Art tools I love to use

Art tools a sculptor loves from Small Company Artworks

If you've ever blissfully wandered through an office supply store, an art supply store, or just that aisle at Target, you'll probably get this: office and studio tools are a thing of joy. Curious what art tools I love the play (I mean "work") with?

Today I'm sharing the tools I use most. Artists and dabblers alike may find inspiration here, and I hope you'll share your favorites for the studio or office in the comments. Give me a reason to wander that aisle, won't you? 

Sculpture tools I love to use

art tools, toys (and tutorials) that i love to use

(Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links, meaning I get a tiny percentage if you buy something through the link.)

  • Sculpey is my polymer clay of choice. I've tried other brands and haven't been as happy with the textures, although I do love Fimo's color choices. What type of Sculpey I use depends on the application, so I continue to experiment.
  • Golden paints (artist or professional series) are simply fantastic. Great pigmentation, good coverage, and decent spreadability. I have some trouble finding certain colors in the right texture, but it's worth the search. Currently my favorite color to use is their Copper, which gives the most gorgeous metallic sheen in just one coat. Additional layers improve color depth, and it dries fast enough to let me apply multiple coats in one sitting. I'm still looking for the perfect off-white, though.
  • Paint brushes are usually whatever I find on sale. I'm not kind to my brushes, so I'm more concerned about flexibility and shape than a fancy bristle type. As far as what shape and length - I have one of almost everything, and still can't always find the right one. This may be user error.
  • Golden varnishes provide a strong top-coat and dry reasonably quickly. They can be a little temperamental, though, so I may start experimenting with other brands.
  • Moleskine journals are the bee's knees. If there's one thing I'll splurge on again and again, it's Moleskines in every shape, size, and color. To whit: I have in a box somewhere a collection of nine blank, never-used Moleskines of assorted colors and sizes, ready to be unboxed and displayed lovingly on a shelf. I doubt I'll live long enough to use up all the Moleskines I keep buying.

Art journals for sketching and sculpture ideas

  • No. 2 pencils and a sharpener actually go with me anytime I travel, so necessary are they. My current sharpener has three settings, so I can get exactly the point I want.  I'm enthusiastically obsessed with perfectly sharp pencils, so try to imagine my happy dance when I discovered that this nib-selection technology existed. Don't judge.
  • Sculpting tools of every shape and size are a little like perfectly-sharp pencils - I can never have too many. I suspect my Kinder Half loves this about me, as it makes gifting at Christmas absurdly easy - at least until I have three of everything. There's also a whole set of metal tools that I covet, but really can't justify. Yet.
  • When I'm being tidy, I keep my tools in a very handy stand-up tool case(kinda like this one, mine came with a bunch of tools courtesy of Santa). Aside from organization, the case is nice to keep me from stabbing myself with the sharp points. I'm not proud of how often that happens.
  • But when I'm traveling, an inexpensive roll-up pencil case can't be beat, and holds a fistful of sharp pencils, too. Toss in a lump of Sculpey and a smallish Moleskine, and I'm like a little kid with a Busy Bag in the car.

Perfectly sharp pencils for drawing and writing in art journals

  • Not in the category of tools, but toys - Watercolor pencils have been one of my favorites since I first discovered them decades ago. When I added a water brush to my collection, bam! Instant "watercolor" happiness. Note that loving the pencils does not suggest I have any skill or talent with them. I do not, which is what keeps them a "toy." But this is my go-to gift for artistically-inclined nieces, nephews, the college-bound, and anyone who keeps an art journal.
  • For hands-on tutorials that show me how to use some of my toys or just play with paint, Inkstruck Studios has terrific ideas, like painting with straws or with coffee. Now we're veering off the "productivity" track and into "fun." That happens sometimes.
  • Amy Maricle also has lovely art journal tutorials. She shows you how to play with some of the coolest techniques, like painting with tissue paper or making your own handmade stamps.
  • Journal prompts are always helpful. I stumbled across a great list from EWian, and collected a  bunch more on Pinterest.

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