Welcome to the second part of my Christmas Gifts for Artists series. Here are the next five suggestions. They’re mostly art materials or aimed at practising artists, but tomorrow we’ll look at more unusual and less hands-on ideas.
Coloured pencils. Even if you don’t use them often, coloured pencils can be an ideal choice in certain situations where painting would not be possible. I use mine in museums and galleries, and I used them in the tombs in Egypt when watercolours weren’t permitted. Once you’ve used artists’ quality coloured pencils you’ll never want to use any others. Gift choices could be a set of colours or individual colours that would allow the artist to build their own collection of colours. Albrecht Durer Watercolour pencils or Polychromos (not water-soluble) are top quality pencils. Sets of 12 colours start at £16, individual colours £1.30.
A good present for: artists who like to travel or those likely to draw in museums & galleries.
Print rack. A great present for anyone who exhibits regularly or opens their studio, even if they already own one (I have four!). So far I’m not impressed by the economy versions as either they’re made of elm rather than beech or there’s a gap that unframed work can slide through. My preferred makes are Mabef and Honsell. Prices start at about £40.
A good present for: more experienced artists
Less suitable for: beginners or leisure painters who don’t exhibit or anyone with very limited storage space.
Gift voucher. Not ideal if you want to keep the value of the gift secret, but particularly good if your artist is on a strict budget. Being given money and knowing you HAVE to spend it in an art shop is the artistic equivalent of being let loose in a sweet shop. The beauty of a voucher is that the recipient tends to spend it on something wonderful that they wouldn’t normally afford. You can always specify that the voucher should be spent on paints/pastels/paper and let the recipient choose their own favoured brand. After all, wouldn’t you rather the gift was in constant use and appreciated than languished in the back of a drawer forever because it wasn’t quite right? If you’d really like to give an object then why not link a voucher with a product e.g. an empty watercolour box with gift voucher for the artist to choose their own colours. Do some detective work first to ascertain whether the artist in question uses watercolour pans or tubes. Empty tins start at £12. Remember too that you can give gift vouchers for art classes or for use at their favourite picture framers.
A good present for: all artists
Pencils. I’m always vocal about the need for drawing skills, so no surprise that pencils are on my list of recommendations. We all use them and we can’t have too many. They are available as boxed sets (starting price £10) or individuals (from £1). Your choice could include water-soluble graphite pencils, thick graphite sticks, traditional sanguine, sepia and white for use on coloured papers. Remember that a small set of something good is better than a large set of something poor quality. Expand this gift by adding burnishers, blenders, pencil case, sketchbook, book of drawing techniques.
A good present for: all artists, especially beginners or those likely to experiment with different techniques.
Art magazine subscription. Not a terribly original gift, but one that will give a whole year of pleasure and widened horizons. Leisure Painter is aimed at beginners and hobby painters, The Artist at experienced artists. Artists & Illustrators and International Artist are self explanatory. Art Monthly covers the contemporary art market. Creative Review covers the design industry. An internet search will suggest many other titles suited to particular interests. Or give a Gallery membership, such as the Tate or RA, which will give access to exhibitions and events as well as a regular magazine.
A good present for: all artists
That’s it for Day 2 of the series. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow.