My Favorite Art Supplies

Posted by Janelle Cunningham on

I am so happy to finally present my Favorite Art Supply List! Here you will find supplies I use for watercolor, acrylics and some other things I find useful in my studio. For some items I included two different options: an affordable option for hobby painters, and something for those of you who are serious about painting and would be willing to spend a little more money. I don't consider myself an expert with all art supplies, this is just my personnel tried and true list. There are so many wonderful brands out there, so I encourage you to try others and see what works best for you!

~ Paint ~

Watercolor Paint for the hobbyist: Koi watercolor set - Link to Amazon

Watercolor Paint for the serious painter: Winsor & Newton  - Link to Blick Art Supplies

Acrylic Paint for the hobbyist: Liquitex Basics - Link to Blick Art Supplies

Acrylic Paint for the serious painter: Heavy Body Golden Acrylics  - Link to Blick Art Supplies

Nothing but good things to say about this list of paint brands! The more expensive brands are wonderful and you can feel a difference in quality, but the more affordable brands stand very well on their own and are still a very great option.

~ Brushes ~

Watercolor Brushes for the hobbyist: Princeton Heritage Series 4050 - Link to Amazon Link to Blick Art Supplies These brushes are so great for the price! They have great bend and bounce back easily which helps when you're starting out and learning brush control.

Watercolor Brushes for the serious painter: Winsor & Newton Series 7 - Link to Blick Art Supplies There is a reason these brushes have countless 5 star reviews! They are incredible quality, keep their point, have excellent control, and hold a lot of water. The best I have tried.

Acrylic Brushes: Raphael Precision - Link to Blick Art Supplies You cant go wrong with these brushes! Great synthetic brushes that hold up well. 
Old Brushes: I believe there is also something to be said about OLD brushes. I keep old hard brittle brushes around for when I want to add a little bit of extra texture to paintings. You never know when you'll need an extra old brush.

~ Paper, Canvas, and Other Surfaces ~

Watercolor Paper for the hobbyist: Canson XL - Link to Blick Art Supplies I have used Canson XL paper for years! And while its not the best, It is great for the price. One thing to be aware of is that if you use too much water, your paint will dry in little puddles. Which can be bad if you are hoping to create more life-like artwork, but personally, I loved how they looked and sometimes would add a little extra water for the effect on certain paintings.
Watercolor Paper for the serious painter: Arches - Link to Blick Art Supplies Arches Watercolor paper is much better at absorbing water than Canson and the paint is often brighter as well. I also found that it has the best results for tea-dying.
Canvas: Artist Loft - Link to Michaels I don't have a ton of experience with using different canvas brands but I've been using Artist Loft and I have had no complaints so far! You can easily find them at Michaels, and they carry three different levels for your price point. Personally I like using the level 3 as it is gallery wrapped, feels sturdy and is a higher quality. I also get my round canvases here!
Wood Panels: Artists loft - Link to Michaels Currently I prefer painting on wooden panels over canvas. There is less texture from the wood than canvas and you don't have to worry about the canvas getting ripped or damaged. As someone who has little children this is definitely a plus!
Wood Panels with Floater Frame: Trekell - If you are looking for a wooden panel without the need for framing you will want to check out the wooden floater frame panels from Trekell.
Handmade paper - One day I would love to make my own handmade paper, but until then I have enjoyed purchasing handmade paper from different businesses on Etsy. A few I have tried and loved are: Parwana Paper, and Wanderers Way.

~ Palettes ~

Watercolor Palette: Ceramic handmade palette by Sylvan Clayworks - Link to Website For me, there is nothing better than mixing watercolors on a ceramic palette. Something about how the paint and water mixes so smoothly together. I love it. This beautiful palette is defiantly a splurge, but I absolutely love supporting small businesses, and I couldn't resist treating myself by getting one for an early birthday present one year. However there are so many more budget-friendly ceramic palettes you may want to consider. Check out a few here and here.

Acrylic Palette: Mastersons's Stay wet palettes - If you asked me what one of my favorite things in my studio was I would immediately mention this palette! You will love this palette if you don't often finish your paintings in one sitting, and/or you like saving as much paint as possible like I do. This palette comes with a sponge and special paper you put your paint directly onto. This keeps your paint nice and wet for long periods of time. I have three of these palettes, two small ones and the super pro palette for large paintings.

~ Color List ~

Choosing paint colors can be intimating as it seems like there are endless options! I suggest choosing a warm and cool tone of each of the primary colors, a black and white of course, brown, and any other colors you think you may enjoy using! The more you paint the more you will learn about what colors you prefer. As time has gone by I find that I use a lot of Sap Green, Cadminum Red, and Burnt Sienna for my florals, and then Cadminum Yellow, Cadminum Red, Burnt Sienna, and Mars Black for my portraits. I also use a ton of white and buy the biggest tube of white I can find.

Here is a list of colors I use most often:

Titanium White
Mars Black (Ivory Black for Watercolors)
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna
Raw Sienna
Cadminum Red Medium Hue
Naphthol Red Medium (Winsor Red for watercolors)
Primary Yellow
Cadmium Yellow Deep
Hookers Green
Sap Green Hue (Olive green for watercolors)
Ultramarine Blue
Cobolt Blue
Permanent Violet Dark

~ Gold Additions ~

Winsor and Newton Gold Ink - Link to Michaels I have been using this gold for some time and love it. The metallic separates very easily from the ink so you definitely have to mix it well, but the result is a bright and shimmery gold that you can add to your art.

Golden fluid Acrylics Gold metallic Paint - Link to Blick Art Supplies Out of all the golds I use I probably use this one the most. It is easy and convenient to use and the result is a beautiful bright gold!

Mona Lisa Simple Gold Leaf - Link to Blick Art Supplies Using gold leaf can be a process to apply and can be difficult to get the hang of, but the results are far superior to any other golds I've used in my art. Gold leaf reflects the light almost like a mirror and will almost certainly leave an impression. In addition to the gold leaf you will also need an adhesive. I use this one.

~ Other ~

Pencils: I am not picky about pencils. I have quite a few brands and they've all been great. One thing to note is when sketching for watercolor paintings I use my 6H pencil which is the hardest pencil I have. Using a hard pencil is ideal if you do not want your pencil to show in the final painting, because once you paint on top of pencil you wont be able to erase it without also erasing some of your paint pigment. Whether you want your pencil to show in your painting or not is entirely up to your preference.
Pens: Pigma Micron pens - Link to Michaels I've used these pens for years, and they are my some of my favorites! They don't smear, nor do they bleed when watercolors are used on top of them.
Tape: Artist Tape - Link to Michaels I've always just used this artists tape I found at Michaels for taping paper. I haven't had any trouble with my paper tearing, and it creates nice clean edges.
Varnish for Watercolor paintings: UV Archival Varnish 1378 Matte - Link to Blick Art Supplies Varnishing your paintings will help prevent sun damage and scratches. A must if you want your paintings to last. This one in particular sprays on for even coverage. Make sure you get the kind that has the matte finish if you dont want the varnish to change the look of your watercolor paintings.
Varnish for Acrylic Paintings: Gamblin Gamvar Satin Picture VarnishLink to Blick Art Supplies For my acrylic paintings I use this varnish to protect my paintings. I prefer the Satin which has a slight gloss but not enough to be distracting. I use this brush to apply the varnish.
Easel: I found my easel on Facebook Marketplace but you can find similar ones at a lot of art/craft stores. Find similar ones here and here.
Storage Drawers: Alex IKEA drawers 26" long - Link to IKEA I have two of these drawers for organizing my art supplies. They are nice and long so they can hold fairly large paintings. I also replaced the casters with these legs I found at lowes.
Canvas Artist Lamp: Canvas Link to Website This lamp is for all of you content creators. It replaces the need for phone tripods and oversized studio lights. It is a ring light that has three different dimmable light temperatures, and has a clamp that will hold any type of smartphone for recording or taking photos. I love using this lamp for recording time-lapses.
Thank you so much for checking out my supply list! If there is something you don't see on this list that you are curious about feel free to contact me! I would love to help in any way I can.

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