Last week I talked about the difficulty I was experiencing with the shifting seasons of life, my negative self-talk that can quickly spiral out of control, and habits of self-pity that often leave me blind to love. Thank you to everyone who reached out to to me with their kind words. I am doing just fine, I promise. I am encouraged daily to open myself up to more positivity, light, and joy, and am so thankful to be supported by such beautiful and wise people in my journey. My post may have been a little heavy, but I made a promise to myself when I started this blog that I wanted to be genuine and real. We are constantly surrounded by social media images of smiling faces, grand adventures, perfect homes, and the easy-sailing of life. While all those things are great, I think it is important to recognize the challenges and hurdles we all face daily. The hurdles are just as important and beautiful to our growth as the moments our cheeks hurt from laughing so hard.
That being said, I feel like this week I needed to take a little break (for myself) and decided to lighten things up with a little art talk! The last three Octobers, I've joined fellow creators in a public online event called Drawlloween created by the lovely artist Mab Graves. Each day, there is a spooky prompt to get our creative juices flowing and participants tag their work with the same hashtag (check out #mabsdrawlloweenclub). I look forward to this event every year because it's a wonderful time to discover new artists, get inspired, and motivate one another. This year for my pieces I put aside the oil paints, colored inks, and prisma colors, and have taken things back to the basics — good ol' fashioned pencils, black pens, and charcoal. What I love about limiting myself to very few materials (and colors), is I can't get distracted by the medium, but rather, I have to allow the subject to do the speaking. I must work with what I've got, forcing me to think outside the box to achieve the idea at hand.
Black Lagoon Prompt — Creature from the Black Lagoon
So, what are the materials in my current corner? Here is a basic run down of the brands and supplies I've been using for Drawlloween and why I love them so much!
Pigma Micron Ink Pen Set
These pens have been my favorite for years and I always have at least several in my purse. The 005 is the finest tip pen I've been able to find on the market, and with the fine, delicate lines I often incorporate into my drawings, a small pointed pen is a must. I keep a 01 or 02 around for just a tad thicker pen, and sometimes even use the 05 or 08 to fill in larger areas. The whole set is useful to achieve different line thicknesses and depths, but if I was on a stranded island and could only choose one it would definitely be the 005 (after all, you can always layer). One downside to these pens is they dry out quickly. I go through one every couple weeks (at least)! However, I turned this annoyance into a tool. I keep my dying pens around for an even softer effect. To create just barely noticeable lines or wrinkles I'll use the dried out, almost dead pens. I'll even mark my pens so I know which ones are the most dried out and the just starting to dry out pens.
Prang Charcoal Pencils
I'm normally a pretty orderly and clean person, but when I get into a creative project I become so focused on the piece at hand that it is only a matter of minutes before there is paint splattered on the walls, pencil shavings on the floor, coffee rings on the table, and chalk on my nose. These charcoal pencils can be to blamed for a lot of the mess. I love to layer my paper with this medium, and the mess comes with finger blending. The black charcoal comes out strong and thick, and a beautiful blending effect is achieved by simply rubbing the paper with my fingers and slowly bringing the chalk particles out to new territory. I love how the chalk fastens to my fingers. I'll often use this extra residue to smear across other areas of the composition. I don't worry about the random fingerprint here or there as I find it adds an added layer of interest to the composition - a little character. Just be careful if you have an itch on your face!
Alvin Drafting Pencils.3mm, .5mm, and .7mm
Alvin drafting pencils are probably my first loves on this list. I have a set of three that include the .3mm, .5mm, and .7mm. Once again, I'm a sucker for the the finest point, and often find myself reaching for the .3mm first. After using the .3mm, writing with a normal #2 pencil can feel like writing with a crayon. I use these pencils to draw my initial outline of compositions and blend them for nice gray tones throughout the piece creating a softer tone than the charcoal. Just like my Micron pens, I always have Alvin drafting pencils floating through my purse. I'm so spoiled by them that I have to use them in all my writing now, even for making the grocery list! The pencils are made well too. A coarse metal grip allows me to tightly hold the pencil without any slippage. I've also had the same pencil for years (only having to refill the lead) and only buying additional pencils for the convenience of keeping them various places (at work and at home). I would highly recommend these pencils for any artist, writer, or person who just enjoys mechanical pencils. Having a nice pencil really changes the attitude I go into a piece with. It is the first tool I use and sets the foundation for the rest of the piece.
Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick
While the erasers on the Alvin Draftin pencils work well, I go through them quickly. Now, instead of replacing the erasers, I simply carry this eraser stick around with me. What I like about this eraser pen as opposed to other ones I've seen, is it has a small diameter which allows me to make accurate and precise marks. It's soft enough that it won't tear paper and hard enough that it won't crumble off and break. I love to use erasers as "pens" themselves by creating white contours by removing charcoal in clean lines. It's fun to think about positive and negative space in reverse. Refill erasers are also available online.
There you have it. That's it! That's all the materials I've been using as of lately. Nice materials really can make a difference even if very few. I still remember the first time I used Prisma Color pencils over Crayola and I about fell over backwards. It was like magic. I felt like I had grown ten years as an artist overnight. While I think that anyone can be an artist no matter the materials we are given or income we are making, it really is noticeable when you use good quality art supplies. Sometimes when I don't have the funds for all of them, I'll buy one at a time. Just incorporating something new and nice can change the whole game of things. It also allows you to compare and decide if the cost really does outweigh the quality. So what art materials and brands are your favorite? Do you also find that limiting your materials can help you think outside the box? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Alien Prompt - Quark and Tribbles
Vampire Bat Prompt
SET OF TWELVE PRINTS - Snag a set of my favorite Drawlloween prints from the last two years!