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Back To School: Art Essentials Everyone Needs

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As the summer holidays come to an end, it’s time to get back in the classroom. It’s an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking time for students heading back to school or university, especially as they navigate the new circumstances and any regulations in place. To ease the transition back to learning, preparing everything for school is a great way to avoid panic and nerves on the first day.

With our variety of art supplies from leading brands at excellent prices, we can help you stock up. And to make sure nothing is forgotten we’ve put together a list of must-have art supplies for everyone. Read for a little reminder before art class gets underway!

Photo by Lewis Keegan on Unsplash


At the top of your art supplies list should be pencils. Whether for children at primary school, secondary school or college, pencils are essential. The type of pencil to buy will change at every school level, from a set of Faber-Castell coloured pencils to graphite pencils of different grades from Cretacolour. Sketching is an essential skill and grand paintings often start with a pencil outline. 

How hard the pencil needs to be will depend on how much shading the artist will do, as softer pencils provide a darker line and more opportunities for shading. Therefore, we recommend a range of types of pencils for older artists to let their creativity out, such as this Faber-Castell 9000 Jumbo Pencil Pack, which includes varying degrees of hardness, from HB to 8B. 

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Plenty of schools supply paints for students to use. Providing students with their own set of paints, depending on their art level and style, is a great idea as this will allow them to be creative at home as well as in the classroom. 

A great basic purchase is a Watercolour set or pan. Watercolour cakes allow for quick, easy use by just adding water and also enable students to pack away their supplies quickly. Sets of watercolour cakes often come with brushes to use with Watercolours, so this is a good option for those on a tighter budget. For younger artists, sets such as this Toy Colour Watercolour Tablet Set is a great purchase to provide them with all the colours they’ll need. This Essentials Mini Watercolour Tin from Royal & Langnickel provides 12 vibrant colours suitable for beginners and professionals alike and comes in a handy metal transport case that is perfect for students.

Acrylics are also an affordable option for young artists looking for more vibrant colours and textures. There are many great brands for acrylic paint sets with every colour a school student might need. Here at Cowling & Wilcox, we also supply professional brands, such as Winsor & Newton, who are a great brand for quality paints at affordable prices. Options like the System 3 Acrylics from Daler-Rowney are also great student grade paints.

Photo by Kasturi Roy on Unsplash


Paint brushes are also on the list of must-have art supplies. What size and type of brush an artist needs is down to personal choice. It will depend on the type of paint that students are currently using. As this can change quickly throughout the school term, we recommend supplying a range of brushes for a variety of mediums. 

For watercolour paints, soft, natural bristle brushes are the best option, with a few sizes for differently sized works of art. This Pro Arte Scholar Brush Set is ideal, with a range of great quality and multi-purpose brushes. As for acrylics and oil paints, a selection of brushes with more robust bristles will hold the thicker paint better and create more interesting textures. This Junior Brush Set Series from Da Vinci is a perfect option for art at school and as a hobby.

Paper or sketchbooks

Every level of artist needs a surface to work on. While there is a variety of types of artists’ paper, art lessons at school often require pupils to have a sketchbook. Again, the level of art will dictate the type and size of the sketchbook, but Cowling & Wilcox offer an affordable range of options from leading brands such as Seawhite and Winsor & Newton. Sketchbooks will allow a range of media to be used within its pages, perfect for art classes where a mixture of collage, paints and other media are used regularly.

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