All materials listed have been put through multiple trials by me and/or my students.
This list is not exhaustive and I am constantly updating it. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me and ask - DreamPrayCreate[at]gmail[dot]com
Drawing, coloring materials, and other dry media
- Ticonderoga Pencils - Hands down the best brand of pencils ever. The sharpen beautifully - I have never had one split, and the lead is neither too hard/brittle nor too soft. They seem to last forever too.
- Crayola watercolor pencils - I am a huge fan of Crayola brand and these don't disappoint. You should probably get a coloring pencil sharpener though because the pigments (like all coloring pencils) can wear down the blades pretty quickly.
- Design brand kneaded erasers - The brand for this one is important. Not all kneaded erasers are created equal. Get the largest one you can! They last a long time.
- Portfolio series water-soluble Oil Pastels - This is an AMAZING value and clean-up is a cinch. See my review of this product HERE.
- Mr. Sketch Unscented Markers - I use the classpack in the art studio classroom and it is holding up nicely - even the box it came in seems sturdier than Crayola brand. I opted for the non-scented in an effort to not tempt people to swipe them. *shrug*
- Bic Mark-It Permanent Markers - Solid alternative to more expensive solvent-based markers. I can usually always find them cheaper than what they are listed wherever. The plastic cases that they come in hold up well over time too. I have over 15 sets and I took all of them out of the original cases and resorted them by analogous color groups and that seems a better organization/storage, and functional use than keeping them as they were originally sold (see HERE for what I mean).
- Sharpie Markers and Pens - They are simply the best. No other way to put it than that. My favorite tip is actually the chisel tip and not the fine tip as I linked. I mean, the fine tip is fine but I just like chisel tip the best.
Paint and other wet media
- Van Gogh H2Oils - not used by the students and kind of expensive but I have really enjoyed playing around with them
- Reeves Water Mixable Oils - got the classpack for the Interactive Art History class I teach. Nice variety of colors and great consistency.
- Reeves paste/liquid watercolors - got the classpack and it was a big hit
- Blickrylic brand (Dick Blick) Acrylic paints - I go through gallons and gallons of this. Certain colors do break down over time and start to smell so you have to use them within a month of opening them. I buy the jugs in bulk and only ever get the color mixing combinations so the students are forced to learn how to mix colors correctly. Tried Nasco brand called Bulkcrylic and it wasn't a very nice consistency compared to Blick brand.
- Blick brand Tempera paints (jug) - This is an awesome brand to use and it's very economically priced.
- Blick Tempera Cakes - I use the six set at home with my daughter. She enjoys using them but doesn't actually use them all that often. I am sure it's more a matter of her liking markers and crayons more than painting (at this point) though.
- Royal Langnickel Big Kid's Choice - They sell these without the caddy but the caddy is SO nice. They always take a real beating from student use but they hold up well overall and the plastic handles don't shrink if they are accidentally left in water buckets. I got these when they were less than $70 a piece once! A more in-depth review of these can be found HERE.
- Gamblin Oil Paints - my favorite brand of oil paints though Utrecht brand isn't bad if you are on a budget.
- Utrecht Series 209 bristle brushes, Chungking Hog, Flat - Not the most expensive but not the cheapest either. I use these to oil paint (they were my first oil brushes ever) and I bought them individually. They are weighted nicely in order to be able to paint at the easel the ferals and flags are pretty decent.
- Winsor & Newton Liquin Original - The only oil paint medium I use. It neutralizes drying time across pigments and cuts drying time (maybe?) in half if not by a quarter - depending upon the thickness of your color application.
- Turpenoid Natural - I don't have a lot of experience with standard Turpenoid and this with what I use primarily in the way of solvents.
- Winsor & Newton H-frame Shannon easel - My very first standing easel that I have had for at least a decade at this point. It is always one of the first pieces of furniture that I move (when I move) and try and keep with me rather than putting it in the moving truck. It has really been through the gauntlet of life with me and it's even missing some hardware but it still works and I will never trade it for another. It holds a 50x50 inch gallery profile stretched canvas just fine.
- American Easel Oak Yazhi, A-frame - I bought this standing easel for my daughter to use because I didn't want to get her a scholastic/kiddie easel since it wouldn't grow with her. It folds flat and is really sturdy and if I wanted to use it I could though I would end up having to slide the brackets to the highest they will go. I put a masonite drawing board with a clip on the easel so we can tape/clip paper to it for my daughter to draw and paint on.
- Ottlite floor lamp - We have one of these in the studio art classroom (my colleague uses it for her painting/drawing classes) and she uses one in her home studio. I almost got one for my home studio but after reading some of the reviews online I decided to get a different brand. (See the next entry in this list)
- Daylight Floorstanding Lamp - I like this lamp for the most part. My only two reservations of it are that it came with an 18w bulb (and I feel like I might like a 24w better - but that's an easy fix) and the optional magnifying glass for fine work pops out a little too easily at the socket so I can't leave it in there. Somethings I do like about it: it's on casters and it rolls around nicely, the magnifying glass is rimless, and the base is nice and heavy much more than the Ottlite so I feel like it's sturdier.
- Crayola model magic in white - This is the only thing Crayola brand that I would almost abandon and try something different. Maybe it's an issue with glue-based modeling material but it dries out really REALLY quickly once it's opened. I haven't tried other modeling material but I might in the future after I exhaust the studio classroom back stock.
- Sculpture House boneware clay - I use this both at school with my students and then my husband (the better sculptor of the two of us) uses this at the home studio. He likes it a lot and it's easy to clean up.
- Plaster of Paris - I use this at school primarily in the cave painting project idea though I have used it in the past during a summer/recreation craft program to make faux dinosaur fossils digs.
- Plaster tape - It's basically gauze powdered with plaster of paris. *shrug* It's kind of expensive so I don't use it a lot but if I really did I would probably just get rolls of medical gauze and then powder it myself.
- Blick Sculpture Wire - This is a lot of wire for a really good price. I always get the 14 gauge and give the students three portions of about 33 feet. It sounds like a lot of wire but it goes fast. It's very easy to shape, manipulate, and cut.
Supports, Canvases, and Surfaces
- Blick White Sulphite Drawing Paper - I buy this in bulk and use it in the studio classroom in lieu of personal sketchbooks and I liked it so much I bought a few rooms of it (it's pretty cheap) and my daughter blows through it daily.
- Ampersand Aquabord - These are my new favorite surfaces and convinced me that I actually like and want to do more watercolors! They were also a huge hit with the students and really showcased the Reeves liquid watercolor I indicated above.
- Papier-Mache Mask - These have a plastic core and are incredible durable and strong. These are the masks that I use for my own personal projects and for masks I do with the students every year. Nasco does sell them in bulk as a class pack but it's actually cheaper to order them individually and then get the bulk order discount.
- Blick Studio Mini Canvas - These were a big hit with the students when we did the "Mini Masterpieces" in the Art History class. I sprang for the mini wooden easels and even the boys in the class (I make the distinction because it does make a difference) got excited to do the little paintings.
Fibers (I like to crochet free-form animals and hats for my daughter in amigurumi-style when I have the time)
- Vanna's Choice worsted wool yarn
- Lion Brand worsted wool yarn
- Blick E-Z grip knives - These are just as good as Xacto brand and significantly less expensive
- Boxwood clay tools - These are much more durable than their plastic versions and they are easier to clean after they are used
- Scratch-Art Standard Holder - The best scratch tool handles I've found with only one drawback so far - it's hard to change the tips out of them so expect to put the tips in and leave them like that. A more in depth review can be found HERE.
- Stanley Bostitch QuietSharp6 Electric Pencil Sharpener - This blows away Xacto brand electric sharpeners (even with my limited recollection of experience with Xacto) but all of the reviews I have read online also support this claim. It IS expensive but it's so worth the money I might even consider getting one like it (maybe not quite so large and industrial in grade) for home use.
- Prismacolor Oval Pencil Sharpener (for coloring pencils) - This is a hand-held/manual sharpener and we have used it in the classroom exclusively for coloring pencils. It holds up beautifully even though (because they are small and handheld) they disappear too often than I would like to deal with.
Adhesives and Sealants
- Gorilla glue brand glues (especially super glue)
- Elmer's brand glues - great for scholastic use and I only use this brand for rubber cement specifically
- Trigger-Fed glue gun - this is a non-namebrand and pretty cheap but good and sturdy even after repeated uses in the classroom
- Plaid Mod Podge - I use both the Matte and the Glossy and I always have at least a gallon on hand. The matte dries to a nice finish but the glossy always dries and remains a little sticky. I prefer the matte.
Photographic/Digital Mediums and equipment and software
- Canon 5D - Full-frame digital SLR camera body. I use this right alongside the 1Ds I have (as indicated below). If I have to pick one full-frame to use I will usually pick this one because the body is smaller for my already small hands to hold and the color saturation is just better overall.
- Canon 1Ds - I've been a professional photographer for over a decade now so I can justify a heavyweight camera like this. It is a full-frame digital SLR (read here about why I use full-frame).
- Canon Rebel XT - Crop frame digital SLR that is a nice little package for when I need to snap things quickly.
- HTC EVO 4G Android Phone - Since Fall 2011, I have been really lazy with bringing in a better/decent camera to take pictures of student works and students at work so the camera on my phone has been the primary camera I've been using.
- Apple iPhone 4S - Upgraded myself to this device in the Summer of 2012 and it replaced the EVO I was using (as explained above). Pretty happy with making the jump to this since I already have an iPad and Macbook Pro.
- Apple iPad 3 - This has totally transformed how I do curriculum planning and overall organization of all of my visual art endeavors whether they involve teaching or my two entrepreneurial ventures.
- Apple Macbook Pro, 15" - Upgraded to this in the Spring of 2012 before they came out with the improved retina display. I was previously using a PC provided by my work/school that had a swivel screen that made it a tablet type device. Despite all of that, I was more than happy to dole out my own money and buy my own notebook computer (got a nice educators' discount though). Had been a PC user all of my life (was raised to be so by my Engineer father) and glad I finally made the jump to Mac.
- The Photoshop CS3/CS4 WOW! Book - This is the selected textbook I use in the Graphic Design class. It is well written and has some great tutorials that are jumping off points for more intense and personally creative graphic design work.
- Photoshop CS2 - I know this is an old version but it is all my school can afford right now and honestly? It works just fine.
- Photoshop CS5 - My school was able to upgrade to this version in Fall 2011. The students use this version primarily but I use both this version and the old version for personal use just fine.
- The Adobe Illustrator WOW! CS2 Book - I liked the Wow! series so much from Photoshop that it was natural to just go with this text for the course I teach for Illustrator
- Illustrator CS2 - See description of Photoshop CS2 above
- Picmonkey - Great web-based software platform for photo manipulation. This is the reincarnation of Picnik.com (if you didn't know). You would be surprised how many people use this instead of photoshop actions and macros (both being lots of $$$) and get the same (if not better!) results/output. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.
Books that actively inform my teaching, curriculum decisions, and creative endeavors (visual art, business ventures, etc.)
- The Holy Bible - I am a believer in Christ's teachings and follower of His word and I try to always have them be the single thing that informs anything I do. There are different translations of the Holy Bible and I understand certain ones as being a little easier to understand/use depending upon the situation but I use all of the following translations: the New International Version - Life Application Study Bible, the King James Version, The Message, The New Living Translation, and the NIrV Discoverer's Bible for Young Readers. My all time favorite go-to version? If you can believe it it's actually the NIrV Discoverer's Bible for Young Readers. I have almost all of the translations above in both hard copy and Kindle/e-book.
- Imagine by Jonah Lehrer - I am aware of the controversy surrounding this book and I agree that there are things that make it not so wonderful. However, I don't believe all of the "bad" discredits it to the point that what it says shouldn't be considered or used. I have a hardcopy of this book which (I guess) is a first printing/edition! Kind of exciting to me.
- Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) - I have the Kindle version of this book and I have found that I prefer the eVersion because it allows me to project the pages/writings for my classes to see in order to draw in content-area reading because I definitely believe that every teacher ought to attempt to be a reading teacher.
- Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve your Painting - One of these best print (or e-book, that's what I prefer) resources for teaching/learning visual composition. It teaches about how to establish successful and strong visual armatures for paintings but it could just as well apply to dry media.