Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Favorite Things (with Apologies to Ina Garten)

I absolutely love Ina Garten's cookbooks . . . with one exception.

It has always bothered me how she feels it necessary to state in each and every recipe that you must use good olive oil or good quality strawberry preserves. I can almost hear her in a nasally, Hampton-y voice stressing those adjectives which serve as an admonishment to anyone who would dare to use, say . . . Kroger brand butter (not that I ever would--kidding, of course I do).

But recently, I was talking with an illustrator friend of mine about my favorite materials to use when painting, and I found my self pulling a full-on Ina Garten. It went something like this . . .

"You know, you always have to use the best quality gouache. Those cheap student brands just don't have the pigment density. And don't even get me started on synthetic brushes. I would die without my Winsor Newton sable paintbrushes."

Yeah. Snobby much?

Sorry, Ina. I get it now.

So here are a few of my favorite things to use when illustrating (feel free to use your best Hampton's accent went reading through my list):

Prismacolor Pencils--blend perfectly with an almost clay-like consistently and great colors.

My Winsor Newton sable brushes. These are the only two brushes that I ever use and they are perfection. Mwah!

Strathmore series illustration board. This is hands down the best, most durable, non-pilling illustration board around. Love it. Seriously. Nothing else will do, dahlings.

Winsor Newton and Holbein Gouache are my favorite brands. I use gouache a bit like watercolors, but I like the density and opaqueness of the pigments in gouache. The cheaper brands are crap. Take my word for it--I had to buy some locally when I was in a pinch.

The bottom line is this (and now you can read in a Southern accent): If you use cheap art materials or materials that you're not comfortable with, you will wind up fighting against them when trying to create. Don't make the creative process any harder on yourself than it has to be.

Go forth and paint! And be sure to use the good stuff . . .



  1. Hey Sarah! What a great post--written with expertise and humor :) You are so right about materials. I especially believe this when it comes to paint brushes. By the way, how does that Strathmore Illo Board scan? I find some papers, that are billed as "smooth," scan with a lot of shadows. Maybe it's my scanner...

  2. As long as the paper fits on my scanner (I have the Epson Artison 837--need to do a separate technology post!), it scans beautifully.

    Thanks for your kind words--glad you like the accent!


  3. Really? I create all my art with a Sharpie marker and Crayola pencils. Yup. You guessed it. I'm not an artist or an illustrator. I just like to draw. :)

  4. Hey I'm just teaching myself watercolor, you aren't telling me to go out and buy the best yet - are you? I had been using the kid's school palettes (Yup!) and a friend gave me some cheap tubes she was getting rid of that have stronger colors, but are probably what you meant by 'crap'. Any more suggestions, since I'm still so new to this ('s NOT as easy as I thought, but it's lots of fun!)

  5. It's okay to play around with the cheaper stuff, but once you get used to the feel of the paint, you should try to upgrade. You seriously won't believe the difference!!

    I love Cheap Joe's and Dick Blick for reasonably priced art supplies, and you can start out with a kit that won't set you back too much (plus, those tubes of watercolor seriously last forever since you can use them even if they've dried up on your palette).

    Also, a sharpie and crayons = awesome!!


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