The Tools Artists Use

Stephanie Brown

Posted on August 05, 2009 | Comments

Stephanie Brown is an artist living in Chicago, Illinois.


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

Mechanical pencils and watercolor are my main weapon, and and occasionally Prismacolor markers and Micron .005 pens make special appearances. Mechanical pencils are sort of a guilty pleasure, I put a huge priority on line quality and mechanical pencils give me the consistency I need -- if I'm using a Faber-Castell graphite pencil, I can sharpen it to a nub in one sitting. I get a little overzealous with my sharpening.

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

Not so much a wide collection, but a collection to say the least. I've done a lot of trial and error and never seem to throw anything away -- so my materials are well worn, and for the most part, pretty shabby. I still use this crappy plastic watercolor set from high school, some of my brushes and charcoal may be older than that.

As for particular projects, I rarely have a final image in mind, so what I need for tools changes as I work.

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

I've used Micron pens for years, although recently I've only been using one -- the .005 red. Although the red color is a tiny bit too orange, the width of it makes every line delicate and precise, and also unforgiving. I am a glutton for punishment, I guess.


How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

Watercolor has the lower-end range that I really need, it has the capability to deliver a very subtle and muted palette. I use Acryla gouache as a highlighter, which gives me the opacity and saturation that watercolors can lack. I approach oil color in a similar way, transparent colors like burnt sienna is dark and saturated when applied thickly, but when thinned with turpenoid, the color is vibrant and makes for great layering.

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 of paints to a full set?

I'm in love with Holbein Acryla gouache, which functions more like acrylic than gouache, but their color selection is wonderful -- I have a very specific palette of them, about 10, any more than that would give me too many options. I have this terrible Angora watercolor set which has 32 cakes of color, half of which are totally offensive and unusable -- and I've used it for a year or so. I have some tubes of traditional colors that help me along the way. Everything's a travel set with watercolor, I just throw everything into a totebag. Oil painting, not so travel-friendly.

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

Moleskines. Moleskines forever. The tone and weight of the paper are perfect, and they put up with the ridiculous abuse I put them through. But otherwise, anything flat will do, legal pads especially.

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

Buying pre-stretched canvas can be an easy option, but building and stretching your own is so much more satisfying! I also enjoy a nice panel of raw birch to scrawl on.


Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

I used to use Photoshop to color linework, many moons ago -- but presently everything I'm doing is purely by hand. More and more I've been thinking about delving more into digital work, I like the idea of flexibility, but there's also something very significant about having something physical and absolute.

Do you have anything you use out of the ordinary for making your art?

Other than a large collection of bones found in the desert as source material, not really.

I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it's looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

The computer, and the internet, are dangerous and amazingly helpful at the same time. I think it's safe to say that the internet has influenced my artwork a lot, for the fellow artists and the infinite resources -- I think artists my age owe a lot to it -- and the visibility it provides. Aside from that, I'm terribly distractible and can't imagine a world without Netflix instant play, or Google image search. I'll take D, "all of the above".

Thanks Stephanie!

Stephanie Brown can be found online at her portfolio website, her weblog, Flickr (runsmiles), and on Twitter (@feralcatbox).

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