A Few of My Favorite Things

As the weather changes to more indoor activities, I am drawn to working more in the studio and thankful when I have the energy and drive to spend time painting, doing calligraphy and experimenting with a variety of mixed media supplies. While I spend many hours each year teaching at various artist retreats and conferences, there are still many students who have not had the chance to take a workshop with me. I wanted to put together a comprehensive collection of my favorite supplies for mixed media that I enjoy using on an almost daily basis and put together an Amazon page with all my go-to favorites. This is also a fantastic resource if you have purchased my book, The Painted Word: Mixed Media Lettering Techniques and are looking for supplies to go along with any of the step-by-step chapters. I also encourage you to shop local and find that little art supply store in your neighborhood and keep them in business. There is nothing better than wandering in an art supply store and seeing all the colors and tools in person.

For most of my basic mixed media painting and collage  -particularly in a smaller more intimate scale like I like to work 9" x 12" or 11" x 14" sizes - I like to have a 1" or 3/4" flat synthetic brush which is great for priming backgrounds with white gesso or black gesso and layering paint in large sections. I also sometimes like to use a mop brush for layering washes as it has less chance of showing brush strokes. Another tool I use for spreading or buffing color washes around is just a paper towel. It's also great to have a cheap brush, like the kind you can usually find on the lower shelves of art supply stores for kids. Sometimes it's nice to have unexpected brush strokes and texture that comes from a cheap brush, just be aware that sometimes the black colored cheap brushes may shed into your art! 

It's also great to have a nice clean 1/2" flat brush for any straight edges that you want to paint or for smaller areas when you are applying acrylic gel when doing collage. For any tiny detail work or for lettering with a thin brush, I like to use a liner brush or size 2 pointed brush.

For basic collage I generally use Golden acrylic soft or heavy gel. I prefer the matte finish for most of my collage work so that other tools like pencils and inks can easily be applied over the top. I can always add a gloss varnish if I want a finished shiny look when I the piece is complete. Soft gel or regular gel will adhere collage pieces up to the thickness of illustration board, for any components that are thicker, I would suggest using heavy gel or other types of adhesive if you are working with metals or more three dimensional items. Some artists prefer to work with gloss gel for collage, as it remains much more transparent. I like the matte gel which has a waxier look. You can also work with matte medium if you want a really thin collage adhesive that does not hold any brush strokes. I would suggest buying only 8 ounces or 16 ounce sizes of gel because unless you use a lot of it every day, the larger container will end up drying up before you get to the bottom of the jar.

I love working with Golden heavy body acrylic paints as well as Golden fluid acrylics with some of my favorite colors being: Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, Quinacridone Magenta and Turquois Phthalo. Fluid acrylics are lovely for adding a thin wash as they are already more smooth and spreadable. I also love heavy body acrylics as they have such a range of color intensity whether they are thinned with water or thinned with matte medium. If you cannot afford a whole range of fine artist acrylics, I would suggest finding a few favorite colors to work with and using student grade acrylics for the rest, or keep your palette very simple. There is something beautiful about using just a few colors.

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