There’s nothing wrong with the usual art store gift card—many artists like me welcome it—but sometimes it’s nice to give something more personal. In light of the approaching holiday season, I put together a list of my top 10 watercolor gifts for artists.
I’ve included a variety of gifts for artists at different levels, from beginner to pro, and each gift varies in price so you’re certain to find something that suits your gifting budget. All of the gift ideas that made my top 10 are unisex, and I’ve use many of these brands or products myself. Click on the links within each item’s description to read my reviews or discover other information to help you make an informed gift buying decision.
If you don’t find what you need in my top 10 list, I’ve shared many more ideas. So from inexpensive to splurge, below are my top 10 watercolor gifts for artists as well as my recommended places to shop.
[Prices listed are subject to change; some links are affiliates.]
Choose Your Weapon Artist Apron - $15
Painting can be a messy business because we watercolor artists tend to splash, dabble, and splatter. Help your loved one or friend protect themselves from their paints while reminding them to choose their paint weapon well.
This fun gift is sure to elicit a smile, but if something more serious is your style, a pocketed artist apron like this one (there’s hundreds more to choose from here) is just as protective while being super useful, as well.
Artist Water Board - $15 & up
Often labeled as Zen or Buddha boards, these magic boards are a modern day version of Etch-A-Sketch. Simply paint on the board with water; any marks gradually fade so the board can be constantly reused. Artists love these boards because it allows us to practice strokes and compositions without wasting costly paper and paints. There’s plenty of affordable choices on the market so feel free to pick one your artist will love.
Leather Tool Wrap - $18
Perfectly sized for pencils and brushes and possibly even a pocket palette, this beautiful leather wrap allows an artist to safely carry his or her tools in style. The wrap is highly affordable yet should last a long time.
The Struggle is Real Artist Tee - $22
I giggle every time I see this t-shirt because the designer knows watercolor artists well! Oh the frustration of sticking a paintbrush into a coffee cup or wine glass. Yep, happens all the time. Show an artist in your life that you totally understand with this hilarious tee available in a choice of colors. The t-shirt pictured is for ladies, but click the button to see a similar one for the entire family. For another similar gift idea, see these funny mugs.
Cotman Travel Bag - $39
Not only is the Cotman travel bag an extremely handy tool for painting—I have it and love it—but it also has everything a budding watercolor artist needs to get started. Cotman watercolors and the included supplies are great for beginners, young sketchers, or the occasional painter. The travel bag can be expensive in the States but Jackson’s offers it at a fair price along with affordable international shipping.
En Plein Air Stool - $45
Okay really this is a gardener’s stool, but trust me, it works wonders when sketching outdoors. In addition to seating, the pockets hold art supplies which leaves a painter’s hands free to paint.
There are several styles on the market and most range from $30 to $60. My favorite is the one pictured, but this one has captured rave reviews. If your artist is also a gardener, some even come with tools!
Scratchmade Da Vinci Pan Set - $79
My custom designed Scratchmade Palette contains 18 colors of artist-grade Da Vinci watercolors that are specially selected to paint and mix perfectly. It’s an excellent gift for watercolorist of all levels, from beginner to pro, and the price includes free shipping in the U.S. For a limited time, Da Vinci is also offering holiday gift wrap so it arrives ready to place under the tree.
En Plein Air Pro Watercolor Easel - $160 & up
With reviewers labeling this easel as “the lightest you’ll ever own,” “phenomenal,” and “perfect,” any artist in your life should love it also. This well designed watercolor easel is a great gift for any outdoor painter or nature sketcher, and many artists use it in their studio. Pricing is a bit confusing because there are several easel options. For more information, visit En Plein Air Pro or Amazon at the button below.
Productive Artist Set - $290
This collection is the full package. Filled with artist quality tools, the specially designed messenger bag includes Kilimanjaro watercolor paper, a tin with 12 pans ready to fill, loads of brushes, 20 tubes of American Journey watercolors, and more. The regular price is listed above but it’s often on sale and qualifies for free U.S. shipping. This is a wonderful deal on enough supplies to stock a studio.
Schmincke Horadam Luxury Chest - $542
This exceptional Schmincke Horadam watercolor set is truly a work of art and would make a memorable gift for the professional artist in your life. Included are two watercolor sets containing a total of 36 pans of paint, a Horadam Anniversary mop brush, a #12 watercolor brush, various watercolor mediums, and more. All are housed inside a portable wooden presentation box.
More Gift Ideas for Artists
In my line of work, I’m very thankful to connect with so many amazing creators who produce wonderful tools for artists to use. Many of these handmade and/or uncommon goods would make beautiful and useful gifts for the artist in your life. There’s also a wonderful array of books, museum memberships, classes, and more, so gift choices for artists are plentiful! Here are a few more of my favorites.
Nature Sketches creates every single sketchbook by hand, and they are absolutely lovely. Her sketchbooks are worth every penny and are not only drool worthy but also highly functional. If you need something a little more affordable, I also highly recommend Hahnemühle Watercolour Books and Pentalic Aqua Journals.
Besides the wonderful choices listed in my top 10 list above, earlier this year I reviewed Etchr bags and was impressed with the quality of their bags as well as their commitment to creators. The Field Case is my favorite, but that may be because I haven’t tried the Slate Mini… yet.
Classes & Workshops
Classes and workshops are a great way to show an artist that you care, because gifting an artist a class or workshop is a gift that keeps on giving long after the workshop is over. You’ve not only given a gift, but you may have helped make your friend a better artist. Local art stores, associations, and guilds usually keep lists of local workshops, classes, and art teachers, and many also offer their own workshops.
Most artists are suckers for art. We greatly admire other artists and their artwork and would love to have an original piece by one of our heroes. And this purchase is a win/win! You not only gift your artist friend or family member with something special, but you also bless another artist who may greatly need the pocket change this holiday season.
Jewelry, Clothing, Home Decor, Prints & More
Every time you buy from a real creator on Etsy, Redbubble, or an equivalent shop, purchase through your favorite artist’s affiliate links, or even just support an artist via a contribution or membership, you are doing a world of good for artists everywhere. Consider using one of these avenues to not only find a great gift for an artist but also to help support the arts.