The Tools Artists Use

Jessica Burke

Posted on May 20, 2009 | Comments

Jessica Burke is a full-time artist as well as an Assistant Professor of Drawing at Western Oregon University.


What are your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

At the moment, I am in love with graphite pencils, specifically a 4B woodless and even mechanical. I will also always have a soft spot for charcoal, especially vine and my trusty 6B General's charcoal pencil.

If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

The tool I use really depends on my ultimate desired effect. If it is going to ba full vaue study, I will use different tools than a more contour-driven composition. Time would also be a factor.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers? All of the above?

I like my color stuffed into an oil paint tube. I have experimented with the others and I just prefer working with oils. I like the versatility, drying time and surface effects. Acrylic and watercolor are my go to tools for flat color projects, but anything that is modeled, I have to go with full body oils.

If you do use paints, inks, pencils or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets or do you need a full set of colors?

At the beginning of my career, my paints were chosen by economic considerations-the cheapest available. But has time has passed, I do realize the value of investing in your tools. I do not use one uniform brand, but I do like Holbein and Gamblin.


Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

I will draw on anything, but if I have the option, I like to draw on Bristol board (smooth).

If you paint, is there any particular type of canvas you prefer? Do you like to paint on wood or other material?

I love to do portrait work on Linen, but I have also had really good experiences painting on panel, mostly Masonite. I like to buy a large sheet and then cut it done to a variety of sizes. then I brace it, gesso and go.

Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

I have tried it before and usually come away with an even greater appreciation of that artists' use of the material because my attempts were primitive at best.


If you create collages, where do you get the materials and objects you use in your pieces?

Lately, I have been experimenting with collage elements within my drawings. I like using mylar as a drawing surface so I can play with layers of transparecny. Mostly I use patterned paper or hand drawn repetitions for the additional collage elements.

Thanks Jessica!

You can find Jessica Burke online at her portfolio website, her weblog, and the weblog for her students.

comments powered by Disqus