When working with students, my goal is to introduce them to art, allow them to discover new media (materials) and techniques, and help expand their creativity, but my highest hope is for them to enjoy the process.

 

To capture this, I tend to use a mix of art supplies that I find quality, but also affordable for young artists. On each lesson + project page, I list "supplies needed" to complete the project. Below are the supplies I use in the videos, with my own kids, as well as with the students in my art class. These are art supplies I suggest, not because I've tried every available product on the market or claim to know the best products, but because I've used them for years and have found them to be a success with myself and the kids.

PAPER

Project Paper (White): I use Canson watercolor paper for most projects with my kids/students. It holds wet and dry mediums great, the paper doesn't curl, and there's some texture; plus, it's extra thick. It seems to be a perfect mixed media paper for students. And, having one paper for most projects makes choosing the right paper super simple.

When I want art created on smooth surface (sometimes for dry media), I also like to use Bristol paper with the kids . The finish is much smoother than watercolor paper.

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Everyday Paper (White): For practice, quick drawings, color testing, and for art I don't intend to save, the kids and I use everything from printer paper to generic sketch books. My kids enjoy the sketch books because it holds all their drawings in one place, and when they get to the last page, it's easy to flip through and tear out any papers they really, really want to save and put it in their portfolio.

Colored Paper: I love cardstock, especially for collages. It's thicker than standard printer paper and construction paper, so it can hold its shape well, especially when cutting.

Black Paper: Again, I love cardstock! I have kids draw directly onto black cardstock with oil pastels or soft pastels, and sometimes we use it as a background to glue a smaller project. The black paper makes for a great background color; it allows the art to stand out.

COLORED PENCILS

Colored pencils are not all the same. Prismacolor is hands down my favorite brand of colored pencils. The Prismacolor Premier pencils are rich in color and spread on paper like butter; plus, it's so easy to blend the colors. The quality is definitely worth the extra money. They won't disappoint. A lesser expensive option is Prismacolor Scholar.

PAINT

Paint Brushes: I buy what I think is a well-rounded, student grade brush. It's suitable for both acrylic and watercolor paints, so there's no confusion among the kids.

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Paint Paper: See paper description.

 

Acrylic Paint: I like to buy Blick's pint-size student grade acrylic paint, Blickrylic. The color goes on well, and it's budget friendly. Bonus! I recommend buying a six pack of colors and purchasing other colors as you need. Remember, any color can be made using red, yellow, and blue.

Watercolor Paint: I've always bought the liquid watercolors for students in my classes to use. I pour a little of the liquid paint into jars so it's on hand and ready for the kids to use. It makes it easy for them to paint (no mixing involved) and they're able to share with those at their table. Plus, the liquid can last an incredibly long time; you can water them down for kids and they'll last even longer.

At home, we've used both the liquid and the pans. Over the years, I've bought pans from variety of inexpensive brands.

 

PASTELS

Oil Pastels: Oil pastels take coloring to a whole new level. They're loaded with color, easy to blend, and can provide texture. In my opinion, they're highly undervalued. I typically use Pentel oil pastels with groups of students because they're a little less in price. Cray-Pas oil pastels leave a little more texture on the paper and blend slightly better. I highly recommend both for students.

Soft Pastels: Soft pastels are often interchanged with chalk pastels, maybe because it leaves behind a powdery substance. This medium can have a stunning result, but does require some carefulness while working as it can smear. We've had success with Sargent soft pastels. They are quite long, so I suggest breaking them in half for small hands to hold. Added bonus.... you can share the other half! I don't use these often, but always love the finished piece as it produces vibrant colors. I really need to use them more often. 

MARKERS

Black Markers: We draw a lot with Sharpies and love the results. The ink dries quickly, but it is permanent and can bleed through certain paper types, so be sure to protect your work surface.

Colored Markers: Coloring with markers produces an amazing finish, plus it's super fun. We've used Pentel brand over and over. The quality is great and it's affordable. Just be sure when coloring with markers, especially if you're coloring the entire paper, to use paper suited for marker. This alleviates a rolled up paper in the end.

EXTRAS

Scissors: Scissors that have non-stick blades are extra special and especially great for those little hands who like to cut tape!

Glue: Glue sticks are my favorite, less mess. Tacky glue comes in handy when gluing heavier pieces; it's thicker and has a better hold than a regular glue stick.

Others: You probably already have these items stashed around your home.

  • Pencil with eraser

  • Aluminum foil

  • Parchment paper

  • Tissue paper

  • Paper towel

  • Damp cloth or wet wipe

  • Q-tips

Fixative: I sometimes recommend spraying artwork to protect it over time. This is especially true with soft pastels. I consider this protective step only necessary if you plan to keep the project for a lengthy amount of time and want to keep the powdery substance in tact. Just be cautious when spraying because, depending on the color of the design, sometimes the fixative will lighten/remove some of the work.

Table Protector: I always advise to protect your work surface. I use a variety of coverings, anything from drop cloths to Kraft paper, even scrap paper.

 

I also laminate cardstock at a local office supply store for my kids to use when they're drawing with Sharpies or other markers that may bleed through paper. The laminated paper is simple to store and easily slides right under their paper without taking up a huge amount of space.

Portfolio/Artwork Storage: I place each student's work in a portfolio to take home at the end of the semester/year. I love Go See's presentation and portfolio books. They hold up well and they're affordable. I usually buy the 8x10" size and cut students' project paper to 8.25x10" before they begin their work (the plastic sleeve is a bit larger than 8" and I like the project to fit the entire sleeve). This way there are options for parents... store projects in the book or frame them. Perfect size.

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