Gift Ideas for Artists

One of the participants in my Colors of France workshop asked me for gift ideas for artists who are traveling with us, so I thought I’d share them here! 

It is so much fun to plan this trip! However, one thing we want to avoid is carrying too much with us as we tour and paint the beautiful French countryside. Below, you’ll find some of the selections I’m planning to take. My goal is to lighten my load and keep my watercolor kit to the bare minimum. Many of the links are affiliate links: I will receive a small percentage of the sales if you (or Santa) buys these items online. These posts take quite a bit of time to put together – so thanks in advance for your support!

What will we paint on?

  1. The first thing we will need is a place to sketch and make notes. This sketchbook, by Stillman & Birn, has substantial paper, opens to a flat surface, and has a soft, but durable cover. You may want to use an elastic headband or a small spring clip to keep the pages closed in transit. Blocks of watercolor paper are another good choice. Arches makes my favorite!

Another sketchbook option that many artists use is created by the artist. You can assemble a simple book by cutting paper to the desired size and choosing a simple way to bind it with a custom cover. Many artists hand-stitch their books, but you can also have yours bound at your local copy shop with a spiral, or choose a ring-type binding. 

2. You may want to bring along a small, plastic ruler like the one below, to help draw straight lines, and to mark your place in your sketch book.

3. For drawing, you will want to bring a pencil, and a selection of pens. I like the Sakura pens, as they are waterproof and archival. This size 02 is small, but not too tiny. I also like the pens that have a brush tip.

4. For painting, you’ll want some brushes. Travel brushes that have a protective cover are nice to bring. You can also get away with bringing regular brushes, as long as you have a case to keep them from getting scrunched. This set has both protected brush tips and a roll-up case!

5. This is another nice travel brush. I’ve also enjoyed this travel brush by American Journey, and this one by Raphael.

6. I don’t think I could get along without this essential watercolor spray bottle, by Holbein. I’ve tried other spray bottles, but this one delivers just the right amount of water. The mist is not too fine, and not too coarse.

Palette Choices

7. I’m listing two types of palettes. This first one has gotten great reviews. It is compact, and even comes with a travel brush and water containers. The only drawback is that the paint wells are limited to 12 spaces. However, you can bring extra 1/2 pans to swap out.

8. If you choose this more traditional metal palette, you should have plenty of space for paint: 24 wells to be exact. You could also add a few full pans of colors that you tend to use more often. There is also space in this palette for a couple of brushes.

9. This handy viewfinder will help you to compose your paintings, and limit your distractions. Of course, you could also make your own out of old slide mounts or cardboard. The nice thing about this one is that it can adjust from square to rectangle.

10. If you already have a small palette without a water reservoir, you might like this collapsible water container. It has nifty scallops along the top so that a brush rested there won’t roll off.

11. What will you carry your materials in? These mesh vinyl bags are perfect to isolate things that might drip or leak from the rest of your luggage. 

12. I love how hats like this one roll up compactly and are easy to pack. They also keep me cooler by being more of a visor than a hat. Finally, the shorter back makes them easy to wear while riding in a car or bus.

Two more ideas – 

Maybe you’re not an artist, or you don’t have an artist in your life. If you see work in my online gallery that you’d like to gift, I can make it very easy for you. Simply contact me with the title of the painting and your location. I’ll let you know how much shipping will cost and how soon I can get it to you. I’m also happy to deliver locally. And, I can create gift certificates for artwork, so your loved one can pick out their own present. Imagine their surprise!

Finally, if your artist has plenty of supplies but needs a place and a time to paint, check out the workshops page of my site. I have class offerings coming up, including the Colors of France! I’m happy to provide a printable gift certificate that you can roll up and tuck into the stocking of your favorite artist.

Wishing you a Joyful Holiday Season, however you like to celebrate!
Finished work: “Lost Eden” Mixed Media 22″x15″ ©Ruth Armitage, $950

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