I have had several emails lately with questions about my drawing materials, so I thought I´d put together a post about it. Click the images for a larger view.
The very basic stuff
The above image shows my absolute basic set, the stuff I always carry in my bag – to work, to town, when I travel, wherever. The sketchbooks may vary, since I bind my own, but they usually contain Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolour paper, at least 200 gsm in weight (even 300 gsm sometimes, though that´s a bit tough to fold for bookbinding purposes). This particular book is an experiment, it´s got Fabriano Rosapina printing paper in it, quite alright both for drawing and watercolours, but I still think I´ll go for Fabriano Artistico next time.
If I were to buy a ready-made sketchbook, it would be a Moleskine Watercolor sketchbook – I like the paper in them, though I am not too crazy about the extreme landscape format. Also, Fabriano has this sketchbook, available in different sizes, that I recently bought to try out, though I haven´t started using it yet. But the paper in it should be ok for both drawing and watercolours.
The pens in the image are Lamy Safari fountain pens (see more about them further down). The waterbrushes are not quite my favorite to paint with, I prefer real watercolour brushes if I can get hold of some water – hence the da Vinci travel brush (their biggest size, with Kolinsky sable hair – expensive as heck, but well worth it). But in some situations the waterbrushes are incredibly useful – they look like a pen, draw no attention to what you are doing, take up little space in a bag, and as long as I have some paper tissues with me to rinse out the colour from the brush, they do the job well up to a certain size of drawings/watercolours.
The colours in the tiny tiny (only 8 x 5,7 cm!) Winsor and Newton bijou box are also very basic – New Gamboge and Quinacridone Gold for yellows, Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna for earth colours, Winsor Red and Permanent Carmine for reds, Cobalt blue and Ultramarine blue, and a Winsor Green (blue shade) to mix greens and blacks with. Plus room for three more colours when I feel like it.
I get very far with this setup, the colours are good for almost any subjects, and it´s not too much to carry.
I love my Lamy Safaris. The ones with Extra Fine nibs are awesome to draw with, they have that little “springy” feeling that some dip pens have, so you get wider lines if you press the pen a little harder. I do confess I got a bit carried away over the years, I can´t resist the beautiful colours when they release a new one, so now I have six of them… I have a few different nib sizes and ink colours in them, but my favorite is Extra fine nibs and Noodler´s Lexington grey ink. I only use Noodler´s bullet proof inks in them, since that´s the only kind of ink I have found that doesn´t ruin the pens but is still waterproof enough to paint watercolours on. (You probably already know, but just in case you don´t: never put waterproof ink in fountain pens, it dries on the way out through the nib, and then your pen is doomed.) In Sweden, both the pens and Noodler´s ink are available at NK in Stockholm, otherwise I´m sure you can order them online.
Everybody needs a little variation, so when I get tired of the Lamys, I use just about any pens I can find that seem inspiring to draw with. If I want waterproof ink, I go for ink pens like UniPen (the package to the left in the image above), Copic Multiliners SP or Microns, but I try not to get stuck in the “waterproof archival thinking” too much – it tends to put too many limits on drawing. I use anything from mechanical pencils to multi-coloured roller balls when I want to play around a little.
If I want to have more colours with me, and don´t mind a little more weight in my bag, I have two alternatives to the little Winsor & Newton box.
The most exquisite one is the Craig Young paint box, hand made by Craig Young (duh!) in England. It´s a great little box, with sixteen half pans and quite a lot of mixing space. You can lift out the tray with the colours to use the bottom of the box as a mixing surface too.
16 colours is a lot to choose from, and I have a basic set-up that I usually have in this box, and then I change a colour or two whenever I feel like it:
Yellows/earth: Lemon Yellow, New Gamboge, Quinacridone Gold, Raw Sienna
Reds: Winsor Red, Permanent Carmine, Permanent Rose
Blues/violet: Winsor violet, Ultramarine, Cobalt blue, Prussian blue, Indigo
Earth: Brown Madder, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
Green: Winsor Green (blue shade)
Then there´s my newest addition, the genuine plastic whole pan box from Ken Bromley´s art supplies. The colours are pretty much the same as in the Craig Young box. I love this one, simply because I love working with big brushes. Whole pans and big brushes make a wonderful combination.
Well… I guess that´s kind of it. Any questions? Good – go on to the comments and ask!