Hey there! Thank you so much for coming here to read my very FIRST blog post! I'll be talking about my process and my favorite materials. Let's dive in!
For a lot of my art pieces nowadays I create using a mixed media method of watercolor paints and black ink. I've had a lot of questions about what materials and tools I use so I thought I would write my first blog and give you all the info about what I use and why. A lot of these things I got when I was starting out and I am still using now, so they are pretty budget-friendly. You don't have to spend a ton of money to start experimenting with watercolor! I have a full palette of colors but I could really get by with a few if I was just starting out again.
I'm going to list my materials here and then I'll give a brief description of the process for you so you can have an idea of how I create these mixed media pieces. If you would like to see the full process you can check out the video I made on IGTV on my Instagram page @everhard_designs.
Arches watercolor paper https://www.dickblick.com/products/arches-bright-white-watercolor-paper/ - (Most of my links are going to be to DickBlick that's where I get a lot of my things) I like the 140lb and it is a good price but the 300lb is awesome to work with even though it is about double $$. It hardly crinkles at all because it is so thick so you really don't have to tape it down. I love it for larger paintings. I did use it for this one because I had a piece that was just the right size and didn't want to deal with any unwanted buckling.
Princeton Synthetic Sable Brush
I have the Quill Size 4 and I love it for washes in medium size areas.
Grumbacher Synthetic Sable Brushes
This one is also synthetic sable but it is very different, it is more rigid and doesn't hold as much water. It is more of a mixed-media brush, great for acrylic or watercolor. I have the no. 5, 6 and 7 and use them for small washes and details.
I have a variety of watercolor paints but I mainly use Winsor and Newton and Daniel Smith Watercolors.
Winsor and Newton also has a more economical version of their watercolors called Cotman:
The paint colors that are most prominent in my palette art: Paynes Grey, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Indigo and Sap Green.
My Favorite Ink Pen:
When I am doing this method of ink with watercolor I use only my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen because it is a true brush pen with bristles. Using a felt tip ink pen would ruin the felt tip very quickly on such a textured paper as watercolor. I love this pen! I got it about a year ago and I got it to use for handlettering but I also love it for outlining and full ink drawings. You can get a super fine line if you are careful and a super thick line as well. The awesome thing is the continuous and consistent stream of ink, it is has a refillable cartridge that flows to the bristles wonderfully. I can't recommend this enough if you are into ink drawing. I will say it takes practice to get used to it, so don't worry if you're not catching on right away!
I use this to hold down the paper to prevent buckling. I tape around the entire paper. You could also use a gum tape, I use this for larger pieces when I wet the whole paper
Board to tape the paper to:
Here is a really simple tutorial from Blick on how to stretch watercolor paper on a board using gum tape:
So those are my most-used materials!
I really work with a very small amount of supplies right now just to keep my setup simple and budget-friendly. I usually buy a bunch of paper at the beginning of the year and splurge on a new brush or set of pens every once in a while. The paint I use now, I have had since I was in art school, I've acquired things over time. You don't need to take the plunge and buy everything at once to get into watercolors.
For this painting I sketched out the basic outlines onto my paper very lightly with a pencil. After sketching I will erase lightly so that the pencil is barely visible, only enough for me to see to keep the composition that I want because pencil WILL show through watercolor paint unless it is very dark. Though for this piece it wasn't as important because I was doing selective outlining with the ink pen. After I have the pencil laid down I do a very light wash of colors blocking in all the different areas. You want to start light with watercolors and gradually build up the colors with layers because there is no going back, you cannot go lighter, you can only go darker so you have to preserve your lights in the beginning. I started to add the ink outlines when I was about 50% done. After that I went back and forth with adding color and adding some ink. The pen I use is not water soluble so it doesn't bleed. And that's pretty much it. I just make sure to keep checking on my photo and adding details here and there before I decide that I am finished. A note about composition; I paint from photos mainly nowadays and I will use it as a reference as I paint but I sometimes adjust the composition as needed to fill the space nicely so everything feels balanced. I don't copy the photo exactly with the colors either, I use it more so as inspiration and add my own color palette to it.
I used a very similar process to create a lot of my best pieces over the past year. For example with the Explorer's Font I created each letter individually using watercolor and ink. The difference with that project was that I drew each layer individually rather than just drawing the ink onto the watercolor painting I had one watercolor layer and one ink layer and I combined them into one digitally. This creates a really nice contrast since I'm able to make the black completely black while keeping the mild tones of the watercolor paints.
I also used this process with my Cascade Meadow piece. It was actually the first one I tried it on and it turned out to work really well! For me this goes to show how much experimenting with your materials and process can benefit your art. I did the same thing for a long time and I was feeling stagnant and I was going nowhere. But I messed around, combined some materials that totally didn't work and then landed on something that did. Art is a lot about experimenting and playing around with materials, so have fun with it and do something to spice up your process every once in a while!
I just wanted to give you a look into my process that's a little more in-depth than what you would see on Instagram. I hope you enjoyed it and let me know if you have more questions or if there is another topic you would like me to write about! I enjoyed making this so hopefully there will be more in the future.
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Thanks for reading!