I often get asked what would make a good gift for kids and adults who are looking to do more art.

Giving something art related this time of year is a great as it can spark a new inspiration for the up and coming year as well as,  when we are on holidays we sometimes give ourselves permission to slow down and play and this is the best time to do some art!

Belinda’s favourite ART things to give & use

Here are some of my favourite things, which i have complile into two sections:  Affordable which is if your just starting out, or might be useful for kids and Experienced recommendations that you may look at this if you are experienced and wish to progress in your art with better quality materials. In my guide below I have also tried to explain how i would use it and ofcourse where you can get it!

1. An Art journal

Art journals is on the top of my list for a reason!  I always talk about art journals and show them in all of my classes both adults and kids. For me art journals are playtime, I play with materials, draw, sketch, paint, I write and then sometimes I paint over the page and start again. It can be a very personal activity that doesn’t have to be shown to anyone but it doesn’t have to be either.

One of the most important tips I have to all stages of artists is to just keep creating and just practice. The more you practice the easier it will become and the better you will get. Getting into the practice of regularly sketching or doodling in an art journal (if nothing else than for pure enjoyment of it) is an invaluable practice that has not only helped in my artistic ability also my mindfulness and general well being & mental health. It allows the mind to wander and the creativity to flow without having the pressure to create a finished piece.

I generally will start a new art journal at the beginning of each year. The first thing I will do is journal a page about an intention, thought or feeling i would like focus on for that year or month. For kids – Why not have a journal that has memory’s from this past year?  Things you loved, places you went, people you were with or where you would like to daydream to go in the future (made up or real). If you stuck a good tip is to start in one corner and just make a mark, repeat that mark again and again and again and fill the whole page. See where it takes you!

TIP: Consider small books that can be taken out and used on location or placed in your bag or purse for something to occupy your time whilst out and about or on holiday or in appointments or just some you time at your local coffee shop. 

Affordable Experienced

An affordable option for an art journal / visual diary is something like this one (below) available at Officeworks.

I have a few of these journals that i use for basic sketching, ideas mapping and again just playing around. These are good if you have a child that doesn’t like making mistakes or if you like to take out pages that aren’t working for you, the spiral bound versions are good for that.

There are a variety of brands such as MonMarte available in discount shops / Reject shops and in shops like Woolworths and Kmart that are under $10-  depending on the size. 

If you plan on using any type of watercolour colour, paint or areas of ink I would not recommend this affordable option or if you plan on doing very detailed sketches with pencil. If this is the case i would compare this with a little bit more expensive journal that works for your need.


3 TIPs when choosing a journal:

When choosing think about if this journal will be taken out and about traveling if so then a slimmer option with a lightweight cover is better than a thick heavy book.

If possible look at the colour of the paper you will see some will be a darker colour and look at the texture of the paper. If you like to do detailed work with pencil a smoother paper could be a better option than a rough textured option.

Take a moment to feel the paper between your fingers compare a few different ones and get a “Feel” for what would be lovely to draw on, you will see what i mean when you do it.

I have two art journal brands I love: Stillman & Birn | Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Art Journals by Ranger

Stillman & Birn


The Stillman & Birn journals I love because of the paper quality and their bindings allow the book to fold out flat i can work on a double page. I can put paint, ink, pen, pencil and just about anything you can think of on these journals and they hold their ground. They do come in various page weights and sizes. I use the Mixed Media Series which has the thick heavy weight paper. You can buy these from here (or contact me if your are local to me)
> http://theartshop.com.au/stillman-birn-sketchbooks-journals

Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Art Journals by Ranger

I am new to this journal but this is one commonly used by scrapbookers and art journal experts, i found it hard to find in Australia but they are becoming more and more available. I love the thickness of the paper and the way it holds the pens and pencils and the paints. I love the pocket it has on the front and I love the natural colour of the paper.

This is the one i have 🙂 >https://www.craftonline.com.au/collections/journals/products/dyan-reaveleys-dylusions-creative-journal

Where to buy
Discount shops, or artshops such as Eckersleys or Riot and even spotlight and Officeworks.  the quality of paper and bindings of the book are what you are compromising here. If you are just sketching with pencils this isn’t a major deal if you are using watercolours or inks the colours will bleed and warp the paper. Buy online or from good art shops.Different thicknesses in paper will affect the price depending on if you wish to use paint, watercolour or sketch.


2. Waterbrushes

These watebrushes are awesome!!!

What they are: These are fillable brushes that you put water in and can be used with watercolours, watercolour pencils or ink.

Why they are good: They are portable you can use them on the go at a friends house, at a workshop, on location out while sketching at a local park. You don’t need to carry around water etc. You just squeeze the end and use as much or as little water as you like. They come in different sized tips and can be used also with your favourite waterbased ink for lettering or just a loose way of sketching something out. They are easy to use for kids and adults.

Where to get them : These are popping up in most art stores and available online. They are even availlable at Officeworks. There is ofcourse a slight difference in quality in different brands but not one that i would find noticeably changes how they work for the majority of users. Here is a link to buy them online but check your local art store perhaps even your discount store. These make a fabulous gift coupled with an art journal and a small watercolour palette.

Here is a good resource with a bit more information on waterbrushes > Visit Site

3. Watercolours

I love love love watercolours, however – full disclosure – I am not a watercolour purist. If you are one of these excuse any misinformation going against your grain 🙂  i enjoy and use watercolours by intuition and I almost always use watercolours with other media. There is a definate art and beauty to watercolours and the process if very similiar to coloured pencil works. Here is my take on what to get if your looking for some new watercolours.

Affordable Experienced

My recommendation here is to go with the student quality watercolours. They wont be as lightfast (ie colours may fade over time) and the vibrancy maynot be as good as artist quality. These will still last a fair while and will give you the practice of using watercolours in the professional ways for alot less outlay. If these are being used in an artjournal it can be just playtime you dont necessarily need to go top shelf.

You can buy a preset range such as the one i am showing here or you can just get a couple of single colours on their own and add to it. I made a little one of 6 up when traveling on holidays that was all i needed and could carry. Please don’t buy the cheap ones from coles or woolies. They don’t blend they dont have colour vibrancy and anything that you do just doesn’t feel good and you get discouraged, yes even the kids.

Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Professional Watercolours

These are my favourite watercolours I use. I do also use Winsor and Newton. Its one of those things you invest in the good ones you love and stick with that, there is no need to change. So i have the Schminke box just like the one above and they are my loves.

The advantage of the artist quality over student is a few fold, first is the intensity and vibrancy of colours which you don’t get with the cheaper ones so you actually use less paint in my experience. They also flow beautifully and they will last the distance in that the colours will not fade over time. The manufacturers have distributed lightfast ratings (like with alot of artist pigments) so you can see the risk with certain colours over others. In general i find the better quality the easier they to use and i dont get frustrated with not being able to achieve the results I want. So overtime Iv’e learnt to use the best!

I love and i love the pans and they can go with me where they need to go. The fact that you can just purchase the colours you need and make up the palette you like to work with is a big plus if you are like me and have colour affairs where you just have certain colours you just keep holding onto.

Where to buy 

> Check this link out on ebay

OR at Artshops such as Eckersleys or Riot.

TIP: just buy a few colours in STUDENT grade to get started and it can be added to as time goes on.

These are harder to buy here in Australia, I buy mine online here is a link: > http://www.theartshop.com.au/schmincke-horadam-aquarell-professional


These 3 items coupled together make a fabulous inspiring art gift for Christmas, birthdays or just because 🙂

For the kids or if you are just getting started you could bundle these up and get a really nice gift starting for around $25- depending on the quality and the quantity of brushes and paints.

In the next blog post I am going to cover a few more items I love such as coloured pencils which could also be added to this bundle or given on their own – stay tuned for the Part 2 – Christmas Gift Guide for Artists.

Questions? Please ask below 🙂