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How to Get Your Start in Art: An Artist’s Toolkit

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

I’d be completely lying to you if I said that, I don’t at times find art to be an incredibly intimidating thing. In a world where creators have the ability to share their every move, it is easy to see anyone working on any medium and immediately start comparing yourself to them.

Because of this, many people often struggle to start any form of art because they are being force fed content of experienced people who, on top of being talented, are experienced and know exactly what they are doing.

But I want to urge all people to get involved in art. What is important to remember is that art and beauty are subjective. You might think you are struggling, but someone else might find your piece to be the best thing they have ever laid eyes on. 

All you have to do is try.

To further encourage this, I’d like to provide a list of the six best products to invest in when you are just starting out in art. There are so many products on the market made for artists, which is super cool. However, when you are just picking up a paintbrush for the first time, it can be incredibly overwhelming and confusing.

So here is what you really need.


Real Pencils

Okay stay with me here, I don’t mean to insult your intelligence by assuming that you don’t own pencils. But I want to enforce that you need real pencils. 

In my experiences, I’ve tried and seen so many other people try, to create really elaborate sketches using mechanical pencils. This is all fine if you have no other option or if you have figured out a way to make them work for you, however, real #2 pencils are what will really be your best friend when you are just starting out.

The reason being, regular pencils are so much softer. You can create lines and then blend them so easily (using your fingers work the best) which helps give your drawing much better shape and dimension. 

A Good Sketchbook

This is another point that might seem like a no-brainer, but once again, stick with me. While it may seem like all sketchbooks are created equal, and it shouldn’t matter which one you have, I find that some sketchbooks have done me better than others. 

There are a number of factors that might make a sketchbook more helpful to you than others. For starters, size matters. Large books can be great if you know you are aiming to create giant sketches, but if you are thinking that you want to take your sketches with you on the go, picking one that is a bit smaller and can easily fit in your bag or pocket might be the way to go.

Prismacolor Colored Pencils

Now we are getting into some real artsy territory. Prismacolor colored pencils are probably one of the most commonly used art utensils among those who dabble in sketching and drawing. Every single art class I have ever taken has had sets of these laying around which students were encouraged to use. 

While they can be a bit pricey, with a complete set of 72 pencils retailing for around $40 on Amazon.com, I promise they are well worth the investment. Compared to other colored pencils, I have found that they are by far the most creamy and blendable. Crayola could never.

If you are unsure about spending that kind of money from the get-go, Prismacolor offers smaller sets of 12 and 24 pencils, which allow you to get a feel for the product before shelling out a large amount of money

Acrylic Paints

When making the jump from drawing and sketching to picking up the paintbrush, it can be difficult to figure out which type of paint to start with. There are oils, watercolors and even something called gauche, which is somewhat of a hybrid of several kinds of paint.

As I have learned, one of the best paints to start with is acrylic paint. As it is a fairly standard paint, it doesn’t require too much practice to get the technique down. Better yet, it’s opacity allows for mistakes as you can just paint right over anything you wish to change. 

My favorite brand of acrylics (which happen to be delightfully inexpensive), is the AppleBarrel acrylics which can be found at most craft stores in addition to Walmart, where a set of 12 costs only $4.94.

Corresponding Canvas

Not everyone knows that there are a multitude of canvases out there that correspond to different kinds of paints. For instance, if you are using acrylic paints, it would be best to use a stretched canvas. 

However, if you are using watercolor, it is best to look for a cotton-based canvas. This is because standard canvases that you would use for those acrylic paints aren’t absorbent enough to handle such a liquidy paint, which will cause the paint to run right off. 

If you are unsure which kind of canvas to use with your selected paints, a simple Google search will show you exactly what you need as well as the best places to purchase those canvases

Paint Pens for the Deets

One of the coolest inventions I have discovered for starting artists is the paint pen. It is exactly what you think it is, a pen filled with liquid paint. Upon purchasing these myself, I realized that they are the perfect tool to help with tiny details.

Sometimes learning to use brushes can come with an adjustment period. But I guarantee most of us have been using markers since we were toddlers. This gives an added amount of control when you go to add the small, finishing details to your piece.

You can find sets of eight to 12 acrylic paint markers at any craft supply store ranging from $10-$12. 

Ali Kochik

West Chester '22

WCU ‘22 English Writings Major Journalism Minor Women’s and Gender Studies Minor
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