Nothing really makes you evaluate your favorite go-to art supplies quite like the process of moving. For the past three weeks, I was in extreme box-packing mode. This past Tuesday I drove 300 miles from Southern to Northern California. In my attempt to prepare for the big move, I tried to store all of my most used art supplies in one box to make it easier on myself during the chaotic mess of unpacking. I would say it was a mediocre success.
Here are the top five items I found myself digging through boxes to find because I absolutely could not draw without. If you would like to give any of these items a try, I’ve also listed the price and similar brands if you can’t find the exact item at your local art supply store.
1. Kneaded eraser
- Lighten pencil marks
- Erase small areas without making messy eraser “crumbs”
If you’ve never tried a kneaded eraser before, it’s almost life changing once you buy one. Think of it as if chewing gum and an eraser had a baby together. Its slightly tacky consistency is useful to erase lots of different mediums. I use it to lighten my pencil sketches as I’m coloring areas in with colored pencil. To use, press the eraser onto the areas that you want to remove the graphite. As the surface of the eraser gets ‘dirty’ and less sticky, simply stretch it like you would pull taffy to expose new areas of the eraser. The one negative thing about this eraser is that it picks up everything – dust, pencil shavings, hair, etc. Don’t let it roll off the table!
2. Artist tape
- Hold drawings in place on the easel
- Mount drawings for photos
Artist tape is a low-adhesive tape that comes in a roll similarly to masking tape. Because it is less sticky than most tapes, it can be easily removed without damaging the surface of your drawing. In a pinch, I’ve used blue painter’s tape and masking tape. But I enjoy artist tape the most. One 60-yard roll will last a really long time.
3. Daylight lamp
LEDs are the way to go. If you do any kind of art stuff in the evenings, I would highly recommend purchasing a ‘daylight’ lamp. Most household lights produce a yellow-tinted light which means that if you color a drawing at night, it will look abnormally yellow in sunlight the next day. Lamps that are rated “daylight” produce light that’s neither too warm nor too cool. It’s your best bet to ensure that your drawing will look how you envisioned it. The model I personally use is a table lamp from DuoLamp. It has several brightness settings so I use it on the lowest setting during the day to supplement the indirect light that comes through my window. At night, I have it on the highest setting. There are dozens if not hundreds of LED lamps on the market right now and just do your research to figure out what lamp would work best for you.
4. Pencil Sharpener
Kind of a no-brainer but had to include this one. If you haven’t seen my review on pencil sharpeners, a link to it is here: http://potatoartstudios.com/2017/08/08/pencil-sharpener-showdown-prismacolor-staedtler-kum/
5. A 2B pencil
I use a 2B pencil for the first layer when sketching a portrait. Everyone will have their own personal favorite lead but 2B has been my go-to as long as I can remember. If you’re not familiar with the graphite scale, “F” lead is the middle. “H” is hard. “B” is soft. For example, HB (or #2) is the lead most children grow up using. 2B lead is two steps softer from HB lead. Using lead that is too hard will permanently leave an indentation mark in the paper while drawing. On the other hand, using a lead that is too soft will lead to smearing and require a lot of erasing to remove any marks.
JetPens has a wonderfully written article explaining the fine differences between leads: https://www.jetpens.com/blog/picking-the-perfect-pencil-hardness-grade/pt/475
Are any of my top 5 drawing supplies part of your list? Do you have art supplies that you love that I haven’t mentioned? Leave a comment below. I would love to read about it!