Art Supplies – What do you need?

Someone who seems to be on my site regularly (thanks Ray) brought up a good point on my post about 10 Thoughts all Artists Experience, and that point was the burning desire to purchase the next shiny toy. I think this thought probably applies to most artists, from painters to writers to traditional graphite artists. My belief is that the thought of buying something new is motivating, and can make an fledgling artist feel hopeful that the new toy will drastically improve the end product.

So. Stop.

Save yourself some money and heartache.

Yes, Prismacolor pencils are going to do better things than Crayola pencils, but the artist needs to have a base to begin with. If the artist can’t draw what he/she wants to produce, new pencils that cost a small fortune aren’t going to fix that problem.

Observe.

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These are my basic tools, and even I have more than might be necessary (look up 5 Pencil Method on YouTube).

My pencils range from 6B to 6H, with an F pencil in there. I have four mechanical pencils of varying sizes/density. I have charcoal (soft and medium), a black pencil, mechanical pencil refills, a sharpener, eraser, kneadable eraser, a chamois cloth, a stick eraser (I also have a mechanical eraser, not pictured), a brush to clean off eraser leftovers, and a circle template that is used entirely for drawing eyes (the only perfect circles in nature), and a little sketchbook. Yes, most of it is all bundled up in a cloth pencil case, so you can count that, too, if you wish.

Let’s be honest here. In pencils, I probably only use 2B, 4B, and 6B for the soft graphite, and 4H and 6H for the hard graphite. It’s very rare that I use the other shades. I often use black to keep the shininess off darker areas of my drawings (such as the pupil).

In order to draw, you need something that leaves a mark (a pencil, for example) and a surface to draw on. That’s it. The rest of the tools will fall in place once the basics are mastered.

The only thing that will make an artist great is practice.

Advice from Various Artists and Why You Shouldn’t Always Listen

All right, I’m not going to quote anything verbatim, because this is all pretty general advice that a variety of artists will tell anyone. Plus, who knows where they got it from to begin with?

1) Fully render one part of the drawing at a time.
Kinda, sorta… if you want to. Rendering one section at a time makes the artist pay more attention to tedious details, and the overall view is less overwhelming. The downside is that there’s a lot of prep work, because you’ll need to make a reference value to make sure you don’t have different values in one area as opposed to another; plus, if you’re drawing freehand, you might have some trouble with proportions.

2) Always do the darkest areas first.
This helps with maintaining values. Cool; however, I personally like to do the lighter areas on skin first, because it’s easier to darken than to lighten, especially with charcoal. I also like drawing hair (often dark) last. It’s a matter of preference.

3) Take an art program.
You can… there’s nothing wrong with doing so, and taking a program will likely fast-track your progress. You could also save your money and study independently and practice practice practice.

Basic Drawing Tools

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Basic art tools are pretty simple.  In order to get started on some really basic sketches, all you need is paper (a little practice sketchbook is great!), a blending stump or tortillon (we won’t get too fussy on this in the beginning), a kneadable eraser (you’ll see why), and a mechanical pencil with 0.5mm 2B graphite.  You can also use a hard eraser, but make sure it’s good quality – you want to be able to erase mistakes without tearing up the grain on your paper.  Starting off, though, you should be drawing lightly enough that you can erase your mistakes with the kneadable eraser.

wp-1451423479297.jpegThis is a small size blending stump (virtually, paper squashed together with a pointy tip).  This is your new finger – never again use your finger to blend!  Your hands have oils all over them that can destroy your masterpiece.  Use a tortillon (for more textured drawings) or a blending stump (for smoother blending).  You can also use a shammy (chamois leather), mobile device cleaning cloth, etc.  It all depends on the texture that you want!  Avoid tissues if you can, as they leave behind little fluff that can get into the grain of your graphite and mess things up.

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Blending stumps and tortillons come in a variety of different sizes.  Choose the size that will let you work the most effectively.

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This little guy is a tortillon.  Notice how the tip is textured – that’s because it’s just rolled up paper!  You can buy these little gaffers in bulk at any art store.  I’m not sure about Wal-Mart, but you can look there if you’re super curious.  Tortillons are great for textured blending, such as for hair.

 

 

 

Spur of the Moment

Grandfather

My grandfather was a good-humoured man with an enormous heart.  He had a boyish sense of mischief to him that carried over into everything he did, from his love of fishing to the extensive volunteer work that he did in his community.

My focus in this drawing was to capture his good humour, which can be seen in the glint in his eyes in the portrait.  His closed-mouth smile draws out a sense of calm about him, though his eyes belie that beloved mischief.

Tools of the Trade

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Tools of the Trade

Trips to the art store for me are like trips to the Costco for other people: “I’m just going in to grab some milk.”  Next thing I know, I’m $50 broker than that I was when I went in, but unlike Costco shoppers, I don’t have any buyer’s remorse!  Today was the day that I decided to get more organized and grabbed this lovely craft organizer from Canadian Tire.  It won’t be long before it gets filled up!