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Holiday Art Supply Gift Guide for 2021!

I post something similar every few years with updates, including new finds and changes due to suppliers and technology- as well as tried and true classics that I always use in my studio. These are my recommended gift art supplies for the budding artist in your life.

Art supplies make a perfect gift–because it is the gift of an experience–something that will reward the receiver for much longer than just the holiday season. They are the tools that give the art lover in your life a practical skill that lasts. I may receive an Amazon Affiliate commission if you use these links (trust me, this does not make me Bezos wealthy). On that note, here are some of my most coveted supplies with links to easy online suppliers at a good price. Happy shopping!

For the Up and Coming Digital Artist

You can’t go wrong with an iPad Pro or the iPad mini 6th generation, or the iPad 9th generation, and the Apple Pencil 2. Get yourself the drawing/painting apps Procreate or Ibis Paint (free) for all your digital art dreams. I’m really a fan of the Apple Pencil 2- it is much improved from the early days of stylus accessories for the iPad.

For the Artist with a Sore Neck or Back

My go to table top easel has changed from the Daler-Rowney Art Sphere Easel, which is still a great table top easel that I’ve found to be sturdy and flexible – a tough combination to find. Instead, I’m using the Martin Pro Draft Delux Parallel Straightedge Drawing Board and loving it! It is a lot larger, even though it doesn’t change to all kinds of crazy angles, but the larger surface really helps to work on bigger drawings and still not crane my neck.  

For the Pencil Artist

Stonehenge Paper: Buy it in various drawing pad sizes, or by the sheet, and tear it down to the right size. Stonehenge is a luscious cotton printmaker’s paper that is great for wet and dry mediums. It is my go-to paper for all of my artwork. Comes in white, warm white or multicolor. Various prices. Worth the extra expense for purposeful projects.

X-Acto Manual Pencil Sharpener: This is the best pencil sharpener I use when making my own artwork. The blades stay sharp and create the finest point on a pencil I’ve ever seen. Unlike electric pencil sharpeners, you have more control, can see the point while you are sharpening the pencil. The best part is you can open the device to remove broken leads that get jammed in the sharpener- which is common when using soft artist pencils. I love you, X-Acto, for making this sharpener! About $6-10. Worth every penny!

I’ve finally added an electric pencil sharpener to the mix this year, the Riyo PS-04 has a great point maker and cute little pencil holder built in. It’s noisy, but speedy and works on surfaces you can’t attach the vacuum mount to for the Xacto sharpener.

Don’t waste your time on other kneaded erasers, as many of them are too gooey or just crumble and don’t work! The Lyra Kneaded Eraser has always been reliable in my previous purchases, and comes with a handy case to keep it clean. Once I even got a box that included sparkles??? and you can watch my eraser comparison video at this link, too.

Tombow Mono Zero 2.3 mm Round Eraser: Order the most detail oriented refillable eraser you’ll ever need- the Tombow Mono Zero 2.3mm Round Eraser. You may also wish to purchase the larger rectangular one, especially if you’re erasing a lot or with harder pressure (ie. especially for kids). And get a few refills while you’re at it as they won’t last long.

Faber-Castell Art Eraser Dust Free: Tired of eraser crumbs all over your house? This one still creates “rolls” of eraser bits, but they are easier to pick up than most regular erasers.

Or if you’re really tired of eraser crumbs, get a Ladybug Desktop Vacuum or a stylish white Desktop Vacuum (set of 2) and keep one for your kitchen crumbs, too!

For the Colored Pencil Artist

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils: Prismacolor are a great quality for the price, and I’d recommend them for both kids and adults who aren’t yet certain whether they want to pursue work in color. The problem with the low quality colored pencil sets you can buy at the grocery store and the ones marketed for kids at craft stores, is the colors are hard and don’t layer well. Also, the wood and colored center will often break when sharpening. You really do get what you pay for in a pencil. Spend a little extra and save yourself a lot of irritation. I advise that you buy the Premier or Softcore Prismacolors which are soft and easy to layer, instead of the Verithin Prismacolors which are hard and as the name states, very thin. The Verithin are good for adult coloring books or very small details, but not large areas. Prismacolors run about $1 per pencil, although lately I’m seeing them for about .65 cents a pencil.

Prismacolor Color Blenders: Purchase a couple of these when you buy your colored pencils. Colorless blenders have the wax and binders of colored pencils without the pigment. Blenders help to blend colors and burnish your colors when drawing. They are sometimes hard to find in town, so if you’re already paying for shipping for a bigger purchase, add a few of these to your order. About $1 per pencil.

Tombow Mono Sand Eraser 512A This is a handy, sanded eraser that works well for erasing colored pencil better than a traditional eraser does. Definitely a must for colored pencil work!

For the Watercolor Artist

Caran d’Ache Colored Watercolor Pencils: Caran d’Ache are tip top of the line for water color pencils. Soft and creamy, and high quality- they will set you back, and, because of this, maybe aren’t recommended for kids. But if you’re serious about color work, treat yourself! These pencils run about $3-5 per pencil but you can often get sales from online suppliers which are worth seeking out.

Watercolor Travel Set: I like this small, inexpensive travel pan of watercolors starter set by Windsor Newton, usually between $14-20. Why not buy Crayola watercolors for your kids? Because for just a little more, you can get a professional grade paint for more years of memories. 

Hot Press Watercolor Paper: Hot vs cold press paper can be confusing – hot is not made for keeping you warm over the winter! Cold = textured; Hot = smooth (think of it as ironed). If you’re delving into watercolors, purchase some hot press paper to start with- you’ll love it. You can get this inexpensive starter set by Strathmore in 8 x 10 or the Arches waterpaper block 9 x 12 (the glue holds the paper firm so you get even drying). 

Online Drawing Courses

And don’t forget, you can always get a monthly or annual subscription to my online drawing course, The LZM Drawing Method. THIS COURSE WON’T EXPERIENCE ANY SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES, EVEN IF YOU ARE PURCHASING IT FOR SOMEONE ACROSS THE COUNTRY! Tier 1 includes videos, written explanations, photos of sample drawings, photos of things to draw and Tier 2 includes all of those items, plus an online forum to post drawing images for feedback from me.

Hope you’ll get creative in 2022! Happy holidays!