The Tools Artists Use

Caitlin Clarkson

Posted on May 01, 2013 | Comments

Caitlin Clarkson is an illustrator who lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Strangeness and Charm (portrait of Florence Welch), by Caitlin Clarkson

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

Usually, I only draw in pencil. If I'm working on the final drawing for a painting, I'll do a gesture drawing with a graphite stick, put in the shapes with a wood pencil, then switch to a mechanical pencil for the details.

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

My collection is actually very small! I have quite a few pencils and brushes, but I find myself consistently going back to the same 3 or 4.

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

I usually do one or two base washes of acrylic ink, then paint with gouache. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll try to do the entire painting in ink, which takes much more planning and patience.

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 prefer the gouache and inks from Daler Rowney and Winsor & Newton. I use a cheap fold-out palette that I think was made to travel, but I just use it to save space on my desk.

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 do all my drawing in a 8.5x11, hardbound sketchbook. Anything else just doesn't feel right! I have years' worth, a big stack of them, that I can't bear to get rid of.

Mystery of the Moss Covered Mansion, by Caitlin Clarkson

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

Just some watercolor paper with some tooth to it!

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

I've been playing more and more with using Photoshop to add color to black and white ink drawings. It's come in handy while putting together textile patterns.

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

Not physical materials, but I started tackling Photoshop with a tutorial Ryan Andrews posted last summer.

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

Lots of tracing paper. My final sketches are always finely tweaked tracings from my sketchbook; then I use a graphite stick to turn the tracing paper into transfer paper.

Lifeboat, by Caitlin Clarkson

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)?

Definitely all of the above! I love having reference right at my fingertips at all times. And listening to old radio programs or watching tv shows on the computer helps keep me in my seat and stops me from wandering away from my work. Having a blog and a portfolio site that need to be updated definitely gives me a little extra push when I'm feeling unmotivated. But the internet is definitely also a huge distraction that takes up way more time than it should.

Thanks Caitlin!

You can find Caitlin Clarkson online at her portfolio website, on her weblog, on Facebook, and you can buy prints of Caitlin's work in her Etsy shop.

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