My Favorite Art Tools
I’m sharing my favorite art tools that I get to use in my studio on a daily basis! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the orange links and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
All of the suggestions on the Asphalt Canvas Blog are purely my opinion, however, they were formed from a favorite experience or helpful use of a high-end product in my own professional art practice and business.
This kind of paper comes loose or in sketchbook. It is a transparent paper used for tracing over pencil drawings and/or designs. This type of paper has allowed me to transform a rough sketch into a detailed fine line drawing with minimal erasing. Its transparency also allows me to find the perfect placement of my drawing onto the actual canvas I’ll be painting before I trace it on with Saral paper.
Saral Transfer Paper is a wax free transfer paper that comes rolled in a few different colors and allows you to transfer a design from a sketch or pattern, to any surface buy the use of colored chalk. It makes clean, crisp tracings to canvas, metal, glass, plastic, or wood that can be easily erased with water and/or painted over.
Made by Mack Brush, the Virus Scrolling and Script Pinstriping Brush features blended golden taklon bristles that hold their shape and a long slender handle (closest to a regular oil painting brush). The synthetic-like bristles give the brush hairs a bit of a snap while in use and are flexible enough to make fluid circular lines as the paint flows freely from their long bristles. This brush set offers a bunch of different brushes with the same hair shape but with different brush thicknesses which makes them perfect for pinstriping, script lettering work, fine details, and outlines. I have only used these brushes for enamels.
Created by artist, Jerral Tidwell, and produced by Mack Brush, this nine brush set works great with enamels, acrylics, and oils. Their synthetic bristles come in variety of different shapes per each pack, making these one of my favorite brush sets for pinstripe illustration. Not only are synthetic bristles much easier to care for, but this pack gives you a brush for almost every desirable application from large color blocking, lettering, and fine detail work.
Also created by Jerral Tidwell and produced by Mack Brush, this set of 6 different sized and shaped brushes are made with a synthetic hair that is the closest thing to real sable hair without having to pay the steep sable price. You can also use this brush set with enamels, acrylics, and oils. From my experience with these brushes, enamel paint flows freely out of the hairs in a controlled and even manner, no matter what brush from the set you are using. This is my most used brush set.
Andrew Mack & Son Brush Company teamed up with artist, Todd Hanson, to create a brush called the “King 13” which is offered in sizes 00000, 000, 00, and 0. These numbers represent the thickness of the lines you want to paint. These brushes are specially designed for pinstriping with a short wooden handle and bristles made with Chinese blue squirrel hair. I have found the shape of these sword brushes give me the best control over my design and line work.
I use these brushes primarily for lettering and sign painting. I have a few different sizes to utilize for different sized jobs. The black glossy handle makes these brushes easier for me to clean and store rather than a wood handled brushes you often find for lettering work. The brush hairs are made of 100% pure brown soft Kazan hair that are attached to the handle with a brass wire bound plastic ferrule. This combination allows for me to easily create the perfect chisel shape with the brush hairs for each letter I get to paint.
For thinning and mixing paint on canvas paintings, I use a cheap paint thinner from Home Depot. I also use this cheaper paint thinner to clean my brushes. For automotive jobs or paint jobs that will be outside, I am sure to use reducers from Alpha 6 to ensure a longer lasting paint design.
This is a virtually indestructible and lightweight carbon fiber Mahl stick with a non-marking rubber tip that can telescope for a reach of 16″ to 36″ long. This mahl stick has been wonderful to use for lettering and fine art painting. It gives your hand a safe place to rest over wet paint while working on fine details without the weight of a traditional mahl stick. Alpha 6 custom carbon fiber products can be used with lacquers and urethanes and have an epoxy coating that is nearly indestructible. The best feature of this mahl stick is that it retracts to fit into my traveling art tool box (No more forgetting my mahl stick at on-site jobs!). You can checkout what I carry in that box here.
Alpha 6 high gloss, long lasting lettering enamel is my favorite medium to paint with due to its versatility and durability! I use this paint on many types of surfaces including canvas, wood, metal, glass and plastic. It blends well with other colors for shading and dries fast for quick layering applications. The tubes come in 8, 5, and 2.5 oz sizes. The bottles are square which makes them easy to store in your studio and stack in a traveling a tool box. *Friendly reminder: Be sure to store your tubes of paint upside down so that the paint inside wont “skin over” or dry out at the middle of the bottle.
This is the highest quality enamel and/or urethane hardener offered for use in conjunction with ALPHANAMEL paint. I use this hardener in combination with Alpha 6 enamel paints when working on any artwork that will be outside in the weather or used heavily on a daily basis (i.e. Helmets). It comes in a sealed 1/2 pint can to ensure longevity.
Prismacolor Turquoise Sketching Pencils are designed for technical and fine art drawing. They offer consistent grading, strong opacity, and clean erasability. They’re set offers a variety of sizes in lead weight and are great for rough layouts, freehand sketching, portraiture, figure drawing, and automotive rendering.
Master’s Touch Grandeur Collection Blank Canvas is constructed of the finest quality pure cotton standard white canvas of medium texture. This paint canvas comes primed with acid free acrylic gesso. This saves me a step and makes the canvas ready to use straight out the packaging! I’ve come to love the Master’s Touch Brand but their Grandeur Collection is my favorite to work on because of the sturdy stretcher bars that create a beautiful, thick, paintable edge all the way around the flat surface of the canvas.
This new case carries 16 brushes! When closed with the zipper that runs around 3 sides, it’s a compact 9.25” x 4” x 1”. I used to use a metal carrier case, but even with the brush spacers offered by Alpha 6, I found that a soft portable case could hold more brushes, stand up right while working, and keep all my brushes organized and better protected.
No chemicals, colorants, or additives makes Alpha Oil totally safe for conditioning your expensive brushes. I apply this oil liberally, especially at the heal of the brush where the hairs meet the handle, after I have cleaned my brushes from any residual paint with my cheap paint thinner.