Even if you are not an "artist," you probably know the basic materials you would normally use: Canvas or watercolor paper, brushes, acrylic paints, or watercolor paints. The basic stuff that artists have is in abundance.
Did you know, however, that there are a lot of items tucked in the supply closets that we (meaning me and more than likely others) wouldn't be without?
Here's my list, in no particular order.
You need a kneaded eraser. 😂
Approx size 1-3/4" x 1-1/4" x 1/4"
This little guy is my lifesaver.
I make mistakes. I do.
I can't be without this.
I have used this little item since my undergrad days as an art major. I don't know who invented this rubbery eraser, but it sure does the trick for the oops, the pencil lines that don't belong, or the charcoal smudges that were not intentional.
A kneaded eraser is an essential artist's tool for erasing, yes, but also for blurring edges, highlighting, and using other subtractive drawing techniques. It is made of a flexible gummy material that you can mold to any form or take a small piece to access hard-to-reach areas. Artists often use a press-and-lift technique with kneaded erasers rather than rubbing them across surfaces. This method leaves paint undisturbed and does not damage even soft paper. Kneaded erasers are versatile and absorb graphite, charcoal, pastel, and chalk on contact.
My kneaded eraser ➡️
You can stretch it into any shape; the dark marks picked up can be smooshed into itself and disappear. I have used an eraser to its death when it's just time for a new one.
This Faber-Castell kneaded eraser comes in a small case which keeps it from drying out.
Yes. I can draw a pretty good straight line, sometimes a decent circle. When I am doing an art piece for sale, however, I want sections of my image to be perfectly formed.
These are my go-to tools when doing details on my pen and ink drawings.
You can find them at your local dollar stores (pictured from my local CVS store), Amazon, or most retail stores.
What do I use these for? I never know when they can come in handy. Typically, I use them to lightly spray a section of the paper that I want to paint. I can also use thinned tempera paints for special effects like snow, rain, or a speckled background.
4. An Old Toothbrush
You don't need to throw that old brush away. The stiffer, the better. It's another great technique for splattering paint.
clip from Makani Art (on YouTube)
5. Stumps & Tortillions
Yes. I know. These are not just lying around the house. If you love charcoal drawing (like I do) then these are in good supply. These are so easy to use, and once you have tried them, you realize that these paper stumps have a lot of uses.
Charcoal pencils and sticks (similar to this one)
Charcoal drawings are not common, but when I do them these tools are amazing at giving me control of softening and shading areas of my images. I used them on the vintage Christmas images for this season; one is shown here:
6. Mr. Clean - Magic Erasers
Yes. We're back to something that you might have around the house. These are amazing for household cleanup and marks on the wall. They are also equally brilliant in taking care of issues with watercolor paint. When I have dropped paint where it was not intended, I clip a small piece of a large pad. Then I wet it lightly, squeeze any extra water off, then pat the errant paint. Violá! A light touch and the paint is gone.
7. Artist Tape
I know artists use painter's tape for masking off sections where they don't want to paint. I do use Painter's tape, and it works pretty well. However, if I use too much watercolor paint along the edge it does take off some of the paper.
Recently, I discovered Artists' Tape, which I ordered on Amazon. I like this tape very much because it has more of a linen feel, and it sticks nicely on watercolor paper. Best feature: It DOES NOT pull off any paper when removed. I bought the three-pack, and the other painter's tape will wind up in my husband's work area.
Artists use many different types of adhesives, but here are two basics that every studio should have.
ARTnews Recommends (PVA): Lineco Neutral PH Adhesive
PH neutral, water-soluble, and dries clear which is important to the artist. It’s perfect for woodworking, bookbinding, handicrafts, and wallpapering. It’s also useful for sizing a porous medium such as canvas or wood or sealing a finished collage—just covering the surface in a layer of polyvinyl acetate.
9. Cutting Tools
Goodness, I would be lost without my cutting tools.
A utility knife is handy for so many tasks:
cutting mats, quick trim on paper, the box that arrived with new watercolor paper, and carefully trimming down your colored pencils when they are too short for the sharpener.
10. The Tool Box to fit you!
This is my "toolbox"! It has the items that I am constantly pulling out. It might contain what you need, it might give you ideas that you can add to your "box" for your hobby, craft project, or artwork.
PROFESSIONAL Scott 75130 Shop Towels low lint strand cleans glass in my frames.
Tools Claw Hammer, 60-014, 8 Ounce Similar to one shown which I have had for YEARS.
Cabinet tip screwdriver. I use this for hard to get to places when I am cutting mats.
Long Nose Pliers. Handy when I am attaching a wire to the framed artworks.
Staedtler Pencil Sharpener. Two hold dials accommodates different sizes.
Shop Towels, 14"x12", 50 Pack You can bet I use these in my art studio.
Cotton Swabs. Lots of use. Dab with paint for little circles. Cleans up small spots.
Share your I can't live without items you use for your art, photography, crafts, knitting, candlemaking, or other hobby tools. (Scroll down at the end of this post for comments).