Basic Art Materials For Kids

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art supplies basics

We have trillions of art supplies at our house, so I take for granted that we will always have something new for the kids to experiment with. While it’s great to have mass quantities of strange items with which to make art, the basics are always important to have on hand.

Here’s my list of what I would start with if your house isn’t stockpiled. I would make sure you have the basics for younger kids and add the extras in as you go. Materials you may think are redundant can give vastly different results when they are experimented with. For example, Sharpie markers are great to draw with if you want clean lines, but black ink used with pens with different sized nibs can produce looser, sketchier lines. Watercolor paints are translucent, while acrylics are thicker and opaque, but can be watered down considerably to get a translucent effect. Magic!

Very Basics

pencils

Crayola markers

Crayola crayons

Crayola Twistables colored pencils

drawing paper pad

best sketch pad

tracing paper

water color paints (Prang brand)

paint brushes- basic, with different sizes

basic paintbrush set for kids

pad of watercolor paper or bristol paper for painting on- drawing paper just won’t contain all the wet paints

300 Series Watercolor Paper 9 in. x 12 in. pad pad of 12 tape bound
ink pads- (you can find tons of things around your home to make prints with by pressing them onto the ink pads)

Crayola oil pastels

glue sticks

scissors

construction paper

air drying clay

smock/shirt/apron

wax paper or roll of paper for laying out to contain messes

Extra fun stuff for younger kids

dauber/dot markers –
Dots-n-Dashes Painters set of 6
at Mister Art
or
paint daubers

Elmer’s Painters Paint Markers

fabric markers

soft pastels

soft pastel set for kids

 

Next Stage of Art Material Buying

ink/ pens with different sized nibs

glue

printing inks

printing inks starter set

brayer – for spreading inks evenly for printmaking

bone folder- used to press the folds of papers much flatter than you can do by hand

handmade papers for collaging

heavy weight colored papers/ card stock

drawing pencils in different weights (harder to softer makes lighter to darker marks)

tortillons (rolled paper smudge sticks- this is one of those things you think your kid can do without, but buy it. They’re small, but mighty.)

drawing smudger

kneaded erasers – not only are they fun to play with, they’re much more gentle on paper than hard erasers.

better quality oil pastels

good starter oil pastel set

chalk pastels

pressed charcoal sticks

drawing charcoal

watercolor paper

watercolor colored pencils

Prismacolor colored pencils

acrylics

basic student acrylic paint set

canvases

acrylic gel mediums- I like Golden brand

gesso

black sharpies- thin and thick

better quality markers-

double sided marker sets

brushes- water color and acrylic- quality really matters with brushes, so buy the best ones you can/want to afford

Extras For Older or More Serious Child Artists

linoleum blocks/cutters for printmaking

art wire/ needle nose pliers

art wire

large drawing board/clips/large drawing paper pads for drawing outdoors

gouache paints- similar to watercolors, but opaque

high quality markers- larger sets/ marker paper (Prismacolor)

Black hard cover sketch books (okay, the black covers aren’t completely necessary. They’re just very cool and if you want to, you can gesso the covers and paint on them.)

black spiral sketch books

spray fixative so finished drawings don’t smudge

oil paints/brushes/natural solvent for cleanup/thinning

natural solvent for oil paint

Obviously this is not a complete list, but I don’t want to be (too) overwhelming. Many art supplies can be purchased in student grade, which are cheaper than artist grade, but are an excellent way for kids to get a feel for different materials. That way they can see what materials they are drawn to using (did you catch that art pun?) before you invest in better quality, more expensive materials.

I am going to revisit this list from time to time and tweak it, so please let me know if I’ve missed something, or if you agree/disagree with my picks. Happy art-making, kids!

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12 Comments

  1. 05/15/2012 / 1:15 pm

    Whew! That’s a lot of basics! We have a butler pantry that I am slowly converting into a craft corner with supplies for anything the kids or I might want to do. For them I have some Tempra paints, clay, a big roll of banner paper to roll out on the dining room table for the kids to draw/paint on, lots of fat brushes, over-sized shirts as smocks, some crayons and markers and a few watercolor palettes from my son’s birthday party. I also break out food coloring and let my son paint with that when he’s frustrated with his watercolors.

  2. 05/15/2012 / 2:16 pm

    This is such a handy list – thanks for compiling! I love giving my kids real watercolor paper and decent brushes for painting. Also like spiral-bound sketchbook. There are definitely a few things I will be adding from this list like ink pads and air dry clay and a bone folder!

  3. 05/15/2012 / 2:49 pm

    It’s so hard to stop! I may be a bit biased, but there are so many important supplies to have on hand. I SO love that you are converting a butler’s pantry into a craft corner. I hope you’ll send me a photo of it someday if you feel so inclined.

  4. 05/15/2012 / 2:51 pm

    It’s so cool to see what they do with really nice supplies, isn’t it? Once you get the ink pads, you’ll be running around the house to see what you can use to make prints with.

  5. 05/15/2012 / 6:24 pm

    Nice list. My oldest is an artist and I take her to Dick Blicks every few month and let her go crazy. I like to get her good quality supplies so that she can get a feel for how they work … decent quality paints and paper especially.

  6. vanita
    05/16/2012 / 8:43 am

    great list of supplies girl. it’s everything my girls had on their supply list for school for years though i don’t remember them using all of it. lots of stuff carried over to the following year. saved me lots of money. lol

  7. 05/19/2012 / 1:01 pm

    I am drooling over some of these for myself. I have most of these things, being a printmaker and painter myself, and I am slowly becoming more comfortable letting Simon use them. He is only 2, so obviously he won’t be using oil paints or permanent markers anytime soon, but I do try to let him experiment with some of the “good stuff” such as ebony pencils and colored pencils. He gets easily bored with crayons, possibly because I was letting him use them way younger than a lot of parents I meet dare. He also LOVES watercolors, but doesn’t care too much for fingerpaints. He has refined taste, my little guy.

    Where do you buy the dauber/dot markers? I have been looking for some and the only place I have found is Discount School Supply, but they have very mixed reviews.

  8. 05/19/2012 / 1:53 pm

    Drooling is right. It’s hard for me to shop for art supplies because of how much I drool and gape. Anyway, I updated my list with 2 links to the dot markers. Both are affiliate links- the ones at Amazon are a little cheaper and I’ve tried those, the ones at Mister Art look good as well, but I’ve never tried them.

  9. 06/04/2012 / 1:27 am

    Great article. It’s a good thing is that we can buy art supplies online

  10. 06/05/2012 / 7:10 pm

    oh my… how did I miss this post? So glad you listed everything. I thought I was prepared, but alas, no I am not. Thanks for such as great list to inspire the artist in my house.

  11. Josh Mason
    09/20/2015 / 12:24 am

    Dunno what kind of drawing paper you’re referring to, but I’ve used watercolors on drawing paper before and it’s held up fine. Actually, also, student-grade watercolors on tracing paper feel awesome as well.

    • 09/21/2015 / 9:57 am

      Oh, thanks for the suggestion- we’ll have to try watercolors on tracing paper. That sounds cool!

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