one art supply that an artist should have

The One Art Supply Every Artist Needs

Hint: You don’t need much to be creative. Get back to basics with the basic art supplies every artist needs.

I know a lot of artists and, no matter their skill level, we all have one thing in common: we hoard art supplies.

Visiting an art supply shop (or e-commerce site) is like being a kid in a candy store. Yummy paint, bright colored pencils, greasy crayons, ink in all colors of the rainbow, the softest brushes ever, all kinds of sketchbooks, and pens, oh so many pens – we want it all.

But what art supplies do you really need?

During these confusing and scary times living in isolation, what I really need has become clearer. Personally, I’m counting my blessings that I have a safe roof over my head, a warm home, and a great roommate (my husband!). 

As I fill page after page with drawings that keep me sane and take my mind off of things at least for a while, I realize there is so much to be grateful for. And as I draw my way through the apartment, I challenge myself creatively by picking up art materials that I’ve had for ages but hardly ever use. But even if you don’t have many art supplies around, you can still be creative

During our Fountain Pens live workshop, someone asked: “What would you choose if you’re only allowed to bring your sketchbook and one tool?”

A pen. Any pen! 

It’s really all you need to get started and to keep going. Your sketchbook and a pen. 

Here’s the thing: it’s not the tool that makes the art, it’s you. 

Draw a selfie (or a shelfie) every day and the result will be different every time. A few years ago, I filled a whole sketchbook with self portraits and it has become one of the most varied sketchbooks I own. 

If you use the same pen every day, it might seem boring, but think about it – it doesn’t have to be. You can actually create amazing things. No distractions or procrastinating because you can’t choose which art material to use – you can just dive in right away.

Andrea Joseph started her drawing life by using simple ballpoint pens. She would only draw at home, on her own, and she made the most amazing art. Filled sketchbook after sketchbook and she became known for her ballpoint pen art.

drawing with few art supplies

Art by Andrea Joseph

And look at her art now: Andrea has unfolded to be such an expressive artist, who takes on any  tool to draw with, and has been making friends (online and IRL) all over the world since her “coming out as an artist,” (as she calls it). 

Danny is currently getting by with very few art supplies, and still making things. When he left for a short trip to California a few weeks ago, he didn’t think he’d need to bring much more than his sketchbook and his fountain pen. Thanks to the Coronavirus, the short trip got extended by weeks. But he is finding stuff around the house that he can add to his creative arsenal. Sharpies, highlighter markers, and a few colored pencils. 

As long as you have something to draw with and something to draw on, you can keep up the creative habit. 

He may need to be more resourceful at times, but isn’t that exactly what being creative is all about? Just grab a pen and draw. Don’t use a pencil, and definitely not an eraser. 

“A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” – Paul Klee

art supplies used: pen

Art by Koosje Koene

Or, said by Veronica Lawlor: “When you’re walking, you’re not saying ‘wait, that step wasn’t quite right, let’s step back and do it again.’ So why would you do that with your line, erasing it because ‘it isn’t quite right?’”

Grab that pen. It’s really all you need to be an artist.

If you’re looking to get back to basics, check out the new Art Bootcamp course. Learn or reestablish your fundamentals of drawing, watercolors, color theory and more. 

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