Product reviews

Art products

There are a lot of art products out there for drawing and painting and sometimes it may seem overwhelming and it doesn’t hurt to receive a little insight into some of the products out there. The products on this page am currently using or have used in the past and some are my all-time favorite you might see one or two that are no longer made and I have found a replacement. I usually purchase my art products online because the nearest art store to me is a bit far, I will also let you know where I purchase some of my supplies.

Drawing Materials

Pentalic woodless pencil

I still have a few Pentalic woodless pencils from the days of attending art school, these pencils were made in West Germany by M. Grumbacher (need I say more:). These are my treasured pencils. They are very smooth and rich graphite pencils, they blend very nicely. I have a 4B and a 9B and needless to say I use them sparingly, Grumbacher is still around but these West German pencils no longer exist though there is a Pentalic Graphite pencil available to me not like the ones that were from West Germany. Recently I found the Pentalic Woodless Graphite pencil on Amazon I was using the …

KOH-I-NOOR- finest graphite woodless graphite pencils

Koh-I_Noor is my attempt to substitute the Pentalic woodless pencil. I will tell you that these are not equal; they feel a bit chalky, they have a bit of a charcoal texture, and the line flow is not as smooth as the Pentalic pencil.
But now I am back with Pentalic.

I’ve been wanting to try Caran d’Ache Grafstone Woodless Graphite Pencils once, I try them I will update.

Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser
, Tortillons, and Natural Artist Chamois

Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser

You can purchase artist-labeled Chamois or purchase a piece of lamb skin and cut them up to the size that you desire.
Natural Artist Chamois

In conjunction with these pencils and charcoal-type pastels I like to use a kneading eraser, they work very well in removing any unwanted lines or excess that is on your paper. I also like to use a kneading eraser for smudging especially the ones that don’t erase anymore they become a great smudging tool. Aside from the eraser being used for smudging I also use a: smudge stick,
or blending sticks
are some of the names used.  You can also make your own, not-so-fancy one just by using a sheet of paper towel and wrapping it around a sharpened pencil or by making one using one of the many tutorials online. Other items are: Artist Chamois which works nicely, the more you use it the better it works, and let’s not forget the good old Cotton Swab which gives excellent results and you just toss and grab another when needed. I am pretty simple and practical and I use the methods that produce the best results when I am drawing.

Alphacolor Soft Pastels
Alphacolor Soft Pastels

These are my favorite charcoal product; they are a cross between a pastel and charcoal stick. They are amazingly messy but the workability and blending are incomparable. They are velvety soft and come in different colors, my favorite being soft black. There is something about Char-Kole (this used to be their original name on the box) 
Alphacolor Soft Pastels 
that is amazingly better than charcoal sticks; they are smooth yet have the charcoal texture and shading properties, they are easy to blend onto the paper without leaving hash marks and allow for the creation of great Chiaroscuro pieces.

Painting materials

Water mixable oil
For many years I painted with only acrylic paints and Liquitex or Grumbacher was the brand I reached for the most, especially in my college days it was always very cost-effective and the quality is pretty good and I love Liquitex painting mediums, varnishes, and gesso. Later on, I started painting with water-based oils, I like the fact that the paint takes several days to dry so that you could work on your painting in stages and also allow for mixing colors on the canvas, and then the perk of it all is that it washes off with water. Sometimes the paint might not come off completely with water but you can always use The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver on your brushes and that does the trick. They also have a hand soap (I do not have the link attached) that cleans the oil paints easily from your hands, however, I have also used it to remove fresh or dry paint from my brushes, which will not damage the brush bristle. 

Oil Paints

Charvin paints that I purchased online at Jerry’s Artarama or Amazon have been my favorite paint that is cost-efficient with a nice quality; buttery easy to paint with.

I’ve used Daller-Rowney Georgian oil paints and Winsor Newton oil, not high-end paints but the quality of the paint is decent.

Natural & Synthetic


Just recently I started shopping for the perfect natural brush, I needed something soft than Bristle but a little stiffer than a Sable if you go to Blick they have a full description of brushes and uses. So I discovered the Kervin/Mongoose brush and though I love the Isabey Mongoose Brand that BLICK ART MATERIALS has I needed something cheaper to try out. I discovered the Vermeer Mongoose Brushes by Creative Mark sold at Jerry’s Artarama or this nice set that Jerry’s is selling on Amazon,

I got these online again because I really don’t have an art store anywhere near me. I truly love these brushes, they are very soft, have great smooth strokes, and are also great for blending. One really has to have a nice medium mix for these otherwise they won’t work well; your paint needs to have a nice flow, I like medium-thin for these brushes. They do have a tendency to flair out with use but nothing that a little “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” can’t fix or Brush Shaper by Mona Lisa (same people that make the Pink Soap) if the brush is really frayed. They are on the top of my list but they tend to be a little pricey, I usually wait for Jerry’s brush sales to stock up. Filbert 6, and 8 are the two that I use the most. My all-time favorite of all brushes is a boar bristle brush, this Winsor & Newton bright 10 has seen better days, but I love this brush, I’ve had it since my college days and it’s still one of those brushes that I always reach for.


I am not one to really like to use synthetic brushes too much but this one I like. Here’s another brush by Creative Mark I love and are dirt cheap at Jerry’s Artarama, The Ebony Splendor brush really holds its shape, it has a bit of a bounce to it, I don’t care for that bouncy feeling but do love that it holds its shape and they are very inexpensive,  brush care is not your focus with this one.  The other downfall for me aside from the bouncy feeling is that they do absorb a lot, so they kind of get gummy, a lot of rinsing in turp. is in order.


I usually mix batches of medium and mix them in glass jars. I have used some mixes for underpainting, I combine portions of Damar Varnish, Venetian Turpentine, Stand Oil, and Rectified Turpentine. Below is a list of what I use for painting:

Damar Varnish
Venetian Turpentine
Stand Oil
Rectified Turpentine
Linseed Oil
Walnut oil

Clove Oil – used and I love the consistency that it gives the paint but my only con is that the scent is very strong, it smells wonderful but it can be overpowering.

Brush Care

Masters Cleaner

Pink Soap


This is a big issue for all painters, we see a lot of stuff in the stores to clean our brushes. Turpentine, odorless works alright. There are times that I use walnut oil, not a cheap way but works well for me. Most of the time I use The Masters Brush Cleaner, I love this stuff and I also love their hand soap. Master’s works but you have to swirl it for a bit and it dissolves very quickly.

I have the Pink Soap by Mona Lisa but not my favorite it really doesn’t work that well for me.

I also favor the following cleaner, this stuff is awesome, it really removes all the paint residue from my brushes.
Citra Solv Natural Citrus Cleaner, Pint (16 oz)
and it does work very well and smells really nice but be careful because it will dissolve plastic. I left a brush with
Citra Solv Natural Citrus Cleaner, Pint (16 oz)
diluted with water in a plastic disposable cup and it bottomed out the cup, no damage to the brush since it was natural bristle.

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