Gifts For Pastel Artists For $15 Or £10.00

In this day and age, when money is tight it can be difficult to think of something small to give as a gift. I think artists are easy to buy for, because they're often happy with something really small that they can play with for a few days. I thought I'd put together a few really inexpensive items that the artist in your life might love.

Paper

The first thing that most pastel artists need is paper. You can pick up some basic pastel sketch pads inexpensively, or you could buy one or two sheets of your artist's favourite support. For example, I can buy a large sheet of Pastelmat for under £10.00. Rough Indian watercolour paper is also quite nice to use for pastel painting, as the texture is unpredictable to work with, which can give unusual textures within the work.

Strathmore, to the right is a very popular brand of textured paper. It doesn't have the sanded finish, but still has a good 'tooth' to enable you to layer pigments over one another.

Drawing Boards

All pastel artists need drawing boards. Even if the artist in your life already has one, you could buy a different size for them to try out. In any case, the more drawing boards an artist has, the more paintings they can have on the go at any one time. Masonite boards can be picked up pretty cheaply.

My masonite board fits nicely in my pochade box, so it accompanies me on painting trips en plein air. It's great for painting on the move, because it's so smooth and light.

Pastels

This might seem an obvious choice, but often artists don't treat themselves to new colour pigments. It can be expensive enough just replacing materials used in the process of creating. You could easily pick up around four pastel sticks for $15, and probably twice that number of half sticks, so you could buy a box of pigments that are missing from the artist's regular selection. What about a box of bright pigments, or a box of darks.

Most artists' supply companies sell pastel sticks singly, as do some art shops. My local art shop sells five Unison full size sticks for £10.00 and most online suppliers charge £1.99 per stick, so it pays to shop around.

Battery Powered Eraser

This isn't strictly something that a pastel artist might use, but I'm sure most artists would welcome this little battery operated toy as a gift. The beauty of using one of these, is that you can very accurately remove graphite or charcoal from your painting, so adding highlights without the need for masking areas with fluid. It would be great when creating a detailed drawing of a tree for example, as you could erase leaf shapes within the drawing to suggest leaves glinting in the sun, or you could use it to create highlights on the sruface of water or the ocean.

Drawing Pens

Some pastel artists like to draw a basic outline on the pastel paper using a permanent technical drawing pen. The pen lines show through the base coat of pastel, allowing the artist to follow their origninal pen lines, which is useful for very detailed pieces.

There are a few permanent pens on the market, such as Pilot Techpoint, and Sharpies. A few pens neatly giftwrapped would make a lovely gift, or you could go for a pack of multicoloured Sharpies. It's important that the ink is permanent however, because if the artist uses fixative on their work, this will dissolve non-permanent ink, and the pigment will bleed into the pastel painting.

Brushes

Pastel Artists use brushes to remove pastel pigment from their paintings. Most will have a selection of brushes, ranging from wide, maybe up to 2" through to narrow, around 1/8". Coarse brushes are best, as these remove pastel from the 'tooth' of the paper more efficiently. It usually doesn't matter whether the brushes are made from natural material, such as bristle, or a man-made fiber, such as nylon.

As the brushes are used for scrubbing at the paper, they tend to wear out quite easily and become stubby, so they would make a useful gift, and man-made ones really are very inexpensive. Most artists' suppliers sell a good range of brushes, but they are eay to pick up on the high street.

A small gift of art materials is all that is needed to show you care, and will keep your artist amused for a good few hours. There are many inexpensive options, but the above are just a few to suit pastel artists and are available online or on the high street.

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