Gift Ideas for Acrylic Painting Artists
Each Artist Has a Wish List of Supplies that Would Be Great to Have
I don’t know about you, but I have lots of artist friends, and being an artist myself, I can relate to the joy they feel when receiving a nice, thoughtful, and useful gift.
We (artists) are always "complaining" about how expensive art supplies are, so it would be great to receive them as gift. The problem is that most of us don't advertise among friends which new art supplies we would like to try - but never bought because of the cost - or what needs replacement.
So how do you find out what an artist wants/needs?
Choosing Gifts for Artists
Most artists don't go around talking about the supplies that we would love to get.
As a result we may receive as gifts some totally useless supplies or, if we are lucky, gift cards from an art store.
But how much nicer is it to give a friend some art supplies that he or she can actually enjoy?
Here is a list of things that acrylic artists use and some tips on how to find out what specific items your friend needs at the moment.
The list covers the main items an acrylic painter needs.
Buying Paint for an Acrylic Painter
For an acrylic artist one of the first things that could be useful is of course some acrylic paint.
Which one should you buy? Two important things to consider when buying acrylic paint as gift are:
- Paint quality
- Paint color
1. Quality: Acrylic Paint Comes in Different Qualities
The paint quality is crucial. There are student quality paints and professional ones. The main difference between the two is the quantity of pigment there is in the paint. It’s hard to see the difference until you start painting with it, then it becomes clear.
Student quality has a smaller percentage of pigment in the acrylic binder, and the additions of fillers. The paint is behaving in a less efficient and more challenging way. When in doubt go for the professional quality, you can’t go wrong with a better product.
The rule of thumbs is: get the best paint quality you can afford. Golden is a great brand, and so is Liquitex. pay attention to the lables, avoid paints that say "student" or "studio". Go for "artist" quality.
2. Colors: Each Painter Has a Favorite Palette of Colors
Each artist has a specific preferred color palette, or choice of colors to use. Some painters like to mix all the colors starting from a limited palette of about 5 colors, some others like to have a tube for each of the hues (hue is another word for color).
Take a peek at your friend’s palette, or ask some questions before you buy tubes of paint. Paint is quite expensive, and you don’t want to get colors that even as beautiful, are useless.
To find out ask questions like “What’s your favorite paint color?” or “Which color do you use the most?” Since you are at it, try to find out what his or her favorite brand of paint is.
Visit Your Friend's Art Studio for Clues
Canvas, Boards, and Other Painting Supports for Acrylics
A surface to paint is definitely essential for any painter.
The most popular painting surface for an acrylic painter is probably canvas. Canvas can be stretched on wood frame or glued to a board. There are more expensive and cheaper versions of both.
Some artists prefer one kind over the other. Personally I like stretched canvas better.
Whatever kind you get, make sure it’s primed with acrylic gesso. It should say on the packaging that it’s primed for acrylic paint. Most say it’s primed for acrylic and oil paint. Don’t get those primes for oil paint only, it wouldn’t work with acrylics.
I Received a Nice Brush Set as Gift and Loved It!
Brushes and Painting Knives for Acrylic Artists
Artists can use all kind of tools to apply the paint to the canvas, from a comb, to a sponge, to an old credit card. However, the traditional tools are brushes and painting knives.
Brushes are the most widely used and good quality ones can get quite pricy, so they are usually a welcome gift.
Try to see what size brushes are your friend’s favorites, or which ones need replacement. If you don’t know you can get an assorted set of decent quality brushes.
If you go to an art store, you could be overwhelmed by the brush shelves, there are so many, which one should I get? How to choose the best brushes is an article on its own (you'll find it if you look in my profile).
I received a brush set as a gift, and I truly love it. It has lots of different sizes of brushes, making it easy to pick the right one for the job.
Maybe You Can Get Your Artist Friend a New Easel
Who doesn’t need an easel, right? Every acrylic painter needs a support for the artwork while working on it, only a minority paints horizontally, with the support lying flat on a table, everyone else keeps it tilted up, and to do that you need an easel.
If your artist friend has been painting for a while, he or she will probably already have one or more easels, but chances are there is still one that they wish they had.
There are many types of easel:
- French Easel: very popular, it’s loved for its versatility, because it can be used for traveling and it stores smaller, folding into a drawer-shaped case.
- Studio Easel: a very good for studio painting, they come in many prices. Usually they don’t have wheels so it’s not so easy to move around and it takes up some space when not in use.
- H-Frame and A-Frame Easels: sturdy studio easels that allow angle adjustment. H-Frame holds bigger canvases, A-Frame can be folded for easy storage.
- Table-top Easel, great choice for those that like to sit while painting. There are many formats and price tags, I love the sturdier ones.
- Plain Air Easel: is your friend a fan of painting on location? Then get a light, foldable, and portable plain air easel. Though acrylic painters usually don't like painting outdoors for the paint dries too quickly, some are brave and do. Just make sure you get the kind of easel your friend likes, I've heard many picky comments from plein air artists about easels they despise.
Taking Good Photos of Artwork Is Not Easy but It's Crucial for Being Accepted into Art Competitions and Exhibitions
Supplies Needed to Take Good Artwork Photos
Taking good photos of artwork is becoming essential for the modern artist. Most people will only see digital version of the art, and good quality photos are key to enter art competitions and submit art exhibition proposals.
Three things are essential to photograph art, and each of them can be great gift ideas:
- Digital Camera: a high resolution camera that allows manual and automatic settings. The camera does not have to be super fancy and professional; the price range is up to you. Of course, as always, higher quality is better, but it’s all about what we can afford.
- Tripod: The camera needs to be stabilized and leveled to take good art photos, so a tripod is a must.
- Software: Once the photo is taken there is still some work to do in the computer to crop and adjust your image. There is some free software out there that can be used, like Picasa for windows and IPhoto for Mac; however I like to use Photoshop, which is not free.
What to Get?
In Many cases artists have a wish list of supplies that they hope to eventually get. It's your job to play "Sherlock Holmes" and find out what's on that list.
A good way to find out is to create the occasion to talk about supplies used and needed: visit the studio or ask to see the paintings, get the conversation started, ask some questions, and you can get lots of clues.
© 2014 Robie Benve
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