Top Ten Favourite Art Supplies

Welcome to My Top Ten Favourite Art Supplies!

Apart from obvious things like paint, brushes and canvas (though you don’t actually need any of those things to create art), the art supplies I couldn’t do without might surprise you. Takeaways, bedsheets, and masking tape feature heavily in making the magic happen!

So here, in no particular order, are ten things that are among my very favourite art supplies.

10 Palette knife

I know a lot of artists do this, but I’m going to give it to you straight – mixing paint with your brushes wrecks them. Seriously – it will eventually gum up the bristles and ferrule, take you longer to mix a colour and you’ll never quite wash out all the paint from deep in the brush. Over time, this will accumulate and ruin the brush. Do yourself a favour and get a couple of palette knives to mix your paint. Metal ones are the most fun, but even cheap plastic ones are better than mixing with a brush.

9 Tiny takeaway containers


As a takeaway addict, I never need an excuse to order a curry. Luckily for me, our local takeaway uses little plastic containers with air-tight lids for condiments. Once washed out they make excellent storage for spare paint when you’ve dished out too much and for that carefully mixed colour you want to keep for a while.

8 Watercolour pencil

Not for doing watercolour paintings as I’m useless at them, but for sketching on the canvas, drawing grids and guides for the underpainting, and drawing on top of the acrylic paint . Unlike a graphite pencil, which will muddy your paint and never fully erase, watercolour pencils will wipe off cleanly with a damp tissue or even your finger.

7 Tear-Off disposable palette

These pads of disposable palettes are fantastic – the glossy surface is a joy to mix paint on, there is a pre-cut thumb hole and no clean up needed. For very detailed work I sometimes tear a bit off and tape it to my painting next to the area I’m working on.

6 Masking tape

From sticking reference photos on my wall and easel, to taping things to the actual paintings while I’m working on them, this low tack tape is super useful and doesn’t damage anything. Use it to help you painting straight lines or even to paint your entire painting as demonstrated on You Tube here by Jamie Dougherty.

5 My phone!

Researching reference images, taking in progress shots and tweeting when I’m painting to hold myself accountable. I work hard to turn what could be a major distraction into a valuable tool.

4 Stay wet palette


As an acrylic artist, I am blessed and cursed with the rapid drying properties of acrylic paint. An indispensable tool in every acrylic artists studio has to be a stay-wet palette. There are loads of different types available, but they are simply a shallow container with a lid that keeps your paint from drying out. They work by using a membrane at the bottom that you soak with water. My favourite thing to use is old bedsheets that I’ve torn up into duster-sized pieces, but you could also use a j-cloth or blotting paper. Top with a piece of greaseproof paper that you can then put your paint on. It will wrinkle when it gets damp from the cloth underneath – there is no way to avoid this. Make sure your greaseproof paper is white not brown so that it doesn’t affect your colour mixing. I get mine cheaply and pre-cut to roughly the size of my palette from here.

3 Daylight bulb and stand


Due to parental commitments, most of my painting takes place at night after the children are in bed. My daylight bulb enables me to paint at night but keep my colours true – a normal tungsten bulb can cast a yellowish shade over your work and will make your colour mixes slightly off when viewed again in daylight.

2 Spray mister bottle


The quick drying properties of acrylic can be slowed by the occasional light spritz of water. This is especially useful when painting plain air as I did here

1 You

Look in the mirror!

None of us exist in a vacuum, and I am so grateful for the friends and family around me, and an audience for my art. Thank you for sticking with me, reading the blog, liking and buying my art. I really appreciate each and every one of you.

So what are your favourite art supplies? Anything you absolutely couldn’t do without? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I have to agree. Tear-off disposable palette are invaluable! I’ve always wanted to try a stay wet palette. Personally, I can’t live without reference photos. I have a whole folder dedicated to them so I can sturdy them while I paint or draw. Great post, Gemma!


    1. artistgemma says:

      Thanks Elizabeth and Kathleen! I use lots of reference photos too, but usually have them on my laptop or phone to refer to. You can have a go at making a stay wet palette yourself with a Tupperware container with a lid, a j-cloth and sheet of greaseproof paper. They work really well for acrylics. Thanks for your comment and I love the idea of a reference folder! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a great idea! We’ll have to give that a try! =)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Zavarcci says:

    I am yet to work with watercolor pencils… Do you suggest me to buy them as a first time use?


    1. artistgemma says:

      Hi Zavarcci, watercolour pencils can be inexpensive and great fun to work with, particularly if you are just starting out as they are so versatile. It’s like having two art supplies in one! I would definitely recommend you pick up a small set if you can and have fun experimenting with them.


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