as one too; using a good one allows the paint to take on its quality, and transforming its own texture. I now use a variety of them (most recently a good pouring medium), but I always come back to the super heavy gel gloss medium. I don’t know what it is about ultra-glossy paintings, but I can’t get enough. Most of the time, I feel like they just look better. The colours seem so much more vibrant, which is what I’m going for most of the time.
6. Fluorescent pink acrylic paint, obviously:
I mostly use Amsterdam Acrylic paints, because they have a wide variety available at my local art store, and while I like to buy in bulk, sometimes they have such specific colours and only offer them in 250mL tubes and I begrudgingly end up buying five or six of them because I CAN’T QUITE FIND THAT COLOUR anywhere else. That said, I couldn’t find a link to the one I use, so LIQUITEX AGAIN. I always like to mix my colours at least a little bit to avoid that just-out-of-the-tube look that can sometimes take away from an otherwise nice composition, and lately I’ve been mixing the above fluorescent pink with a bit of red to give it a deeper hue. I also like to mix it with some lemon yellow to create that delicious tangerine orange found in paintings like these.
I’ll probably kick myself after I hit “publish” once I realize I forgot something, but oh well. Going forward, I’d like to buy myself a step-ladder for those really tall paintings, as well as new easel, but the one I have hasn’t completely broken yet so I’m having a hard time justifying that purchase just yet.
I’d seriously love to know what you guys are using. Any awesome painting tools or products out there that I should know about?