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Art Tip

Gift Ideas for the Creative Person on Your List

Do you have a creative person on your list this year?  If you have someone on your list that’s interested in drawing and painting, here are some gift ideas just in time to take advantage of the upcoming Black Friday sales.  These ideas are geared towards an adult just starting out or a teen/older kid.  Keep in mind that if someone has been arting for a while now they may already have their own preferred brands and materials.

You can pick or choose depending on your budget.  Sometimes you can find some premade kits that might be a good option too, but here are some ideas based on my own experience and preferences to get you started.  Feel free to reach out to me with questions or if you’re wondering about anything else not on the list – I’ve tried several mediums.



For someone just starting out canvas panels are a great option for practicing skills.  They’re relatively inexpensive and come in many sizes.  

For more finished pieces stretched canvases are a longer-lasting surface.  They come in various sizes and a couple different depths.  Most pre-stretched canvases come with gesso already applied and are primed to begin painting right away.

A lot of different art items you’ll find at the store come in Student, Artist, or Professional “grade” – Student or Artist are definitely fine starting out.

Photograph of two piles of canvases. On the left two flat panel canvases, on the right two stretched canvases


Start by grabbing a pack of brushes to try out that has multiple types and sizes.  Once the artist figures out what works best for them, look more at the brushes that are sold individually.  Synthetic bristle brushes are fine for acrylics.  Everyone develops their own preferences while developing their own painting style.  

Photo of tubes of acrylic paint and different shaped brushes


My acrylic paint of choice is Winsor & Newton.  They have various set packs available ranging from 6 to 20 colors.  Once you learn how to mix colors, a small basic set can help you paint just about anything.      

There’s also less expensive brands from the 50 cent bottles of craft paint to generic store brands in tubes.  All are great to start getting an idea how to handle paint and mix colors.  Make sure at the very least you get a red, yellow, blue, black, and white.


For most of my small paintings I like to use palette paper.  The one I like to use is by Strathmore (it might be in the aisle with the sketchbooks).  Also I sometimes use a plastic palette with little wells in it.  Wood is not usually a good option with acrylic paints, glass is an ok option too.  If you have more of a budget there are plastic palettes with covers.

Photograph of different types of palettes. Pad of palette paper, large rectangle palette, oval palette, circular palette.
Photo of roll of blue painters tape, paint squeezer, color wheel, and masters brush cleaner


-A color wheel is helpful for understanding color theory/how the paints mix
-A palette knife for mixing paint
-Masters brush cleaner (it’s a game changer and a little thing goes a long way)
paint tube roller for squeezing the last drop of paint out
-Some sort of easel
/table easel/travel easel




The pens I use are Pigma Microns.  You can get a multipack of different point sizes for around $20 or so.  There’s all kinds of less expensive brands out there too for anyone just starting out.  

For white or metallics, I like the Uni-ball Signo Broad pens.  You can buy them individually or in a multipack with white/gold/silver.  

Photograph of six pens. On the left three Pigma Micron ink pens in 01, 03, and 05, on the right three Uni-ball Signo gel pens in gold, silver, and white
Photograph of two mix media pads in different sizes


The paper I use is Canson mix media paper (in a sketchbook).  I like the 9×12 and 7×10 ones but they come in all sorts of sizes both bigger and smaller.  I like mix media paper because it handles the ink without bleeding through and also has the possibility of using other mediums with it such as markers and watercolors that don’t do well on regular drawing paper.  Strathmore is also another good brand to go with.

If you get white or metallic pens a black paper could be a fun option also.



There’s a lot of good brands out there – Staedler, Faber-Castell, Arteza.  I don’t use graphite enough lately to have a clear preference.  Look for a multipack of different lead densities 8B to 8H (the higher the number with B the darker the lead, the higher with H the lighter).

For colored pencils the two go-tos are Prismacolor and Faber-Castell.  For someone just starting out on a budget something like Crayola is a good place to start building up skills.


There’s so many types of erasers.  A kneadable eraser is my go-to for just about everything.  Here’s a few others I have around here in the picture below.

Photo of pencils. 12 and 72 Prismacolor tins of colored pencils, four graphic pencils of different brands and lead hardnesses. Four types of erasers


It depends what the artist wants to work on but a sketchbook with sketching or drawing paper in it are good options to start with.  For colored pencils sometimes it’s fun to work on a toned paper (there’s pads of drawing or pastel paper with multiple colors).

Photograph of two sketchbooks - one green with toned paper, one brown with sketch paper
Two pencil cases. On the left a blue pencil bag with Seneca Pier on it, on the right a blue collapsible case


-Pencil sharpener.  Manual is typically better (electric ones can eat pencils fast)
-Color wheel (if you go with colored pencils)
riangle ruler
-18 inch 
metal ruler
encil pouch/case

Other fun materials that pair well with drawing or alone 

-Watercolor pencils
-Derwent Inktense blocks
-Watercolor set (mine pictured is by Kuretake)
-A water brush (you fill it with water to paint with water mediums)

For any of these water based mediums you would want to get a sketchpad of watercolor paper or at minimum mix media paper. 

Photo of a tin of inktense blocks and a case of watercolor in pans

Gift Cards

And there’s always gift cards either by themselves or combined with other things. 

Blick Art Supplies (online or some bigger cities)
-If you have a locally owned art store nearby with a good selection that would be a good way to support the community

Feel free to reach out to me with questions

Hope this list helped you if you’re looking for gift ideas for that creative in your life.

About the Artist

Photo of Laura Jaen Smith

Laura Jaen Smith is an artist who lives and works out of Horseheads, New York. Her inspiration comes from observing the beauty she sees around her.  After a decade living out west, she returned back to New York State and started seeing the same old places with new eyes.  She is most interested in capturing small moments in nature that might otherwise be overlooked.

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