Note: All reference photos used for my artwork are either my own or my sister's (used with permission, of course), unless otherwise stated.
I have two confessions to make. One, I love trying new things! And when it comes to colored pencils, there is a whole plethora of things to try! Different brands, wax or oil or water, blenders, erasers, papers and surfaces to experiment on, other mediums to mix with...the list is endless! However, secondly, I'm cheap. Actually frugal, I mean, frugal. We live on a tight budget and so no matter how badly I may want to try the works, the reality is- I have to make-do.
So what are the bare necessities, the essentials I can't do without? Below is a photo of my main tools.
Pretty basic. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, which are featured on the turn table and in the container to the right (pencils I'm using on my current project). To the left is a jar of paper stubs for blending. I usually use those for the tight spots. For most areas, I use the universally recognized item next to it. Yes, that's toilet paper. Did I mention I'm cheap? The reality is, it does just what I need it to, blending and mixing color on paper, and you can't beat the price! I usually have a white eraser on hand (the one pictured is not my favorite, but it's what I"m using at the moment) and I'm NEVER without kneaded rubber! It is what I use for lifting color in areas that need shine or lightened for contrast. Or I may use it for areas I have gotten too dark or need color adjustment. I usually have some kind of sharp pencil sharpener and then a soft bristle brush for 'crumbs' if erasing. What's the roll? Frisket film! I'm never without it either! Sticky on one side, I use it for lifting color, such as when making whiskers or hairs in dark areas. Not pictured is workable fixative that I use when I'm done with a piece and pencil extenders, that are actually on pencils in the jars.
So there you have it. Nothing fancy. Please understand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a studio full of fun things to work with and try! The purpose of this blog post, however, is to reassure artists just starting out that you need not get overwhelmed with all the products out there. You may feel like you need all of it and then feel like you can't afford to get started in the first place. My advice? Splurge on a set of high-quality pencils and a few inexpensive tools and then add things as you learn, gain experience, and can afford them.
Tip to take away:
A great variety of tools don't make great art. Artists who practice, struggle, learn, and practice some more with what they have available make great art.
"Paha", 20x27 Colored Pencil on Bristol Smooth Paper. Original in Private Collection.