Questions about material - pre membership

Hi there :hugs: newbie writing (I hope you had as lovely a day as I had),

I have some questions about material, and hope someone can help.

  1. I noticed in some of the material lists some very specific papers/pastels/pens. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a country where these are readily accessable and money is tight so I wondered if some other paper if it is the same gms and medium would do? How important is the material list for successfully completing the courses?
  2. On a similar note, I read that the coloured pencil course is using prismacolor. I do own a few colours (not nearly enough for this course) but they are pretty difficult to come by these days. The material list said other pencils worked, too. I wondered if it played a role that they were wax based for the apölication and instruction? I could easily get oil based pencils in a huge gamut of colours but I am a little worried about them being not suitable and I have trouble finding good wax based sets with a wide range of colours.
    I have not yet started my trial period because I don’t want to spend these days running around chasing material, so I hope that I can get this out of the way beforehand and then start this beautiful journey!

Thanks in advance

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Hello, I understand what you are asking.

I too am on a tight budget, and personally don’t really like the Prismacolor pencils. I only say that because there are other brands of Wax based pencils that work the same way. I have used Faber-Castell Pitt. pencils many times in place of Prismacolor. I also understand that Derwent makes some real nice wax pencils.

The same with the paper. In the end, whatever paper that is made for the medium you are using that has a similar tooth is going to work, and it is what you are comfortable with and will work for you.

I understand what you are saying about running around and not having the materials you need. I think you will find out what you have can work while you decide.

For me joining the Virtual Instructor was the best for my artistic improvement. Make sure you check out the live lesson as well as some of the critiques. These are both fun and educational. I have learned the most from the critiques. The live lessons have a chat like Getting Sketch’in

I hope this helps out,


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Hi @Jennilein,
Don’t worry too much about matching the materials exactly. Try to get the best materials your budget allows and your area offers, but other than that, you will still get great results because the most important part is to dive in and do the work. Don’t hesitate in becoming a member. You won’t regret it. I have been a member since my retirement a few years ago. I have learned so much from Matt (and Ashley) . I would not be on this art journey if it wasn’t for Matt and The Virtual Instructor. It is by far the best value for your money, especially when you are at the beginning of your art exploration. There are some materials available in the US that are not available in Canada (where I am). But there are always good alternatives. To help me decide when to buy certain supplies, I have often turned to the internet with questions such as: Best colored pencils for art, or best alternative to brand XYZ, etc.

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Thank you so much for the kind response and advice. I will try out the videos you mentioned.

Derwent pencils are in fact lovely to work with, I just bought an ivory black for my pet portraits. The downside apart from being pretty pricey is that sharpening them is so difficult even in their dedicated sharpener mine keeps breaking. Unfortunately the colour range is also pretty limited for most of their sets, but I will look into FC as I have some really nice material from them already.

Hi @sterlingsiam,

thank you so much for the encouraging words. I will just do that and make do with what I have or what is readily available. The region I live in isn’t much in terms of art supplies, I’m afraid. I believe that’s because most people prefer to surf the internet these days instead of getting artsy. But challenges can be fun, too, I guess. I just love to trouble shoot I got under 20 FC polychromos and around 8 Prismacolor so I learned quite a bit about colour mixing which I absoluely love.

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I do not spend a lot on money on my art supplies. I try to find sales or different brands that are cheaper than others. t works out fine this way.

The ones I have, I also bought on sale. I wondered if you could recommend some cheaper alternatives, that worked for you?
Do you know arteza, by any chance? I heard they are wax based and I had all sorts of paint from them in the past, which was pretty decent.

No I don’t have that. I get Windsor and newton gouache Paint. It is not that baW in price.

I purchased a set of 72 Arteza coloured pencils when I first started with VI. I used them for the peony live lesson and was thrilled with the result. They are definitely a viable budget option.

Yes, I imagine so. With most wax-based pencils I believe that happens. Matt will show in the lessons how he uses the knife and sandpaper to sharpen them.

Personally, I prefer the oil-based pencils. they may need more layers, but I prefer the results. Matt will introduce you to all different mediums and tools for each medium. But in the end he always will say, what ever works for you!

Joining the Virtual Instructor is the best decision I made for my art experience. Also, the group that is active here in the forum and the live lesson is supportive, warm, and helpful. It has been worth every bit of what he charges, which is nothing for what he offers.

Look forward to seeing you on the VI site.



Teri thank you so much for the encouragement, I signed up for the membership yesterday, and there is just so much there I can’t wait to try it all (well, apart from oil :grin:)! I also agree that the community here is very nice and helpful :heart:

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I never wanted anything to do with oils but when I found out that there are water-mixable oils I decided to give it a try. THE ARE FANTASTIC!!

There is a new live lesson starting tomorrow night in Watercolors. I hope you can be there. Matt is using Winsor Newton pan watercolor set and it will be a still life.


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Hi Jennilein,
Congrats on becoming a member. It can be so overwhelming because there is so much content, so start by figuring out what you want to learn with the materials you have. Just being on the site, you will start to figure out what your priorities are for future purchases.

My recommendation to you is to always make time for the Members Minute weekly critique. They are pretty much always less that 30 minutes long so most people can work that into their schedule. With these you will see a lot of different materials used and you will learn things from every critique that you can apply to your own drawings. Pay attention to things like: composition, where is the light source coming from, and most importantly do you have a range of VALUES. Enjoy the process - it should be fun.

Terri Robichon

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Thank you!
It’s definitely fun, but overwhelming at the same time. I started with the guide to graphite and secrets to drawing, doing some exercises daily and watching the Member’s Minute. Today I took my mum’s dip pen and my technical pens and practiced some textures from the pen and ink course.

The biggest problem for me is to decide what to do “next” because so many topics really appeal to me! I really love the structured exercises, I also did the live lesson about values.
I want to definitely implement some colour in the near future, as I love (hyper)realism and mixing colours myself. So far I have only done the exercise about balance with colour, because this was the freebie lesson before I became a member. I was thinking acrylic paint or watercolour but since I dabble in realism the gouache course seems perfect. Downside is: I do have some leftover acrylics but unfortunately no gouache :slightly_frowning_face:
I will keep up the black and white studies for sure, as they are fun, versatile and really make a difference.

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I think that you have a great plan. I know that I was overwhelmed with all the options, and like you had painted with acrylics,

I find myself enjoying all the mediums, they all have a place and can be adapted to your style.

I look forward to seeing some of your artwork here in the future.