Not Sure Where to Begin? Never Fear! Help is Here!!

Many students have a desire to begin drawing or painting, but are not sure what to buy and just aren’t quite sure how to begin using there newly purchased supplies, or even if they purchased the correct materials for their beginning painting or drawing goals.

Below is a basic list of supplies and links to other online resources to steer you into the right direction.


Drawing is not just making marks on a surface with dry mediums, it also includes wet media.

10 Essential Drawing Materials and Tools for Beginners

Quality Drawing Pencils.

A Sketchbook. A sketchbook is one of the most important things an artist has to sketch ideas.

Quality Drawing Surfaces. ... Drawing Paper, Drawing board (Strathmore or Canson)

Variety of Erasers. ... Pink Pearl, Plastic White, Rubber, Kneaded

A Good Pencil Sharpener.

Charcoal or Conté, Graphite, Ebony Pencil (SEE DRY DRAWING MEDIA BELOW)

A Felt Tip Pen.

Artwork Storage and Art Material Storage ( Art bin, fishing table box, Art portfolio with handles 28 x 32 in.

Blending Stumps / Tortillions.


Charcoal is slowly charred wood. Large vines are charred in an airtight environment to make bigger sticks of charcoal, while thin willow twigs are charred for other applications when a thin stick is needed. Like graphite, charcoal comes in degrees of hardness. Charcoal is also sold in pencil form. I like Royal and Langnickle Charcoal set.

Conté , Conte 1710-2B
Conté crayon/pencil is a popular drawing material that is similar to chalk but waxier. It is available in sticks of black, white, sepia, bistre, and sanguine. It is difficult to erase.

Graphite Pencils- Staedtler Lumograph pencils - a great set of drawing pencils. You need 6 graphite pencils(2H, HB, B 2B, 4B, 6B) and GRAPHITE sticks and woodless graphite which are also a way to go without having to rely on just thin linear mark. Derwent Graphic Medium- Set of 12 or Faber Castell 2H-6B are also great pencils.

Prismacolor Ebony Pencil- Smoother than velvet- You can use this for everything from quick sketching in your sketchbook to more detailed projects

Colored Pencils- Prismacolor 32 color pack

Pastel- Nu-Pastels, these are hard pastels and do not crumble as you place them on the surface. Great for under drawing and you can lay soft pastels on top. Other Hard pastels that are hard but not as hard as nu-pastels, Rembrandt. Great Soft Pastels-Unison



Ink Pens- Wallet Pitt Pen Nibs Art Set, Assorted by Faber Castell

Derwent Inktense Pencil Set

Liquid Graphite-

Water-Soluble Graphite-

Watercolor and Gouache-


Art Studio Wall and Table full of Supplies and Reference Material

Art Studio Wall and Table full of Supplies and Reference Material

WATERCOLOR A basic set/ Palette- Holbein: Opera, Leaf Green, Cadmium Yellow Pale; Winsor & Newton: Cerulean, Caput Mortem

GOUACHE - A basic set/ Palette- Turner Acryl Gouache: Opera Red, Fresh Green, Chocolate, Japanese Pale Yellow, Aqua Blue

Other items needed with watercolor…A pencil, a kneaded eraser, some tissues, and an old towel or paper towels, and a couple of large metal clips for holding your watercolor paper to a board. Voila! That’s all you need to start your adventures in watercolor painting. If you find yourself creating world-class masterpieces, immediately upgrade your paints to artist-grade and your paper to archival quality. Then proceed to have fun making what the world has never seen. **See water color section on next column

ACRYLIC- Golden makes a great 8 color mixing set that I recommend if you do not want to purchase a ton of colors. Take a look at the colors that Golden offers in their Heavy Body line of paints

TEMPERA- Egg Tempera by Sennelier 5 Color Set

OIL- Gamblin Introductory Set

ALKYD- Manufacturers of Alkyd Paint (Oil mixed with Resin to dry within 18 hours)

Winsor & Newton - Griffin Fast Drying Oil Color





ACRYLIC MEDIUMS- Golden Gel Mediums: Mat Medium, Gloss Medium and other heavy or soft gel mediums. See Golden’s Guide to Mediums

OIL MEDIUMS - Windsor and Newton and Gamblin are my favorite !! Check out the Basic Gamblin Guide to their Oil painting mediums and take a look at their more extensive Gamblin Guide to Oil Painting Mediums.

Winsor and Newton makes LIQUIN, an oil painting medium that works well with thinning out your paint for the first layers of painting and dries quickly. Windsor and Newton also makes an artist oil painting medium that is usually mixed with oil paint after liquin and paint layers have been applied. Allows for easy layering of colors and flow of oil color, transparent layering.



Watercolor and Gouache: Choose Synthetic Brushes

Basic brush sets for beginners: Synthetic - If you can afford only one brush, buy a #8 round red sable watercolor brush. Otherwise buy the best synthetic or synthetic-blend brush you can find. Adding a round #4 and a 1″ flat would come in handy for detail work and large washes. Most manufacturers have starter sets that contain very usable equivalents.

A round brush set like the Marrywindix round brush set is a great set for beginners and you can do a lot with just a set of round brushes and a few flats.

Royal Langnickel Agualon Taklon Brush Sets are also good quality and not expensive.

Angular, Set of 7 — The set includes one each of sizes 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", and 1".

Shader/Wash, Set of 8 — The set includes one each of sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 1/2", 3/4", and 1".

Filbert/Wash, Set of 7 — The set includes one each of sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 3/4", and 1".

Acrylic and Oil- Choose Bristle Brushes

Basic Brush set for beginners: Royal and Langnickel’s Hog hair set of 5 brushes that include Long Handle, Natural Chungking Boar Bristle, Filbert 2 & 12, Bright 8, Round 1 & 6. I would also get a flat 1, 1 and a half and two inche brushes. I use purdy brushes when I get into very large brushes.

Click Here to View a Guide to Paint Brushes!!

Additional Guides from Blick Art Materials

Learn about Bristles (hair) and what medium is best !


Watercolor Paper: Use any watercolor pad, block, or loose paper with a weight of #140 or higher. The heavier the paper, the less likely you’ll have to deal with the warpage of the damp paper while painting. I recommend larger sheets like this one because you can always cut them in half or quarters for smaller paintings.

You can even find servicable beginner’s watercolor pad (for learning) near the Crayola rack at your local drugstore. Try different surface textures to find your favorite.90-lb Arches natural cold press and hot press

There is even a stretched type of watercolor paper made by fredrix and an aqua board made by Ampersand available.

Acrylic and Oil-

You can gesso many types of papers to prepare it for oil painting and acrylic painting. Many papers and boards as well as stretched canvas and linen are great for oil and acrylic painting.

Stretched Canvas like fredrix brand canvases that are already primed with gesso are great for acrylic painting. However, when oil painting, its important to apply another coat of gesso to ensu’re the oil does not seep through to the cotton fibers and eventually deteriorate the canvas.

Gessoed panels like Ampersand are great, as are canvas wrapped boards.

Oil and Acrylic Papers are as follows.

  • Arches Oil Paper Pads.

  • Bee Paper Canvaskin Paper Pads.

  • Bienfang Canvasette Paper Canvas.

  • Canson Foundation Canva-Paper Pads.

  • Canson Foundation Canva-Paper Rolls.

  • Canson XL Oil and Acrylic Pads.

  • Crescent Canvas Boards.

A FANTASTIC publication called JUST PAINT by GOLDEN published a bit about painting on papers. It is a treasure of information for artists.


I use a large glass palette I made myself. I paint LARGE, so I have about a 2 foot by 4 feet piece of tempered quarter inch glass that I paint on when I paint in oils. I have a piece of cardboard under that the same size underneath it taped along edges with duct tape. I clean it with a scraper that holds a large razor blade from home depot after I finish a painting session.

Other palettes that can be used for oils and acrylics are wood palettes, plexiglass palettes and paper palettes made for oils and acrylics.

Take a Look HERE at CREATELET for a wonderful review of oil/acrylic and even watercolor palettes.

I store my Acrylics in a compartmentalized plastic storage container made for craft beads, etc. I store the container in a two gallon plastic ziplock bag with a wet paper towel. I can squeeze a whole tube of acrylic paint in each of the 15 compartments. They stay wet for months this way and I don’t have to keep squeezing out paint on my palette. I can just dip my palette knife or brush into my compartment of color, place it on my palette and mix! Easy to pack up and travel for workshops, etc.

Other Containers and Cleaning:

Containers for small amounts of mediums: I use a metal or glass container with lids to put your daily use of solvent/thinner such as Gamblin’s Gamsol in and I use another glass or metal container in which to put oil medium. You can keep oil paint in a lined container to keep fresh and wet or wrap in plastic. wrap.

I use torn old cotton shirts, and socks for rags, a lined, sided container for oil rags and scraped off old oil paint. I clean my brushed with murphy’s oil soap, dawn soap and use a bar soap.