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Gifts For Artists: Part Two

Continuing from an earlier post about ideal pairings for an art-based gift, we must talk about suitable surfaces.

Enrollment in an art class: Your city's recreation program will often offer classes for beginners or advanced students. These are subsidized and reasonably decent to get a start on a particular skill.

  • Surfaces: Paper & More

  • Sketchbook: These come in many sizes and kinds. This info. is on the cover (it will say ____ lb paper). The weight will tell you on how thick each sheet is. Thin paper is great for confident artists who understand how much pressure to apply, thicker paper is better for those still learning. Newsprint is FANTASTIC for a young child learning pencil drawing and shading.

  • Different books: Books for pencil-art, brush art and pen art are different. The covers will tell you. Choose at least a letter sized paper, smaller ones are harder to work on.

  • Fancy paper: Books with fancy paper include those with ivory or black pages. These are best for confident or skilled artists.

  • Art cards: Some stores carry art cards that are the size of a postcard. Artists can paint/sketch/draw – and affix a stamp and mail them! They are great for artists who like to travel.

  • Paper for watercolor artists: Some artists prefer books that you can tear pages from (on a spiral or tear away sheets), others like the ‘block’, that forces the artist to finish a piece before they start another one. Con: Both are great, but one more expensive than the other.

  • Watercolor sheets? YES!! These are ideal for someone who really loves to paint. They are large and frankly wonderful and an unexpected present. Con: They need a large working surface to be put to use – like a drafting board or a flat table where the work can stay undisturbed between drying.

  • Canvases: A blank canvas offers a great beginning and presents possibility. There are different kinds – from burlap covered to regular ones, from flat ones to those mounted on a frame. I have learned to choose one that can be hung as is without an additional frame – by picking one where the staples are not visible but tucked away behind the canvas.

For the digital artist

  • Drawing tablets are great for the digital artist but need digital programs to pair with them. Con: A little research is needed to see what is compatible with your computer, devices etc. It is a small investment but one for a serious artist in which case they may already know what they want. We have the Adobe Creative Suite (from when it was not cloud based), and it pairs with the tablet but the cloud based service is an expensive investment. There are apps and programs that do similar things.

  • Buddha Board is for the mindful artist – it is a neat little thing that uses water to create an image and as the water dries, so does the painting. Think etch-a-sketch with water. Con: Addictive.

  • A print shop gift certificate is fabulous for an artist who has their art digitally available. Their art can be then printed on t-shirts for a custom designed piece that they are then proud to wear! Sams Club, Vistaprint, Zazzle and others offer services for transferring an image onto objects. Con: You may need some time figuring out the format and quality of the finished piece as some times the product does not turn out as well as you would expect.

Inspiring the artist

Although you would think that a bookstore would have more books on art (and believe me they do), it would be more practical to see what the artist would love to have – a how-to book or an art appreciation book.

  • How-To Art books: The best selection of 'how-to-' art books for budding artists - is at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Based on what the artist likes, you can find Manga art, cartoons, fantasy creatures, animals, faces, portraits, nature - in any style in these two stores. Con: Choose carefully, so it matches the level of patience a child has. ‘Beautiful’ books can be frustrating. Art books for learners MUST have more images than words. Art is a visual exercise – it must not tell them how, but show them how.

  • Art appreciation books: These are better found at the bookstore, and will offer visual inspiration for all kinds of artists. Books showcasing works by the great masters, art styles by the ages, whimsical art, or artists who do environmental art like Andy Goldsworthy are fantastic for young artists (although I would include Jackson Pollock with some caution).

  • Empty Frames: Although an unexpected gift, an empty frame often inspires the artist to believe that their work is worthy of being showcased. This, by far, is the subtlest way to nudge a reluctant artist to work on a craft.

Impossible (nearly) to re-gift gifts

  • Enrollment in an art class: Your city's recreation program will often offer classes for beginners or advanced students. These are subsidized and reasonably decent to get a start on a particular skill.

  • A membership to an art museum is always a wonderful thing but requires repeat investment for the family or caregiver (so give the family a museum membership not just the kid).

  • Gifting Time: A one-time visit to your favorite art museum or a make-your-own-art studio is a great way to spend some quality time with someone you care about – and engage in art without the wrapping paper!!

The important thing to share with your artist is that art is an ultimate experience, a human expression of emotion that TRANSCENDS all kinds of boundaries – physical and metaphysical.


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Nandita Godbole
Once: botanist & landscape architect.
Now: personal chef, author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger, poet & potter!
Always: dreamer.

Loves fresh brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. 
Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. 
Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

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