Gift Guide // Top 10 Basic Art Supplies

perfect started list, from an art teacher

I teach art to small children in my house. Every week I set up new art experiences and carefully pick out my materials. I often get asked by moms which materials they should buy to create their own art area at home. This question always gets me excited for two reasons: 1) Maybe I’ve influenced them to keep the creativity flowing at home! And 2) I’m a huge advocate of keeping things simple. Kids don’t need much to keep them happy and busy.

This list is really the bare necessities. I kept it to 10 to keep the costs down and to minimize stress! However, I did include a few extras at the end, I couldn’t help myself.

basic paper to stock for your home art area

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The first thing your art area needs is paper. I use sulphite paper in art class. It’s a little bit denser and the colors are more vibrant than construction paper. It holds paint beautifully. I would suggest getting the 12″ x 18″ size in white, and then the 9″ x 12″ colored. You could always cut the white down and I find that larger paper encourages them to draw big!

white sulphite paper // colored sulphite paper

Best beginner art supplies for kids to start an art area in your home.


You can’t have an art area without paints! In art class we use paint almost every day. I love watercolor palettes and this brand is my favorite. Teaching them to use watercolor is one of my first lessons: Wet your brush then count to 10 as you swish it in circles on a color. It’s important to tell them that they need lots of water! As for tempera paints, there are so many different brands and colors. I use a variety of brands, usually whatever is on sale. Although some are definitely more watery than others (I prefer a thicker more opaque paint), you are pretty safe with just about anything. To stock your art area you will just need the basics – three primary colors and white. I mix colors for my classes using mostly these four. But I also LOVE gold and neon paints. Mix the neon paints with a teeny bit of white will give you a more opaque consistency.

watercolor paints // tempera paints: red, yellow, blue, white, gold , neon

basic drawing materials to stock for your home art area


This category was the hardest to pick. There are so many great drawing materials out there! But the two that my kids gravitate to the most are colored pencils and markers. These are the work horses of drawing materials. You could really choose any brand of colored pencils and not go wrong. But….sometimes the cheaper pencils break when you sharpen them (which is super frustrating). These Sargent pencils are good quality and not too expensive. As for markers, I do find that Crayola markers last the longest!

colored pencils // markers

basic art supplies to stock for your home art area


I literally agonized over which glue to represent here. Glue stick or Elmer’s? Both are used all the time in art class and with my own kids. (In fact, glueing and cutting might be a 4yr old’s all time favorite activity!) But I’ll tell you why I went with glue stick: It’s less messy, easier for little kids, and doesn’t need a day to dry. I love this brand the best, they really work well. As for scissors, my favorite is actually from Ikea. These are a close second.

glue stick // scissors

basic art supplies to stock for your home art area


These two don’t really go together, but I consider them essentials. This brush pack is the best value. I’ve bought many of these packs over the years. I really also love Ikea brushes if you are ever there. And tape…I could go on for years. WE LOVE COLORED TAPE!! My little students just love ripping and cutting tape. They make beautiful “drawings” just with tape. Tape is a must!

paint brushes // colored tape


These materials were left off the list, but barely. You might already have some of these in your home so just bring them on over to the art shelf!

Elmer’s glue // pencil sharpener // stapler // crayons // scotch tape with dispenser

You can literally create hundreds of projects with these simple materials. Here are a few that I’ve done that use no more than what I’ve listed (except for some recycled materials…I am a huge cardboard fan!)

cardboard paintings // small paintings // scrape painting // puffy hearts // invitation to paint // cardboard animals // sunburst paintings // scrap paper collage

In my next post I’ll tell you about my top 10 basic crafting supplies. That one will be REALLY fun. Think…pom-poms!

xo, Bar