Art & Business Tools
The tools I use
On this page, I would like to give you an idea of the tools I use in my art business and in my painting practice. First, I’ll tell you some more about the business tools I use. After that, the list of art materials follows.
(This page contains affiliate links – that means that I receive a commission if you purchase the service or product through such a link. I only recommend products that I use myself and where I’m genuinely excited about it, and would recommend it even if I didn’t receive a commission.Read more about it in my disclosure. Thank you for your support!)
I enjoy using the following online services and products:
- Divi is the beautiful WordPress theme that I absolutely LOVE! I really liked making my own website, and with Divi that was a delight. In this blog post you can read why I am so excited about Divi. If you purchase Divi via this link, you will receive a 20% discount! You can try it out for a month, so if you don’t like it, you can return it.
- Siteground is the hosting provider that hosts my websites. The main reasons why I am so satisfied are the excellent customer service and the fact that I can host multiple websites for a very reasonable price (via the so-called GrowBig package). I highly recommend Siteground.
- Mailerlite is the excellent email service provider that I use right now. After years of using Mailchimp with increasing frustration, I stumbled upon this provider by accident – much to my delight. The big advantages: user-friendliness, very pleasant helpdesk and excellent automation options, that comealso within the free subscription (contrary to Mailchimp). You can easily create a free account (free up till 1000 subscribers), and try out how it works. Especially the possibility to create automations for free will make a huge difference in the marketing of your work. What I also like very much about Mailerlite, is that they have a free help desk, even on the free plan. With Mailchimp, accessing the help desk wasn’t included in the free plan, so at that time I spent a lot of time guessing and browsing to find answers to my problems. Mailerlites help desk is wonderful – they are super friendly and quick. So if you are creating a newsletter: Try Mailerlite out for free and play around just to see how it works. If you consider changing from Mailchimp to Mailerlite (like I did), it isn’t difficult, since Mailerlite has the possibility to directly transfer subscribers from Mailchimp to Mailerlite.
- Teachable is the online course platform that I use, and I just LOVE it. I had been using it for ages, until I started missing the Dutch payment system iDeal. So I switched to a WordPress-based learning management system called Learndash, which also worked quite well. But recently I changed back to Mothership Teachable, for many reasons:
- Since I work more internationally, I don’t need the Dutch payment system iDeal that much anymore.
- More importantly: Teachable is super user-friendly. It’s very intuitive and makes it very easy to upload videos and other course materials. Learndash is okay too, but has a less intuitive structure, in my opinion.
- Teachable has a free option – so you can just try out and start creating a course without any risks involved. With Learndash, you need to pay from the start on.
- Teachable has free video hosting (also on the free plan) If you use Learndash, you need to pay for a Vimeo-account, since video-hosting is not included in Learndash.
- Teachable does the customer support for me. If a student can’t login or has any other problems, it’s not on my plate anymore. Once I was selling more and more courses, I got overwhelmed by the overhead that I had with the WordPress/Learndash combination.
- My online courses always come with a 30-day money back guarantee. Actually, nobody ever returned a course, but for me, it feels good that I don’t need to handle this kind of thing ever.
- With WordPress/Learndash, students had login-problems every once in a while, with Teachable it has never occurred.
- For WordPress/Learndash, I also needed to install Woocommerce (a shop-plugin for WordPress), and I had to create a payment system. All highly complicated. I sort of liked the technical challenge, but in the end, I’d rather paint ;-)!
- Teachable takes the financial obligations from your plate. When you do business with European customers, you need to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) to the different European governments. Every country has its own VAT-percentage. For instance the Netherlands calculates 21%, but Germany 19%, Estland 20%, etcetera. Absolutely crazy-making! Now Teachable calculates and pays the different VAT-amounts to every government. I don’t have anything to do with that anymore. YAY!!! RELIEF!!!
- I get paid every first of the month, for all of the sold courses together. It makes my administration super easy and clean.
- Before I started selling courses, I wanted to just dip my toes in the water and try it out. Teachable makes that very easy, since it has a free plan. In this free plan, you already have many possibilities – you can upload unlimited videos, create unlimited courses and have unlimited students. When you sell more than three courses a month or so, it’s smarter to change to a paid plan, but when you first start out making courses, it’s all very relaxed. You don’t need to spend money when you’re not earning it yet. So if you’d like to just take a look and see how it works, I’d encourage you to sign up for a free plan.
- The only drawback for me, is that it doesn’t integrate seamlessly with Mailerlite. You need an extra ‘step in between’: Zapier. Zapier is an automation service that connects different applications with each other, in this case Teachable and Mailerlite. Zapier is free up till five ‘Zaps’ (automations). If you use Mailchimp, you don’t have that problem – there’s a ‘straight’ connection between Teachable and Mailchimp.
Putting it all together: I’m very glad that I’m hosting my courses on Teachable, so I would absolutely advise you to sign up for a free account, if you’re only slightly playing with the idea of creating a course.
- Canva is the fantastic free online design program that I use almost daily, or at least very often. There is a pro version available – if you’d like to be able to download more photos or need some specific features – but in principle the free version is more than you’ll ever need. You can also take out a pro subscription for just one month if you want to temporarily use certain features.
- Tailwind is an online application that I use for social media management. Especially for Pinterest it saves my life. I’m not ‘good’ at social media, in the sense that it very easily overwhelms me. Tailwind makes it easier to create and schedule pins beforehand, instead of being busy with it all day. You can try it out for 100 Pins. Absolutely recommended!
The links in this list are affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission if you buy after clicking this link. Thanks for supporting me!
Golden Fluid Acrylics: especially the color Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold. This is a fantastic, very high pigmented fluid acrylic paint. It’s very translucent and gives a beautiful warm atmosphere to your paintings. Very highly recommended. I sometimes also use Green Gold (a beautiful transparent yellowish green), Quinacridone Magenta and Turquoise Phthalo. I often use the black and white fluid acrylics for drippings; because the paint is fluid, it’s easy to let the paint flow.
- Golden High Flow acrylics. A relatively new discovery for me, but I use them all the time right now, especially the Carbon Black and the Titanium White High Flow Acrylics. The High Flow Acrylics are a very fluid type of paint, much more fluid than the Fluid Acrylics (the names are a bit confusing). They work very well for fine lines and splattering, and I even fill empty Molotow markers with them. (See below).
- Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons. These are very highly pigmented professional grade crayons. I love to use them on top of paintings. Some of the brighter colors tend to smear, so if you want to put paint on top of the crayon, it’s better to seal the crayon first, for instance with a matte medium. I often heat the surface of the painting and the crayon itself: then the crayon becomes softer and makes thicker lines. You can buy the crayons in huge wooden boxes, but you can also buy the crayons one by one. Perfect! I mostly use the turquoise, the black and the white crayons.
- Molotow ONE4ALL Acrylic markers. I love these markers. Contrary to the Neocolor Crayons that make for rough, natural lines, these markers give very clear and sharp lines. I often use the black and white ones, in different sizes. After a while, they dry out and need to be replaced. Lately, I’ve also started using Molotow Empty Markers, that I fill with black or white Golden High Flow Acrylics.
- Matte Medium. I use this glue all the time for making collage and glueing paper on my paintings. Also, I use it on top of my collages as a protective layer. Matte Medium dries completely transparent, you don’t see it anymore once it’s dry, so you don’t need to be careful if you happen to spill something. I use a Dutch brand (Van Beek), but you can also buy Golden Matte Medium.
- Spray Paint. I love to use spray paint since it gives such wonderful little drops on your painting. If you make small collages, these tiny drops can look spectacular. There is one drawback: the spray paint bottle tends to clog very easily, which has caused me lots of frustration. Another annoying thing is that the spray paint tends to dry very slowly, much slower than other acrylic paints. This long waiting time of spray paint is certainly worth it, though!
- Amsterdam Acrylics. There are many brands of student grade paints, and I haven’t tried out all of them of course. But the Amsterdam Acrylics Series is until now the best I have found. I often use Green Turquoise, Quinacridone Rose, Quinacridone Rose Light, Titanium White, and Oxide Black.
- Fineliner. I love to work with fineliners! They make for very delicate details, especially in small collages. But also I like to use them on bigger paintings. Big paintings also need tiny details ;-)!
- Mechanical Pencil. While a fineliner gives pure black lines, a mechanical pencil creates a very thin, grey line. Beautiful for small collages.
- India Ink. You can create beautiful lines that have a lot of ‘personality’ with India Ink and an ink pen. When you turn your ink pen around and around, you can create very large and rough lines. Also, India Ink is fantastic for ‘splashing’: the small black drops look very appealing, especially against a white background. It’s wise to use waterproof Indian Ink, otherwise, it might bleed through the top layer of acrylic paint.
- Foam Brushes. I use these brushes all the time: they are relatively cheap, you can wash them out very easily, and they make beautiful strokes. You can buy them in different widths.
- Foam Roller. You can buy the foam roller in the hardware store. They are cheap, and perfect for painting large surfaces. But what I especially love about the foam roller, is its ability to apply very thin layers of opaque paint (I often use titanium white), which gives a beautiful veiling effect.
- Sharp knives. I love to carve in the wet paint of my paintings and collages with something sharp. I love to use the knives that you can buy in the hardware store. Also, I use sharp things like screws for scratching.