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Essential Art Supplies for Students to Add to Their Kit

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| By Amy Vagne | January 2, 2020

The must-have art supplies and essential accessories that all art students and enthusiastic hobbyists need to have.

This list of art supplies will take your painting and drawing kit to another level

Are you studying art or looking to cultivate a new hobby? Drawing, painting and creating are excellent pastimes because they’re fun and relaxing, with evidence suggesting engaging in creative projects can actually relieve stress, improve mental health and increase cognitive function. Where do we sign up? Before you begin your artistic pursuits, make sure you have a curated kit of art supplies on hand so you’re ready for whichever path your creative visions take you down.

Choose Your Paint

A variety of different paint types are essential supplies for your art kits

Ready to unleash your inner Picasso? The first thing you’ll need is paint and, really, your options are unlimited. Invest in a set of watercolour discs and you’ve got a low maintenance, portable medium that allows for spontaneity and experimentation as you blend colours and build up layers. Acrylic paints are adored by artists (including pop-art painter David Hockney and abstract enthusiast Mark Rothko) as they’re versatile and malleable, allowing you to play with texture and dimensionality. Once you are feeling confident, explore the world of oil paints – these are highly pigmented and slow drying so they’re suitable for professional techniques like glazing, blending and impasto.

What To Try

Pick Your Paper (or Canvas)

Look for suitable materials for your artwork, from visual art diaries to specialty paper

You can paint or sketch on any kind of paper, really, but when you invest in a proper visual art diary, you’re paying for paper that’s thick and absorbent, the perfect surface for any and all art materials you choose to work with. Acid-free paper is especially popular for artists because it prevents yellowing over time. If you plan on using watercolours, look for watercolour paper that’s extra strong and durable and responds well to water, paint and ink. When you’re ready to branch out and create some serious masterpieces, consider working on stretched canvases mounted onto wooden frames. Sturdy and lightweight, stretched canvases provide the perfect backdrop for any painting project, plus they’re ready to hang or display with no framing required.

What To Try

Gather Some Tools of the Trade

Paintbrushes, paint knives and palettes are essential art supplies for any budding artist.

When choosing paintbrushes, a set of varying sizes and shapes allows for greater versatility. Flat brushes are ideal for broad strokes and covering large surfaces, while round brushes allow for detailed and precise painting. A palette or painting knife can come in handy for mixing colours or creating a sculptural 3D effect when working with oil or acrylic paints. Other essentials include a palette for arranging and mixing colours, storage jars with air-tight lids to keep paints fresh and a paintbrush holder to keep your brushes organised and in top condition.

What To Try

Ready, Set, Sketch

Painting may not be your only interest – many artists and illustrators prefer drawing and sketching, where line and form are the key focus. For this type of art, you would typically use charcoal, a lead pencil or an ink pen/liner to create smooth lines and capture the shape and outline of whatever you’re sketching. Later, use coloured pencils or markers to add colour, shading, details and designs. Watercolour pencils are great value for money because they’re multi-purpose – use them as simple colouring pencils or add H20 for a watercolour-like effect. Copic markers are highly regarded by those in the field; they’re top-quality permanent markers with alcohol-based ink and they’re designed to last with refillable ink and replaceable nibs. Each Copic marker is double-ended, giving the option of two different shaped nibs.

What To Try

Consider Set-up & Storage

Display your artwork on standing or tabletop easels, or create a complete portfolio of your pieces.

If you’re lucky enough to have the space for it, a standing easel is an ideal workstation for your projects. It can also double as a clever way to display your finished masterpieces. Looking for something more compact? Tabletop easels provide stability while you’re working but can easily be packed up and stored away. A light pad is another clever invention – it’s an angled stand for sketching with built-in illumination, ideal for tracing and technical drawing, and it can be of use to make things clearer in low light or at night. Once you become prolific with a series of artworks under your belt, a portfolio for storing and transporting your paintings and drawings is a very good idea.

What To Try