What tools or equipment do you use and how do you choose?
The tools I use are actually some of the cheapest around, so I always like to really promote that anybody can do it. You don’t need these insanely fancy steel Japanese carving knives. You can just go buy a $6 Speedball carving set from your local art store because that’s basically all I use, super cheap stuff.
I’ve been using Procreate a lot more lately, the last three years. It’s just because it’s easier to bring my iPad around and it’s easier to use the tools and send photos to people that way.
Having proper tools is huge. I was making frames out of the trim you put on walls and using a hand saw jig and they were just so terrible. They were so rough and so messed up. And then I would go up to my parents’ house in Cleveland because my stepdad is a woodworker and he had a laboratory-grade setup and that opened my mind to, Okay, I just need to have the tools to do this.
Also using under-quality paint. The first acrylics I used were Jo-Ann Fabric craft paints and I remember being really frustrated with how transparent they were.
And then using a pre-gessoed canvas. I was always trying to chase that super vibrant, super matte look to a painting. I would find that exact paint I needed, the exact colors that I wanted, but it would just look messy and inconsistent. So I figured out not to gesso stuff, just to go straight into wood and then I can utilize the grain of the wood as well as build up the paint layers and have that opacity and that brightness too.
I think the biggest thing is just finding those tools that let you execute the things you want to execute.[Initially] I didn’t understand the quality aspect. . . . I was like, I want to paint, this is the most accessible and cheapest way to do it so this is what I’ll get. But then you struggle. And that struggle is very frustrating and you’re like, I don’t know anything. And that stops some people from painting.
I think figuring out a way to use those inferior products and still being able to make something that somebody is going to connect with drove me to continue. I would find a piece of 2×4”, do a painting on it with some crap paint that I had and a friend would want it. So then I was like, Okay, I’m onto something.
So that perpetuates and then you have money. And that’s another thing. I was saying that I would buy fun things from my art sales, but I also put the money back into art tools and supplies. Because the more money I bring in from that the easier it is to be like, Yeah, I’ll buy this $30 brush because I know it will be awesome.
Pen is where it’s at, that’s my number one weapon.
It’s pretty much just a blank piece of paper and I go straight to pen with it unless there’s a subject that I’m drawing like a person, then I’ll use a pencil. I don’t go straight to ink with that because I want to get that right.
But everything else it’s just straight to ink, especially leaves and stuff. That would be crazy to draw leaves in pencil and then go over them again in ink.