Se7en + 1 Art Materials That We Use Everyday…

A couple of weeks back I was asked a really good question on instagram… what materials do we use for all our arts and crafts projects. What are our favourite colouring pencils, markers and so on. I thought that would be a great post to use as we dive back into blogging with enthusiasm… to be honest we use only the very simplest materials available. If it isn’t simple, affordable or easily available then we don’t use it. It turns out that the simpler the materials you use the more you have to think about how to use them creatively and so produce great works of art, whereas fancier materials are often too specific and only for a particular type of project and are thus limiting.

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Most of our art materials come from our local supermarket, that’s where we shop. If I am looking for anything more specialist, about once a year I do I big splurge and buy, for instance, acrylic paints then I head for CNA, not our local CNA it has nearly nothing useful in stock. CNA has certain flag-stores that are significantly better stocked and if you are in Cape Town then heading across the city to Canal Walk once or twice a year is well worth the effort for stocking up. Otherwise if I am looking for something perfectly arty like clay, foil paper, tissue paper or very special pencil crayons, and good quality art materials then there is a toy/craft store in Plumstead called Kidz-a-Peal that has excellent stock and always has something interesting, if not exactly what you had in mind, something very close to that.

Se7en + 1 Favourite Art Materials

  1. Paper: Let’s begin with something truly essential, that is often overlooked. We mostly just use standard A4 printer paper for all our artwork. Otherwise my kids use anything: newspaper, gift wrap, packaging… anything… for crafting. If they want coloured paper, I occasionally buy a stack of coloured paper, but they are never quite the right colour… they use watercolours to paint the colour they are after or magazine pages that might have the right colour on them.
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  3. Pens and Pencils: For pencils we use classic red and black Staedtler’s… they sharpen well, the nibs don’t break endlessly and once your kids get over they “having to sharpen their pencil every three seconds” they last as well. There are other pencils on the market… much cheaper ones, and even plastic ones – I would rather buy each child one good pencil that does the job than ten dreadful pencils that the nib continuously breaks and totally distracts them from the work they are doing. As for pens… these Staedtler Biros are the win of the century… they are affordable and work wonderfully and we love them. There are few things more satisfying than sitting down and drawing with a biro – these ones have great results, no splodges or leaks, they are fantastic and by far our favourites.
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  5. Watercolours: These are the medium of choice with my kids… we all watercolour a lot, at least once a day, everyday. We use these ADEL patty pans… everyone has their own set and they live on the kitchen counter. You do get much bigger, smarter and fancier versions of watercolours… but these colours are bright and easy to mix to get to the colour you are after. Also, they are small and simple and can be tossed into a backpack for hiking… we take a couple of brushes and water from their water bottles and they are good to go for art in the great outdoors. There are few things better than painting outdoors.
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  7. Pencil Crayons: When I was a child Colleen pencil crayons were the absolute dream… while one to two of my kids have their own collection, our preferred pencil crayons at the moment are BIC pencil crayons. They have bright colours and they last and last. They do not spend the entire day sharpening them and they are robust, no broken nibs… again and again and again. Our absolute dream pencil crayons are Lyra pencil crayons… they glossy feel and spread easily, we have a small collection that we add a pencil or two to from time to time.
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  9. Crayons and Pastels: Our favourite crayons have to be Crayola’s we were gifted with a large pack about two years ago and they are still going strong. My kids like to have them, but they just don’t love to draw with them… never have. If we do use crayons it is mostly the white ones from a pack and that is so that we can paint over them with food colouring water, which we use as a replacement for ink. Otherwise we use whatever pastels we can buy at the supermarket… in the stationary section, we use them for art projects, but the smudginess and lack of control means that nobody wants to use them for their everyday drawing.
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  11. Markers: Markers are literally drawing heaven for my kids… they love markers and would use them for everything if they could. Crayolas are the best, there are a variety of nibs: brush, fine, fat and so on. These markers are indestructible and last forever, however they are hard to come by over here and when we do find them in a store they are ridiculously priced… the Rand/Dollar exchange is a real thing. Otherwise, the best markers for everyday use by miles are Sharpies for crystal clear colours and sharpness… and are also hard to come by and ridiculously priced for the same reason as the Crayolas. So we use BIC markers because they are easily available or Pritt markers because they are slightly more durable than the rest, and I replenish supplies at birthdays, or on special occasions.
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  13. Watercolour Pencils Crayons and Such Like: This is one area where you get exactly what you pay for… if the price appears to be too good to be true, then it most likely is. The cheaper versions of these are nasty, the colours dull, and results scratchy. It is worth saving and getting a few good water colour pencils than splurging on a cheaper version. These are fantastic for school on the go… and we use them for nature drawing and map work as well… colour in with them and then wash over them with a wet brush to get the watercolour effect. They come in any number of bright and vibrant colours and are simply fantastic.
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  15. Special Materials and Untouchables: All our art materials are “out” and available to use. I firmly believe that art materials that are packed away, like kitchen appliances, never ever get used. We keep ours out and they are definitely used. They have always been out, even when our kids were tiny… materials that are available to use are not a novelty and I found that most of our children saw them as “part of the furniture” something they used everyday and like lego, cutlery and books, and were treated with the same respect. It was only when introducing novelty items that I had to watch and oversea more carefully, and they to would quickly become part of the play environment. That being said, there are a few art materials, like the LYRA pencil crayons and the Pritt markers, that are slightly nicer and so not used for everyday school journals and such. I keep these in a “special” bag that they have to ask to use… they ask every day and always say yes… they like the idea of using something special when they are working on a a special work of art… and if special means in a pencil bag with permission then I am all for it.
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    I do have certain materials that I am less willing to share… I am a hopeless black pen collector and there is nothing worse than discovering one of the collection has been used to gouge a nail out of the workbench or worse, much worse. I would very much prefer not to share these. The Windsor Newton watercolour set, that I may have claimed as my own, from the father person’s desk… I confess I am very unwilling to share (!!!). And as for watercolour crayons we love them and these are by far my favourites… though as you can see from the next photograph, they are well and truly shared by everyone… there is everything to love about them.

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And finally I did once spot these Djeco markers in a toy store and bought them because I love everything about Deco projects and materials… and they turned out to be a true win… I do hide them away. They have a brush nib at the one end and fine at the other and they have lasted two years of almost daily doodling. They are available here, but usually in independent toy stores rather than the where you would expect them amidst art and craft stores. If you do spot a Deco stand in a toy store, stop and take a look… their art and craft materials are lovely… their sticker packs are beautiful and unique and well worth collecting.

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That’s it, our favourite art materials that we use every single day. Craft materials tend to be a whole ‘nother story.

15 Replies to “Se7en + 1 Art Materials That We Use Everyday…”

  1. There’s something SO lovely about photos of used art materials – all the creativity that has happened to wear down the nibs, get the paper wrapping torn and so on. We’re big Lyra fans too. One of the best investments I made when first child was born was a big tub of them. 11 years later some are only an inch high, and still everyone loves to draw with them.

  2. Oh I love this post – I am a real stationery junkie (as you know from my Instagram account). I think I have the same very handy canvas pouch you have – only mine is filled with a special Christmas present from hubby – a set of Derwert pencils. BTW we saw Colleen pencils when we did our school shop – I gave in to A and said she could get a set as in grade 5 brands are not specified any more but then she saw the new Steadler pencils and they had a free zip pebcil bag (for less than the Colleen set) and went for that. Now I am a tad sorry I did not get to experiment with the much coveted Colleens from my youth

  3. I am longing for some watercolor crayons! I also have some pens & such that I’m unwilling to share – I’ve had some for about 9 years if you can believe that. They’re still going… but they’re mine. We really love chalk pastels, the colors and the blending, but so messy!

    It’s much the same way at our house – things are out and available for everyday use (except for those pens)!

  4. I love this post – I think I need to do one too.

    Those staedtler pens are Connor’s favourites.

    We use Adel paints too, Bic pencil crayons (the thick soft ones – R20 for 8), I use Marlin metallic pencil crayons too, staedtler crayons, metallic markers and normal markers (those fat ones – R70 for 12 – but they never go dry – we’re still using a set from 2012). Pens I like Pentel and Pilot.

    Ahem, now I see where Hood 1 gets his black pen “thing” from 🙂

  5. Love this post. I love anything stationary. I can spend hours in a stationary shop. When I was in primary school, we lived in Uitenhage. Colleen pencil crayons was only available in the Cape province. I saved and used all my money to buy the 36 pack. It was R7.96 There was a bright blue and green that was my favourites. I tried not to sharpen them because that only meant they would be finished sooner.

  6. Oh Zoe… Isn’t that the truth about stationary… I love seeing real live splodges and can look at photos of pencil crayons forever!!! And what a good idea to grab those Lyra’s there is something unbeatable about them. Hope you all have a great week!!!

  7. Oh Cat, I am with you… stationary, stationary, stationary… I saw the Staedtler’s too.. and have been using them as my go to birthday gifts lately – they were on a special at Pick’nPay R25 cheaper than CNA… that’s significant. I haven’t seen Colleen’s for years but if I did I would probably have to grab them… though I must say we are very happy with the Bic’s we use and use and use… Hope your gang are enjoying their re-entry!!!

  8. Hay Christi, I totally get that… just as we all need a little space of our own… so we need a little stationary of our own too. Just using a few of your own sacred pens can make the biggest difference to a day!!!

  9. Oh Marcia, I can say nothing about the black pen collection… not to mention that I could talk on and on about stationary about forever. I certainly have to try the markers you recommend, we are not really winning in the marker department right now. Hope you all have a good week getting back into the rhythm of school and work, lots of love from the whole gang.

  10. Hay Karien, thanks so much for stopping by… I can’t believe you remember paying R7.96 for your Colleens. I remember getting them for my birthday when I was in grade 6… and never ever sharpening them for fear they would finish too fast. Hope you have the best week ever!!!

  11. Thank you so much for this post! I feel it was written for me! I have just received a set of the Derwent Watercolour 12 from the couriers! I’m so excited! I have the Derwent Artbar, kids totally love it (currently on 50% special at Take -a-lot). I actually bought it as a replacement to the Caran D Ache recommended with Artistic Persuits! I should try the Derwent Inktense on next birthday!
    Mson loves the Colleen, but I’d like to try some Lyra this time. Colleens are widely available (checkers, waltons, take-a-lot, deckle edge).
    Those Bic pencil crayons are very nice, bought a set for last year and oh my word! I also do prefer their Retractable type crayons to the other brands…so smooth and creamy.
    What do you use for Watercolour paper? I find it too expensive at the local art shop.

    Thanks for sharing this…

  12. Hay Zikhona, I am definitely going to take a look at that 50% special, thanks so much for the tip. Gotta say we have absolutely loved Artistic Pursuits with our kids over the years, while we took about a 6 month break from it, we will be starting back with it next week… Just can’t wait!!! For watercolor paper… in the day to day we really just use printer paper… bu for actual art I have bought them each a good quality sketchbook… sometimes the sketchbooks are a lot cheaper, especially during “back-to-school” season, than actual reams of paper… it is worth checking out. Thanks for the great comment, so glad you enjoyed the post!!!

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