art supplies I use & tips for use


I’m not sure how well this will work, but I wanted to have a place to record the supplies I use in my art, and what I think of them. I also want to make it interactive. I would like to have you guys be able to like, dislike, comment, and suggest something else that may work better (maybe like a star-rating system with reviews, or a poll or something).

I also like trying out new things, but for that to happen, I need suggestions ūüėČ

To start with (and as somewhat of an outline to myself), I will list some¬†of the products I use most often. I am not totally sure how to get a¬†star-rating¬†thing going quite yet, but maybe individual polls for the moment? I’m also realizing I will likely need to organize these at some point, but for now I am listing them as I remember them.

Liquitex Acrylic Ink! (in black)¬†– This is by far one of my favorite (if not the favorite) supplies at the moment. I use it in almost every piece. The black is opaque, though not all of the colors are. I also have it in green (translucent), and have used it in white and two shades of blue. The white and the light blue were opaque, but the darker blue was translucent. I’m not sure what the reasoning is behind the opacity differences. If someone knows, feel free to chime in.

Liquitex Basics Acrylic White Gesso¬†– This gesso is fairly heavy-bodied, though they have a heavier one also available in their Basics line (the student-quality supplies). It has a fair amount of marble in it, and comes out quite “toothy” when dry. It’s moderately opaque, so you don’t need too many layers to cover over something, but you do need more than one to hide it more completely. I mixed some black paint in with this in a smaller jar to give myself some “black” gesso (really, dark grey, but I didn’t want to have to spend on buying black gesso before I experimented a bit). Over-all I like this stuff. It comes in a large 64oz jug, and it was fairly inexpensive at my local art store.

Faber-Castell Gelatos¬†– I was first introduced to these by the art teacher of the journal classes. I LOVED them (lots of fun both wet and dry). I picked up a set (Designing with Gelatos) one day at the local craft store when they had a sale going on. They are a bit pricey, but lots of fun. Searching just now for a link though, I stumbled upon the kid’s version of the product called “gel sticks“. A few reviews I saw from people who actually used both products say that the two products are nearly identical (The Frugal Crafter’s Review video, Kaitlyn Rutzen’s video review, a thread from Faber-Castell claims otherwise. The Gelatos have more colors and cost almost double what the gel sticks do. They are also supposedly “formulated specifically for papercrafting”… I have not used the gel sticks, but may pick some up somewhere because I would like more colors to work with, but don’t have the $43 for the full set of gelatos through Dick Blick (cheapest I found today for the gelatos).

Dorland’s Wax Medium – I use a light layer of this stuff to keep my journal pages from sticking together. It’s important to make sure the journal page is dry before you apply this. Also let the wax dry a bit before closing the journal (here in the sub-tropics, “a bit” generally means a day or more since it’s too humid to allow anything to really dry efficiently). I really only use this with pages that have been painted at all with acrylic or sealed with an acrylic sealant. I don’t use it with things that don’t normally stick together. Oh, I’ve also used this over a layer of ModPoge to keep it from sticking to itself… I know it’s meant for other uses, mostly with oils or powder pigments, but I use it to keep my pages from sticking together. A little bit goes a LONG way for that purpose, so no worries on buying just the small jar. I happened to snag an jumbo-sized gallon container when Pearl was closing, so I will have some for lifetimes, but you can generally get away with a 4oz jar to last through several art journals.

Reeve’s Water-Soluable Wax Pastels – Eh… I’m liking the fact that I can color with them and then wash them with water to look like watercolor, but there are a few drawbacks to this particular set: sub-tropics = hot & humid = melted crayons at room temp. I have to be very careful with them during the summer months. They will sweat in the box and stain everything they touch. Also, if there is any thicker layer of color, even if dissolved in the water, it will melt again with any amount of heat applied. They are difficult to seal or “fix” if there’s any thicker layer of wax. It also doesn’t reliably dissolve in the water. Sometimes it leaves streaks, other times it dissolves well. Sometimes it doesn’t dissolve a second time allowing the colors to¬†be layered, other times it muddies the layers by dissolving all of it again. Somber Scribbler recommended in some comments to use Neocolor II, which are artist quality (vs. the Reeve’s, which I would call “kid quality”). While they are significantly more expensive (Reeves were about $6 for 24 where as the Neocolor II run about $20 for 10), I’m guessing the increase in quality is significant (as is often the case with art supplies, some things you can scrimp on, others you simply have to invest in). UPDATE: Having worked with both the Reeve’s and the Neocolor II, I can say they are quite different. The Neocolors are creamier and dissolve more evenly. They behave like high-quality gouche (opaque watercolors), and similar to Gelatos.

Grumbacher Matte Final Fixative – I use this stuff on anything and everything that might smudge or re-activate. It’s designed for pastel, charcoal, & pencil, but it works on just about any medium that you need to keep from smudging or moving or smearing. I have used it with my gel pens, oil and chalk pastels, spray inks, stamps, gelatos, pencil crayon, those water-soluble pastels (though they are a challenge even for this stuff), charcoal, crayon, pencil, inking pens… you name it, I’ve used it to keep my work from smudging. They also make a glossy final fixative (if you prefer the glossy look, though that one is more difficult to layer on top of), a workable fixative, and a repositionable adhesive. Like I said though, I prefer the matte. It gives a good surface to paint over or to leave as is. Many times, I will use it on the bottom layers of my art journals to be able to gesso, paint, or draw over said bottom layers. Just make sure you let it dry completely before you do anything over it. This one is not as bad with off-gassing as the other fixative I will mention, but it still does have quite a strong initial smell. Once dry, it’s not all that noticeable (make sure to use in a well-ventilated area).

Plaid Patricia Nimocks Clear Acrylic Sealer – Gloss – I had this can of sealer for years without ever really using it. I finally picked it up to try a few months ago. I have to say I would really like it if it didn’t smell so bad even after it dries… It’s relatively easy to get a nice, even coat on the work. It takes longer to dry than the Grumbacher fixative, but stops being tacky after several minutes. It has a really bad odor for a long time though. I used it on a painting that I let sit for a week before I framed it. Even with¬†that week of drying time, it still smelled very strongly through the frame at the time I gave the painting away. I used it in my art journal about a month ago, and even that still smells really strongly of whatever chemical ingredients make up the fixative. Definitely use this in a well-ventilated area, and make sure to let it dry longer than you would think necessary before adding another layer. I used this over water-color, gelato, gel pen, colored pencil, acrylic paint, and ink. You can paint over it with gesso, but it’s not great for layering. I would suggest this as a final fixative that is used to seal a finished piece of art. The glossy finish makes it difficult to get other media to adhere to the surface. It’s also pretty frustrating to have to wait well over a week before you can return to your piece of art to finish it…

flushable (baby) wipes – How could I forget about these?? They are the “magic eraser” or the art journal world. Well, ok, maybe not that good, but really, really handy to have. They can wipe off most anything as long as it’s not too dried-on. I was able to wipe ink off a gesso’d surface up to several minutes after it was dry to the touch. They are also really handy for clean-up when you find your hands covered in whatever medium you were just using. I use the generic ones I find at Target or Walmart or the dollar store and have not found any noticeable difference in how they work. I keep mine in their pouch in a large ziplock bag so I can save them between projects (I rarely use an entire wipe in one project). I highly recommend keeping a pack or two around for quick clean-ups and “erasing”.

Liquitex¬†Gel Medium¬†– Matte – I use this stuff like glue, and also to seal over parts of various works. They have a Gloss version also. Very handy to have around and a good base medium. It works also as an acrylic paint extender. It can be mixed with paint or used over it… and now that I’m writing this, I finally figured out why my gel medium transfers were not working this time around… I picked up the Fluid Medium this last time. Definitely use gel for any image transfers… The gel is thicker and less “wet” so it doesn’t absorb as much into paper as the fluid medium does. I’ve heard the Blick labeled ones work just as well as the Liquitex or Golden, and are less expensive for larger quantities (Speaking of various acrylic mediums, I highly recommend getting some of any brand and playing. I have used a bunch of the Liquitex and Golden brand ones and they are just FUN! They are great for texture and dimension just know that they generally take a bit longer to dry).

Tips for using Oil pastels:¬†1. to remove it from a gesso’d background, scrape off as much as you can, then rub over what’s left with paint thinner. I used Turpenoid Natural¬†b/c it is supposed to be non-toxic. It smells like Goo Gone¬†so it may be the same stuff. (to remove from a heavier-bodied paper, scrape off what you can, then use a Vanish 4 in 1 eraser)¬†2. To make oil pastels behave/look more like oil paints, brush over with a small amount of said paint thinner. To keep the detail of the piece, use a very thin layer applied with a soft brush at a nearly horizontal angle. If you want it to behave like paint, use more paint thinner and brush the pastels as you would if you were painting.

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