Gifts Ideas for Artists: Budget and Small Art Gifts

Ideas for relatively inexpensive gifts for the artist in your life.

Want to buy a small or inexpensive gift for an artist in your life? Here's a collection of gift ideas suitable as workshop presents or Christmas stocking fillers, for birthdays or any occasion you want to say "I love you" to an artist. (If you're shopping on-line, it may pay you to buy several things and keep some back for another occasion, to save on postage/shipping costs.)

Water Brush

Gift Ideas for Artists -- Water Brush
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans

Forget carrying a brush and a separate container for water, just carry a waterbrush! You can use it with watercolors and water-soluble pencils, and it's really handy for sketching or doing outdoor studies, as well as back in the studio.
How to Use a Water Brush

Oil Sticks (Sets or Individual Sticks)

Winsor and Newton Oilbar oil paint sticks
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Oil sticks aren't the same as oil pastels. They're bigger (especially if you buy the extra-large ones!), more slippery and buttery so feel quite different to work with, and they dry completely (well, after a few months, like oil paint). Oilsticks let you combine the immediacy of drawing with the intense colors of oil paints, offering new ways to express yourself.

Ink Brush Pen

Gift Ideas for Artists and Painters - Ink Brush Pens
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans

A brush pen is like a waterbrush that's filled with ink. I've got a black one (Pentel Color Brush) which I use instead of a pen when planning composition or sketching (and then 'color in' using my waterbrush and small watercolor set), but brush pens come in a multitude of colors. (Refills are available.)

Texture Medium for Acrylics and Oils

Galeria Mineral Texture Gel
Galeria's Mineral Texture Gel contains granules of light and dark grey pumice. Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Different texture mediums contain different things, from pumice to glass beads. Imagine having granules of "sand texture" in a seascape or "urban grit" in a cityscape... that's the sort of possibilities texture mediums present. A perfect gift for an artist wanting to explore textures or move their painting style in a new direction.

If you're using acrylic paints, texture medium can be mixed with the paint or used to create texture before you start painting. Oil painters can use acrylic texture medium as a base layer before they start painting.

Finger Paint Brushes

Gifts for Art
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans

Take finger painting to the next level with a brush that slips on the end of your finger like a thimble would. The various colors are different sizes (small, medium, large, extra large), so you ought to find at least one that fits. Having a brush on all five fingers will certainly test your dexterity! The bristles of the finger brush are synthetic; they come to a sharp point so you can paint quite fine lines if you don't press too hard.

Pocket Pencil Sharpener

Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

You wouldn't drop a sweet wrapper on the pavement, so don't do the same with pencil shavings when you're out sketching on location. Yes, you could argue it's biodegradable, but it's still litter really. Rather take it home with you by using a pocket-sized pencil sharpener that collects its shavings.

Pencil Extender

Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

How many stumpy bits of graphite pencil or color pencil are lurking in the bottom of your art box? Never struggle and get frustrated with a too-short piece of pencil again, or feel you're wasting it by throwing it out. Stick it into this pencil lengthener and it's instantly transformed into a pencil that's a reasonable length for using easily.

Brush Tube

Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

Keep all your brushes together in a brush tube. It's got a lid so you can close it up when you're transporting your brushes anywhere and, back in the studio, you can leave the lid off so any damp brushes can dry.

One disadvantage is that if you've got a tube in your daypack, it tends to rattle when you're walking around unless you've got it jam-packed with brushes or put a small piece of cloth in it. If this is likely to annoy you, rather get a brush roll.

Brush Roll

Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

Transport your brushes by inserting the handles into the various slots, then rolling the whole thing up, and tying it up.

Disposable Paper Palette

Gift ideas for artists -- disposable paper palette
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

Paper palettes mean you never have to spend time cleaning up your palette after a painting session, you simply rip off the top layer and throw it away. I find one particularly useful when painting on location, where cleaning a palette is awkward.

Cards to Paint

Budget gifts for artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

Giving a hand-painted gift is far more personal than any ready-made card, and is really a gift in itself. This set of blank cards and envelopes enables you to paint your own cards, whether for birthdays or festive occasions. Don't forget to paint the envelopes too!

Tube Keys

Gift ideas for artists and painters
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

If you're a painter who likes to try to get every last bit of paint from a tube, maybe you should try some Paint Saver Keys which make it easier to roll up a tube as you use up the paint. I tend to use the handle of a paintbrush to squeeze up the paint but rarely manage to roll the tube up neatly.

Containers for Leftover Paint or Mediums

Gift ideas for artists -- small airtight containers for leftover paint or mediums
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Save any leftover paint or specially mixed colors for use on another day by scraping it into a small, air-tight plastic containers. Or even squeeze out your paints directly into the containers and work from these rather than a palette; tidying up will be easy because you just snap on the lids and you're done. I like using little jars for acrylic mediums, pouring out a little from the main bottle.

Paper for Collage or Art Journaling

Budget gifts for artists
Photo Courtesy of Blick.com

Any artist who enjoys collage or art journaling will enjoy a pack of beautiful papers to work with. And there's no such thing as ever having too much!

Palette Pilot
The Palette Pilot sticks to the bottom of a palette so it's easy to hold in one hand. Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This is one of those small gizmos that can make life easier. You stick it to the bottom of your palette, put a finger (or two) through the strap, tighten as needed and then you can easily hold your palette from below at any angle. The finger through the strap mean your palette won't slide off your hand, and your other fingers support the palette as you pick up colors with your brush so it doesn't wobble. (When you put your palette down, it'll squash flat.) More »

Brush Defender
Brush Defender. Photo © 2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Fed up with the hairs on your brushes getting squashed out of shape in your art box? Cue the Brush Defender! A simple but effective idea that allows the hairs to dry out while protecting them. You simply slide it up the brush handle and over the brush hairs. More »

Artistic License
Image © 2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Why not give a friend an artistic license? Print it out on a piece of paper a bit posher than ordinary computer printer paper, and put it into a frame. More »