One of my favourite mediums to use is paint and paper. I did a lot of oil painting in art school but once I graduated I fell out of love with it. It took a few years before I could think about using paint again.
When I did get back on the painting bandwagon it wasn’t oil painting i focussed on using but gouache and watercolour. Gouache was a whole new medium to me and it is now firmly my favourite. You can use it like watercolour and paint in washes. Or use a slightly thicker mixture to get a colourful and opaque medium.
I’ve always used watercolour. Recently I have been taking some botanical illustration classes and it has really encouraged me to use them more often. Along with using a build up of washes, learning to use a dry brush technique has made me realise that they have similarities to the way I would use oil paint in the past. But without all the drying time and use of nasty turpentine. So what do I use?
Currently I'm using Winsor and Newton professional watercolour paint. I bought an empty paint tin and empty half pans (both I found on eBay). Slowly I’m building up a personal colour palette with the favourite shades I’ve found. Most brands have a student line and a professional line when it comes to paint. Winsor and Newtons student line is called Cotman and I have a palette of these too. They are ok if you are learning to use watercolour but I find the professional line much better. They contain far more pigment. That means when you are mixing colour you don’t have to use as much and the colour will be more intense. I use Winsor and Newton because they are widely available and quite affordable if you are not quite sure which colours are the ones you need yet.
For a lot of my illustrative work I use Winsor and Newton profession gouache paint. It is also widely available where I am and comes in a wide range of colours. This lines the other side of my paint tin. The best consistency of gouache is when you use a little water and get the consistency of melted ice-cream. It also scans really well because its opaque nature scans in a really matte way.
There a few different brands of gouache and I also use Daller Rowley gouache. You can find that different companies sell a slightly different range of shades. Its all about experimenting to find your favourite. Daller Rowley is the only place I can find my favourite shade of Payne’s grey
A lot of illustrators also use a type of gouache that has an acrylic base. It is basically acrylic paint that dries matte like gouache. I'm still learning to use this and currently am experimenting with Turners acrylic gouache. Im not sure if I like it or not. I bought it at a time when I got a good deal on it so didn’t spend to much money on an experiment. Its a bit too sticky for my liking. But the colours do come out very bright. Its good to have in the paint box for experiments. There is a brand called Holbein Acryla Gouache which I might try next.
Now we get on to favourite Paper! This is always changing for me and feels like an ongoing 10 year experiment. For a while I really enjoyed using Sea White Heavy duty cartridge Paper. It comes in big pads and i still use it for ink and pencil drawings.
Right now I use a mixture of hot and cold pressed water colour paper.
Hot press- I mostly use Bockingford hot pressed. It’s the make I’ve found suits the way I paint best. My favourite pads are the ones that are gummed round the edges. I also use Fabriano 5 hot pressed paper. I originally bought it to use for a watercolour project. It didn’t work the way I wanted it to. I cant explain why I didn’t like it but thats why you have to experiment. Also just because you have something that doesn’t work for one project doesn’t mean it wont for another. I’m currently using that same paper with gouache and its turning out great.
I use A4 hot pressed paper from an shop called cas in the Uk. They make big value packs of A4 which is great for practice. I also use it when I know i just need to paint little bits that then need to be put together digitally.
Cold press- I’m using a Fluid gummed pad at the moment which says on the pack it is cold pressed but I think is really smooth with a nice subtle amount of grain. I’m definitely ordering more in future. I also use Canson Montreal Aquarelle for practice and gouache because it comes in packs of 100 sheets and scans really well.
Finally a few words on brushes. I don’t have a favourite here. I use sizes 0 to 4 for most things. I like to paint tiny details so small is always good. I advice you to experiment and find the right type for your style and price range. I could easily get carried away spending loads on fancy brushes when a cheaper brand will do just as good a job. Currently I’m using sable blend brushes from Rosemary and co and series 7 brushes from Winsor and Newton. I also use Proarte Prolene brushes when using gouache. Along with these I use Studio Synthetic brushes from jacksonsart.com because they are good for everything and affordable.
That’s everything I think. Although I’m sure I’ll find something new the next time I visit an art shop!
If you have any questions feel free to message me. I always love talking about art tools.
Next up in this series I’m going to talk about technology and how it helps me create illustrations.