Lately I have been doing some sketching and have upgraded my supplies for just a few dollars. I purchased two Caran d'Ache Pablo pencils in colors that I thought would most closely imitate the color of graphite: Sepia and black. They move nicely across the page and erase well enough, especially when the line is lightly drawn. The advantage of these pencils is that they do not smudge the way that graphite pencils tend to do.
I upgraded my pencil sharpener too, to a Kum long point sharpener. You can see in the photo the difference in point in my two pencils. The Kum does leave a longer point by stripping the wood before sharpening the point. This leaves a lot of exposed area for shading and a nice pointy end.
I also picked up a new eraser: A Sumo in a clickable pen shape. I thought this would be good for throwing in a bag and not getting gunked up with lint. So far, so good.
I indulged myself in a few new paint colors too. I have been wanting to try the earth colors of Qor paints so I bought the palette of 6 tubes when Jerry's got them back in stock. The price is very competitive and the metal box they come in has circular indentations that make for a very good mixing surface. The colors are beautiful and the pigments very high quality. This set has useful colors for painting landscapes and florals. It was a good purchase.
Finally, I thought I'd share that I organized my A Case For Making half pans into a little Altoids tin. It is spray painted gold (so that I don't accidentally toss it out!). The five colors fit perfectly!
And here a note on suppliers: Of course everything in the universe it available on Amazon and shopping from one's home computer is quick and easy. Amazon's prices are often lower than I can get from a physical store. But I do try to patronize local shops and independent businesses as much as my wallet allows. The Pablo pencils, Kum eraser, and Qor colors I picked up at a nearby Jerry's art supply store. With a 10% discount, their prices are usually within striking distance of Amazon's. The Sumo eraser I bought in the lovely new art supply store, The Paper Hat, apaperhat.com literally a block away from my house. I have to try to shop there more often. Though small, it has a nicely curated selection. Mika, the owner, is very friendly and knowledgeable and clearly has a good eye. A Case For Making is a shop in San Francisco that makes their own watercolors and holds workshops too. I've never been there, but I'm happy to support their endeavors.
Speaking of avoiding Amazon and shopping local, this is exactly what somageneralstore.com is about. The site has grown considerably since I joined it upon it's inauguration this past fall. The site is an online "shopping mall" of local artists and independent businesses who can hand deliver to nearby towns or ship anywhere. I use it as my primary "store" and have sold a few paintings and dishes. Have a look!