Sunday, December 6, 2020

our favorite art materials

It's the season for gift giving!  

If you feel inspired to gift the young artist in your life with art materials, I have recommendations.


Canson XL mixed media pad, 9x12 in white.  I wish they sold this paper in reams.  I will rip each individual page out/off the spiral for student use.  This is how much I love this paper.  

For avid white charcoal, colored pencils and pastel users, I highly recommend this same brand in the color black


Strathmore 300 series tape bound watercolor paper.  I always buy the 11x15 paper but I am always re-sizing with our paper cutter, too.  I think it's safe to go with the 9x12 option.  By the way, we use tempera and acrylic paints on this paper too!
acrylic + watercolor landscapes on strathmore watercolor 300 series

CANVAS: ANY canvas you find will do.  


Hands down, over and over again, I cannot recommend Tempera brand by Tri Art enough.  More than likely you will have to order this online.  I used to be able to purchase it locally.  Student grade tempera paint by Dick Blick is a good runner up.  I have talked to Art Materials (on Lyndale) and they have recommended their chroma tempera paint as a proper replacement for the tri art brand.  I haven't tried this brand but would recommend starting here, if need be, rather than trying another.  

Instead of purchasing a set, I highly recommend creating your own set (the primary colors -  red, yellow + blue, add white and black). This encourages color mixing and self discovery.  And the mixing of colors creates more depth in a painting, let's face it.  If you want to add one more color to your set, add a magenta (when mixed with blue, the color creates a better blend of purple).  

Upon receiving these paints, students will want to use them right away.  Add a roll of kraft packaging paper so that your young artist has protection for the surface he or she will be working on.   You might as well be prepared.

Tri Art Tempera paint on large Canson XL mixed media paper

We only use liquid watercolors in the classroom and there are many reasons why I wouldn't recommend these for home use.  A regular set of crayola watercolors will work just fine (just promise me you'll throw away the brush first).

graphite pencil, sharpee and liquid watercolors on Canson XL mixed media paper

india ink : higgins

india ink on manilla cardstock


I am just going to attach the exact items here because brushes are so expensive and so overwhelming at first and brushes are SO IMPORTANT.  Hands down, over and over again, I cannot recommend these enough - white taklon by craft smart and golden taklon by craft smart.  These brushes are inexpensive and so durable. They work for ALL mediums.  I cannot emphasize enough what a priority these are. Include both of these packages with your gift.

brush prints on drop cloth

writing, mark making, drawing:

graphite pencils (primsacolor ebony pencil)

pencil sharpener (mobius ruppert brass wedge)

eraser (staedtler mars plastic)

graphite pencil in sketchbook

white charcoal pencils (general's charcoal white pencils)

white charcoal pencil on black Canson XL paper

nibs: (manga cartoon comic drawing painting kit tool)

india ink and nib pen on canson XL mixed media paper

markers:  These are a pretty penny and for the more advanced artist.  If you'd like to start collecting, you can purchase them in singles.  Perhaps supply the young artist with a shade of their favorite color.  These markers are magic and are a beautiful embellishment to dried watercolor paintings.  I really like the copic ciao.

watercolor + copic marker on canson XL mixed media paper

NOTHING brings absolute delight to a child more than a brand new set of crayola markers.  I cannot emphasize enough that these markers be broad (vs fine).  I always have these in the classroom and when I bring in new boxes, the students' expressions are priceless.  Just know they have a very short life.

crayola markers, broad line, skin tones set

COLORED PENCILS: hands down, over and over again THESE - koh-l-noor progresso woodless colored pencils

PASTELS: I don't have any easy recommendations here.  You must pay for quality, in this department. I find it best to go to an art store and create your own set, purchasing one at a time.  Best to choose the cylinder shape (rather than prisms). Start your soft pastel collection as you might with paints or choose a shade of the child's favorite color and add two more.  Include wet wipes with these as children's hands will become quickly stained from blending (a very good thing)!

grid drawing portrait, soft pastels


ALWAYS a favorite

We had a clay camp where we experimented with all types of air dry and oven bake clay.  The vote was  unanimous for Crayola Air Dry in white (not in terra cotta).   The students' creations will crumble over time (but their creations will last for a good 6 mos).  The joy exchanged in the interim is all that matters. There is so much joy in clay.  This brand is easy to paint too!

crayola air dry clay in white, painted with student grade Dick Blick tempera

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