Supplies and Sources


Here are some of my favorite supplies. 

 

Nupastels are my favorite mark making pastels. They are firmer than a standard chalk pastel but don't flake away quite as much. They are fast moving with intense colors, but are not buttery like oil pastels*. 

Nupastels are pricey, but they last a long time. This set on Amazon is for 72 pieces. If you are not ready to buy a full set, most art stores will sell them individually for around $3 each. 

*Sidenote: Oil pastels are nice but I never use the, because they cannot be permanently sealed, fixed, or varnished. The oil that allows them to be nice and buttery prevents them from ever fully drying out. I know - it's a bummer! You will want to only use oil pastels on paper works that can be displayed behind glass. Some artists will use oil pastels on canvas and off-gas and dry out for a few weeks before varnishing on canvas - I do not suggest this, and oil pastel manufacturers are on the same page. If you want to sell your work, stay away from oil pastels, or, if necessary, work on paper only. 

Spectrafix Fixative is the only one I will ever buy. I used to avoid pastels because the regular fixatives are so nasty and toxic - Spectrafix is just the opposite. Zero smell. No aerosol. You can use indoors year round. Made from milk caesin (an off-shoot of the cheese-making process, as I understand). As with any fixative, you will need to use multiple misty layers for it to be effective (never attempt to saturate pastels completely or they can turn to chalky liquid and bleed away).  

If you want to buy a starter set of medium-grade quality artist paint at a good price, this one from Arteza is a solid choice. It's not for folks who want to use paint straight out of the tube - this is for mixing your own colors. These are soft body paints - you can lay them on thick, or dilute with water or flow-aid. The pigments are strong, but not so aggressive you can't blend with other brands. i am new to paint 'pouches' and wish the whole industry would switch - they keep forever are great for getting every last drop of paint! I'm also a fan of the Sennelier's Abstract line of paints in puches, although they are not widely available on Amazon. If you have access to an art store, look for them, around $5 a bag - which is a terrific price for a superb acrylic. Sennelier's colors are more varied as well. 

Before finding the paint pouches above, I was a fan of the Martha Stewart line of craft paint - and it is still an excellent choice! Especially if you want 'pretty' colors without any mixing. My only complaint is that the containers are small and I feel like I lose half the paint on account of the bottle shape. But, it's great stuff, and you'll find it in many chain craft stores for less than $3 a bottle. In my opinion, even as a craft paint, it is better than most of the academic grade artist paints on the market. 

*Note: Martha Stewart craft paint is the only craft paint I would recommend using for my online classes. Don't get me wrong, I love a good cheap craft paint, but most of them involve a gloss finish that makes it difficult for multi-layered work. Paint doesn't really grip to gloss the way it grips to matte or even satin finish. If you have a bunch of craft paint already and don't want to buy more, that's understandable - buy a bottle of good quality gesso and mix it with your paints to fortify them a bit more. This will be weird the first time, but trust me, it will be second nature soon enough!

Every piece of work I make starts with two layers of gesso, and the only gesso I will ever buy is Liquitex Professional Liquid. It's basically liquid gold. It's great for mixing with paint, layering up, and the most critical - the base layers (I'm a fan of tinting the base layer gesso by mixing in a smidge of paint). 

 

*Note: Gesso is not white paint, it is, essentially, liquified plaster. It will strengthen any surface it sits on. It's also great for mixing with paint to change the viscocity and create smooth, matte finishes. There is a nasty rumor out there that you can substitute liquid gesso for white house paint - please do not try this! If you have tried gesso before and thought it was too thick or gloopy, chances are, you were working with heavy body gesso (which is handy at times!) - look for liquid. This bottle from liquitex is pricey but it lasts a longggg time!