Art Supplies for Beginners

The Holidays are approaching and I always get questions this time of year about which art supplies are best to purchase as gifts for beginning artists.  It seems that there would be an easy answer to this question, but unfortunately it’s a bit more complex.  Visual art is so broad.  Because of this, there isn’t just one art set that one can purchase to cover all of the areas of art.  The supplies that are purchased should be tailored to the artist’s needs.  So in this post, I have decided to take a look at a few of the subcategories of visual art and make a list that represents what may be appropriate for beginners in each category.


There are lots and lots of drawing supplies out there.  So, it can be quite overwhelming deciding what supplies are appropriate for the beginner.  With such a flood of materials, it would be easy to find yourself with too many supplies.  I am going to break this category down even further into “Black and White Drawing” and “Color Drawing”

Black and White Drawing
1. 3 or 4 quality soft graphite drawing pencils- I suggest 2B, 4B, and 6B.  A regular #2(HB) pencil is also recommended.
2. a sturdy sketchbook
3. a pink pearl eraser, a vinyl eraser, and a kneaded eraser
4. a blending stump or two
5. high quality drawing paper of at least 11″ by 14″
6. Vine charcoal
7. Compressed charcoal (black)

Color Drawing
1. High quality colored pencils- pay more for a high quality.  If price becomes an issue, buy a pack that contains less colors.  There is a huge difference in quality among colored pencil manufacturers.
2. Colored drawing paper- If you can’t decide what colors to get, start out with “grays”.
3. Chalk pastels
4. Oil Pastels
5. Blending stumps

Watercolor Painting

1. A pan of watercolor cakes (High Quality) or
2. A set of watercolor tubes-primary colors plus Paynes Gray (dark gray), Indigo blue, and Burnt Umber (brown)
3. Nylon or sable brushes
4. a Watercolor pad of paper
5. a plastic mixing tray (palette)

Acrylic Paint

1. A set of primary tubes of paint plus White and Burnt Umber
2. Nylon brushes
3. a Plastic mixing tray or palette
4. Assortment of stretched canvas or canvas board
5. Table top easel

Oil Painting

1. A set of primary tubes of oil paint plus Titanium White, Paynes Gray, and Burnt Umber
2. a small bottle of linseed oil
3. small glass bottles or jars
4. Bristle brushes and sable brushes
5. a disposable palette pad
6. Odorless mineral spirits
7. Rags
8. Assortment of stretched canvas or canvas boards


1. Assortment of polymer clay colors
2. Mexican Air Dry clay
3. Sculpture wire

All of these supplies can be purchased at the local art store or any online retailer.

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