The 9 Must-have Tools to Create

Mixed Media art is a blast to make because you get to explore and use many different materials. I use mainly acrylic paints but I love to throw in some drawing, collage is usually in there somewhere and a transfer may find its way into the many layers of my art. But what about tools? Every artist has their favorite brush. I love my inexpensive synthetic brushes for acrylics and I do have my expensive oil brushes but they haven’t seen the light for a long time. My favorite brushes are flat, angle, fan and liner. I can make do with a few sizes of those. Here are the tools that I must have and use the most often. They are not in any order.

1. Palette Knife

I use a plastic step handle knife. Not too big and not too skinny. A simple tool that I constantly use for getting gels out of jars, mixing colors and spreading paint. It is my go-to for getting a broken color effect.

2. Deli Sheets

Yes, I use these like a tool. They are wonderful for blotting, I keep them around to put my leftover gels, pastes and paints on. These then become wonderful collage papers. They are great for cleaning paste off stencils. My favorite use is for moving paint. I call it the Drag-n-art technique. Put a couple of drops of paint onto your painting surface. Spray with water and place the deli sheet on top and pull and twist to move and blend the paints.

3. Alcohol

No, not the kind you drink! I use 70% Isopropyl alcohol to create wonderful implied resist techniques. I call these implied rather than applied because they are smooth to the touch but pack in a lot of texture wow. You can spray or drop alcohol onto the wet paint surface and the paint will move away from the drops. I call it a Goldilocks technique because the paint must be just right. Not too thick, not too wet, but not dry either, just right.

4. Silicone Tool

I prefer wide Colour Shaper tool. These are wonderful tools that I use daily. I apply acrylic paint straight from the tube with a Colour Shaper, and then use it to carve back into the paint for a variety of texture and surface effects. The tool easily lifts paint from the surface or draws lines, contours, and edges on the color.

5. Brayer

I love to blend paint using a soft brayer. I can even get some resist techniques when I spray some alcohol onto my paint then use the brayer to remove the paint.

6. Claybord by Ampersand

You may not think of your painting surface as a tool but this surface really is because it is Kaolin Clay. You can create an amazing array of textures and techniques using the Claybord. You can even incise into the clay for some unique effects.

7. Plastic

I use plastic for more than protecting my work surface. Plastic is the surface I use to make paint skins. I also use it to make textures on my wet paint. I paint on it, let dry and then transfer the shapes to my paintings using gloss medium. But the best tip is to use it for a glaze preview. I paint a glaze color over a section and then look at it over my painting to evaluate if it is the right color or not prior to applying it over the painting. It’s kind of like dating, you get to check it out before committing.

8. Gloves

I must use gloves now because for decades I didn’t. Now my skin is sensitive. Your skin is the largest organ of your body so please don’t think it is cool to have paint all over your hands. It’s not healthy. I love to paint with my hands so tools are a must!

9. The most important tool is my Imagination and Curiosity. These are the tools that have led me to write 6 art technique books and now online classes. The "What if?" factor is my journey and finding out what is on the other side fuels my curiosity.

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