Gift Ideas

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

 

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

updated for 2019!

I regularly use these products and highly recommend them. For more information on recommended supplies, see our page dedicated to Amy’s Favorite Things here:

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 watercolor.

#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.

 
10 Gift Ideas for a Mixed Media Lover- Balzer Bits are the reverse of stencils and ever so much more useful to mixed media fans. | VanillaArts.com

#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? Uh, 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 two-layer flower 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, 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.

 

#8 - Art Graf

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

And that's why it's the perfect unexpected gift. 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 gifting this to ANY kind of artist. This stuff rocks!

 

#9 - Drawing & Painting Beautiful Faces

I’ve taught 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 - 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, & 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 I can't resist throwing in a bit of obvious self promotion...

I teach online Copic coloring classes for lovers of Copic marker, colored pencils, and watercolor.

Those three media types 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 and that's a rarity in the digital stamp world.

So because I got sick of searching for good stamps, I decided to start drawing them myself.

I designed my digital stamps with all three media in mind. They can be used for your special mixed media artist, marker artists, colored pencil artists and watercolor artists alike!

The top Blubird here was painted with a mixture of watercolor and gouache. The bottom bluebird is with Copic and colored pencil. Same stamp, perfect for both media mixes.

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


 

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the mixed media 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 Copic Marker Lovers (presents they'll actually use!)

 

Shopping for the perfect Copic gift can be tricky

Especially if you don't have the foggiest clue what marker people do when no one else is looking...

Does anyone who owns 100 markers really need more markers?

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

I've been using Copic markers since they had to be smuggled in from Japan and I've seen a lot of marker products and marker accessories come and go. I'm also a brutally frank person, so if I think something is overpriced, useless, or downright stupid, I'll tell you not to buy it.

updated for 2019!

I regularly use these products and highly recommend them. For more information on recommended supplies, see our page dedicated to Amy’s Favorite Things here:

 
red ribbon.jpg

Here are 10 (well loved, not useless) gift ideas for your Copic 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... colored pencil, watercolor and mixed media.

#1 - Copic Colorless Blender

I'll admit, this is not a romantic Valentine's Day gift for your sweetest, but every Copic fan will love receiving a full size bottle of Copic Colorless Blender.

I've heard instructors warn students away from the big economy sized bottle. Yes, this is a lot of blending solution and it will take a long time to use it all... but still, I encourage students to get the full size rather than the small size.

Why? It's all about developing a generous mindset.

The small bottle encourages stinginess. When you only own 0.8 ounces, you limit your uses to maximize the number of refills possible.

But with almost 7 ounces, you can play, experiment, and really learn about blending solution. You can afford to fail because you haven't used half a bottle on a dead-end mistake.

And hey, while I'm at it... my favorite way to use Copic Colorless Blending Solution is with a Ranger Detail Nib Water Brush. Put both items together in a pretty little bag and you've made quite a nice little gift.

 

#2 - The Copic Wallet (36)

If your special person colors anywhere outside of their craft room, anywhere from the living room to a chateau in France, he or she will need something to carry their markers.

There are lots of wallets and tote bag options but I still think the Copic Wallet is ideal for travel. Plus, unlike other wallets, the Copic version stands up nicely and keeps the caps easily visible for quick color grabbing.

Copic Wallets come in several sizes but 36 will offer them a great selection when on the road. Most classes call for at least a dozen markers, plus your person will want to take a few extras plus the colors they personally love. I've noticed that my students who own the 36 size never have to bring a secondary container.

 

#3 - Recollections Desktop Organizer

This goes down as one of my smartest purchasing decisions ever.

The Recollections Desktop Organizer is sold in Michaels craft stores as an off the shelf purchase.

Yes, they're self-assembly style particle board units rather than natural wood, and they're definitely not built to withstand a hurricane... but I really, really, really like the size and style of this organizer.

At 7 inches deep, it's half as deep as the normal Recollections cubes; the smaller footprint keeps it from hogging desk or shelf space.

But the real value is that top gridded area.

Each cubby within the grid holds 6 Copic Sketch markers and the entire gridded box removes from the unit which allows me to bring a lot of markers closer to my coloring station.

I own two Desktop Organizers and I've got both gridded boxes housed in just one unit (top and middle sections). The drawers below hold my extra nibs and miscellaneous Copic supplies.

 

#4 - OttLight Slimline Task Lamp

You don't need to live in a deep dark cave to make good use of a desk lamp.

But not just any old lamp will do. The color of the light waves emitted matters a great deal when coloring.

It used to be that most household light bulbs gave off a slightly yellow light. Now with CFLs and LEDs, we're dealing with bluish lights. Neither gives you the full spectrum kind of light we get during full natural daylight.

A coloring project that was colored at noon by a window is going to look odd at 8pm under your lamp due to the change in the light qualities. This is why I always color under a full spectrum OttLight, even at high noon on a sunny day in August. If I'm coloring, the light is on. Consistency of light color as you work through a project is one of those little keys to excellence that many crafters fail to consider.

OttLight Slimline Lamp is space saving as it folds down when not in use and it has two points of adjustment – a rotating shade and articulating shaft that allows for easy positioning.

Affordable and versatile, you can't ask for much more!

 

#5 - Weighmax Digital Pocket Scale

Amy highly recommends filling your Copics by weight rather than guessing. The Weighmax Digital Scale is a great tool to help you ensure the correct weight for your Markers. It’s portable, lightweight and affordable!!

For information on the importance of keeping your markers full and the correct filling process and weights, check out Copic Marker Blending Problems? Refill Your Markers for Instant Improvement!

For more information on smoother blending take a look at How to Blend Copic Markers: The #1 Secret to Smoother Blending.

 
 

#6 - Artist Glove

I used to think it was because I'm a lefty but I see a lot of right handed students with the same problem... smudgy hands.

It's not just a pencil problem- lots of different media can be picked up and dragged by the side of one's hand. Many artists and crafters actually tape off their paper margins to keep them crisp and white.

While I've never accidentally dragged Copic ink across my project, I have encountered a different problem- skin oil.

Marker paper is pretty sensitive. The natural oils on skin can transfer to marker paper leaving an area that is slightly resistant to ink. 

Artist's drawing gloves solve the problem by forming a buffer between skin and paper.

Drawing gloves are not new but I've noticed that recently, it's hard to find one not labeled for use with computer tablets. They're essentially the same thing, so don't worry if the glove comes from the electronics section.

Two finger style gloves are more comfortable and keep the palm open to the air to prevent uncomfortable heat buildup.

Oh, and you'll hear about people wearing fingerless winter gloves as a cheaper alternative... be warned. Inexpensive, stretchy, 3 to a pack style gloves are almost always knit polyester. You can drag colored pencil with a synthetic knit just as easily as with a bare hand.

 

#7 - Portfolio Book

Copic inks are not archival.

Let me say that again with empahsis. Not. Archival.

There's nothing sadder than a faded Copic project. Your special person can spend an hour or more on a single image. That kind of Coloring deserves protection from dirt, damage, and the fading effects of light.

I love the Itoya book style portfolios. It's so easy to slide projects into the open-ended sleeves.

Bonus- a book full of projects can look very impressive. It's an ego-boost for your colorer to flip through a portfolio and see their projects presented in a finished, professional, and attractive manner.

Yes, you can shove completed projects into a manila file folder to receive the same level of protection, but the same projects placed neatly into a bound book? The book format portfolio adds a sense of value.

 

#8 - Make a Copic Repair & Refill Kit

I've been using the ArtBin Slim Line cases for years. As I was researching items for this list, I stumbled upon a sectioned-off version called the Pen & Nib Box.

But I wasn't thinking calligraphy.  Nope, this makes a great Copic repair kit! I love the idea so much, I've got this box on order to make one for myself!

Start with the Pen & Nib Box. Add a package of replacement brush nibs and broad nibs. Top it off with a set of Copic nib tweezers, and few alcohol swabs and you've made a compact repair kit that can handle any Copic emergency!

 

#9 - a Gasenfude & a Lavender Multiliner

I'm going to lump these two together even though I could extoll their virtues at length by themselves.

I'm willing to wager that your Copic lover doesn't own either of these pens.

I'll also bet they will absolutely love them.

First up, the Gasenfude (gas-en-foo-day) is a dense black pen with a very responsive brush nib. They're fun to play with and essential for creating modern calligraphy writing.

Next up is something your special person may not own yet - Copic Multiliner Lavender. Yes, Lavender is a big deal. The set of four looks great but if you're only going to go with one, I recommend either the 0.5 or the slightly thinner 0.3.

Stick them in a stocking or wrap 'em as a standalone gift.

 

 

#10 - Prismacolor Premier Pencils

Yes, I know this is a marker lovers list. Relax, I'm not nuts.

Colored pencils are the hidden secret of many Copic colorers. Pencils can add texture, details, and simple highlights.

But here's the bonus- a light buffing of colored pencil that matches the Copic below can correct ugly blending mistakes! Copic is transparent color while Prismacolor Premier pencils are semi-translucent. That means they can mask oopsies and rough blends without grabbing too much attention.

They're like a really good Botox job.

Prismacolor pencils are great for beginners. The Premier Soft Core style is a professional grade pencil but they're not going to break your budget. This set of 72 isn't every single color Prismacolor makes but all the pencils I recommend to beginner students are here plus enough other colors to make a colorist's heart sing. 

 

#11 - Online Workshops

Okay, I know I was supposed to stop at 10 Gifts but I can't resist throwing in a bit of obvious self promotion...

I teach online Copic coloring classes that are perfect for any level colorer. Marker Painting Workshops teach art based painting techniques using markers with colored pencil accents.

Because my classes cover art techniques, they're perfect for any level colorer from beginner on up to advanced marker mavens. This isn't a copy-cat style craft level class!

Marker Painting Workshops are a la carte classes with forever access and a new MPW debuts each month!

Marker Painting Workshop classes include:

  • 15-20 minute technique video that provides a deep-dive look at one technique, method, or mindset

  • 60-240 minutes of guided coloring video (depending upon the project). Videos feature informative fun time-outs and technique breakdowns

  • original digital stamp in three formats

  • full color printable project sample

  • full color printable color map + recipe

  • full color printable guide to shade & shadow

  • class discussion board with full instructor Q&A access 

 

so there you have it!

Ten, no make that ELEVEN awesome and battle tested gift suggestions for the Copic Marker 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.