Art Supply Basics Every Artist Should Have

If you search the internet you will no doubt find hundreds of sites with lists of art supplies that every artist should have in their respective “tool boxes”. If you ask an artist how much art stuff is enough you are likely to hear “…just a little more!”

With that in mind and in the spirit of great art, we will now offer you our thoughts on the basics every artist should own and even finish with a few that we all wish we could add to our studio.

1. The most basic tool you should own, regardless of your chosen medium, is a good pencil or pencil set.

mgps-74jFor general sketching a 2B will be sufficient. Pencils are graded from hard (9H) to soft (8B) with the 2B somewhere in the middle. This means you can use it for general sketching and shading but might want to have a 6B for more intense shading and a 7H for really light areas.

2. Like it our not, not everything we draw will make the grade and that’s where our second basic art supply comes in handy: the eraser.

g20_1 gpc140_1The two that should be in every artist tool kit would be the vinyl and the kneaded eraser. Kneaded erasers can be molded and used to erase or to lighten lines or areas of shading without completely erasing them. The vinyl or plastic eraser is soft and can be used to eliminate lines without tearing your paper. Graphite residue does not build up on them and they typically last a long time.







3. Now we need something to draw on. One of the most convenient is a drawing pad or artist sketch pad.

MGPS-56HSketch pads come in many sizes and are normally produced with lighter weight paper and are used for quick reference sketches and are not intended for finished work. For more precise work that you would like to save, a drawing pad with heavier paper would be best. Pads tend to be spiral bound, feature different surfaces or textures and can be archival or not. There are also mixed media pads which can be used with ink or paint.

mgps-5a5_1Although this is not the post to follow this thought, drawing has always been one of the foundations of making art and or painting. Taking the time to learn some basics would be beneficial for every artist.

mgps-502-nw4. Paper or painting surface. If you are a watercolorist, you will want to transfer your drawing to a sheet of watercolor paper in order to paint. You will want at least a 140 pound paper which can be purchased in sheets or blocks. The most common surface is called cold pressed and has a light to medium texture.




MGPS-53P-SD MGPS-545If you are an acrylic painter you will at least need a paint panel or canvas to complete your painting. Don’t be afraid to buy extra as you will be less intimidated to experiment or make mistakes as if you only buy one sheet or canvas to begin.











5. Palettes. There are dozens and dozens of palettes and/or mixing trays available for both watercolor and acrylic artists.

400_1These are used to hold paint and mix colors. In the case of watercolor, palettes are designed to keep or store colors and also feature a mixing area that can be cleaned after using. Joe likes to fill his palette with lots of color and if the paint dries between painting sessions, he uses a spray bottle to re-moisten the paint. In the case of acrylic painting, there are many choices as well from a disposable palette to a traditional shaped palette with thumb hole.


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6. Brushes. One thing that can be said about brushes is that if you buy decent quality brushes and take care of them they can last for a long long time. There is also a theory that you should buy the bust you can afford and that you get what you pay for. In terms of brushes, this is certainly true. This being said, an inexpensive brush is not necessarily a bad brush. One of Cheap Joe’s most popular brushes is the Golden Fleece line.









These are made from 100% Toray Nylon synthetic fiber and feature rounds, flats, ovals, wash, fan and rigger shapes.

MGPS-316For the acrylic painter, Cheap Joe’s offers many selections with one of the most popular being the Serendipity line of bristle brushes. They are available in round, flat, fan, filbert and bright shapes.




7. Paints. For the watercolor painter, the American Journey line is one of our best.











There are currently 128 different colors in the 15 & 37 ml size. They are backed by our 365 day return policy as well.

mgps-1w8_1For the acrylic painter you can’t go wrong with the American Journey Professional Artist Acrylic. Available in 60 colors, your palette will thank you for the adventure.






As you might guess, we could go on and on Ad infinitum with our list of supplies every artist should have in their “tool kit”. However, for today, we will stop here because you can certainly launch out into the deeper waters of artistic creativity with the list of seven we have chosen.

However, we might want to include the following on our “wish list”. Check back for more suggestions in future posts.

cj15185Cheap Joe’s Easel Table is a must have fixture for any artist’s studio. This innovative front-folding table, may be set to any angle you desire for watercolor or pastel painting. For traditional oil or acrylic painting, remove the table top to reveal a sturdy four-legged H-frame beech wood easel.


ajtab_1And for storage there is the American Journey Taboret. The American Journey Taboret is made of quality American Ash in a beautiful honey finish. It features three drawers with metal roller glides, contemporary brushed nickel drawer pulls and locking casters for easy mobility.



9 Responses

  1. Sister Thelma
    Sister Thelma
    August 25, 2016 at 9:13 am | Reply

    I am in need of Jo Sonja acrylics to write icons. Do you have those tubes of paint?

    1. Byron Cook
      Byron Cook
      August 29, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Reply

      Yes, here is a link:

      Hope this helps, thanks!

  2. cathleen gholson
    December 25, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Reply

    i am brand new to watercolor. i bought the book “one watercolor a day” by veronica lawlor. i have no supplies and am a bit overwhelmed at your selections. please emai me or call me at 580-364-3394. i like your site and want to order from it, thanks cathy gholson

    1. Sylvia
      November 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Reply

      May I recommend the book “WC Painters Pocket Pallette by Moira Clinch. An indesposable reference for mixing colors which is key to clean, clear finished paintings. And learning about transparent, and opaque colors. And PAINT, PAINT PAINT!

  3. Jamie Ann Dentremont
    May 29, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Reply

    I am trying to find LEAF GREEN (Shiva Signature) oil paint large tubes for my classes that are doing projects with a lot of leafs. I need this information ASAP. My summer classes start in a few weeks. If you don’t carry this paint do you know who makes it now?

    1. Byron Cook
      Byron Cook
      May 31, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Reply

      Good afternoon Jamie,
      Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff does carry Richeson Oils, The Shiva Series. Hope this helps!

      Best regards,

  4. Rachel Unruh
    Rachel Unruh
    July 12, 2017 at 11:40 am | Reply

    I cannot find Konker Acrylic Markers here. Do you plan to carry them? I know they are new, but are dependable and popular! Thanks.

    September 4, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Reply

    Greate article. Keep posting such kind of info on your page.

    Im really impressed by it.
    Hey there, You have performed an excellent job.
    I’ll certainly digg it and for my part recommend to my friends.
    I am confident they’ll be benefited from this site.

  6. Pat Neill
    Pat Neill
    December 6, 2017 at 4:01 am | Reply

    I am having trouble making order. I need Burnt umber, raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Black, AL. Crimson; you have special, brush cleaner: as pink , sudsy, and thin like water. I also need a blue but did not get that far. I am old and may not understand how this works as it keeps referring me back to the front. Hope you can help me as I need them right away.

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