A Few of My Favorite (Creative) Things...
Updated: Mar 3
Maybe I'm just nosy, but I wonder all the time about the tools other creatives use every day. I love reading reviews on different art products, writing tools, and creative resources. In fact, I've probably spent more time drooling over creative tools than I care to admit.
It dawned on me the other day that I'd never shared any of my own favorites. So in the spirit of sharing, here are three of my favorite creative tools! These are the things I'm playing with right now and enjoying. Some are new to me, some are old standbys, all are things I love.
Note: I've included links to each item's product page so you can check them out yourself. These are Amazon affiliate links, and I may get a few cents if someone purchases one of the products. But know that I love and use each of the items listed here, and that's why I'm sharing them!
Derwent Inktense Blocks
Years ago, I received a small starter set of Inktense watercolor pencils as part of the supplies for a workshop I attended. I fell in love. Then I learned about Inktense blocks, and I've been craving them ever since.
This year, my craving was satisfied when I received a large set of blocks as a Christmas present (thanks, Mom!).
The blocks are so much fun, and I'm only beginning to unpack the possibilities. Although I'd wanted them for years (seriously, almost a decade), when I opened the package I felt like a deer in the headlights. There are so many possible uses, I didn't know where to begin.
So I did what I do best: research and play. I watched videos, read posts, and went to different websites to learn how other creatives use these amazing blocks of pure pigment. Then I started to play in my art journal. I created images and lines by drawing with the blocks. I tried wetting a paintbrush and gathering pigment from the block to fill in areas in my notebook.
I learned that you can blend to your heart's content while the pigment is wet, but once dry it's set so you can layer away. I learned that you can use them on multiple surfaces - all types of paper, canvases, fabric, even wood. I learned that if you get the pigment on your clothes, you'll have a permanent reminder of your creative playtime.
These little blocks cost a pretty penny, but given that a little pigment goes a long way, I imagine that even with all my experimenting and playing, I'll have these beautiful blocks for years.
Aen Art Glitter Gel Pens
I discovered this collection of gel pens from Aen Art a few years ago when I was planning a workshop. I bought a set for communal use, and once I tried them, I quickly bought a set for myself.
Glitter isn't really my thing, but the sparkle in the ink of these pens is subtle (mostly), and the pens write and draw reliably.
I've used them over paint and under paint, to write in my journal, as part of a finished canvas, and as colored markers/pencils when I'm out and want to draw or sketch with color.
The best part about these pens is the price. I've used better-quality gel pens, but they're so pricey that I only use them sparingly. With this set, I feel free to use them whenever I want. And they've each lasted a surprisingly long time, not running out after a brief use like some other cheap pens.
The Emotion Thesaurus
I'd heard about this reference book for years, but I'd never flipped through it. Then on a whim a few months ago, I decided to buy it. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is a fun book filled with different emotions, their definitions, and different descriptions of how these emotions are expressed.
While the subtitle is A Writer's Guide to Character Expression and it comes with tips for writers and associated power verbs for each emotion, I've used it in my visual art as a way to shake up my thinking and consider new ways of expressing emotion on canvas.
I sometimes use it as a prompt for my art and practice writing pieces. For example, last week I turned to a random page and used that emotion ("dread") with one of the descriptions to create the base layer of a painting. I especially like the descriptions under "Mental Responses" and "Signs That This Emotion Is Being Suppressed" as they stretch my thinking.
And there you have it - three of my (current) favorite creative tools. If you try one or more, I hope you find them as fun and useful as I do!
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