Top 10 art supplies for Mixed Media

Before I dive into my top 10 art supplies, let me preface this blog post by saying: first of all, use what you have and don’t feel pressured into buying stuff just because someone else says they’re the bees knees.

It’s way more important to sit down and create than to wait for the “perfect supply” to arrive at your doorstep. I’m certainly guilty of procrastinating my daily painting session, thinking everything would be better if I just had this ONE supply that I saw my friends use.

However, after years of lettering, drawing and painting almost daily and even when I didn’t feel like it, I do have a few art supplies that I keep reaching for again and again.

In general, I almost never buy sets. Whenever I want to try a new art supply, I get 2 or 3 single colors and test them out first. When I like them, I get a few more of the colors I use most often. Sometimes you can get good offers on Ebay or on Craigslist, and I’ve even found decent art supplies at the transfer station (that’s what we call the stations here in Hawaii).

Alright, let’s dive into my top 10 art supplies of 2024. If you prefer to watch a video, head over to my Youtube channel to watch my top 10 favorite supplies there.

Number 1: Sketchbooks

Even though I mostly use handmade sketchbooks at this point (I bind them myself with my favorite papers), I still have 2 go-to factory made sketchbooks that I use on a daily basis:

One is the Royal talens art creation sketchbook line from the Netherlands. These are very affordable sketchbooks that come in a wide range of sizes and colors, and this year they’ve come out with a white paper version that I’m currently testing out.

The other one is a recent discovery after reading a book called Expressive Sketchbooks by Helen Wells and she uses this Venezia sketchbook a lot. It’s made by Fabriano in Italy and the paper quality is fantastic. I love Fabriano paper in general, so buying this sketchbook was inevitable I guess. I also really like the large size. I noticed that this year especially I’ve moved from smaller sized sketchbooks to larger sizes. I like using my whole arm when I draw and paint and somehow my illustrations keep getting bigger.


Number 2: Handmade watercolors

If you’ve been following me on social media you know that I’ve been making my own watercolors since 2017 and these are the ones that I use almost exclusively.

I also use other handmade watercolors as well, especially those made by Stacey of Stakiwicolours in New Zealand.

She has a lot of hues that I don’t have or haven’t made yet. We even have our own Instagram hashtag called Alohakiwi, and there’s an interview with Stacey on my Youtube channel if you’re interested to hear more about the watercolor paint making business side of things.

In my illustrations, I usually start with a layer of watercolor, and then go in with colored pencil.


Which brings me to

Number 3, water soluble and regular colored pencils:

Let me tell you, I’ve tried a lot of different brands and there are a lot of good ones out there but for me, there are mostly 3 that I will reach for regularly.

Both the Luminance and Supracolor pencils are made by the Swiss company Caran d’ache. The Luminance are very sturdy pencils, I’ve never had issues with snapping or breaking, and the color coverage is amazing. They are not water soluble and sharpen to a really good point and are great for details and outlines.

Supracolors are water soluble and a bit softer, just like all water soluble pencils, but they still sharpen to a very good point and come in a wide color range including some really nice bright colors.

The other water soluble pencils I use a lot are by the English company Derwent. They have some really interesting hues, especially the dark husky colors are great, such as dusky purple, iron green etc. I have not found any other company that creates colored pencils in hues like that. And, other than the supracolors I just talked about these Inktense are different in that once they are dry, they don’t lift anymore, so they don’t reactivate with water. They are also super easy to use with watercolors, you can mix them with watercolors when everything is still wet.

The only downside is that they don’t sharpen that well, especially not in a humid and hot climate like here in Hawaii, and they stay pretty soft. It might be different if you live in a dry climate but for me, these inktense almost work like soft crayons.


Talking about crayons! Number 4, Neocolors!

There are Neocolor 1 and 2, both made by Caran d’ache. Neocolor 1 are just like regular wax crayons, and the Neocolor 2 are the really special ones in my opinion, as they are water soluble.

I use both types but have only very recently picked up the Neocolor 1 so in this video I’ll focus on the Neocolor 2 as I have more experience with them.

Just like with water soluble color pencils, you can use these side by side with watercolors, but as they are larger in diameter, they are great for covering larger spaces on the paper. Also great to create texture when you’re using cold press paper. You can use them just like watercolor by taking the paint right off the crayon with a wet brush or drawing on a palette, and of course you can use them dry as well, but I mostly use them in combo with watercolor.


Number 5: Stabilo woody 3 in 1

I picked up the pastel color set about a year ago, as they were all colors that I couldn’t find with the Neocolors. But now I love these so much that I recently added a white, gold and ultramarine blue to my collection. The woodys are inteded for children and you can draw with them on glass, cardboard, and other surfaces but I use them mostly on paper.

I really like how chunky they are and that they let you cover big areas in no time. They are water soluble and mix well with watercolor and neocolor and colored pencil as well. Only downside is that with the included sharpener you can’t sharpen them to a point, they always stay kinda flat. So for details and linework I would recommend using colored pencils.


Number 6: acrylic gouache

Acrylic gouache is very similar to Acrylic paint, it basically uses the same plastic based binder, but it always dries flat, with a matte finish and usually without texture, or at least less than with regular Acrylic paint. Just like acrylic paint once it’s dry, it can’t be reactivated with water. Which makes it really great to use for backgrounds.

I picked up 4 colors by Turner on my trip to Japan in November and love the fluid consistency and quality of color. Very similar are the acrylic gouache by Holbein, another Japanese company. I mostly use these three shades, Shell pink, Pale mint and Blue green. And last but not least are the American Liquitex acrylic gouache.

They come in larger sized bottles that contain 3 times more paint than the Turner and Holbein tubes. I just found out that the Holbein gouache also come in 40 ml tubes but they are still more expensive than the Liquitex. I mostly use white and black Liquitex to mix with my other gouache. I also use these by the way to mix with traditional gouache and make that a bit more water resistant.


Number 7: pan pastels

My latest discovery! Or I should better say I’ve been watching the fabulous Katie Moody use them and even though I thought at first, do I really want an art supply that looks like make up? I caved and bought a set that was on sale and boy do I love them! They add either a super smooth background, or you can use them to add some interesting texture on top of watercolors or brushpens.


Number 8: watercolor brushes

Again, I’ve tried out so many different brushes over the years, and while there are certainly a bunch of great ones out there for different purposes, I keep coming back to these two brands: KUM Germany Memory point and The Pigeon Letters (Peggy Dean, USA).

They are elastic and more on the firm side, and “snap back” easily. I find they are perfect for my style of watercolor, gouache and lettering.


Number 9: Ecoline brush pens

Ecoline brushpens are made by Royal Talens, that’s the same company that also makes the Art creation sketchbooks that I showed you earlier. What I love about these brushpens is that they have a beauitful color range including lots of pastel but also very bright colors, they are very juicy and are wonderful to both cover large areas quickly but also great for quickly sketching and drawing. Another feature to point out is that the nib is reversible.

You can take out the nib, turn it over and pretty much have a brandnew brushpen. So, more use less waste! On the same note, these brushpens are refillable with the liquid watercolor of the same brand. You can also dip the brushpen in a liquid watercolor with a different color to create some interesting ombre effect which is probably mostly interesting for lettering, but I thought I just mention it, too.


10 Fude de Mannen

The fountain pen Fude de Mannen by the Japanese company Sailor. I use it with a converter and right now I have a waterproof ink in it. What I love about this particular fountain pen is the bent nib. It’s bent at a 40 degree angle which enables you to create both thin lines and broad lines. This is such a great pen for urban sketching but also just for taking notes or adding some scribbles to your journal pages. It’s also quite affordable which is another reason I would recommend it.

I have all these supplies listed in my Amazon storefront if you’re interested! (This is an affiliate link. I get a small commission at no additional cost to you)

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