The Art Instructor Supply List
Selected from experience.
Tested like crazy with students.
Here is a list of all the specific supplies that are used in ArtSquish lessons. We’ve been using this supply list for 12 years at Firstlight Art Academy, and Dennas has used this palette of colors for nearly 40 years. You’ll see a lot of basic and familiar items. However, we have streamlined this list as much as possible to keep the cost of supplies as low as possible.
You know how a crappy brush is so frustrating you just want to throw it away? Well you should. A bad instrument creates an unhappy artist who will either quit, or create a frustrating work, and it will show. We have selected things that are the lowest expense, but that do not frustrate.
Because the world needs happy artists!
Full set of supplies we use in our all our lessons
(These are for ages 8 and up)
Scroll down below for pictures and full descriptions of each item.
- 14 x 17 Sketch Pad
- 11 x 15 Watercolor Pad
- 12 x 16 Canvas Pad
- 12 x 16 Palette Pad
- Brushes – Set of 4
- Waterproof India Ink
- Pen nib holder
- Artist Nibs
- 2B Drawing Pencil
- 4B Drawing Pencil
- Ebony Pencil
- White Soft Eraser
- Kneaded Eraser
- Soft Compressed Charcoal
- Blending Stumps
- Oil Pastel Set
- 11 x 14 Canvas Boards
- Vine Charcoal
- Colored pencil
- Sandpaper Board
- Palette Knife set
- Artists Tape
- Drawing Board
- Plastic carry case
- Set of 10 acrylic paints (see below)
Here are our 10 required colors that work for our program. All the colors except white should be student grade, but student grade white is very frustrating to use. We recommend professional grade white. We try to use single pigment translucent colors for versatility.
These are pigments that produce the largest range of colors when mixed. You can make the most vibrant colors, yet mix them down into some beautiful neutrals using our methods of mixing. All of them are as translucent as possible (except white), which allows these to be used for glazing, and for making inexpensive student-grade watercolors.
Note that sometimes you’ll see the word HUE on a color, such as Cadmium Red Light Hue. This means there is no actual cadmium in the tube. That’s good because cadmium is a heavy metal and is toxic like lead. You should be able to see the pigments listed, or at least a number for the pigment.
Pigment codes use the letter P for “pigment” and basic color name initials next, such as Y for “yellow” and R for “red”. B by itself is “blue”, Br is “brown”, and Bk is “black”. So PR23 is a red pigment
Tap the bars below to open each into a more in-depth description with pigment information.
1. Yellow Light
Other Names: arylide yellow, azo yellow, hansa yellow
Info: Intense yellow with no white or red pigments added at all. This needs to be a pure intense bright yellow.
2. Bright Red
Other Names: pyrrol, napthol, cadmium red hue
Pigment: PR254, or PR170
Info: pyrrol red PR254 is usually the brighter of the two. Napthol is PR170
Other Names: Quinacridone, Crimson
Info: quinacridone is by far the most vivid magenta color.
Other Names: dioxazine, quinacridone violet, permanent blue-violet
Info: quinacridone violet PV19 is sometimes mixed in with dioxazine violet PV23
5. Ultramarine Blue
Other Names: French Ultramarine
6. Cyan Blue
Other names: Phthalocyanine Blue, Cobalt Blue Hue, Cerulean Blue
Info: cerulean PB35 is ok but more toxic, cyan PB15 is more versatile, although a derivative of Phthalocyanine Blue. There are many variations of PB15, a copper-based pigment, and several tubes that list this can actually be different colors. Cyan or process Cyan are the most vivid versions, usually.
7. Phthalo Green
Other Names: Phthalocyanine Green, (blue shade)
Info: get blue shade, if noted.
8. Raw Sienna
Pigment: PBr7, or PY43
Info: this is actually a dark yellow, and can be made from various pigments: PBr6, PBr7, which are almost identical, and PY42, PY43, which are chemically identical. All of these are variations of iron oxides. The apparent color of raw sienna will vary significantly from brand to brand
9. Burnt Umber
Pigment: PBr7, or PR101 & PBk11
Info: traditionally made with brown iron oxide PBr7, cheaper brands will use a combination of synthetic iron oxide red PR101 and a bit of mars black PBk11 to darken it. It works well though.
10. Titanium White - Professional grade
Info: larger tubes are economical and the professional grade will be used less.
Acrylic Paint List
Here is a printable page with all of our acrylic pigments/paints listed.
Descriptions with photos:
14 x 17 Sketch Pad – it’s important to have a large enough pad that you can do several small sketches with notes, and also large works when needed. One pad is cheaper than have a small sketch pad and a large newsprint pad, and then if you draw something large that you like, it’s on good enough paper that you can save it.
11 x 15 Watercolor Pad – Don’t try watercolor on paper that doesn’t say, “watercolor”. Real WC paper has a special coating that allows the color to work slowly and not soak right in.
12 x 16 Palette Pad – disposable pad of plastic coated sheets. You can also use plastic plates or trays. The pad is glued on the top and the bottom too, so it works like a sturdy board for mixing paints. Always keep the pages in the pad until they’re covered and used up. Then carefully peel the top sheet off, fold it over, and throw away; easiest cleanup ever!
Brushes – Set of 4 – We like the bubble pack of a dozen round white nylon brushes by Loew Cornell, which we break up into 3 sets of 4 brushes each ranging from small to large. The white bristles are softer, and will work as watercolor and acrylic brushes much better than the brown ones, which are stiffer. These are super cheap, but very good. The bristles don’t come out! However, keep a glue gun handy because the metal ferules will come loose from the wooden handle and need to be re-glued every now and then.
Waterproof India Ink – make sure it says waterproof! We provide zip-close sandwich bags to store these in, and there have been black bags too many times to count. Ink somehow escapes the bottle it’s in very often.
Pen nib holder – plastic
Artist Nibs – Get a small but rounded tip. A sharp nib like crow quill will tear up the paper when kids use them.
2B Drawing Pencil – Soft but versatile
4B Drawing Pencil – Softer (and darker)
Ebony Pencil – very dark, very soft graphite pencil with a large lead. It’s like a 9B.
White Soft Eraser – You can cut these in half and they last just as long as a regular one. That’s because kids accidentally snap them in half anyway, destroy them on purpose, or lose them.
Kneaded Eraser – You can save money by purchasing the largest size and dividing it into halves or thirds.
Blending Stumps – Solid rolled pape blending sticks will clean up nicely using a sandpaper board. Tortillions can be peeled to clean, but don’t last as long or hold up as well.
Oil Pastel Set – 25 sticks. Oil pastels are safer than chalk, because the pigments do not become airborne.
11 x 14 Canvas Boards – optional but very nice for special projects. It’s a little less expensive than stretched canvas, and it is much more sturdy.
Soft Compressed Charcoal – Sticks, not pencil form. Snap in half for economy and more versatility too.
Vine Charcoal – We really don’t use this very much anymore, because it’s hard to preserve anything you do with this inexpensive and powdery medium. In fact, there’s really only 2 lessons that refer to it, and you probably have some laying around anyway.
Prismacolor colored pencil – any dark grey color. We use this as a canvas pencil to mimic regular pencil but without the graphite mixing into paints and ruining the color. We put a dab of color on this so it’s easy to identify.
Sandpaper Board – used to clean blending stumps and sharpen pencils on occasion.
Palette Knife set – Cheap plastic knives come 3 to a pack and can be split up. (no photo)
Artists Tape – We use the blue painters tape. Several students can share.
Drawing Board – We like the large boards with 2 metal clips on the end. You can put two of these facing each other and the clips will work together to create a space so that wet paintings aren’t touching, as long as they are leaning against the wall in a very vertical position. If they lean too much, or if the tape is not secure, the canvas will pull away and adhere to whatever it touches if the paint is not dry.
Paints for students are usually not very well thought out, but if you begin with good, versatile pigments to learn, you’ll use this palette the rest of your life and never want for any color. All of these pigments are excellent and the brands we use here have a heavier body than other student grade paints.
These excellent pigments are all available for buying in professional grade paint when students want to upgrade, so they never have to learn a new palette.
These are all student grade except for white. Do not use student grade white if you can help it. You have to use a lot more of it, and it just doesn’t make colors opaque enough, so it’s frustrating yet not less expensive in the long run. These specific colors will create decent student-grade watercolors if mixed into water. The pigments must not contain white or they won’t work for glazes and watercolors.
Single pigment colors:
- Raw Sienna
- Burnt Umber
- Ultramarine Blue
- Phthalo Green (blue shade, if noted)
- Violet (quinacridone and/or dioxazine violet)
- Cyan Blue (cerulean is ok too, but cyan is more versatile)
- Light Yellow (arylide, arylamide, or hansa yellow. Intense yellow with no white or red pigments added at all)
- Warm Red (pyrrol red is good and so is napthol – emulating cadmium red light)
- Magenta (quinacridone is by far the best pigment)
- Professional White (larger tubes are economical)
Plastic Carry Case – We love the Multi-compartment Super Satchel from ArtBin and order these directly from them for our students. It’s flat enough to carry easily with the handle, and large enough to hold long-handled brushes, something most smaller cases will not do.