As you experiment and test out different art supplies you will find some things that you keep going back to time and time again. Some you will fall in love with right away and others you might use once or twice and then forget about. Over time you will discover a collection of favorites as you continue to explore artistry but the types of art supplies you will need depend on the medium you enjoy or wish to pursue. Although in most artist supplies are generally similar, the specifics will differ depending on if you paint with acrylics, oils, watercolors etc.

So what are the “Holy Grail” items of the art world? What are the basic items that every artist should have? Well at some point regardless of your medium you will have to sketch a subject before you start the actual painting. This makes a good and reliable set of graphite pencils extremely important for artists. You don’t need a lot of pencils, 3 or 4 basic ones is good. For general shading and sketching you should have a 2B, a 4H for light areas and a 6B for dark shadows.

No one is perfect so there will be time when you make mistakes. It’s useful to have both white and kneaded erasers. Kneaded erasers in particular are easy to use and don’t leave any residue behind. A cool thing about the kneaded erasers as well is that you can reshapes it in order to erase small areas of shading.

What is an artist without canvas or drawing paper? You’re definitely going to need a surface to draw those sketches on. Once you’ve sketched out those ideas for the painting, you’re going to want to draw the final piece on the actual surface you will be painting. Of course this can vary depending on your medium of choice. If you like watercolors, the best choice in watercolor paper is pre-stretched pad. You have two general options with acrylics. You can either use acrylic paper or canvas.

How much you spend on these items is really up to you but any inexpensive plastic paint palette does the job for both acrylic and watercolors. If you start painting with acrylics there are at least three basic paintbrushes you’ll want to have.

  • A small liner brush for fine details
  • A flat wash brush mostly for painting backgrounds
  • A filbert for general painting and smoothing out details

The three most useful brushes for water colors are:

  • A liner brush for smaller detail.
  • A round brush for general painting
  • A medium or large sized flat brush mostly for washes

Last but not least, you obviously must have paint. Regardless of you medium or palette size the basic paint colors you will need are at least one blue, one red, one brown and one yellow. There are at least three or four good paints to choose from for each hue. For example, your basic palette could consist of several paint that you can mix to create new ones.

So there you have it. The “Holy Grail” items of art. Not what you were expecting right?


Painting is fun, relaxing and can also be a great way to earn a living. If you're interested in some fun painting tutorials to do with your friends and family then you should definitely check out our Bob Ross DVDs.

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