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5 Best Gifts for Painters and Artists

I'm a professional artist and art teacher running art classes in Southwest France.

Best Gifts for Painters and Artists

This art gift guide makes choosing art easy! Artists always need materials and love to receive those special gifts with a touch of luxury that they won't splash out on for themselves—a really beautiful sketchbook, a functional easel or a nice, clean set of top quality soft pastels. The only problem is that art supplies can be confusing. Which artists materials should you choose?

This art gift guide makes it easy. I'm a professional artist and art teacher running art classes in Southwest France, and I've spent a little time searching on the Internet to select art materials that would suit both amateur and professional artists.

For a beginner, there will be a confounding range of art materials. For an artist that already has a collection, go for quality rather than quantity, or make an addition to their existing range. If your artist works in pastels, perhaps a set of pastel pencils would be the ideal gift?

I have made an initial selection below, which is far from exhaustive but would at least provide you with a bit of information and a few ideas.

1. Sketchbooks

A sketchbook is a constant companion, something to have always ready to catch that special moment or to fill in the odd few minutes. These books will be filled and then kept and treasured over the decades, an account of a life in pictures and drawings, so it makes sense to buy a really good quality book, with a hard back and good paper properly bound into the cover.

To go with this, try buying Conté crayons and charcoal pencils.

2. Easels

My first easel was a strong, functional professional artist's easel bought second hand when I was in my teens. Now, many years later, it is still as useful and functional as ever. This sort of easel would be my first choice. After that, it's always useful to have a desk easel and a travel easel.

To go with this, try buying drawing boards, clips for paper, and a set of drawing pencils. Buy your DIY creative partner a stretch-your-own canvas kit or, if you are the handy one, why not make a set of canvases to go with the easel?

Pastels make ideal gifts for artists

Pastels make ideal gifts for artists

3. A Box of Soft Pastels

Every artist who uses pastels knows how nice good quality ones are and would appreciate a selection of beautiful soft pastels in their favourite colours. I love high-quality pastels, and soft pastels use more pigment and less binder so that your colours are better. They are also easily blended so that complex colours and textures can be built up. Their only down-side is that they remain dusty and need fixative to prevent smudging after the work has been finished. If you need to economise, buy fewer, but better quality pastels.

You might also consider buying pastel pencils. These are essentially pastels encased in wood, and so they are handy and clean to use and are easy for sketching and working outdoors. Finer details can also be achieved with pencils, and so they are an ideal mate for the sticks.

Other things a pastellist might love to receive is a pad of pastel paper in white or in assorted colours or, less romantic but no less useful, a spray tin of fixative so that the pastel doesn't rub off.

4. Watercolour Paints

Watercolours are excellent because they are clean, compact and portable so that they can be used on the kitchen table or outside with little fuss.

Paints can be bought in tubes or little blocks, as a set in a handy tin or box or individually. Like pastel, always go for the best because the best quality paints will give clearer and more vibrant colours and purer colours when mixed together. Nobody wants to mix blue and red to produce sludge brown instead of royal purple!

Colours are individually priced as some are more expensive to produce than others. Like pastels, always go for quality, not quantity. An artist can begin with just three good colours, red, yellow and blue and then build up a personal palette of colour, so a small box of carefully selected good quality paints is preferable to a huge array of poor ones.

You can also buy watercolour pencils. These are excellent for working outdoors and for introducing a drawing element to the work. Brushes and watercolour paper pads would complete a gift set.

For those who already have watercolors, why not have a look at acrylic and oil paints?

Buy a good textbook for reference. You can see examples of the author's work in these Collin's painting and drawing books by Ian Simpson

Buy a good textbook for reference. You can see examples of the author's work in these Collin's painting and drawing books by Ian Simpson

5. Choose a Good Book

Good textbooks are a great source of information and inspiration for the artist. Information on techniques, materials and examples of good work are essential. If you have access to good books and can get out and see good work in art galleries to back this up, you will be able to improve your own work by example.

I have selected a few 'How To' books, but I would always add books with good illustrations of the work of the great masters and perhaps some overviews of the development of art over the ages.

So Many Choices!

I hope that this has provided just a few ideas now of what is available for your painting friends and family. Whether your gift is a few pencils or a holiday that will give you skills that you can enjoy over a lifetime, it is sure to be appreciated and give much pleasure.

Just take a look at this well-used little box of watercolour paints, and you'll see how even a small gift can go a long way. (This belongs to one of my English painting course students and has 'gone' all the way to France and back.)

© 2010 Les Trois Chenes


Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on December 27, 2010:

Thanks, Ben, for your comment. Will put links on my art hubs for you, and look forward to seeing more of your work on Hub Pages. Let me know when you publish your on-line Hub Gallery.

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on December 27, 2010:

I have had some fun in a relaxed way with watercolors, but for the past two decades, I have been an oil man. You can never get too much white titianium or sable or really any, kind of brush. Great hub article, I like people who look out for artists.

Thanks again for the kind compliment on my eBook: Your Life As A Painting

I noticed you were formerly in the UK where my ebook about an artist's outlook is also available, do you have any opinion about how I might spread the word over there about my book?

Hope this isn't too much on your article! You live a charmed life as a holiday painting instructor/host, what a wonderful existence!


Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on November 05, 2010:

toyboyclip Thanks. I've certainly improved my photography since starting to write for HubPages

toyboyclip from India on November 04, 2010:

Nice Photos.

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on October 13, 2010:

akirchner You made me laugh! Thank you for your crafty comment. I believe everyone is artistic to some degree - we can't all be Rembrandts but we can all enjoy painting and drawing. So get those pencils and paints out!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 13, 2010:

Artfully to speak! Excellent ideas and it makes me wish I could be artistic instead of autistic!