I’ve been getting a number of questions about supplies and books for sketching, the watercolour project I showed the other day, and knitting and so I thought I’d address them as an entry rather than a series of emails. Creativity has added so much to our lives that I want everyone who is interested to dive right in.  There’s no wrong way to be creative.

If you can write your name, you can draw. For a nice, approachable method, “Drawing with Children” can’t be beat. For convincing you that anyone can draw, even you, and for making you the artist you wish to be, try “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.
We like Hand Books. The construction is right: sturdy, an envelope for odds and ends, an elastic to hold it shut, and paper that can take erasing as well as a light watercolour wash. I prefer landscape orientation, but have a hankering to try the square shape as well.

We use mechanical pencils because they’re easy. The erasers we favour are shaped like pencils and the eraser advances along just like a mechanical pencil. Doesn’t get all scummy with lint in a purse or backpack, and the long slender shape keeps it from languishing in the bottom corners, impossible to find.

My favourite markers are Staedler. They draw nicely, leave a nice black line, and are waterproof for when I want to put a wash of watercolour over the sketch. Which is often. I have a set, as you can see, but I use the .3 about 90% of the time.

sketching supplies

Painting, specifically for the wet-in-wet project I showed a few days ago:
inspiration for the project was from bookhoucraftprojects: Watercolour Flowers

Above all, watercolour paper. Cold pressed. As high-quality as you can afford. I love using my 50% off coupons for the craft stores to score some Aquarelle Arches paper (but Canson is also good, particularly if you’ll be doing much ink sketching since the paper is a little less textured than Arches). Watercolour paper is thick and specially treated to handle all the liquid you’re about to throw at it.

Right now our paper is all in block form, which means it’s stuck down around the edges. This is for portability and lets you watercolour anywhere, which is why we have so much of it – I bought lots for our trip to Europe. For regular watercolour paper, you’ll also need a board and tape. Tape it down so that it doesn’t buckle. They sell fancy tape, but I like to use the green painter’s tape. I just stick it once or twice to my tshirt first and make it a little less sticky.

You’ll also need a brush or two. With watercolour, generally, you use a brush bigger than your instinct would tell you. My teacher was always tsk-tsk-ing me about how small my brush choice was. The brand Q is a startlingly incredible quality for a rock-bottom price.

Paint: Don’t use the kids’ stuff. It’s crap. At least for this type of project. Get the good stuff, in a tube or pan, doesn’t really matter. In the photo you can see we’ve squeezed out the wet paint from the tube and just let it dry on our palette. A few minutes before we paint we spray a little water on the top to moisten it a bit. Artist quality is incredible, but student quality will be great for this and most other projects.

We just used the Staedler markers for this.

My #1 tip is to watch the difference between shiny wet and ‘losing the shine’ wet. After you prep your paper by washing over it with a juicy wet brush full of water, wait. Then wait some more. If the paper is still shiny, the colour will just spread and spread and spread. You don’t want that. You want it to clump and bleed. Put down your colour – nice and strong, don’t dilute it with much water here (you want paint, not a wash) – just as it’s starting to lose it’s shine.

painting supplies


If you can brush your hair, you can learn to knit. For learning how to knit, I like three resources:
Knitting Help – amazing free online videos
“Stitch and Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook” – strong title, strong help. Lays out all the basics and in a way that you can actually read without your mind drying out and going all prune-like.
“The Knit Stitch” – basic, fabulous book with astonishing patterns. As you move through the book you’ll do more with the simple knit stitch than you ever thought possible. Then move onto the purl stitch in the second book.


12 thoughts on “Supplies

  1. Saille says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’d noticed that moleskine has pocket-sized watercolor pads, and thought of using them this spring outdoors. Have you tried them?

  2. Lisa says:

    Great, useful post. Thanks for putting this all together. As with scrapbooking, I can’t seem to pick a decent drawing pen to save my life. I’ll try your recommendations as soon as the budget allows! My daughter wants a nice bound sketch book for her birthday so I’ll throw in some of the suggested pens, erasers, etc., too. Thanks!

  3. Amy says:

    Thank you so much. If anyone ever made me wish to knit, I would have to say that it is you. I fall asleep with the beautiful photos of your handiwork dancing in my mind.
    And, yes, I can definitely brush hair – and there’s lots of that to do around my house. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn to knit along with my girls! I’m going to add these resources to “my list” right now. Thanks again!

  4. Kim says:

    This is a great, helpful post for those of us who want to start playing with more sketching and painting but are daunted. I do love Mona Brooks’ book and her approach so much!

    What do you think of watercolor pencils?

  5. Lissa says:

    thanks!! for a homeschooling mom of little time and means this is helpful. i have enjoyed all your recommendations so far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s