80 Gifts! Gift suggestions for people who love to color (stuff they'll actually use!)

 
 

Just a quick post today...

as most of my time is going into creating the Foundations course.

I took all EIGHT of the Ten Gifts blog posts and compiled them all into a handy reference page. Don't miss all the great gift suggestions (or pass the link along to someone else as a hint of things that you wouldn't be sad to find in your craft room).

I put so much time into those lists that they won't disappear after Christmas. So if there's a birthday or anniversary looming in the future, check back later and they'll still be there.

And yes, the Foundations course would make a great gift too! Use this link before December 31st to receive $50 off! 

10 (MORE!) Gifts: Great Gifts for Mixed Media Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- presents they'll actually use! | VanillaArts.com
 

shopping for the perfect gift for a mixed media lover is confusing

Especially if you're not artsy-craftsy yourself.

From a distance, "mixed media" basically means buying a ton of paint looking stuff and letting it drip and run everywhere.

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from an artist.

Mixed media is the fancy-pants trendy name. Back when I was in art school, we called it "using what you have on hand to get the job done". Whatever you want to call it, I noticed a few years ago that this art form holds a special appeal to crafters and they have a ton of supplies available to use... but very few people know how to effectively use the products they've purchased.

I teach a class showing crafters what their supplies are made of and how they work. So take a deep breath... even your mixed media lover feels lost about supplies sometimes.

I've seen a lot of products come and go and I won't hesitate to tell you when something isn't worth buying.

here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your mixed media lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great gift suggestion lists here... Copic, colored pencil, and mixed media.

#1 - Inktense Blocks

I recommended Derwent's Inktense Pencils in my list of gift ideas for watercolor lovers here.

Inktense Blocks are the rebels of the Inktense family.

Because they're naked.

Yep, once you strip away the wooden body of a colored pencil, you're left with nothing but blessed and glorious color. Inktense Blocks are still the same great dry-ink composition and when activated with water, they still make intense and permanent color.

Without the wood getting in the way, you're free to apply this color any way you want and that's great for mixed media lovers.

They can cover large areas by using the side of the stick instead of the end. Dab a wet paintbrush on them and pick up the color to paint with them as if they're watercolor (you can even break off small squares and keep them in 1/2 pan watercolor palettes). My favorite method is to use a craft knife to scrape off powdery flecks of Inktense right onto my journal page; spritz with water for instant starbursts.

#2 - Illustration Board

Mixed media lovers will work on all kinds of surfaces and they're always game for trying something new.

But how about giving them something old?

Illustration board has been around for forever. It's long been a favorite of commercial artists and technical illustrators (like me) but I can't think of anything better as a base for gesso, mediums, and the other goopy stuff that mixed media artists throw at their paper.

Illustration Board is just that, a thick paper board with a hot press surface. Because it's so darned thick, it can withstand a lot of abuse from wet media and it won't buckle or wilt.

Canson has a new line of different style boards in block (pad) format. I'm loving the ease of using small pages of illustration board rather than cutting down pages from gigantic sheets.

#3 - Balzer Bits

Most paper crafters know of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer from her PBS television show Scrapbook Soup (now Make it Artsy) but mixed media lovers are fans of Julie for her amazing mixed media journals.

I've long had a weakness for The Crafter's Workshop stencils. Their bold texture and pattern stencils are very hard for me to resist.

So combine Julie with TCW? Oh, oh. I'm in trouble!

Balzer Bits are my favorite things in the stencil world! Ever wonder what happens to the shape that they remove from the acetate to make a stencil?

All that lovely goodness is now captured by Julie as a masking element.

So with stencils, you fill in the shape. With a Balzer Bit, you fill in the area around the shape. Genius and so much more useful to me!!!

The link here is for the daisy shape that I love playing with but there are lots and lots and lots and lots of other Bits in the collection. Your mixed media person will cheer when they open a small collection of assorted Balzer Bits.

#4 - General's Sketch & Wash in a Slimline Case

I'm about to let you in on a secret. My secret weapon, actually.

General's Sketch & Wash is how I add depth and dimension to a lot of my journal images. I use the soft gray of this water-soluble charcoal pencil  to add shadows to lettering or objects, then I melt and soften it with water.

I also use them in life drawing classes, drawing figures with them in class, then softening and adding artistic touches later.

They're useful pencils but they're not expensive enough to be a whole present on their own, so I'd suggest tucking them into the same case I keep mine in. ArtBin Slim Line cases come in lots of colors so you can organize your supplies a bit. They're transparent and shallow which means you never have to dig through a pile of boxes, opening them all to find what you want.

#5 - Dr. Ph. Martin's Iridescent Calligraphy Colors

Mixed media types have a thing for ink, and if that ink is labeled for use by a rare sort of artist? WHOA! That only adds to it's street cred.

We love using unusual supplies against manufacturer's suggestion.

Dr. Ph Martin's Iridescent Color is a pigment ink that was formulated for calligraphers. The metal colors are to die for.

My favorites are the copper and nickel versions but you can be boring and go with gold. They're liquid metal and truly delicious.

#6- Sakura Solid Paint Markers

I've had a few folks ask me how I get thick crayon lines on the edges of my projects. Do I own a giant crayon?

Nope. It's a Sakura Solid Paint Marker.

Actually, it is now. Those distinctive marks used to come from a giant crayon that my husband had in his tool chest, something to mark on metal before welding.

But that ran out and so I had to go out and buy the artist version.

A solid paint marker leaves a crayon looking line-- broken, jagged, and organic looking. But 30 seconds after it goes down, it cures to an indelible mark that can be colored over or left in all it's glory.

Personally, I only use the white and black versions but they come in a dozen other colors including florescent.

I'd advise buying them for your mixed media lover because once they read this article, they're going to steal the sheet metal marker from YOUR tool kit.

#7- Golden HIgh Flow Acrylics

I use Golden High Flow Acrylic Paints in all of my mixed media projects.

Seriously. I'm hard pressed to name one that doesn't use it somewhere. Either in the background, as random texture, or as the star of the show.

They can be used straight from the bottle or diluted slightly with water as a faux-watercolor. Spritz them with rubbing alcohol for amazing effects. 

My most used colors: Quinacridone Nickle Azo Gold, Cobalt Teal, Turquoise, Quinacridone Red, Buff Titanium, and Dioxazine Purple.

The small bottles in a kit are a great introduction to the product. Once your special person has become addicted, they can buy it in the large bottles a la carte.

10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Art Graf is the perfect stocking stuffer, an unusual and squishy pencil clay. | VanillaArts.com

#8 - Art Graf

Okay, this one wins the weird award. It's pure novelty.

And that's why it's the perfect stocking stuffer. Your mixed media lover will smile as they try to imagine how to use it.

Imagine Play-Doh you can draw with.

Art Graf Watersoluable Graphite Clay is a squishy clay putty that can be molded and kneaded into any shape. Then you draw or color as desired.

We've had great fun with it in figure drawing class but I can totally see how a mixed media fan would fall in love with Art Graf. It's too much of an oddball not to be well loved.

As a matter of fact, I'd recommend stuffing this in the stocking of ANY kind of artist. This stuff rocks!

#9 - Drawing & Painting Beautiful Faces

I teach observational drawing classes, so I'm not usually a proponent of formulaic drawing methods. Teaching someone to "draw a line here, then a line there, then do this, then that" usually starts out great but ends in heartache when the student finds that everything they produce looks the same.

But even me, set in the old ways as much as I am, even I can see the merits of teaching faces via formula.

Faces are intimidating, even to professional artists. No one wants to draw freaky looking portraits of their best friends.

So I'll lighten up enough to recommend Jane Davenport's Drawing & Painting Beautiful Faces. She shows readers exactly how she structures the features and then provide projects where the faces can be used. As a starter book, encouraging readers to draw and experiment, it's full of excellent information. I also love her advice to carry on and push through the ugly phases; "trust the mess" is pretty darned good drawing mantra.

10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Posca Paint Markers, they'll love owning an entire set.  | VanillaArts.com

#10 - Posca Paint Markers

There are a few materials everyone in mixed media owns.

Posca Paint Markers are one of them. Pretty much all of us have the white and the black one.

But few people have all 15 colors!

And if they do, they don't have all 15 in all the other sizes.

Posca Paint Markers come in Bold, Medium, Fine, and Extra Fine points.

While I'm a fan of the extra fine points, I would be touched to receive a full set of any other diameter. They're that good.

#11 - Digital Stamps... by me!

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts.

... but you read this far, so I might as well throw in a plug for my own products.

I teach expressive art journal techniques to students who want to move from simple coloring to art experimentation. We play with paint, stamps, stencils, and also DIGITAL STAMP IMAGES.

All of my digis are drawn with wide open spaces, perfect for students wishing to add their own personality to the image. I draw the guidelines and let the user's talent shine.

Shown at right is "Bluebird". The top is acrylic, watercolor, and ink on Aquabord. The bottom is Copic and colored pencil. The image is versatile because I draw images simply, with no texture marks or squiggles to get in the way of your art.

PURCHASE DIGITAL STAMPS FROM VANILLA ARTS COMPANY HERE

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

 

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for use to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com.

Ten Gifts: Great Gifts for Mixed Media Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- presents they'll actually use! | VanillaArts.com
 

shopping for the perfect gift for a mixed media lover is confusing

Especially if you're not artsy-craftsy yourself.

Because as far as you know, "mixed media" basically means throwing lots of stuff onto oversized paper and writing on top of it.

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from an artist.

Mixed media is the fancy-pants trendy name. Back when I was in art school, we called it "using what you have on hand to get the job done". Whatever you want to call it, I noticed a few years ago that this art form holds a special appeal to crafters and they have a ton of supplies available to use... but very few people know how to effectively use the products they've purchased.

I teach a class showing crafters what their supplies are made of and how they work. So take a deep breath... even your mixed media lover feels lost about supplies sometimes.

I've seen a lot of products come and go and I won't hesitate to tell you when something isn't worth buying.

here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your mixed media lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great gift suggestion lists here... Copic, colored pencil, and mixed media.

red ribbon left.jpg

#1 - Nicholson's Peerless Watercolors

Peerless Watercolors are an old product dating back to the days before color photography. Photographers who wanted color in their photography had to add it after the film was processed, using Peerless color to spot color their photographs, adding color to hair & faces or scenery.

Those days are long gone but the formulas remain the same. Watercolorists and mixed media artists love Peerless colors because they're handy to use and they're fun because they're so strange.

The swatches you see in the photo above is transparent watercolor that has been embedded in little cards. The colors are bold and vibrant. All you have to do is rub a damp paintbrush over the swatch to pick up lots of color. I wouldn't paint a whole picture using peerless but when I need to add little touches of color, I immediately grab my Peerless kit.

Peerless colors are grouped into several sets and are sold directly from the Peerless Color lab. The "Bonus Pack- Small" makes a great starter set, especially when combined with a few nice watercolor brushes.

#2 - Absorbant or Watercolor Ground

Your mixed media lover is very familiar with gesso, it's a white base coat that he/she uses to prepare their paper, canvas, or other surface for painting.

Gesso is popular, but I've found that very few mixed media know about Absorbent Ground. A tub of "ground" makes a great gift as you will be introducing them to something truly magical!

Gesso seals the surface of the canvas, wood or panel before painting. It's essentially primer for artists. A seal coat is great if you're using an acrylic paint, but if you want to use watercolor or watercolor pencil, gessoing is the worst thing you can do. Any paint that has a lot of water in it's base (like watercolor) will roll right off of gesso. It won't stick because it can't.

Absorbent ground is the opposite of gesso. It prepares the surface for watercolor! I love this stuff with a fiery passion. I've used it to paint on wood, on melamine, I even use it to turn cheap journal paper into watercolor paper.

Warning: this stuff is addictive. Your special someone may start looking around for more stuff to paint... duck when they look at you with that "I wonder..." look.

10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Tim Holtz Mini Stencil collections. Easy to use, easy to store. | VanillaArts.com

#3 - Tim Holtz Stencil collections

Okay, your special person likely owns a few of these stencils already. But I'm going to suggest them anyway. Here's why:

Stencils are a basic ingredient in most mixed media projects. The problem is that your person likely collects them from tons of different brands and stencils are hard enough to store safely without worrying about all the different sizes from 12" x 12" all the way down to 2" x 2".

A few years ago, I gave up. I started buying a Tim Holtz mini stencils as replacements for each of my favorite awkwardly sized stencils. The Tim Holtz stencils are all a consistent size with a handy punch hole at the top. I pop them each onto one binder ring and hang that on a hook in my studio. Sooooooo much simpler than digging through a drawer or file cabinet to find the one I want.

Your mixed media person likley won't give up all their odd sized stencils (we do grow oddly attached to them) but they will appreciate being able to sub out some of their worn or worst to store stencils with a similar stencil. Because I use stencils for texture rather than pattern, this streamlining process greatly increased my efficiency with no emotional loss.

I purchased most of my mini stencils as singles but a short while back they started packaging them in groups of three. And now the threes are in groups of three. Perfect!

#4 - ARtBin Quick View Boxes

The worst thing about mixed media is that you tend to collect a lot of stuff.

Stuff is the technical term for "small little things that come in sets of 200 in a crummy blister pack."

Blister packs look great on the store shelf but then you get home and find that you now have to store it all somewhere... somewhere.... but where? If you shove it all in drawers, eventually you're going to loose track of what you own and what you don't own.

Which is why the average mixed media artist owns 14 white paint markers. Because they can't remember where they stored the first 13 pens.

ArtBin makes a lot of convenient storage solutions. And because ArtBin boxes are designed for heavy and possibly sharp or clunky supplies, ArtBins really do last longer than other plastic bins and tubs. The Quick View boxes are my favorite, they stack nicely, they're translucent so you can see into the box, and they're shallow so you never have stuff hiding out underneath layers of other stuff.

Get your special person a few ArtBin Quick View Boxes. Because they've got stuff.

#5 - FW Inks

Acrylic inks are the love-child of airbrush paints and calligraphy inks.

They're intense color in a super smooth consistency; they often dry with a pretty sheen that pops nicely from the other matte products we use.

Mixed media artists paint with acrylic inks, they stamp with them, and they let them ooze and drip all over. Everyday, somebody somewhere comes up with a new use for these inks, so they're always fresh and fun to work with.

FW Inks are made by Daler Rowney and I think they're amongst the best I've tried (and I've tried some pretty bad ones...). My favorite set is the Pearlescents shown above. They come in a cute little box which your mixed media person will rip open so that they can oogle the bottles like the little gemstones they are.

Seriously. I spent about 20 minutes shaking these inks and turning the bottles, just to watch them shimmer.

Oh, and they look good on paper too.

#6- Neo-color II Crayons

Don't let the name "crayon" turn you off. Crayon is simply French for "weird little stick of color".

Hey, if Leonardo Da Vinci loved crayons, ain't no shame in us usin' 'em.

Neocolor II crayons are watersoluable. That's what makes them amazing. They go on like oil pastels but can be melted and softened with water. The finished look can resemble pastel or opaque watercolor (gouache).

I mentioned oil pastels just now. If you talk to some crafters/artists they may recommend the new breed of oil pastels called "watersoluable oil pastels" in lieu of Neocolor IIs. I've tried them both and I greatly prefer the Neocolor II crayons.

By the way, that "II" at the end of Neocolor II is important. You want the second generation Neocolors with a TWO at the end. Neocolor I (one) are permanent oil pastels. They don't do the whole watery melty thing.

I'm directing you to a set of 30 here. They come in larger sets and they come in smaller. The larger sets are overkill for a beginner. The smaller sets are frustrating because they're missing some key colors. 30 is good.

#7- Glass Bead Gel

Mixed media lovers are suckers for gel medium.

This one is extra special. It's full of teensy tinsy glass beads.

I know. It looks like kindergarten paste, it smells funny, and this kind is lumpy and bumpy. What's the big deal?

Well, gel medium is magical stuff. It's a glue, it's a transfer medium, it can thin out the color of paint, it can thicken paint... it does everything but weather-proof your lawn furniture for the winter.

Actually, it can waterproof things, so scratch that... it can protect your lawn furniture.

Your special person will love playing and experimenting with the glass beaded version of gel medium. They can mound it up for 3D effects, spread it out smooth for a bit of grit, or let the little beads collect in corners for beautiful texture. Glass Bead Gel can be mixed with acrylic paint to colorize it or they can paint over it later. 

#8 - Butcher Trays

Of everything in my studio, butcher trays are about the most humble yet handy things.

Butcher trays are aluminum coated with baked on enamel. They come in lots of sizes.

I originally purchased mine as paint palettes. They work great for watercolors but also for acrylics- both rinse right off and never stain the enamel.

What I didn't realize was that butcher trays would help me organize my projects in progress.

An 11x15 butcher tray can hold my watercolor block of paper, the paint brushes, the photo references, and anything else I'm using on the project all together and I can slide it on a shelf at the end of the day.

At any one time, I've got 3-8 class projects in progress and each has it's own tray. This not only simplifies my clean up process but it also keeps me from having to search around for supplies the next day.

A few butcher trays are a welcome addition to your special person's craft room.

#9 - Alternative Art Surfaces

If you've read my other gift suggestion lists, you know I'm not a fan of project based recipe books. Sure, it's fun to look at someone else's project but I have no desire to recreate what they've done... I'd rather take the inspiration and explore new directions on my own.

That same attitude is typical of mixed media lovers. The reason why they're in mixed media in the first place is because they love to play and experiment.

Alternative Art Surfaces by McElroy and Wilson is just our kind of book. Instead of presenting projects, the authors present different supply materials- like resin, nylon, spray foam, or sheet aluminum.

The entire book is essentially "Here's this thing you may want to use, here's a few pics of how others have used it, and here are some generalized basic techniques to get you started."

There's no step 1, step 2, step 3 going on in this book. Instead it skims over non-traditional materials and challenges you to learn on your own.

And I love that. Your mixed media lover will too.

#10 - Donna Downey's Inspiration Wednesday membership

Disclaimer here, I do not know Donna, I've never met her, and I'm in no way affiliated with her or her studios.

But I am a fan.

Mixed media people tend to be visual people (duh) and visual people learn best by doing. Physically getting their hands into a project and feeling the materials and gathering inspiration from the process.

Some days are pretty good days where the supplies sing and great stuff happens. Other days you might sit and stare at the blank page and the pots of paint... and nothing.

I teach expressive art journaling classes once a month, so that's one day out of 30 where a student is being challenged to "try this" or "mix this and that". As much as we love art-play, we do sometimes need a poke in the ribs to stop recreating the same thing in twelve different colors.

MM lovers are always happiest when they're doing something new, but novelty is sometimes hard to come by.

Inspiration Wednesday is membership based access to a weekly project blog and corresponding video by Donna Downey. She's very entertaining but she's also fearless. Personally, I don't recreate anything she does. Instead I watch and learn from her mistakes and successes. Later I can pick up her same ingredients and feel more comfortable with getting my materials to behave based on what I've watched Donna do. She's a gentle push into new directions that I usually haven't considered.

Donna does have other art journal workshops but Inspiration Wednesday is a reasonably priced foot in the door. I'd never recommend that you purchase a full workshop for someone else, instead consider this low-commitment, no obligation blog-course as an appetizer. 

#11 - Digital Stamps... by me!

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts.

... but you read this far and so I might as well throw in a plug for my own products.

I teach expressive art journal techniques to students who want to move from simple coloring to art experimentation. We play with paint, stamps, stencils, and also DIGITAL STAMP IMAGES.

Sometimes we transfer digis to the page with gel medium. Other times we trace the image. No matter how we use them, I find that students love using well drawn artist quality images to add sophistication when their own drawing skills are lacking.

All of my digis are drawn with wide open spaces, perfect for students wishing to add their own personality to the image. I draw the guidelines and let the user's talent shine.

DIGITAL STAMPS FROM VANILLA ARTS COMPANY

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for use to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com.

Ten (MORE!) Gifts: Great Gifts for Watercolor Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 
10 Gift Ideas for a Watercolor Lover- presents they'll actually use! | VanillaArts.com
 

shopping for the perfect gift for a watercolor lover is a humbling experience...

If you're not a painter or a crafter, this isn't the kind of stuff you're used to buying.

And art stores? That's beyond intimidating! Shelves full of mystery goo and brushes and paper and well, who knows what all it's used for.

And forget about shopping online, because again- if you don't know what you're looking at in an art store, how are you supposed to weed through even more stuff on the internet?

Relax. Sometimes all you need is a little advice from another watercolor lover.

I started watercoloring around the time my first child was born (he's in college now). I started it as a stress reduction thing (yes son, you drove me to paint). Later, I started getting more serious about it when I realized that loose watercolor painting was helping to improve my artistry in other mediums. I love watercolor and I love sharing it with my students.

I'm also brutally frank, so if I think something is overpriced, useless, or downright stupid, I'll tell you not to buy it.

here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your watercolor lover:

(Warning: the following article contains Amazon Affiliate where applicable. Links to other stores or websites are not part of any affiliate program)

And hey, don't miss my other great gift suggestion lists here... Copic, colored pencil, and mixed media.

#1 - Black Velvet Brushes

In the first Watercolor Gift list, I suggested a set of kolinsky brushes made by Rosemary and Company.

Here's my suggestion for a mid-grade set. I teach with Black Velvet brushes made by the Silver Brush Company. They're not kolinsky but they sure come close!

These brushes feel great in the hand, they're not too long nor too short.

The bristles are a blend of squirrel and a synthetic. The squirrel helps hold water, the synthetic keeps it's shape and provides a springy feel. Best of all, the point on these brushes is rather durable. With brushes, they all come nice and pointy but very few keep that point beyond a few uses. Kolinsky brushes stay pointed for a long time and you pay a premium price for that. Black Velvets come pretty darned close.

Beginner watercolorists tend to be hard on their brushes, especially when they use dry cake pan watercolor. Black Velvets can withstand quite a bit of abuse before they splay and get feathery.

This is a good assortment of useful sizes. The 12 for backgrounds, the 8 for general duty, and the 4 for detail. 

#2 - Tube Sets

Very few watercolorists today use only one brand of paint. We all hunt for the best versions of our favorite colors over several brands.

Watercolor sets are a good way to explore a group of colors that all have  similar characteristics.

A Quinacridone assortments allows you to play with quin based reds and golds, learning how they behave. A Cobalt assortment helps you learn the features of cobalt colors. A Primatek set let's you play with sediment naturals. This kind of compare/contrast learning doesn't happen when you usually work with just your one favorite red or blue.

(click to view product on Amazon)

And the QOR set? That's a whole new kind of high tech watercolor and this set is on my own Christmas list!

#3 - lamy safari fountain pen + noodler's waterproof iNk

I enjoy laying down an illustration in pen and ink before I add watercolor. This is a method that's growing in popularity, there are lots of journal sketchers who use pen first and watercolor to add small pops of color.

But even if your watercolor lover doesn't dray, maybe working from digital stamps or traced images, adding ink can spark new creative channels.

I've tried dip pens (I have them for calligraphy) but I actually prefer fountain inks for watercolor. That meant finding a fountain pen that was durable enough to rattle around in my backpack and one that didn't cost a fortune.

Enter the Lamy Safari pen. I use a converter cartridge inside so that I can customize the ink I use.

I have two favorite waterproof inks, one for general sketching and one for botanicals.

Black ink is fine but I often feel like it overwhelms delicate watercolor colors. Noodler's Lexington Gray is my compromise for general purpose sketches.

When I draw botanicals, I switch to Noodler's La Reine Mauve. It's a lovely warm violet which looks great around flower petals but it really sings underneath green watercolor leaves.

Click the link to see the Safari pen but also run a search. Safaris come in lots of different body colors! I have a purple Safari pen that's loaded with La Reine and a charcoal Safari for the Lexington. That elminates the "awww, darn it!" moments.

#4 - Inktense pencils

Many watercolor lovers either start out with watercolor pencils or they quickly buy a set just for fun.

Inktense are something different. I use them in conjunction with my tube watercolors.

Inktense are not watercolor pencils (even though they look like them). Inktense are watersoluable ink in pencil form. The difference is that they're permanent; once they dry, the color will not rehydrate or lift.

That's why I use them in many of my botanicals. If I have an area like a twig or branch that I don't want to lighten or lift, I paint it on a base of Inktense.

This is the set of 24 but they go up to sets of 75. I have the set of 36 and I've never felt myself lacking. Bigger sets aren't always better and most artists find themselves using a core of about a dozen colors. Collecting them all doesn't improve the quality of one's work.

I'd stick to the set of 24 unless your special person intends to work in Inktense exclusively.

#5 - Watercolor notebook

There are lots of watercolor notebooks on the market but you can't tell when they're sitting in the store whether they'll be any good to paint on.

Note: there are a lot of BAD watercolor notebooks on the market.

Journal paper quality issues are so bad that I used to make my own notebooks. By hand. Then a friend showed me this notebook from Global Art Materials and I was fairly impressed.

The paper is pretty good quality and it doesn't wrinkle or buckle much. I've ironed a few pages but that's normal with 140 pound paper.

Best of all (for me at least) is the wire binding. Most watercolor journals are book bound. Glued or sewn binding books like to close on their own, so painters tend to hold them open with binder clips. That eventually breaks the spine and the signatures or individual sheets can fall like rain from a broken spine.

Book bindings are also hard on left handed painters, we essentially have to flip the book upside down and start working from the back of the book towards the front in order to paint ergonomically. Wire binding looks less glamorous but the ability to flip the front pages over and behind the current page is a godsend. Wire binding allows lefties a freedom usually reserved for the right handed world.

#6 Sphere easel

If there's ever a house fire, this will be my Dolly Madison moment:

Damn the kids and dog, I'm grabbing my sphere easel.

(Just kidding kids. Well, kinda kidding...)

I love my sphere easel. I use it for watercolor and colored pencil projects, but especially watercolor.

A desk easel gets the project up and off the table surface. That elevated feel is important, it keeps you from developing hunch back by leaning over and into the project.

The reason I went with a sphere easel over a standard desk easel is the range of adjustments possible on a sphere. I don't usually work with more than a tiny tilt to my project. The sphere allows infinite micro adjustments.

This is one of those hidden gems in the art world, many people don't even know they exist. You'll get extra street cred by gifting someone with something totally new and incredibly useful!

#7- Aquabord

Chances are, your watercolor lover paints on paper.

Because it's watercolor and watercolor only sticks to paper, right?

Wrong.

Ampersand Aquabord is quickly becoming one of my favorite surfaces to paint on. It's particle board that has been given a fine coating of... well... I'm not sure what the coating is. It looks like paper but acts a little like clay. I'm sure it's not totally clay though because Ampersand also makes something called Claybord and this is slightly different.

Anyway, Aquabord has a magical coating made from real fairy dust which absorbs watercolor quite nicely. The colors stay slightly more vibrant on Aquabord, plus the hard backing means absolutely no buckling or warping. Ever.

I love using the 6" x 6" panels, they make a nice Goldilocks sized painting - not big enough to be overwhelming but not small enough to be called tiny.

#8 - ruling pen

So here's one of those old-school tools that only crones like me know about. 

A ruling pen is how we make super straight lines using watercolor paint. And it's how we sign our names legibly.

Lots of youngsters try making straight lines with brushes... ha! You can't do that, nor can you write very well with a brush! Newbies!

I deliberately showed you the pen from the side view. You dip the ruling pen into a small puddle of watercolor paint and the paint is held in the space between the two blades by the magical force of physics called adhesion (Yes, I paid attention in science class).

If you want a thin line you twist the screw to move the blades closer. A fatter line means twisting to separate the blades. From there on out, the pen works exactly like the quill dip pens that Thomas Jefferson once used. Dip and draw, dip and draw, dip and draw.

Shoot. I just gave away one of my top secrets. Now they're going to kick me out of the Grand Society of Ruling Pen Rulers. The things I do for you people...

#9 - Modern Flower Painter

If you've ever got a spare year or two, try searching for a good watercolor book on Amazon.

There are thousands of watercolor books on the market. It's a pretty popular subject.

Anna Mason has written a good one. The Modern Flower Painter is a must read for botanical enthusiasts but her methods also work for anyone into painting detailed watercolors.

Mason works large scale with tiny brushes. If your watercolor lover comes from the world of colored pencil and markers, they'll immediately appreciate her technique.

The other nice thing about the Modern Flower Painter is the work in progress shots. Actually, I should be praising Anna Mason just for including step-out photographs. It's amazing how many instructional books include only photos of finished work. Mason's book is very generous with process photos, her "Viola" project has 17 photographs!

#10 - Finetec metallics

I'll rank this as a "want" rather than a "need" but not all gifts have to be practical or useful, right?

Finetec Metallic watercolors are a collection of metallic and opalescent paints (think shimmer eyeshadow for painters).

Calligraphers use Finetec for gilded look lettering but they're perfect for adding a bit of gold or silver to a watercolor painting. They can also be mixed into paint blends to create custom watercolor colors.

This set gives your watercolor lover a chance to play and maybe even discover a new style or technique. 

#11 - Digital Stamps... by me!

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts.

... but you read this far and so I might as well throw in a little shameless self promotion...

I teach classes for lovers of Copic Marker, colored pencils, and watercolor.

Those three media all have something unique in common- you can't use just any digital stamp. The coloring spaces need to be wide open with no texture marks. That's a rarity in the digi stamp world.

So because I got sick of searching for good stamps to use in classes, I decided to start drawing them myself. My digis are all designed especially for colorists like your watercolor lover.

Take a stroll over to my Digital Stamp Shop and get your special someone a few files to color. They'll love 'em!

DIGITAL STAMPS FROM VANILLA ARTS COMPANY

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the colored pencil lover in your life.

Be sure to check out my other helpful gift suggestion lists for Copic, colored pencil, watercolor, and mixed media fans.

Questions? Suggestions? I'd love feedback in the comment section!

Happy Shopping!

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