Add These Brushes, Pencils & Pens to Your Artist Toolbox

In my previous blog post, we explored conventional brush bristles, paint types and bristle pairings.

To round out your artist toolbox, you’ll want to consider adding various brush shapes, some calligraphy brushes, some pencils, and even some paint markers.

Let’s take a closer look at each item.

Select Brush Shapes To Help You Create

From the handle to the bristles and shape of brushes, the options can seem overwhelming. Your options are endless with an endless array of sizes and bristle types, and more than 20 different shapes.

Here a few brush-shape facts to consider:

Brush-Shape Facts

You can use this handy brush chart by Blick Art Materials as a guide, too.

But try not to box yourself into specific uses for each type of brush.

Remember that creating art involves experimenting to find what tools and mediums work best for you.

Choose From Small and Large Calligraphy Brushes

Calligraphy brushes come in a variety of sizes and are used for different purposes. Traditionally, these ink brushes were used in Japanese and Chinese calligraphy.

The calligraphy brush you use depends on the type of lines you want to draw or the kind of art you want to create.

I used enormous calligraphy brushes to paint the piece the Ace Hotel in New Orleans commissioned me to create. This type of brush created an entirely different effect than normal brushes.

Creating with Paint Markers

Paint markers come in a variety of sizes and use an oil-based paint that requires shaking before use. They also come in every conceivable color you can imagine. You can use these for bright and bold marks that last a long time.

I use them to make a definite mark or line on a canvas or board. But I’ve found they are work best for me as an accent to whatever I’m creating.

Understand Pencil Differences

Just like paint brushes, there are a wide variety of pencils from which to choose.

The first thing to consider is the lead type. There are varying degrees of lead. From hard lead (HB), which produces great sketches to the softest (8B), which is great for shading and creating dark lines.

Here are some pencil types I use:

  • Graphite Pencils, which are my favorite. They are great for creating dynamic lines, textures, and shadows. For example, you can use them for blocking in shapes when you’re creating a landscape.
  • Charcoal Pencils are good for quick sketches and impressionist drawings. The lead is soft and produces many deep, rich shades of black.
  • China Marker, aka Grease Pencils, works on virtually any medium or surface. (An interesting tidbit is that they were originally designed to write on china.)
  • Colored Pencils are made of wax and typically found in classrooms or children’s art boxes.
  • Watercolor Pencils are color-based and easily dissolve in water. You can mix colored pencils with watercolor pencils to create contrasts and vibrancy.

One thing to note is if you accidentally use charcoal pencils with water acrylics or watercolors, it will run and make a mess. (This has happened to me by mistake.)

Just like testing brushes, with any of these tools you need to experiment to determine which ones work best in the piece you’re creating.

Since there are no mistakes in art, you can keep exploring options until you find the tools that help you display and share your art best.