|Various drawing supplies.|
Whenever I shop for my own supplies, I try to weigh the quality of the materials against the expense as well as my own limitations. For instance, I might like to use a very expensive Sennelier pastel, but the $5 a stick price tag often makes me re-think the purchase. Yes, it's true that the Sennelier pastel is probably the best, but I also have to consider my own artistic limitations and whether I want to spend that much while I'm still learning to use the media.
When I consider the proposition of purchasing any art supplies I always ask myself three basic questions:
1. Is this the best quality I can afford?
2. Does it make sense given my own artistic limitations? If it's not helping me be more expressive or producing better work is it worth it?
3. Will I use it?
I have seen artists create brilliant works of art with nothing more than a #2 pencil and others fall short using the best money can buy. However, if the materials are an extension of your abilities and you can afford them, buy the best you can because cheap is rarely quality and quality is rarely cheap. That said, here is my one exception to the rules above; I occasionally buy something different or more expensive if it's on sale because I want to try them out. Essentially I know that I might not use a box of iridescent pastels right away, but someday I'll want to give it a try.
I tend to spend much more on good quality pencils since I draw more with them than I do with pastels. After years and years of experimenting with different kinds of pencils for different kinds of applications here the ones I can recommend with absolute confidence:
Type: Charcoal - Derwent Charcoal (England)
Type: Special - Conte (France) and Cretacolor (Austria)
Each of these serves a different purpose, but they are all very solid pencils and worth every penny in my experience. I also use the higher quality Faber-Castel PITT pencils which are also quite excellent.
|Faber Castel PITT Pastel pencils|
The PITT Pastel by Faber are smooth and not too chalky. The pigments are strong and that translates into vibrant colors. My experiences have been mostly limited to portraiture so I'm not sure about their landscape or other colors, but would expect them to be good as well.
I also have a number of pastel pencils that you can also use wet. You can add water to get various effects. The Nupastels by Prismacolor work wet as do the Derwent colorsoft pencils. I haven't tried the Stablio Carbothello's but I understand they may also work wet.
|Erasers and other tools|
I also use paper stumps and shapers for pastels. For larger charcoal drawings I use vine charcoal for the outlines than chunky charcoal for the rest. I also use drafters tape to tape off some of my drawings which gives them a nice clean border after the tape is removed.
I also use a variety of colored pencils. For years I used only Prismacolor pencils, but either their quality fell or other pencils just got better so that now I find more often than not I am using Caran D'Ache or even standard Blick colored pencils. They all work well. Also, get yourself a good blender as they can really make the difference on a colored pencil drawing.
|Pastels and Colored Pencils|
I use the Canson Mix Media paper for pastel, pencil, charcoal and ink especially. It holds up well and accepts the media with ease. For purely pastel drawings I like to use the Strathmore Grayscale paper.
I also use a more expensive Bristol paper which accepts just about anything and is very nice paper. It has a nice tooth and comes in a variety of great colors. Which brings me to my next point. Don't be afraid to use colored paper because it's fun to see what it can do for a drawing...escape the white.
No matter what you decide for paper make sure it's ACID FREE. If it's not acid free you might as well toss it away when you're done because it won't last. If you're like me and you tend to save everything, there's nothing more disappointing than looking at a drawing you did five years ago and the paper has turned an ugly yellow.
If you like to sketch it's a good idea to get yourself some decent 8.5 x 11 paper. I use all kinds, as long as it's acid free, but Canson is my favorite these days and it won't cost you a fortune.
Finally, I know people who swear by a good drawing table and I have no doubt it works for them, but I don't own one. I use my kitchen table, a large drawing board or just the pad itself. I'm not too picky about the surface I use under the pad because I can find myself outside and again I just rely on the pad.
Since I also oil paint there are good reasons for me to use better materials in my drawings. If my drawings come out better it usually translates into better paintings. If I can match the colors in a study sketch it really helps when it comes to finally painting a subject.
Good luck with your art and please leave a comment if you have any suggestions or questions.
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