Each year (especially years when I've got a new book out!), I like to give some suggestions for art supplies to gift to the budding artist in your life. These are usually materials and methods that I've used myself or with my children and friends; I hope you might find them helpful! I do not receive any commissions from recommending these items.
For Preschool/Elementary Age Children
These are perfect for the youngest artists; you can easily grab thick, rich color with a wet paintbrush. Easy to use, let them dry before putting them away.
A step up, these watercolors verge on tempera for richness but with a larger variety of colors. They work well even on cheaper varieties of paper, like inexpensive reams of manila.
A Discount School Supply brand, these watercolors are super-concentrated and fun in their vibrancy. Curate the colors you are giving the child at each paint session: choose a handful of colors only and squirt into their own small cups.
A good basic set with a variety of brushes.
And Lots of Inexpensive Paper!
Some Helpful Hints for Less Mess!:
1). Use a tray
Kids can each have their own plastic tray (IKEA has good ones), or, the thrifty option, a cut down box. Put the paper, paints, and water cup on your tray to minimize mess and clean up.
2). Don't use all your materials at once
Choose a few materials to use instead of putting out everything you have!
For online art classes for kids, our hands-down favorite is Miss Patty at Primerry. I've been following Patty since I was teaching elementary art myself, and I love this new service she is offering families. A subscription to Primerry plus a bundle of the supplies above would be a wonderful gift. Perfect for the entire family.
For More Artistically Interested Children, Teens, and Adults
A copy of my new book would be a great guide for any older child, teen or adult wanting to try watercolor. Add any of these materials to get them started:
Good starter colors in tube form for learning how to mix paint and color theory. You will need a separate palette to squeeze colors onto; anything from a paper plate, to a china plate, to see #2 below.
My good friends at Dault Pottery created these and they are the perfect accessory for your painting experience.
A good set with a variety of shapes and sizes to experiment with.
These watercolors come in pan form with a metal box and built in mixing palette.
My favorite paper, doesn't break the bank, but almost any watercolor paper will do.
Some online classes that I have enjoyed:
STILL - These classes are often geared to drawing or other mediums, but you can always use watercolor instead.
As always in a discussion of materials I emphasize that the important thing is to paint, not worry about the perfect materials. Just get some, almost anything, and USE them!
Misc. Art-Related Things We Have Loved (in no particular order!)
The Art Lesson - The cutest story from one of the best, Tomie de Paola
Crepe Paper - Make all kinds of fun things
Forest Fairy Crafts - How to make pipe cleaner and clothespin dolls; great for dollhouses