Today we are talking about painting equipment!

Let’s talk about Art material ! I often tell my students that drawing, like painting, requires patience and a regular and continuous investment of time. It is better to draw for 30 minutes a day for a month than for 8 hours in a row once a year. Don’t try to skip steps, you don’t become Leonardo da Vinci in a few days.

But despite all your efforts, you feel like you are stagnating?

Well, it’s probably due to your equipment! 

Art supply, art materiel, why is it so important ? Indeed, I often hear my students tell me that they don’t want to sell their work and that they don’t see the point of buying good quality equipment.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Whether it’s paper, canvas or even pencils, brushes or paints, if you buy first price materials from action, you will NEVER be able to obtain a finished work.

A - The paint

1 - Above all, quality is key

Let’s take the example of paint: whether it’s watercolour, acrylic, pastel or oil, all these products can be found on the market in 3 different versions:

  • Studio range (or study): cheap, it is intended for schoolchildren or students.
  • Fine range: mid-range, for art lovers and hobbyists.
  • Extra-fine range: the most expensive, it is intended for professional artists.

Basically, the price difference is explained by the composition. Indeed, all paints are composed of the same elements (pigments + binders), only the proportions differ. Obviously, it is the pigments that cost the most, the less you use, the less it costs the manufacturer.

Eventually, depending on the brand, the prices may fluctuate slightly, but the most important thing to remember is that :

Study paints contain less than 25% pigments

Fine paints contain 25 to 50% pigments

Extra-fine paints contain more than 50% pigments.

And this is what makes all the difference! Indeed, you will get what you paid for… With a paint whose pigments are too dispersed, you will never be able to obtain a beautiful result when painting. Furthermore when it comes to blending, and visible brushstrokes no matter what you do. Eventually, all you’ll gain from using the wrong products is the desire to give up because everything you do will seem lame and inconsistent. Overall, you will question yourself, waste your time and, incidentally, your self-confidence, when actually, a well-trained artist would face the same issue as you with this type of material

2 - So, which art supply to choose ?

So, yes, sure, budget will differ. But you have to keep in mind that painting is an expensive hobby. It’s an investment to start with. That being said, rather than buying a full set of 36 colours that will end up in the bin because after trying them twice you’ll come to the conclusion that painting is really not your thing, that it’s too difficult, invest in just a few colours! E.g. the primary colours (see my article on colours), but in Extra-Fine version! Also keep in mind that whatever you do, they will be so much more intense and covering that you will only need a very small amount to get much better results than the 3 coats needed with the studios! And best of all, it will force you to work on your own blends, and master them! (To go further, see my article on colours)

B- The canvas

As you can imagine, the same goes for the paper. As a matter of fact, a bad paper can completely ruin a watercolour painting. The water on its surface will either dry too quickly, or unevenly, as it is too thin, it will curl. In general, choose 100% cotton paper, with a minimum of 300g/m2 for your watercolours.

As for canvases, same struggle. Firstly, when yout purchse a cheap canvas, well… It shows. Moreover, No matter how beautifully painted your art can appear, it might be ruined by the negative feeling it provides the viewer with. Above all, it will age badly. You will very quickly be confronted with problems such as a frame that twists, paint that crumbles, etc… A canvas that is too thin, an uneven grain that does not hold the paint well, etc… this may harm your painting experience. And believe me, if you do manage to get something out of it, there’s nothing more frustrating than finding out a few weeks later that your masterpiece has cracked, or that you can’t display it on your walls because it’s all wrinkled.

As you can see, I can only advise you not to compromise on quality.

C- Brushes

Finally, I couldn’t end this article without talking about brushes! Too often I see my students struggling with their canvas because they are not using the right brushes. And yet, it is essential to respect the use indicated at the time of their purchase. To make a rather easy analogy, painting a watercolour with a hog’s hair brush is like painting a wall with a toothbrush. So, yes, there are brushes of all shapes and sizes, in natural or synthetic bristles, and it’s true that there is a lot to lose, and this subject alone would deserve an article of its own (coming soon), but in general, avoid unbranded brushes, or even schoolboy brushes.


Hog hair brushes

A mistake I also see a lot is the use of brushes that are too thin; my advice, if I had to give only one, is to always paint with a brush that seems too big. The idea is to limit the number of brush strokes as much as possible. This will save you time, but it will also give you a better look! Flat brushes are great, for example, for painting flat areas, but they are also extraordinary for painting angles or straight lines. Even more amazing, use them to paint fur!

pinceaux en poils de porc

I hope that these few tips will have convinced you that even if you have no desire to sell your work, enjoying painting starts with the right equipment!

To your brushes!

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