Whether you want to take up art as a hobby, want to encourage a budding artist, or simply need great gift ideas for your favorite creative, I've compiled a list of some basic "necessities" to get anyone off to a great start! You can easily be overwhelmed when browsing the art and craft store shelves, especially if you don't know exactly what it is you are looking for. The ideas I've listed are all basics that I personally use here in my studio. I tend to shop for supplies online which usually keeps me within my budget and helps me keep up with the latest products once I read the reviews feedback and watch the promo videos if available. Please note that I DO NOT get endorsement fees or rewards for any of the branded products I've posted here! Let's get started!
This kit has everything you need all neatly organized in a travel friendly carrying case. This Kalour sketching kit is manufactured by Love Art and has everything one needs to explore their creative side! Kit includes sketching pencils, charcoal pencils, color pencils, watercolor pencils, metallic pencils, pastel pencils and a white charcoal pencil. Also included are blender stumps, sharpener, brush, pencil extender, eraser, sandpaper block, 6"x9" spiral bound sketch and watercolor pads. Kit also comes with a drawing tutorial but it's very basic in content. Considering the reasonable price, items included and pretty good quality, this kit is perfect for beginners of any age. Currently available at Amazon with Prime shipping.
Gone are the days when you trace your patterns by taping paper to the window or by using a heavy tracing table with a florescent light! This box by LitEnergy is super light and thin, has a bright adjustable LED lamp and is powered by a USB power cable you can connect with an adapter, power bank or computer. Use for tracing line art, calligraphy lettering, stencils, stained glass designs, scrapbook projects and more. Watch the video to see what you can do with this tracing box. Available in a variety of sizes and reasonably priced at Amazon with Prime shipping.
Tracing paper is an absolute must for any artist requiring precision images and repeatable designs that can then be transferring to any surface. This paper comes in a useful quantity and the transparency is perfect for using with a tracing box. Paper does not bleed through when used with ink markers, watercolor brushes and pencils or pens. It's also perfect for kids to use for practicing alphabet lettering. Watch the video to see how to use this paper. Currently available in 2 sizes at Amazon with Prime shipping.
If you plan to transfer designs onto paintable surfaces, graphite paper is a necessity. Unlike carbon paper, graphite paper is especially designed with graphite so that lines you transfer are erasable. To use transfer paper, sandwich it between the surface you want to transfer onto and your traced design. Watch the product video to see how this is done. These reasonably priced transfer papers can be used multiple times and they come with a set of 5 double tipped stylus tools for smooth line tracings for tranfer. These papers are available in both black and white. White will be needed if you are transferring images onto dark surfaces like chalkboards. Ueerdand transfer paper packs are currently available at Amazon with Prime shipping.
I have used disposable palette paper for as long as I can remember! It's convenient, waterproof and disposable which makes it the perfect choice for loading brushes and mixing paint. I prefer full rectangular style tear-away pads in lieu of those with thumbholes since I tend to use the entire sheet while working on projects. I've used numerous brands throughout my career, but some had curling edges while others were not heavy enough to withstand the paint load. You can see this palette actually being used by watching this video. I use disposable palette paper for painting with acrylics, oils, guache, tube watercolors and tempera paints. You'll find Ebiven brand palette paper pads at Amazon with Prime shipping
By far, my favorite brushes are Robert Simmons Expression brushes by Daler Rowney which I've used for more than 40 years. However, if you are buying brushes for a beginner creative, you may want to opt for a multi-purpose brush collection with the most popular sizes and bristle shapes. I purchased this Artstorys set of brushes for my grandkids who use them on a variety of surfaces with all kinds of mediums without fraying or shedding bristles which is common with variety starter packs. Even though the set does not include angle shaders or fan brushes, it's still a good choice for great start. You can find this 30 piece set available on Amazon with Prime shipping.
Paints are by far one of the most used basic supplies for any artist and I have purchased nearly every type and brand throughout my artistic career! If just starting out on your art and crafts career, you'll want to make sure you have plenty of paint colors to choose from. As most anyone knows, red, yellow, blue, black and white can created nearly every color or the rainbow. However, most of us simply want to paint away on almost any surface imaginable and prefer premixed color bottles with good consistency, vibrantly rich coverage and durability. Americana by Decoart is my favorite brand of paint to recommend for use by beginner artists and crafters and I've been using it for decades! This paint is extremely versatile and can also be used for sponge painting, faux finishing, stenciling and more. I've successfully used it on canvas, wood, plaster, resin, paper mache, candles, wall murals, fabric, leather, polymer clay, watercolor paper, poster board, terra cotta clay pots, plastics and metal. Decoart can be found in most any arts and crafts supply store but is also reasonably priced and sold online at Amazon in a variety pack of 36 with nearly every color one needs to get started on their painting journey.
Glue guns have certainly come a long way since the first ones appeared on store shelves decades ago and I've purchased nearly every brand, style and size over the years. The mini glue guns can be handy but not very practical for the purposes I need them for. I've also used the cordless styles which are appealing but tend to need constant charging. I've purchased several glue guns that have burned themselves out, repeatedly tipped over due to an unsteady built-in stand, had triggers that seized up in the middle of a project and a few were simply downright dangerous. At last I found the Gorilla brand glue gun to be exactly what I expected for the price. The high/low settings allow for flexibility when it comes to the many heavy and lightweight materials I work with. The stand is sturdy but it does need to be plugged in to a 120V outlet to work. The glue stick rods move easily through the gun and the adhesive is durable enough so that I don't have to worry that my painted woodlets will fall off my outdoor wreaths! Watch their video to see more. The guns and adhesive can be found at most hobby craft chain stores and home improvement stores. You can also purchase online through Amazon with Prime shipping.
Canvas surfaces come in a variety of sizes and shapes, with the most popular being stretched and wrapped on a frame without the staples showing on the sides. You can also find tear out sheet canvas pads and canvas panels which are bonded to heavy cardboard. Keep in mind that some canvas panels will bend and warp over time whereas some of the more inexpensive stretched canvases sag in the center because they were not properly secured and stretched properly to the frame. With this in mind, I usually start my beginner art students out with moderately priced canvas panels while they learn painting techniques and how to work with the canvas surface. The one thing you'll want to make sure of is that the canvas surface is pre-primed with several coats of gesso primer for good painting results. I personally use Fredrix brand stretched canvas for my professional painting projects, but most beginners are not expecting to create masterpieces that they'll pass down to future generations to hang above the mantle! For beginners, I recommend purchasing reasonably priced multi sized canvas panel variety packs as they explore their creative side. You can find canvas panels in most local arts and crafts store aisles or online from Amazon with Prime shipping.
I can't begin to count how many framed chalkboard slates I've painted over the years but I estimate the number to be in the hundreds! This paintable surface is not only versatile, but it's perfect for beginners learning how to paint on smooth dark surfaces. Chalkboards come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are easily found everywhere art and craft supplies are sold. I suggest Plaid brand boards as the frame is pre-sanded to a smooth finish and both sides can be painted. You'll find this 2-sided chalkboard online at Amazon with Prime shipping.
Metal can be a tricky surface to paint on but it's a common surface for painting all kinds of home accent items. Metal items can easily be primed with a spray metal primer before painting for indoor or outdoor use. Galvanized metal has been treated to prevent rust and you only need to clean the surface you wish to paint with a bit of rubbing alcohol before applying paint. I suggest beginners work with small metal items when getting started to learning how to work with the slick surface while painting. Check your local home improvement or craft and hobby store shelves as they generally have a good selections of paintable metal items. You can also order this set of mini galvanized buckets online from Amazon with Prime shipping.
This is one of my all time favorite recommended surfaces for beginner painters of all ages to work with as they have so many possible uses and creative possibilities. This set happens to have 37 pieces to keep you well supplied and have pre-drilled holes for adding hangers. Wood rounds come in a variety of sizes and greatly range in prices depending on the type of wood, thickness and end use purpose. Large rounds can painted for use as wall art while the smaller sizes can be used as trivets, ornaments, decorative accents, coasters, etc. Watch this video to get more painting ideas. They can also be painted on both sides, stained and sanded. You can find single or multi packs at most local arts and crafts stores or order online from Amazon with Prime shipping
I've been painting wood signage for over 40 years and they're still one of the most popular painting surfaces used by beginners and seasoned artisan alike! I find the smaller sizes of rectangular shaped signs to be perfect for painting with a favorite saying, house address or for a pretty little scenic that can hang most everywhere. In most cases, you'll need to sand and seal the wood on both sides before applying paint and you can paint on both sides which makes them perfect of practicing beginners. Nearly every local art and craft store stocks wood signage but you can find this multi-pack set online at Amazon with Prime shipping
PERFECT FOR TODDLERS
Painting is a skill that even a toddler will enjoy. It also helps them stay focused on a task, plays a role in developing fine motor skills, and helps them learn about color exploration. However, toddlers need a bit of supervision and their attention span is usually limited from 5 to 20 minutes! I have found that messy mini pot paints that come in kits for children are usually a disaster waiting to happen, especially for those who are easily frustrated. Here's a great choice for toddlers that allows kids to sit alongside of you and easily paint with water while you work on your own painting projects. There are a variety of waterpainting books currently available but I like the layout feature of this Y-Plus painting pad and the sturdiness of the heavier than normal paper stock the designs are printed on. The removable water paint palette is located at the top of each page so it won't matter whether the child is left or righthanded. You'll find a variety of book themes to choose from and painted pages can easily be removed from the pad to proudly display on the fridge. There's also a demonstration video available along with product details featured online from Amazon.