Getting Started With Art: A Beginner’s Guide To Creating Your First Art Toolkit

Getting Started With Art: A Beginner’s Guide To Creating Your First Art Toolkit

Need a reason to spend time making art? Research shows that artistic hobbies have a positive impact on our mental health and well-being. Art therapy, in particular, has been shown to lower stress - for beginners as well as professional types.

Aside from all that, art is just FUN. An excuse to channel our artistry and splash some colours around. A chance to crack open a wooden easel and painting supplies, get mindful and make something great.

Having a well-stocked art toolkit ensures you've got everything you need on hand so you can act when your artistic inspiration strikes. At Spotlight our wide range of art supplies means you can find everything you need for your toolkit under one roof - here's what you might need to get going.

Get Inspired To Create

Take some time to find your creative motivation. First step: look at art (lots of it!) in galleries, museums and online. Find your inspiration in fashion or architecture, or tap into everyday things that move and interest you, like nature, memories and feelings.

When you see something that excites you, take a photo or screenshot, and create a special image gallery for your favourite visuals. You can even search online for "creative prompts for artists" if you need an extra push.

Get Some Artistic Know-How

Now your inner artist is awake, they might need a bit of guidance before putting pencil to paper (or paint to canvas). YouTube is great for how-to videos, or head to your local library for a deeper dive with instructional books. You might even look out for local art clubs and courses if you fancy a bit of socialising with your creativity! Online art clubs and forums are a great place to share tips and have your questions answered by fellow artists, and are a more friendly approach if you find talking to strangers a bit out of your comfort zone.

Make Your Artist Space

If you have the space, it's great to dedicate a room, table, or corner to your new hobby. Ideally somewhere light and airy, where you can leave all your art bits and bobs on display and not worry about your paints stinking up the space. This saves time setting up and packing down for every session, and it's also a prompt for you to create whenever you can. If this isn't available, try and dedicate a cupboard, drawer or storage tub to hold all your art stuff. The idea is to make it as easy and quick as possible to get going.

Make Art Your 'Me Time'

One great thing about taking up art as a hobby is it helps create some 'me time' in your schedule. Try being consistent (for instance, every Sunday 3pm), and make it known to others in your household - even if you have to hang a 'Do Not Disturb' sign! If that seems impossible, aim to create smaller pockets of time. Wake up earlier a couple of times a week, or use your commute time for sketching or watching instructional videos.

However you find the time, let yourself be in the moment, and focus on your making.

Assemble Your Art Kit

Once your inspiration is all fired up, you'll need some artist's essentials to get going on your creative journey. What techniques excite you most? Think about the materials and tools you'll need, and build out a starter kit from there. No need to blow the budget, either. Go for bargain options and remember - you can always add to your kit over time!

1. Art pencils

Great for quick sketches as well as more elaborate works, pencils belong in any art kit. Plus, they're portable: use them on the bus to work, while travelling, or throw them in a backpack for your next bushwalk.

  • Good: Faber Castell Classic Colour Pencils 12 Pack. This handy pencil pack features all the classic colours (plus gold!) for under $10 and a space for writing your name on each one. They're great for students who might be taking their pencils to school, but are just as effective when used at home as well.
  • Better: Derwent Academy 24 Pack Watercolour Pencil Tin. You can combine these special pencils with water to create beautiful jewel-like watercolour effects, but they can also be used without water to create bright and colourful pencil drawings. With 24 colours included, you've got a wide range of hues to use in your art.
  • Best: Jasart Studio 72 Pack Colour Pencil Tin Multicoloured. Every pencil in this mammoth 72-colour pack has a soft, break-resistant centre that lays down full coverage colour on your page. The lead is centred and designed to sharpen smoothly, lessening point breakages and allowing you to draw without interruption.

Check out the full range of coloured pencils for even more options, and make sure to read our buying guide on pencils, pens and markers to help you choose the right ones for your needs.

2. Paint

Hobby-grade paint - for example, acrylics rather than oils - is a great choice when you're just starting out and developing your skills. There's less pressure to get everything 'perfect', so feel free to have a go and express yourself!

  • Good: Jasart Byron Acrylic Paints. These flexible paints are suitable for all ages to use, and come in a range of bright colours. Usable on a wide range of surfaces and quick to dry, these acrylic paints are an affordable choice from all artists.
  • Better: Pebeo Studio Acrylics. These thick acrylic paints will retain your brush and palette knife marks and come not only in all the classic colours, but have special metallic, glow-in-the-dark and iridescent variations as well!
  • Best: Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paints. Highly viscous, pigmented and silky, these gorgeous acrylics can be used for impasto and textured techniques. Their lightfast formula ensures they won't fade over time, so they're a spoiled choice for aspiring and professional artists.

Make sure to browse the full range of art paints online to see our watercolour, oil and gouache paints as well! And have a read of our paint types buying guide if you're considering diversifying from acrylics.

3. Paint brushes

If you want to channel your inner painter, brushes are a must-have. For watercolours, go for round brushes in different sizes. For acrylic paint, aim for a range of flat brushes to create your masterpiece.

  • Good: Semco Paint Brushes 25 Pack. For a wide range of paintbrushes at an affordable price, you can't go past this pack from Semco. It contains a mix of natural and synthetic bristle brushes, with round and flat variations that ensure you can create wide swathes of colour and small details easily.
  • Better: Reeves 6 Pack Acrylic & Watercolour Mixed Media Brush Set Multicoloured. This collection of brushes can be used for any water-based paint, and contains brushes in flat, round, fan, filbert and mop shapes. Synthetic brushes are durable, easy to clean and create a smooth line on the page.
  • Best: Reeves Long Handle Assorted Set #10 Multicoloured. This amazing brush pack gives you a collection of natural and synthetic bristle brushes in a range of shapes that you can use for all sorts of painting techniques. They're suitable for acrylic and watercolour paints.

Have a look at the full range of paintbrushes and brush sets for even more individual brushes and sets to choose from. And make sure to read our paintbrush buying guide so you know which kind of paintbrush is best for your next project!

4. Sponges

Foam brushes are a less conventional way of applying paint, but if you're into unusual textures, repetitive patterns or interesting abstracts, then get experimenting!

  • Good: Renoir Foam Roller Yellow. These firm yellow rollers are a quick and effective way to apply a smooth, wide layer of colour to any surface. They are easy to wash and a great choice for painting over tape or for using with stencils.
  • Better: Semco Foam Brushes 6 Pack Black. These handy square foam brushes can be used to apply paint to all sorts of surfaces and create special effects that you only get from the unique texture of a sponge.
  • Best: Francheville Brush Foam Black. You'll get a good range of foam brush shapes in this pack from Francheville. Larger brushes are great for creating large blots of colour, while the smaller, narrow sponge brushes can create small paint details in tiny spaces.

Use our foam brushes in any of our fun painting projects.

5. Painting and sketch pads

Paper comes in different weights and textures, so figure out what matches up with the materials you're using. Watercolour painting, for instance, will require a heavier stock than pencil drawing.

  • Good: Francheville Drawing Pad White. This light sketchbook can be used with pencils, pastels and charcoal, and has lightly textured paper that is acid-free, meaning it won't yellow or become brittle over time.
  • Better: Reeves 200 gsm Mixed Media Pad Multicoloured. Use this handy mixed media pad with wet and dry mediums like ink, paints, markers, pencils and even light washes. The 200gsm paper is heavy enough not to buckle under watercolour paint and will stay crisp and white thanks to its acid-free composition.
  • Best: Fabriano 300 gsm 20 Pages Pad Black. This gorgeous paper pad is made in Italy from cellulose pulp and boasts sheets of 300gsm. These thick, creamy sheets can be used for paints, markers, pastels and pencils, with no fear of the paper tearing, sagging or disintegrating.

Check out our paper and card buying guide for more information on the different types of art paper available. And make sure you know how to use your mediums properly by reading our blogs on drawing with markers, using watercolour pencils and soft pastels.

6. Painting palettes

Palettes are used for mixing colours, so aim for one that holds enough different hues for your artwork. Over time, your palette will collect different colours from old projects as well as new - just think of it as a timeline of creativity!

  • Good: Semco 10 Well Round Palette 5 Pack White. This is a great paint palette for beginners, as it has enough wells for many colours and a small central space for mixing hues if needed. Its smooth plastic surface can be wiped clean with soapy water when needed.
  • Better: Jasart Plastic Palette White. This paint palette is in the traditional kidney bean shape that allows you to comfortably hold it in one hand while you paint with the other. The large, blank central surface gives you plenty of space to mix the perfect colour!
  • Best: Francheville Artist Brush & Palette Natural. Made from natural wood, this classically shaped palette is easy to hold while you paint and comes with 12 synthetic paintbrushes. The paint will not come off the wood, but that's okay - a well-loved palette is a great reminder of old projects and ideas.

Check out our full paint palette range online for more options. And if you want to blend colours on your palette like a pro, read our blog on how to mix paint colours!

7. Palette knives and tools

Need some more heavy-duty tools? Palette knives are used for mixing paint on the palette (plus they can do double duty as paint knives when applying). Need direction? Use a colour wheel to create complementary schemes in your work.

  • Good: Semco Plastic Palette Knives White. This pack of 5 plastic palette knives is great to travel with and is great for applying light layers of thick paint. They're easy to clean and you get a good variety of knife shapes to work with.
  • Better: Semco Paint Palettes & Knives White. This convenient pack comes with 2 palette knives and 3 palettes, and makes a great purchase for an artist who is just starting out. The smooth plastic is easy to clean with warm water and soap, and each knife has a straight blade useful for applying precise amounts of paint to the canvas.
  • Best: Francheville Palette Knives Brown. These beautiful palette knives come in a range of shapes, with each having a stained beechwood handle that's comfortable to hold and work with for hours on end. The flexible steel blade on each knife is easy to clean and makes creating precise strokes on canvas a breeze!

Shop the full range of painting and palette knives online, and check out our blog on making textured impasto art for exciting ways to use your palette knives.

8. Canvases

Ready to get going on that masterpiece? Look for canvases that have been specially produced for your choice of paint (watercolour, oil, acrylic), and are primed, framed and ready to use. Now it's time to get creative!

  • Good: Crafters Choice Stretched Canvas White. Made from stretched cotton, these canvases from Semco have a solid pine frame and are ready to hang once you're finished painting. It can be used with acrylic or oil paint, as it has been triple-primed with gesso already.
  • Better: Jasart Academy Deep Edge Canvas White. This acid-free, triple-primed canvas is ready to paint and has extra-deep edges to allow you to 'extend' your colours past the surface of the hoard. It also comes with Swedish pine stretchers which will prevent the canvas from sagging.
  • Best: Semco 16 x 20 in Canvas 3 Pack White 16 x 20 in. This amazing value pack contains 3 canvases that have been gesso primed and have been stretched across a beechwood frame. Use with acrylic or oil paints and enjoy your painting's longevity thanks to the acid-free canvas!

For more canvas packs and options for watercolours, browse the full range of canvases and artboards online. And for fun project ideas using canvas, try these ones - our splatter canvas, ink pouring and paper heart projects are so much fun to create!

Find All Your Art Supplies At Spotlight

We've expanded our range of art materials to make sure all your creative needs are covered. From beginners to budding professionals, we've got what you need online and in-store.




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