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My Favorite Painting Material

Updated on April 24, 2012
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I am Diane Brown (dbro), an artist and illustrator living in Texas. I enjoy all phases of the creative process. Enjoy and comment!

Wedding Day, Pencil, 10 x 8"
Wedding Day, Pencil, 10 x 8"

Where it all Begins

I was intrigued by the question, "What is your favorite painting material?" I have definite preferences, that's for sure. I am "by trade" a watercolorist. Most of the work I do is in watercolor. I love the wonderful liquid properties of watercolor - how the pigment and the water interact and behave in predictable (and not so predictable) ways. I am intrigued by the challenge of harnessing these properties and making them (most of the time) bend to my will. I like the process of planning a watercolor painting, figuring out which washes need to be applied to the painting first, saving the "whites" on the paper, watching the beauty and drama increase in a painting with each successive wash. It's all fantastic! After reading all this, I'm sure you would surmise that watercolor is my favorite painting material, but it's not! My favorite painting material is the lowly, humble, ubiquitous number 2 pencil!

For me, and I suppose for most artists, their first experiences with art came from this humble source. For years as a child, this pencil was the only conduit for expressing my creative vision. Of course we had crayons, but they seemed more relegated to use in coloring books. While fun, that activity did not satisfy my desire to express what I wanted to express.


Tandem, Watercolor, 8 x 10"
Tandem, Watercolor, 8 x 10"
Tandem II, Pencil, 8 x 10"
Tandem II, Pencil, 8 x 10"

Thoughts on Paper

To this day, the pencil is the place I always begin my work. I often tell my kids, "I can't think without a pencil in my hand." This is more true than not. All of my paintings begin as drawings. In fact, some of the drawings destined to become paintings find a second life as a finished drawing.

I always tell my students that any painting, collage, print, even sculpture is only as good as the drawing that underlies it. Artists must be able to conceptualize their ideas before they can be created, and drawing is the springboard for it all. Drawing is the cornerstone of all artistic expression. It requires dedication and commitment, but becoming competent in drawing is a must for the serious artist.

Where it all Ends

If you were to fast forward in time about 30 years, you will (God willing) find me in a retirement home. Sitting in a sunny corner with a pencil in my hand. I will still be trying to express my appreciation for this beautiful world and the wonderful gift of vision we have been given. I will be there in that corner with a pencil in my hand, and I will be happy.....

What About You?

What is your favorite art material? How does it help you express your creativity? Have your preferences changed over time? Why do you think you enjoy this material so much? I'd love to hear your answers to these questions. Please take a moment to write about these questions in the comments section. I hope this hub has helped you to think about your own creative life and why these things are important to a life well lived.

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    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Phdast7, I love hearing from you! I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. Drawing really does serve as the structure for an artists vision

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thanks for your comment, Carol777. I love your idea about checking in with the hubbers you are following each. month. I'm planning to do the same.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Dbro -- This really is a wonderful look at the bones which underlie all good paintings, the initial pencil sketches and drawings. Just had to come back for a second read. :) Sharing

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Enjoyed this hub and as always learn something new. I go through my followers once a month and find a new hub to read and comment. This project does take a few days. Thanks for sharing and Voting UP.

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thanks for your comment, summerberrie. Good luck with pastels. I work in pastel occasionally, especially when I'm working on location. I like the immediacy of it. I'd love to see some of your work. The best predictor of future success it your current determination. It's also important to enjoy the process without too much stress about the outcome. Again, thanks for your kind comments!

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      summerberrie 4 years ago

      Wow, what great work! I'm am trying out pastels. I have never liked this medium, but for some reason I thought it was time to change my attitude. I think it is the hardest and most unforgiving medium to work with but I'm going to keep trying. Thanks for the wonderful information.

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thank you for your wonderful comment, phdast7! Yes, I would say that most (though not all) artists of every genre, media and style do at least some planning with a pencil before they start the final work. Of course, some forms of visual art require more planning than others, but I would say that most have some "vision" on paper before they begin.

      I have read your hubs about your grandmother's art, and I loved them! I hope you will revisit the subject again soon! Thanks for your comments. Always thought provoking and insightful - the best!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very intriguing and I love the image of you sitting contentedly in a nursing home with your pencils. :) May it be so! This is especially fascinating because I never thought much about the drawing that underlies most paintings. The only artist I have known up close did wild and colorful abstracts and there was no drawing or plan, at least it there was one, it was int heir head and unseen.

      Now, my Bopcia (Polish grandmother) did make careful and elaborate plans and drawings, but I thought that was only because she was doing Batiks I have done a couple of hubs about her oil paintings and batiks) ...and had to think in reverse and in terms of many layers of wax and multiple dye baths. I am thinking of watercolors and paintings quite differently now. :) Great Hub!

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      I'm glad you enjoyed my answer to your question, Docmo. I loved your question! Yes, I really like the immediacy of pencil and watercolor, yet there is a patience that is required too. Maybe it's that duality that we enjoy so much!

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      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks for answering my question with this hub. Love your art and your passion for expression with watercolour. I also love pencil, watercolour and pastel as they really enable creative expression - to me its the ability to do the pieces quick without days of preparation that oil may require.

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      I'm glad you found me, freecampingaussie! I'm also glad you enjoyed my hub. Truly, I think anyone can learn to draw and paint. It takes practice, but all that time spent is worth it, especially if you enjoy the activity for its own sake. Thanks again for reading!

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      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      I like your pictures , It would be really good being able to draw & paint . I found you while hub hopping .