Luxury Gifts Ideas for Artists: When Money's No Object

Ideas for gifts for the artist in your life.

Want to buy something unusual or extraordinary for the artist in your life? Here's a collection of gift ideas, whether it's for a birthday, an anniversary, or a Christmas present. Or perhaps simply a "I love the fact you're an artist" present.

Life-size Wooden Figure Manikin

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
Instead of having a real person modeling for you, dress up a life-size wooden manikin. You'll never have to worry about giving them a break, or they not holding the pose. Nor about them complaining the painting doesn't look like them!

Combined Taboret and Easel Workstation

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
If you want the ability to tidy away all your painting supplies, a combined taboret and easel workstation does the trick. Closed up, it looks like a small chest of drawers, but open it up and you've an easel and artist's workstation.

Art Caddy

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
Keep various bits and pieces organized and close to hand with an art caddy on wheels. There's plenty of space for jars, bottles, rags, brushes, and you can store your paint tubes in one of the drawers until you need to squeeze a bit more out. The top is ideal for resting a palette on, or could even be used as a palette.

Paint Pigments

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
In an age where everything can be bought ready made, why not spend the time to step back and make your own paints like the Old Masters would have (or rather, an apprentice in their workshop)? Get to really know your paint colors by working with the raw pigments and make your own paint.

Glass Muller for Making Own Paints

Glass muller for grinding pigment
Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc
If you want to make your own paints, a glass muller is essential for grinding pigment finely, and for mixing pigment and binder together. With a muller, some pigment, and an egg yolk, you can investigate egg tempera painting techniques.

Roll of Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Paper

Gift ideas for artists
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
Fabriano Artistico is a watercolor paper worthy of a quality Kolinsky sable brush. It's made from 100 percent cotton, is acid free, and double-sized for a great painting surface. The "Traditional White" is a slightly warmer white than the "Bright White".

6 Volume Boxed Set of Vincent van Gogh's The Letters

Vincent van Gogh letters boxed set
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
If you're a Van Gogh fan, this must surely be the ultimate. It contains all his letters, illustrated with photos of the paintings he refers to (whether by himself or someone else) and actual size photos of the sketches he included in various letters. Everything's cross-referenced and annotated too.

Wooden Box Set of Pastels

Art gift ideas -- wooden box sets of pastels
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

A wooden box set of pastels is perfect for going plein-air painting, for taking pastels to a workshop, keeping them organized in your studio and simply as a beautiful form of storage! Unison pastels are considered by many pastel artists to be the ultimate in pastel and the price of a big wooden, boxed set of 144 Unisons is definitely in the luxury category. But, as with other brands of pastels, there are various sizes of box available that all make a lovely art gift. If your local art supplies stores doesn't have boxed set, ask if they can get one in as a special order.

Metal Watercolor Pan Set

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
A metal watercolor set rather than a plastic one feels like it's a serious commitment to paint, rather than a temporary arrangement. It'll last a lifetime too, because the individual colors (or pans) can be replaced as they're used up.

Pochade Box for Plein-Air Painting

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
Designed to hold small painting panels and your essential painting supplies, a pochade makes it easy to get organized for painting outdoors. Depending on the style, it also facilitates bringing wet oil paintings back home again. You can either put it on a fold-up table (or balance it on a rock) or attach it to a tripod to work standing up.

Easel Umbrella for Outdoor Painting

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
Keep the sun off yourself and your painting while you're working outdoors with this adjustable umbrella that clamps to your easel or table. As the umbrella fabric is white, it won't affect the colors you're seeing on your painting.

Box Set of Colored Pens

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
Pens with colored ink are perfect for getting down ideas quickly, whether in a sketchbook or journal, and for planning compositions of paintings. The Faber-Castell Pitt range include pens with brush tips, ideal for painterly mark-making.

Starter Set of Traditional Oil Paints

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
The art market still has a sentimental attachment to paintings done with oils (traditional oil paint that is, not water-based oils). So perhaps it's time the artist in your life gave oil paint a try? A good starter set has everything you'd need to set yourself up in style, except a canvas.

Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Brush

Gift Ideas for Artists
Photo Courtesy of DickBlick.com

Kolinsky sable is the Ferrari of brushes, the ultimate hair for spring and paint-holding ability. Looked after carefully, a sable-hair brush will produce paintings for many years.

Animal Manikin

Art gifts
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com
Manikins give a sense of three-dimensional form that's impossible to get from photos, and are great for observing where shadows fall in a particular pose. I've not yet met anyone who able to resist posing a manikin so if you're working from one and expecting studio visitors, put up a "Do Not Touch" notice! My personal menagerie includes a giraffe, chameleon, cat, and dog (though the anatomy of the last two is somewhat dubious).
Sennelier book
Photo © 2012 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Pages packed with gorgeous illustrations accompanied by an interesting history of this famous French paint company. I think it's a great gift for an artist who enjoys reading about art, loves pigments and paint as materials, and is interested in a bit of history. More »

An Old Masters Tool: Camera Lucida

Camera lucida
Photo ©2010 Marion Boddy-Evans

A camera lucida enables you to get accurate perspective because you're seeing the subject on the sheet of paper. Really! It's all done with mirrors ​and doesn't take much practice to get used to aligning yourself, the mirror viewer, and the subject. It's also great for a party game

Reviews: Camera Lucida from Ancient Magic Art Tools.

If you've any thoughts about doing some digital painting, Corel Painter is the program, with all the bells and whistles (or should that be brushes and paints?). I've got the not-quite-latest version (Painter 9) which continues to amaze me. While digital paint lacks the tactile feedback of real paint, the effects of the numerous digital brushes, paint and pencils, and surface choices in this program are astoundingly real. (Take a look at this digital watercolor as an example of what's possible.)

Reviews:
Corel Painter 9 (From About.com's Guide to Painting)
Corel Painter 12 (From About.com's Guide to Graphics Software) More »