This is the ONLY brand of gessoboard I recommend. The others are too slick.
Michaels American Painter (Flat) brushes are cheap and I like the feel of them. You can go on-line to Michaels and find coupons. With a 50% discount, the brushes end up costing me the equivalent of a cup of coffee. If they don't last, you can just toss and replace.
Also, I recommend the RGM No 50 Palette knife. You can get detail as well as broad strokes.