Gifts for Fine Art Painters & Graphic Designers.

Drawing Materials for Artists!

It's time to buy a gift for an artist. But what might they want?

Whether the gift is for an established artist or an absolute beginner, or for someone about to embark on an art school course, this HubPage aims to offer some practical ideas to help you out.

You can't go wrong by offering a range of drawing materials. Nearly all artwork begins with sketches and drawings.

Sketch books come in a huge range of styles to suit all budgets, from very plain and basic economical designs to more ornate types. A wide range of sizes are available too, from pocket-sized to A1 (not so portable, but very useful in the studio.)

Sketch books also come with a variety of types of paper, from economical cartridge papers - which are fine for student work or for ink drawings - to wonderfully textured papers which work well with coloured chalks and pastels, charcoal or watercolours.

Handmade papers tend to be more expensive, and while these can be a delight to work with they're not necessary for students or for sketching.

Drawing tools can include pencils, ink pens, charcoal, coloured chalks or pastels, oil pastels and blendable crayons. Again, prices will vary considerably depending on the quality of the product. Most artists' supplies are manufactured at an economical, student quality and also at professional quality. Your choice of purchase depends mostly on your budget.

Most artists use soft pencils, from between 6B to 10B. Charcoal pencils are an excellent choice, too. Harder leads, such as an HB pencil, are more suited to technical drawing or graphic design. Drawing pencils can be bought as sets, which look smart but often contain pencils which the artist won't use, or they can be purchased individually.

Watercolour paints can be used as a drawing tool. For this purpose, student quality is perfectly adequate.

Painting Materials for Artists!

Watercolour paints require only water, brushes and paper to be used. Paper can be from a sketch pad or bought as separate sheets in various sizes, with many different textures and thicknesses.

Whether you choose student or professional quality will depend on your budget and the use to which the paint is to be put. For sketching, student quality is fine. Over time, the colours of student quality paints may fade more easily than with professional quality, and the purity of the colours may not be as certain - but again, this depends on the individual quality of any given product. For paintings, I would recommend professional quality paints.

Watercolour paints can be bought as sets, or as individual blocks. Sets are great for anyone starting out, but most experienced artists tend to purchase the blocks as this works out more economical in the long-term. Brushes need only be cleaned with water.

Acrylic paints are quick drying and come in tubes. They are much thicker, denser than watercolour paints even though they only need to be diluted with water. They can be used on paper or canvas, and mix readily with other media. Their colours tend to be "harder" than with oil paints, less given to subtlety, but even so they have proved popular with many contemporary artists. Brushes or palette knives need only be cleaned with water so long as the paint has not started to dry.  Wrapping the bristles in cling-film will stop the brush from drying out and being spoiled.

Oil paints are blended with turpentine (to thin the paint) and linseed oil (to add gloss and smoothness.) While oil paints can be used on paper they work much better on canvas. Brushes or palette knives must be cleaned in turpentine then warm soapy water. Oil paint takes a long time to fully dry (depending on paint thickness and environment), enabling an artist to continue working on a canvas for months - or longer, if required.

Canvas can be bought economically as canvas board, which is fine for students and beginners, or as pre-stretched canvas on frames - which come in many different sizes, whether oblong, square or even round.

Professional artists tend to buy canvas on the roll and make their own frames and stretchers. (Stretchers are small blocks, usually wooden, which are driven into the corners of the frame to tighten the stretched canvas.) Buying canvas this way works out more economical in the long-term, and it also means the artist has total freedom with choosing the size of the framed canvas.

Palette knives can be purchased in sets or individually. Not all artists use palette knives, while others use nothing else. It's purely a matter of personal preference. Students and beginners are advised to experiment with two sizes of knife - a long, floppy thin one, and a chunkier triangular one - and to discover for themselves if they like these tools, which require a quite different technique than do brushes.

Brushes come in a massive range of shapes and sizes, and their bristles are made from different materials. Nylon bristles are good with acrylic and oil paints, but sable and hogs hair work so much better with all kinds of paint. Cheaper brushes tend to shed bristles while in use, which can be a bit irritating. A combination of small, medium and large brushes are always useful to any artist.

The Artist's Studio!

While many artists dream of having a spacious studio dedicated solely to their work, most have to compromise.  But with a bit of ingenuity, even a corner of an ordinary living room can be used as a fold-away art studio.  And while there are many eye-catching gadgets to tempt a shopper, it's surprising how little an artists actually needs.

Fold-away easels often have storage compartments for art equipment, and you'll find that a sturdy plastic fisherman's tool box will be more economical (and probably more roomy and hard-wearing) than a fancy wooden one.  If you want the pretty wooden one, go for it!  But if you're on a budget, the first option may be more logical.

Brushes can be stored bristles-up in an old jam jar or cracked cup, or you  could scour second-hand shops for a pretty ceramic vase.  Wooden painting palettes are useful, but some artists I know prefer using old dinner plates (again, picked-up second hand or retrieved from the back of a cupboard) which are easier to wash and less cumbersome.  Alternatively, a piece of hardboard cut to size will be just as serviceable as any shop-bought palette.

Drawings and sketch pads can be kept in portfolio cases, which keeps them clean and also stores them tidily away.  Drawings can also be stored in tubes made for this purpose.  If money and space are not an issue, then a chest of drawers designed for art storage would make a wonderful gift.

Oil paintings should be left on a wall or easel to dry, as they will smudge and spoil otherwise. 

© 2009 Adele Cosgrove-Bray

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Comments 7 comments

Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

Excellent ideas for gifts - Happy New Year to you!!


tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 6 years ago

Great hub...as I fancy myself an artist, I should have sent a copy of this to all!


waynet profile image

waynet 6 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

Great hubpage that will best be of use to the artists out there, will link to this one on some of my art hubs.


RosWebbART profile image

RosWebbART 6 years ago from Ireland

I love this hub. RosWebbART


AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

Thanks for your kind comments.


Siclari 6 years ago

Good help hub for all those out there that have no clue as to what we artist want.


AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England. Author

They've no excuse now, hmm? :)

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