When I decided that I was going to make art a habit and really dive into it, I started off buying some cheap canvases and a pack of like eight cheap acrylic paint tubes. Part of this was because I didn't want to buy really good stuff to just mess around with and get my bearings. I had never really worked with acrylic before but in my mind, THAT was what I imagined the artwork that I wanted to create would be made with. I started out with creatures/animals much like I still do, and found quickly that I enjoyed the materials and the process, but I still wanted to see what else is out there.
I returned to the same store and picked up an equally cheap set of watercolors (you know the ones with the circles and dried up discs.) and began trying the watercolor wash method. For a good while, I would regularly alternate between acrylic and watercolors, sometimes even combining the two. I liked what I made, but to be honest, I agonized over the process. I couldn't get the fine details I wanted with brushes, I took to long to paint and my palettes dried, And almost every time I mixed a new color just right, I would run out of it quickly and never seem to be able to make that same color again. Oh and I got acrylic paint EVERYWHERE. I am completely aware that all of my issues with acrylic paint are either fixable, or doable, I just never went crazy for the medium. Maybe someday, but not today.
I continued on using more and more watercolor. I stepped up my game and instead of using a really cheap set, I began using a slightly cheap set. The work improved. In the meantime, despite changing my tools, I was still evolving as an artist as I continue to do today. I attribute much of this to my repetition and study, but no doubt the upgraded and more familiar tools helped.
Somewhere in the mix there, I added ink pens. THIS was the medium I had been using since all the way back in high school detention or during regular classes when I should have been paying attention. To me, fine ink pens are the perfect way to achieve many of the elements I currently crave in my artwork. A huge explosion of work followed this combination of pen and watercolor. The two very interesting things I noticed that came along with this switch were that my pieces got smaller (canvas to paper) and my subject matter went from filling the whole page with globs of color and scenery, to focusing on figure and emotion with these creatures I would come up with.
Fast forward to today.
I almost never use my acrylic or oil paints, Most of my large brushes are retired, and I totally forgot where my easel was for a day or two. Im not saying I'm done using them, but a large scale acrylic project in the future will be much more planned and special. My new love is with what I call "Ink and color". Hard, bold pen lines with a beautiful array of colors filling the gaps.
Pictured in this post you can see the most recent watercolors I'm using. I got them as a gift and didn't pay much attention to them at first. They were advertised as a "travel watercolor kit" with a water brush (actually really badass), so I didn't think much of them quality wise. I was so wrong. They are made by Sakura and are the Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box. I love them because the pigment is very rich and not one bit watery. I can paint with a lot of color on the brush, or dilute it down to a perfectly translucent shade without any of the sandy clumps of pigment that cheap watercolors leave. I tend to use little bits at a time with very small brushes. I have no brush preference at the moment besides "those teal ones I use" but they are made by Princeton and have a 2 on them. lol.
The pens I'm using these days are my absolute favorite thing to work with. I got a small set of black and colored Micron pens (also made by Sakura) and immediately loved them. The ink is archival and when dry completely waterproof so painting over lines with water is no issue. My favorite part is how fine tipped they come. Most of my drawings feature lines from the .005 (smallest), 01, and 03 size pens which give you a nice little blend of super fine line and a little thicker when needed. I was also recently given a similar style multiliner pen set made by Too. (these are the grey ones in the picture) and they are made for the same type of work. Similar to the Microns, they range in size and are waterproof as well. These pens really do their best when used on marker paper as an extra plus as well! Could not recommend either of these pen brands more.
Now, I described my current work earlier as "ink and color" and the main reason for that is that I have definitely branched out of only using watercolor to fill in my pen drawings. Copic markers (also by Too.) have got to be the most intriguing and expensive thing I have had in my arsenal to date. They are alcohol based pigment ink and my god are they incredible. I have the "Sketch" series and they are perfect for what I do. I could list all the amazing things they do, but their website can do a much better job so feel free to check them out. In short, these allow me to get very rich and deep colors. They blend together to create gradients and color blends and are refillable as well. I'm currently mastering them but I can see them being a major part of my work going forward. Sticking to the ink and color theme, I also incorporate colored pencils into my work. I started adding colored pencil to achieve the soft color areas where the markers are too strong, and also to add texture over the markers/pen. I just picked these up last week and have a set of Prismacolor pencils that have been phenomenal so far.
So these days, when I start a piece. It almost always starts as a pen drawing, and when the lines are done, I begin thinking about what type of color I want to add. Based on the paper I'm using, and the colors I need, I usually land on one, two, or all three color mediums, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results.
Feel free to ask or comment about any of the tools I use and Id be happy to elaborate or give my experience using them. What you see in this picture is the end result of searching for the most comfortable versions of each of these mediums and finally I have my dream team!