F.A.Q.: Art Supplies, Part 1

Friends, let me first start by looking you deep in the eyes and saying "thank-you."  Yesterday's blog post about the scale, my deepest insecurities, and refusal to continue to live as most women do..felt wildly unpopular.  Even after the post was published I found myself with my heart pounding, wondering if I should delete it.  And then the texts, messages, and comments started coming in.  You have spoken and I have listened deeply.  This is not a topic that just touches me.  It silently wounds almost every woman around me.  So, I hear you.  I'm praying for each one of you, for God to wrap you in a suit of armor so strong that nothing the world or Satan throws at you can shake your confidence in your healthy self.  And I pray that you have the strength to get that way…healthy.  It's not always a glamorous journey but it's your journey and you are an incredible human being.  More than worth it.  

I could preach right here ya know.  But let me give you that to think about and move along to one of the greatest tools God is using to set me free from the scale and other struggles as well.  ART!  
I mentioned on IG (I'm "therosylifeblog") that I've had several people ask me questions about my art, Etsy shop process, marketing, etc. lately and it just feels so unreal that I would be the one getting asked the questions!  Although I feel unqualified at times (whatever that means) I'm here and happy to share.  When I first started my journey as an artist I heard other artists say all the time to try out different products and you would figure out what suits you best, which supplies you craved and loved, which ones you didn't.  I was puzzled by that for a long time until one day I found myself thinking "I really don't like" or "I love this product! I could use it all day, everyday."  I realized, I had my own set of unique ideas and toolbox that every artist should have.  It didn't happen on a schedule or in a fancy or perfect way.  It happened from buying an art supply, trying it out time after time, and seeing how my art and eyes and soul responded to it.  
So let's get started! This will be my favorite art supplies, Part 1 because already I can think of about 10 supplies I forgot to add on this list. First are these acrylic paints you can find at just about any craft store.  They are a little over a dollar apiece and I try to buy them when they're on sale.  I love the colors and shades of these paints and find the pigment to be quite satisfying. 

I also use cheap paint brushes from Hobby Lobby because I'm pretty bad about remembering to clean my brushes adequately in-between painting sessions.  I'm usually moving from painting time to chores/the girls/real life in just a matter of seconds.  Even though I don't mind paint on my hands during the process of creating, I've discovered I really don't enjoy painting with my hands or fingers, as many artists do.  It's just not my jam.
Occasionally I'll even use these sample paints found at Lowe's.  They are cheap (around $3 for this whole tub) but the color is obviously a lot less saturated than the acrylic paints above or the Goldens below.  Still, I've had success with these, especially if tucking the colors in on a background.
For my birthday last year I saved up some $$ and purchased my first Golden Fluid Acrylics.  I like them, but they're not my most favorite paints.  If you know anything at all about Goldens, that would probably knock you off your feet!  Everyone seems to love Goldens.  Although I do too, because the color is so extremely rich and highly saturated, I enjoy using them most in combination with the cheap acrylic paints.  This helps with the cost too, as Goldens are very pricey. But remember, there's a reason for that.  In this case, more money equals better quality (higher saturation) paint. 
OOOOh, now sprays like these I really, really like! A lot.  I am very lucky to have an art and craft supply warehouse located about 10 minutes from my house where I can purchase sprays for $1.  Yep, you read that right!  Normally spray paints like these are very pricey.  If you don't have a place to buy them so cheaply I always, always recommend using a coupon at Hobby Lobby when buying any kind of supply.   These sprays are great for spraying directly on a canvas, using with a stencil, and letting the ink drip slowly down the page or canvas.
I bought these two paints on sale and love them both!  The ink on the left is fabulous for creating big drips and drops on the page.  The paint on the right is a very highly saturated, thick turquoise paint.  Also a fave.  It's much thicker than the cheap acrylic paints and can create great texture when placed thickly on the canvas.
Watercolors! I've discovered I don't like using watercolors when I have a certain picture in mind….like one day I had this image of creating houses all across the page.  When I tried it with watercolors I didn't like the look of the straight lines.  I prefer to just swipe the colors on and let them run and bleed together on the page with watercolors…

If I do want to create a more defined, yet dreamy look with watercolors, I reach for my watercolor pencils.  You sketch with these first and then go over the pencil drawing with a water brush or regular paint brush dipped in water.  It still allows your sketch to have some structure (like this is great when creating faces) but gives everything a soft edge…an almost hazy look.  I love that.
Paint pens (on the right) are my fave for adding tiny details here and there on backgrounds on my canvases.
The Stabilo pencil on the left is at the top of my favorite art supplies.  Ever.  These pencils come in a few different colors but white and black are my favorite.  They write over a finished canvas easily or you can sketch directly on a blank page and then go over your sketch marks with water to create a shaded look.  
Stencils are another great favorite of mine!  Some of these are mine from childhood and a few I've purchased recently.  You can also make your own stencils or use things you find around the house!  I recently spotted the outline left from the girls' stickers and kept it for a stencil instead of throwing it away.
Mark-making tools are a must in my painting.  These may look familiar to you because these are some of the same supplies the girls used in our printmaking session recently.  I found the two red tools in the kitchen aisle at Wal-Mart!  The other is simply an empty spool of thread.  Basically anything can be used for mark making in your art. 
Tape is another favorite when creating backgrounds or special details in my art!  I try not to ever buy packs of expensive tape.  I either browse the Target $1 spot, use a coupon at Hobby Lobby, or buy it on sale.  The peach colored is Scotch brand which is my favorite brand EVER for really sticking.  The other kinds sorta stick ok…but if I'm using them on a canvas I always add ModPodge to the back and actually glue them down. 
Stamps, how many ways do I love thee? 
So many. 
Back in December I got on a kick to carve my own stamps.  It is so fun, so addicting, so easy.  I have a video of me carving my own stamp I need to figure out how to post.  In the mean time, I like to purchase all kinds of alphabet stamps at Hobby Lobby when they have their 40% off sale, or use a coupon for 50% off at JoAnn's.
For sticking things down on canvas, I still prefer ModPodge.  I use Gesso to create a bit of texture on my canvas, as a background, or I water it down to create a sort of film over parts of my background.
As for art journals, they could really use a post all their own!  When I first started painting I didn't keep a journal which blows my mind now.  I most definitely need my art journal now.  Like badly.  It's where I try out all my ideas, some of which end up really bad.  Others-really great.  I prefer a spiral-bound journal but also like working on several pages at once. This is hard to do when the book is already bound.  I've been pondering buying my own book-binding machine…anyone have experience with that? 

Just a little work in progress to wrap up today!  One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the last year is that finding the art supplies you love is part of finding your style.  I'm so much more able to create art that speaks directly of my soul when I know which supplies connect to my soul.  If you're unsure of what you like or don't like, I encourage you to buy what you can here and there, using coupons, discounts and sales if needed and experiment!  Play with different types of paints, pencils, pens, and see how your mind and and hands and fingers and soul react.  

I look forward to posting Parts 2 and maybe 3 or 4 soon! Then these will become their own separate F.A.Q. page on the blog for your convenience! 

Have a question for me?  Ask away in the comments or email me at sunshinebysara@hotmail.com
I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Great post Sara. I love seeing what other artists love and use most. I will email you my thoughts on your last post. Have a great Tuesday my friend!

  2. Yay! Here is one of my most favorite subjects, Art supplies!
    I always enjoy reading who is using what and why. I understand about Golden brand being pricey, so I go with Liquitex which I absolutely love; their acrylic paints and gel mediums are amazing. I also take advantage of the Hobby Lobby coupons and they are such a great help! I haven't noticed the tapes in the dollar section at Target but I will definitely go and check that out!
    Something that I always keep at my work station is a roll of Wax paper. It's great for drying things on as it keeps them from sticking.
    I am so loving all your inspiring pictures!
    Looking forward to more of your posts,
    Have a beautiful creative day!

    1. Hi Indigo! Thanks for sharing the information about the Liquitex paints! I always see those and wonder about the quality of them. I will have to give them a try! I like the tip for the wax paper too. I hadn't thought of that!

  3. Thanks for sharing what Art supplies you use. What a great job you did explaining it on this post. I so appreciate that you show the "process" of art and not just the final product! So Inspiring!!

    1. Thank-you for your kind words about my post! I was beginning to feel like I was way too long-winded. If there's anything I could talk too much about it's art! :)

  4. I'm going to have to look for the Stabilo pencils. That sounds right up my alley!

    1. I love, love them! You can purchase them on Amazon but again, if you buy them at a place like Hobby Lobby there are coupons!

  5. I love this list! Just looking at the photos makes me want to paint!

    My question for you is about your printer. Which printer do you use, and what would you recommend?

    1. Hi Julie! After doing tons of research I decided on the Epson R2000 printer. I have nothing but very, VERY good things to say about it!! I love it! It prints archival prints so no worrying about the ink fading. I love being able to print on demand, it makes running an Etsy shop very manageable because I can satisfy the customer's order immediately. At the time I purchased mine (last May) buying directly from Epson was the cheapest option. I just looked online at Amazon and they have the printer priced at $665, which I already feel like is a great price. PLUS, they have a $200 refund! What?! That is a crazy good deal in my opinion. You can also purchase the refill inks (I've never had to refill mine yet…just the gloss optimizer) on Amazon as well. And as always, no, I'm never paid to say any of this! Just my own experience. :) :) Hope this helps!

  6. my husband really loves the Golden paints - though he spends lots of time just trying new brands and colours to see what he likes. if you like the ordinary Stablio pencils have you tried the stubbys - I think that's what they're called, they're short and fat and so much fun - H likes playing with them and the girls adore them!

    1. Hi Carie! You know, it's kinda funny about the Golden paints. I know of several artists that only use Goldens and they just turn them straight into magic. For me, the magic happens when I use a combination of things. Ooooh, thanks for telling me about the Stabilo stubby's! I'll definitely have to look those up! :)

  7. What do you make your stamps out of? I have been looking for a more permanent solution than foam and potatoes! Ha! PS - love that I found your blog :)

    1. Hi Emily! I have definitely been down the foam and potato route many, many times…especially with my girls! For these particular stamps I use a Speedball rubber pad. You can buy a whole entire Speedball stamp carving kit, which comes with the carver, several attachments, and the pad. OR, you can just purchase the pad on it's own which I do at Hobby Lobby…with my 40% off coupon of course. :) :)

  8. I bought a set of 12 paint brushes from Chameleon Art Supplies on Amazon.com for my niece as her Christmas gift and she loves them!  I'd definitely recommend them to you guys because for $29.99 they are incredibly good value.  http://amzn.to/1zjuwcv  They send me awesome art tutorial videos over email now just for being a customer which I've never heard of before!  They're giving away premium paint brushes on promotion for just $1 at the moment, though I'd share with you all!  You can get yours here:  

    1. Hi David! Thanks so much for sharing this great information about art supplies!! So good to know! :)


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