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Gifts Ideas for Artists

Ideas for gifts for the artist in your life.


Looking for a gift for the artist in your life or an artist friend? Here's a collection of ideas for art and painting-related gifts.

A Set of High Flow Acrylics

Product testing and review Flow Acrylic
Photo ©2013 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
New on the market in 2013, Golden's High Flow Acrylics are, as the name suggests, extremely fluid (see another photo). They're also a high pigment loading, so are strong, saturated colors. They lend themselves to all sorts of techniques, starting with working wet-into-wet and pouring. They will also make it easy to thinly spread paint for glazing, as you don't have to dilute 'normal' paint to get it to spread. As an added treat for a friend, why not get a bottle of one of the fluorescent colors?

A Portable Creativity Kit

figure painting art supplies
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
With a travel set of watercolor paints (Buy Direct), a waterbrush (Buy Direct), a pencil or pen, and pocket sketchbook (Buy Direct), the artist in your life can be creative anywhere and everywhere.

A Remedy for Artistic Insecurity: "Art and Fear"

Gift ideas for Artists -- Art and Fear Book
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
There are lots of self-help books out there, lots fill with wordy psychobabble that doesn't get to the point if any kind of a hurry, nevermind actually help. But Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Art making isn't one of these. It's a small, short book (only 134 pages) without any photos or artwork in it, just words. But powerful words that go straight to the doubts and fears we experience. I think it's something not just for those days when you doubt what you're doing is worthwhile, but as a regular boost of motivation and confidence.

A New Brush or Three

Sennelier Raphael Mixacryl Brushes
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Buying an artist a new brush as a present make seem like the equivalent of buying a pair of socks -- practical but unoriginal. However, if it's for someone who doesn't deduct their art materials as tax expenses, then it's an extremely useful present.

If you're not sure whether they're painting with oils or acrylics, buy a brush that's suitable for both. Sneak a peak at what shape brush they tend to use, and buy something different. (The main options are round, flat, and filbert.)

If they use watercolor, a mop brush is a fun choice. (Buy Direct)

An Alternative to a Brush: A Painting Knife

Gift Ideas for Artists and Painters - Painting Knife
Photo courtesy of Blick.com
Painting with a knife is quite a different experience to painting with a brush. Not only can you produce a range of different marks, but it feels distinctly different in your hand too, a bit like spreading jam with a really springy knife. If you've never tried one, I'd go for a mid-size painting knife with a flat top and a sharp point on a corner because this enables you to create large areas of color and small details.

If the artist you're wanting to buy a gift for already has a 'normal' painting knife, consider getting them one of RGM's strangely shaped painting knives, which open up all sorts of new possibilities.

See Also: How to Use a Painting Knife

An Out-of-the-Ordinary Painting Knife

RGM Painting Knives
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The New Age Painting Knives from RGM come in all sorts of weird and unexpected shapes, perfect for creating texture and pattern in paint. Whether you're spreading paint, scratching into wet paint, or printing with a shape, the possibilities are many.

Mediums to Change Watercolor

Watercolour mediums from Winsor and Newton
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
Make watercolor paints do more by adding a watercolor medium. Granulation medium changes watercolor from smooth color to grainy color (think "granules"). Iridescent medium add sparkle or glitter and can be mixed in or painted over the top. Texture medium, well, adds texture, and can be used straight onto the paper or mixed with watercolor paint.

Slow-Drying Acrylics

Open acrylic paints from Golden Artist Colors
Image: © Golden Artist Colors
Introduced onto the market mid-way through 2008, Golden's Open Acrylics are unlike any other acrylic on the market. Yes, many brands have made a claim to "uniqueness" but what is special about this range of acrylics is that they dry slowly -- really slowly. This means you've a working time akin to oil paints, without the downsides of dealing with turps and oil mediums.

For a set of basic colors, I'd select cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red medium, phthalo blue (green shade), nickel azo yellow, and titanium white. (If you want to avoid cadmium pigments, substitute Hansa yellow light and pyrrole red.) For special colors as a treat, I'd get green gold (a gloriously transparent green) or manganese blue hue (recreated historical color).

Colour Shapers

Gift Ideas for Artists and Painters
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans
A Colour Shaper looks like a brush with a flexible tip instead of bristles, but you use it more like you would a painting knife, for pushing and smearing paint around. They're great for texture effects, and for sgraffito. Colour Shapers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and degrees of flexibility.
See also: Intro to Art Brushes: Colour Shapers

Paints Organizing Box

Gift ideas for artists -- storage containers
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
If you prefer a storage container that allows you to organize and sort your paints / art materials, go for one that folds out with multiple trays. Just remember that when it's full, you'll need to be able to pick it up!

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