Top 3 Favorite Art Supplies of 2014

Another year is coming to a close and as I look forward to the future and what it might hold for me artistically, I’d like to step back a minute and review my top 3 favorite art supplies of 2014.

Top 3 favorite art supplies of 2014

1. Gelly Roll gel pens

If there’s one product I had to say I used the most in 2014, it would have to be these. The Gelly Roll pens come in a variety of different finishes, but my favorites this year have been the Souffle and more recently the Stardust varieties.

When you first start writing with the Souffle pens, you almost don’t see a thing. But as it dries you get the full color. These dry as opaque, creamy colors with a matte finish. They also dry somewhat raised, which looks a bit like embossing. I like to use the Souffle pens to draw or write against all backgrounds, light or dark. I think it really makes things pop and transforms a one-color background into something really special.

The sparkle of the holiday season might have influenced my decision to add the Stardust pens to the list, too, but I really feel like I used them in almost everything in the later half of 2014. The best way I know how to describe them is that they are clear ink with very fine glitter included. Even though they come in a variety of different colors, I like using the clear Stardust pen the most for a more subtle shimmer.

In addition to the Souffle and Stardust pens, I also heavily utilize the white pen to add contrast, especially against the darker backgrounds.

2.  Washi Tape

I wasn’t always into these just because I couldn’t justify the $5 price tag, but then I saw quite a few of them on sale at my local craft store and in the dollar bins at Target (who knew?!) and I was hooked.

They come in a lot of different colors and patterns so they’re very versatile. When I went shopping for holiday card supplies I picked up a ton of festive washi tape that I used in every card. In addition to using washi tape to decorate greeting cards, I also use it for added interest in some of my art journal pages. I’ve also used them in the past to decorate boxes for the cookies I like to bake and distribute to friends and family.

I love that–because they’re made out of paper–you can write on them. Sometimes I will use them in my daily journal as colorful dividers or as page tabs to create sections. I also like that unlike other tape, there’s something about it that makes it just sticky enough to stick to what you need it to, but not so much that you can never take it off again. This has come in handy on projects where I’ve changed my mind and I absolutely love that there’s virtually no residue.

3. Prismacolor Colored Pencils and Colorless Blender

My favorite subject when it comes to art is portraits. Even though I haven’t created too many this year, the ones I enjoyed the most were the ones I did with Prismacolor colored pencils. I got my first set of 50 when I was in high school and even though I have a new set, I still use the old ones to this day.

What I like the most about these is that they’re soft and very pigmented. You don’t need to press down all that hard to get a lot of color payoff. They’re fairly easy to blend together on their own, but I really like having that smooth, blended look so I almost always use their colorless blender when I’m drawing. I think it does a great job of meshing the colors together without really altering the colors themselves. In fact, sometimes it looks as though the colors become more vivid after using it. Like the colored pencils, it’s also soft and easy to work with.

So those were my top 3 favorite art supplies of 2014. I think I’ll definitely continue using them in 2015, but there’s a couple things on my radar that I’ve been wanting to try.

Artfully Megan Signature

What were your favorite art supplies of 2014? Are there any you’re looking forward to trying out in 2015?

I was not given any of these products for compensation or review. The products were purchased by me and the opinions supplied are my own.

Handmade Holiday Cards 2014

I’m not sure when it clicked in my mind that I could combine my art journaling techniques with card-making, but when I did my interest in it really took off. I think I really started getting into handmade holiday cards a year or so ago. Before that, I remember doing it on occasion just for fun, but now almost every card I make is handmade in one way or another.

Some of the supplies I used to craft my 2014 holiday cards.

Some of the supplies I used to craft my 2014 holiday cards.

If I had to describe my current style, I would say it’s simple. It’s usually just a mixture of paper collage, markers, pens, puff paints, and stickers (specifically Hello Kitty ones!). This year I decided to dress it up a little bit with some festive washi tape and rhinestones. I’m still learning which techniques and products I prefer, but I’m enjoying trying new things out with each special season.

This year’s cards have already been mailed and I’m really looking forward to people getting them! Sometimes I wonder if people realize how much fun it is for me to make these things. I usually try to select an individual theme for each card that I think the person would like. Even though it takes a lot of time to pull that concept together into a tangible card, I enjoy seeing my friends and family happy and sharing a little piece of what I love.

Artfully Megan Signature

Do you make your own cards? What’s your favorite part about it?

Art Journal Page – Be Confident

One of the things I love the most about art journaling is that I can take any bit of anxiety and frustration and just put it down on the page. Art journaling doesn’t have to be pretty, there aren’t any rules, and it’s easy to do with even the most basic of supplies.

Last week in particular I was feeling a little bit under pressure because I was given additional responsibilities in my job. It’s definitely going to be a huge professional development opportunity and a big step forward in furthering my career. With any new endeavor comes excitement and ambition, but I was finding that my old habits of negativity and doubt were lying in wait, ready to pounce. Rather than let my thoughts wander into crazy (and unlikely!) scenarios of failure, I decided to pull out my art journal and create something uplifting instead.

Art Journal Page - Be Confident

Art Journal Page – “Be Confident”
Supplies: marker, gel pen, puff paint, washi tape

The focus of this page is the phrase “Be Confident” and I wanted it to be as bold as I need to be. I chose capital, block letters that I outlined in glitter for more impact. I went for a brighter color palette like purple, green, hot pink, and yellow. I tried to punch it up a little by using yellow puff paint and including animal print, which for me always seems to be symbolic of being playful.

Even though I probably wouldn’t consider this the best art journal page I’ve made, I’m still really pleased with the way it was able to take all of my intense emotion and channel them together into a positive reminder.

Artfully Megan Signature

Have you ever created a page out of emotion? What types of pages did you create?

No white paper?!

I can easily say that I’ve been an arts enthusiast for my whole life. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t surrounded by art supplies, even during those periods I wasn’t artistically active. That being said, it was definitely a shock to me that there was no white paper in sight when I got the hankering to draw.

But that wasn’t going to stop me and I guess that’s just part of being creative. What seems like a block ultimately becomes a creative challenge so instead of trying to reach for what was familiar, I pulled out my drawing pad of black paper. Once I got going it admittedly felt a little nostalgic. It felt like a throwback to my high school art classes where we were just starting to learn about negative space. Even though using black paper wasn’t part of my original plan, it did feel good to have somewhat of a brain teaser. Rather than laying down dark colors to create shadows and contrast, I had to figure out how to utilize the black background. In the past, I had only used white conté crayon, chalk, or pastel so this time I decided to try it with a little bit of color.

Fan Art of Luke Bryan

Fan Art of Luke Bryan. Colored pencil on black paper. (December 2014)
Supplies: Prismacolor colored pencils, Prismacolor colorless blender

It may be a little-known act that I’ve been really into country music lately–both new and old. So the subject of my drawing was country star, Luke Bryan. Coincidentally, he also won the American Country Countdown Award for Male Vocalist of the Year last night!

Artfully Megan Signature

Have you worked with black paper before? What are your favorite ways to use it?

The Continuum

For those that know me, it’s probably not a secret that I’ve authored several blogs and websites—all of which no longer exist for one reason or another. When still surrounded by the ghosts of blogs past, one might wonder why I didn’t immediately dismiss the thought of starting over.

Why start over when the statistics being flung around are so jarring? “95% of bloggers quit,” one statistic reads. “Most bloggers quit after the first 6 months,” reads another. These statistics may or may not be verified, but I certainly know from personal experience that the outlook for such ventures can be grim.

Though really—why start over? My answer: the continuum.

I’ve recently taken to watching the documentary series, Craft in America, where several of the artists featured have made mention of the continuum. It connects them to other artists through an infinite loop of tradition and creativity.

But for me another continuum exists, one consisting of suppressed dreams and unexplored prospects. Somehow I find myself within this continuum, desperately throwing things into the void that only the fulfillment of creative aspirations can close. One of those aspirations is this blog, the creation of which has been impatiently gnawing at me over the past few months.

What would happen if, instead of believing myself doomed from the start, I gave myself a chance? What would happen if, when met with the opportunity to live a piece of my dreams, I said yes? Would I break through the cycle of creative self-denial?

There’s no way to tell from where I stand today, but today I am willing to take the chance!

Artfully Megan Signature