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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

The Basic Art Supplies and Their Use For Beginners

Art supplies are the most treasured belongings of any artist. They create a strong foundation for your painting and can play a key role in determining the final results. The quality of your art materials can also influence the quality of your work and longevity. All such factors make them a crucial subject for every artist. Before you dive deeper into this colorful world of painting, it’s important for you to understand its basics. 

The painting of a woman created using the best art supplies

Understanding your concern, we at TERAVARNA will discuss the different types of art supplies, their uses, and other key attributes. This information will not only make it easier for you to find the correct supplies but also enhance the quality of your work. 

The Basic Art Supplies You Should Know About

A man is only as good as his tools and your art is no different. Think of it as repairing a faulty wire in your house with inappropriate tools. It would not only waste your time, but you possibly won’t get any results either. Therefore with good art supplies in hand, you can’t only hone your skills but you can also enhance the quality of your painting. 

While there are a diverse set of supplies available in the market, here is a beginner-friendly list for you.

Graphite pencils

Graphite drawing pencils are one of the most versatile art mediums available for any artist. From rough sketches and outlines to detailed artworks, you can use them in multiple ways. As a beginner, you can use these pencils to create outlines for your work and then erase them once you move to finer details. 

You can get them from any art supply or stationary store where they sell them both individually and in sets. Beginners can look for a set of pencils that include a mix of hard (H) and soft (B) pencils. An assortment of 4H, 2H, HB, B, 2B, and 4B pencils can be a good starting point. A pencil marked H is harder and leaves lighter marks and a pencil marked B is softer with darker marks. For example, a 4H pencil is harder and lighter than 2H and a 4B pencil is softer and darker than 2B. HB stands for hard and black which leaves a darker mark than 2H, but lighter than 2B.

Sketchbooks

This is another important art material for every artist irrespective of when you started. As a beginner, you can use a sketchbook to polish your skills before you move to bigger surfaces. It will help you practice your composition, sketching, shading, and drawing shapes. Even experienced artists need something to draw on and you can use sketchbooks to plan out your composition. 

A good beginner-friendly sketchbook should have thick pages, probably 100 - 130 GSM in the size 9” x 12.” The thickness of the page is suitable for most dry art media such as charcoal, pastels, markers, and pencils. However, if you want to explore watercolor or ink paintings, a minimum of 200 GSM is recommended. Remember, the thickness of the paper is very important to make sure mediums like ink and watercolor don’t bleed through. Sketchbooks with hardcovers are suitable to protect your pages and sturdy enough to support your drawings. 

Erasers and Sharpeners

You may be wondering why we are talking about erasers and sharpeners, right? However, there are various types of tools specifically designed for supporting artists — erasers and sharpeners are some of them. Apart from the regular eraser, there are kneaded erasers and electric sharpeners too. 

These erasers are must-haves for artists who sketch with pencils because they do not damage your paper. Kneaded erasers don’t leave any residue and are quite easy to mold. The flexibility to mold the eraser makes it easier to erase even the tiniest marks that regular erasers won’t. Electrical sharpeners on the other hand make it quite easy to sharpen a large amount of pencils very quickly. There are also metal hand-held sharpeners many artists prefer as they allow them to see the tip while sharpening.

Different types of paints

There are several different types of paint an artist can use. The variety ranges from acrylic paints, watercolors, tempera colors, oil paints, gouache, and several others. Every paint comes with its own attributes, benefits, and drawbacks and is used to achieve specific results. Tempera colors are one of the best options for your kids because they are easy to use and also nontoxic. However, if you are someone who wants to take your art journey more seriously, watercolors or acrylic paints are a great option.

These paints are affordable, easy to mix, do not require any thinner except water, and are also quite diverse. Especially acrylic paints can be used on a range of surfaces like fabric, canvas, and even wood. You also don’t need to buy too many colors because they can easily be mixed to create new colors. Surely there are some cons to these colors too, but you can always overcome them with some practice and patience.

Paint brushes

One of the biggest confusions when it comes to choosing art supplies is finding the right type of paintbrushes. Many beginner artists don’t understand that different paintbrushes are designed for specific mediums and purposes. The type of bristles affects the marks they leave on the surface and how they distribute the color. If you have ever visited an art supply store, you would know there is a plethora of brushes that differ in bristles, handles, sizes, and shapes. 

As a beginner, you can choose paintbrushes specifically designed for watercolors or acrylic paints. These brushes can be of synthetic or natural fibers but they both consist of fine strands in abundance. The strands allow you to move a lot more water and color than other brushes in one go. If you want to show clear brush strokes then it's better to use a natural bristle brush. However, if you want to have smooth lines in your painting then synthetic bristles are better. 

Canvas

Apart from sketchbooks, a canvas is one of the most popular surfaces among artists for bigger artworks. It is a plain-woven fabric usually made from cotton, linen, or hemp. There are various types of canvas like stretched, unstretched, canvas panels, and also rolls. Most professional artists use linen canvas but they are expensive and you don’t need to spend a fortune on them.

As a beginner, you can opt for stretched canvas made from linen or cotton. While linen canvases are a bit more expensive, cotton canvases are the most affordable option. You can look for primed or unprimed options and then prime them on your own. Once you get accustomed to cotton canvases, you can experiment with other options too.

Primer

Different art supplies are for different uses. The job of a primer is to create a smooth layer between your paint and canvas. It is an undercoat that prevents the paint from seeping into the canvas and damaging the surface. However, that’s not all because the primer also prepares a very strong foundation for your painting. It makes sure the paint better adheres to the surface and increases its durability. If you want to prime your own base, apply the next layer of paint only after your primer dries. 

There is a variety of primers available out there but different primers are used for different paints. Gesso is a traditional primer that has been in use for a very long time. Some other primers are PVA glue primers and oil-based primers. However, many beginners do not want to invest in primers at the initial stages. In such cases, you can use options like white paint, thinly diluted acrylic paint, plaster of paris, chalk-based paint, etc.

Varnish

Varnish is a clear, colorless solution and is the final, protective layer on your painting. If you want to preserve your art for a very long period, you cannot skip varnish. It is the art supply that acts as the bodyguard to your art. A coating of varnish will protect your artwork from any damage caused by air, water, and to some extent sunlight. It works best in protecting oil and acrylic paintings.

Beginners do not really need to use varnish especially when you are just learning to paint. However, just like every other object, varnish ages too but you can get it removed and reapplied by a professional conservationist. You must also remember that varnish coating slightly changes the hues and luminosity of your painting and many artists don’t like that.

Art Supplies Are the Foundation of Your Craft

While we have covered the basics in this blog, the list of art supplies doesn’t end here. There are numerous other objects that are used in art but they are not necessarily needed by a novice artist. As a beginner, you can start by assembling a sketchbook, the basic colors, a color palette, some pencils, and erasers. Once you get accustomed to them, you can gradually buy other supplies as per your needs. Remember, you don’t need to start expensive — you just need to start!


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