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Art Materials: New Discoveries - Sophie Ploeg

Art Materials: New Discoveries

I like trying out new products. So if I can afford it I tend to buy a colour that looks appealing, a brush that is in the sale or a linen I have never used before. Sometimes it is a disappointment, often it is just ok, and now and then you hit the jackpot.

Here are some recent discoveries that I was pleasantly surprised by. I generally buy all my art materials from Jackson’s so the (affiliate) links are to them but no doubt you can buy these products in most art shops. Perhaps you’d like to try them yourself or have experience with them?

Clutch Pencil

I only ever knew really thin mechanical pencils but Jackson’s sent me a freebie a while back (a gift when placing an order over a certain value) and I really loved it. A fat clutch pencil holder is much easier to hold and work with and I never knew about it! I much prefer this size now over any normal pencil or pencil holder and use it all the time. I did drop it so the lead inside broke and now the thing rattles a  bit but it is still usable and when my lead is finished I can just replace it with a new one. I would never have guessed that a pencil as fat as a toddler’s crayon would be more comfortable than a normal pencil, but hey ho, there you go.

Clutch pencil lead holder and two Onyx brushes
Jackson’s clutch pencil lead holder and two Onyx brushes (top one is new, bottom one is used)

Small Brush

Although I love Winsor & Newton Series 7 sable brush I don’t treat my brushes very well and having to replace them all the time is an expensive business. So I keep on trying and buying small brushes for detail work in the hope of finding a replacement. Even if it does not really replace my beloved sable brush, perhaps I can find one that can do the bulk of the work, so I can keep the sables for special occassions…

I recently bought the Jackson’s Onyx round brush, size 1. It is only £2.40. It is a a short handled brush so perhaps not for everyone, but I don’t mind a short handle when I am painting small detail. It is a synthetic, stiff haired brush with a very pleasant spring (not too floppy or too stiff) and holds paint well. It kept its shape fairly well. The low price makes up for the slight loss of shape. If you would treat it slightly less harsh than I do, I am sure it would last very long. Soon after my first try I ordered three more.

*A post on Jackson’s blog introduces these new brushes


I know Vasari is not a brand for everyone so this recommendation might well fall on deaf ears. But since I love Vasari I sometimes buy a colour that just looks gorgeous. I am pretty aware that I don’t need any new colours (once you got your basics you really don’t ‘need’ anything else) but now and then you come across a colour that becomes a staple colour. And besides, it is fun to try out new sweets.

Vasari’s Cyprus Umber Yellow Genuine is part of a new range of colours which came out this year. It is just gorgeous! It is a transparent warm yellowish brown that is so subtle it is to die for. I used it in the picture below in combination with Vasari Bluff to mould the facial features a little. Very subtle, very sfumato, very warm.

*Find Cyprus Umber Yellow on Vasari’s website

I would love to hear if you know any of these art materials already or if you have any recent discoveries?



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4 thoughts on “Art Materials: New Discoveries”

  1. Thank you for another great article.

    Some of my recent finds are Lead White 2 by Rublev, a really beautiful ropey lead white.

    Also, have you ever heard of painting on Acrylic mirrors? David Kassan swears by them saying as no oil paint is completely opaque the light bounces inside the painting and makes the paint more luminescent. What do you think? I tried it and it think it does make the paint more luminescent, but i find it strange working on a sanded acrylic surface.

    1. Hi Neil, thanks for commenting! Lead white is hard to get in Europe these days and I must admit I didn’t like it the first time I used it so I passed it on to a friend. Not my cup of tea – so very different from Titanium!
      I heard someone recently mention Kassan working on mirrors – not quite sure how it works but am sure it should look beautiful, especially with slightly transparent paint! I’d imagine the surface is very smooth indeed? Interesting…

      1. Hi Sophie!

        I’m amazed you don’t use lead white. What did you not like about it? Most portrait artists swear by it. I find titanium makes paint super chalky, do you not find that?

        Also on the note of detail brushes. I got a tip from an fantasy artist called Justin Gerard, he uses a number 1 or 0 Griffin acrylic brush for detailing. I’ve used it too, it holds it’s point pretty well and is slightly stiffer than sable so if take thicker paint. Although I imagine its quite close to the handling of the Onyx brush you were talking about 🙂

        1. Hi Neil, I found lead white behaving completely different from the other oil colours. And I didn’t find it practical to have one colour ‘work’ differently from the rest when I am painting. I don’t really like Titanium either, in fact generally don’t use white at all as I have never found one I liked.
          I will definitely try the Griffin brush, thanks for the tip!!

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