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.

Finishing a Drawing

Some people find it difficult to figure out where to start with a drawing, while others (like me) have a hard time finishing one. Both problems can be super frustrating, but both problems are equally simple to solve; just get the job done. Start somewhere, shade something. Work on it piece by piece until it comes together.

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I’d never show someone my millions of sketchbooks. They are so full of half-assed sketches and experiments that they look like piles of garbage. That garbage, though, is my inspiration. Those books are evidence of the hours and hours I’ve dedicated to practicing this craft.

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A partially finished drawing is nowhere near as satisfying as a finished work. It holds so much potential and promise, but it’s just like a giant ball of potential energy; it needs to be made kinetic to become useful. It becomes something to be proud of. There is nothing worse than walking away from something that should be great, if only given the chance.

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Sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from something that just isn’t working… but don’t make a habit of it.

Trying Different Mediums

Art is like anything else where the ground is unfamiliar.  People get skittish and don’t want to attempt something new in case of failure.

But guess what.

You will fail.  If you’re smart, you’ll try again.  If you’re really smart, you’ll keep trying until you get it right.  There will be no prouder moment in your life.

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I drew this Final Fantasy X character way back when I first started drawing, and I really thought that she was the bees knees.  Even now, many years later, I look at this drawing with a sense of satisfaction.

Is it the best drawing?  Hell no!  Could I do a ton better now if I were to redraw it?  Absolutely.  That’s not the point, though.  The point is that I decided to pick up the pencil and give it a try, and the result at the time was way better than I could have hoped to achieve.  This drawing inspired me to continue and to move on to greater things.

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Only today I decided that I wanted to give pencil pastels a shot.  Believe me when I tell you that I hate failure just as much as anyone else, but what did I have to lose?  A few bucks on the pastels, but I’d have them no matter what, so I can always try again later.  The image above was just some messing around that I did to get a feeling for the pastels.  I wanted to see how they’d blend, how they’d cling to the paper.  I got cocky and decided to try for a masterpiece.

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Say hello to Masterpiece.  Meow.  Not quite (or at all) what I hoped for, but hey, it was my first time attempting to use this medium!  With some practice and a ton of luck, I think I’ll eventually be able to make something out of these demon pencils, and that’ll be a moment that will equal the satisfaction that I achieved from that Final Fantasy character.  I’m looking forward to it.