Art Classes/Courses · Beginner Art · Resources and Materials

What are the Essential Materials for Beginners?



When you start learning to draw and paint you can be totally overwhelmed by all the range of materials out there.  There is so much choice, which is great but where do you start?

Some of my learners have rushed out and spent a fortune purchasing so many materials which they then aren’t sure what to do with or don’t like using.

My advice would be start with the ‘essentials’ there are certain materials that in my view all artists need.  This is a personal list, so it will vary for each of us, but here is my list of my essential materials:

  • The Sketchpad – essential for sketching, drawing practice, trying out compositions, idea development, mark-making, and collecting ‘inspiration’ (images, photographs etc.).  I like to go for a good quality hard-backed sketchpad full of good quality cartridge paper of at least 150gsm.
  • Set of Drawing Pencils – About four to five soft pencils of the B grade for sketching, I like B, 2B, 4B and 6B.
A small set of 'B' grade pencils is essential
A small set of ‘B’ grade pencils is essential
  • Drawing Board – Most of my learners don’t get a drawing board until much later on after drawing and painting for some time.  For me it is important because it enables you to have your paper at an angle to the subject rather than flat on the desk or table.
  • Soft eraser – A good quality eraser is essential for me, I know many artists who don’t believe in them however! A good quality soft eraser is essential as a low quality one will smudge and damage the surface of the paper.
A soft eraser is ideal for beginners
A soft eraser is ideal for beginners
  • The primary colours in paint – The type of  paint would be your choice so it could be acrylics, oils, watercolour or gouache, if you are not sure read my blog posts about painting.  I thick acrylics or gouache are the best media for beginners.  I would recommend only buying a red, blue and yellow in the chosen paint media.  Why? Well because then you have to practice colour mixing, an essential part of painting.


  • A set of five different brushes – I often see some of my beginner learners painting a sky with a tiny brush.  When I ask why, they tell me they only have one type of brush or hadn’t thought of using a big flat brush that could do the work in half the time! The more brushes you have the more variety in mark-making, the more ‘tools’ you have for different jobs. A set of five would include: one large flat brush (for backgrounds, skies), two-three small brushes for detail, one angled brush, one fan brush. Read my blog about brushes if you are not sure which brushes to choose.
You will need at least five different brush types
You will need at least five different brush types
  • A good palette – It’s important to get the right type of palette for the paint – if you are not sure read my post on Which Palette for Which Paint? A plastic palette is not a good idea for acrylics for example because it will dry fast and stick to it.
The Stay Wet Palette
The Stay Wet Palette for acrylic painting

Also see my Art Materials page for more advice on materials.

What are your essentials?  Share your thoughts below…

2 thoughts on “What are the Essential Materials for Beginners?

  1. Great advice !! Thank you 🙂 I have everything, except the drawing board. So,now I think I will get it 🙂

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