My Art Tools

I’m a staunch believer that the tools don’t make the artist, and that any true artist can make ANYTHING that is available to them work. My favorite examples of this are Andrea Joseph, who makes the most amazing works of art with the humble ballpoint pen, and Waway Saway and the other artists of the Talaandig Tribe who make gorgeous paintings with soil. I believe that if I were not as fortunate as to be able to afford nice art supplies, I’d still manage to make do with whatever I have.

That said, we have a new volunteer at the office. Her name is Rona and she happens to be a typographer. We had quite a conversation about art materials. Namely, that we share the same sentiments and frustrations on the dearth of good art supplies in the Philippines.

Given the advancements of online shopping, this shouldn’t be a problem. But the thing is that shipping to this country is still crazy expensive. And hence, Rona can only stare longingly at the brush pens at JetPens while I drool at the color swatches of watercolor I want to try.

The tools don’t make the artist, but artists like having the right ones anyway. Given the opportunity.

A few months ago, I ordered some really lovely art supplies, namely a handmade leather journal with deckle paper from Down to Earth Studios in India and a Pocket Palette from Expeditionary Artist Maria Coryell-Martin. The two were a bit of a splurge, especially considering shipping costs.

The journal is just lovely and looks like it comes from another world! For a paper that is unsized, it takes watercolor fairly well although quick wet-to-dry washes work best. I had wanted to try sizing it manually with gelatine but I haven’t managed the time to do so yet. And it manages pretty well.

The pocket palette is also exactly what I needed! Before I received it, I was concerned that it might be too small for my needs. But it turned out to be the perfect size – portable enough to carry around when I’m doing field work, but big enough to hold quite a lot of paint and a decent mixing space.


I also took the opportunity to order a Pocket Color Guide, just so I could test the Daniel Smith colors. They have a wonderful reputation, but cost more than MG. Since I have only used the MG colors until now, I finally understood why people avoid them in travel palettes. The DS colors I got were really solid,although they still rewetted very well in water. The MG ones stay on my palette moist and shiny and toothpastelike in consistency. (On that note, I have only a couple of times had trouble with MG being unruly on my travel palette – and only when I don’t let it dry after use.)

Both the MG and the DS colors are juicy and saturated. Some of the MG colors (notably pthalo blue, pthalo green and nickel quinacridone gold) have a darker masstone than their DS counterparts. And while this is an advantage for color mixing, I’ve come to love the DS colors because they don’t have this dark masstone. This made the colors more predictable, and less prone to tone fluctuations on even nonwatercolor paper.

I love both brands, but I’m likely to order the MGs when I run out because they’re economical: they’re cheaper and last longer. Again, that is an effect of the dark masstone – I only need just a little bit of paint to get the tint I want.

Now I only need a waterbrush for my little travel kit to be complete! 🙂


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