If you’re looking to set up your very own art studio you will need to deck it out with the essential supplies so you can get started with your creative endeavours.
A few things that are helpful to have in any kind of artist’s studio are windows for natural light, ventilation, and running water to clean materials.
An art studio is a personal space for an artist, the supplies and furniture you choose to have and how you organise it will be down to your tastes and style of working. You probably won’t want to get every supply on this list, but you could discover a few pieces of equipment that might just revolutionise your art set-up.
If you’re as addicted to making art as I am, you’ll likely spend hours and hours every week painting in your studio. So you want to make it nice. Take a peruse through this list and see if there are any supplies that may enhance your studio space.
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Art studio design inspiration
You may already have all your art supplies ready to organise into your studio space, but if you’re looking for specific painting or drawing supplies, take a look at some of these recommendations.
Easel or drawing board
A good, sturdy easel is arguably the most important part of the artists’ studio. I have several easels in my studio, one to put on my desk when I’m working on small paintings, one I can transport with me outdoors and a large studio easel to hold bigger works.
Best easel for painting on a large scale
H frame easels are the sturdiest option, perfect for painting in the studio in oil, acrylic, pastel, tempura or wax. If you work on large, heavier surfaces, H frame easels will give you the stability you need whilst painting. They’re not as easy to manoeuvre as some other types of easel, however.
Best budget easel
A frame easels are slightly cheaper than H frames. They won’t hold extra large canvases like H frame easels can and they’re not as sturdy. A frame easels are more lightweight, easier to transport and pack away than H frame easels.
Best tabletop easel
Tabletop easels are great for oil and acrylic painting if you have a desk or table to work at but not a lot of extra room for a large easel. This kind of easel will suit an artist who prefers to work on relatively small canvases or panels.
Best easel for watercolour artists
Watercolourists work at a low diagonal or horizontal angle. The easel I linked to above can be adjusted from a horizontal to vertical angle to suit your working style. To paint in watercolour at an easel, you will also need a drawing board, like a large piece of MDF or hardboard to tape your paper to, to support the painting.
Best drawing table
Get a drawing station that gives you a large space to work and is fully adjustable so you can work comfortably.
You’ll need a space to mix colours, the best option for oil and acrylic painters is a tempered glass palette. This is because they are easy to clean—simply wipe paint away with a paper towel or scrape dried paint with a razor scraper.
Ceramic or plastic palettes are best for watercolour. Get one with wells and a space for mixing so you can squeeze your tubed paint.
It’s a good idea to get a mixture of brushes in different sizes and shapes.
Soft brushes made from sable or synthetic alternatives are best used with watercolour or runny oil paint.
Synthetic brushes are best to use with acrylic paint.
Stiff brushes made from hog, or synthetic alternatives are best to use with thick oil paint, as they can move the viscous colour across the surface more easily.
Even if you’re not specifically a pencil artist, it’s useful to have some pencils to sketch out compositions for paintings, or practice drawing.
I paint with oil, so I have a set of Faber Castell oil pencils—they’re incredibly soft and work brilliantly to create detailed underdrawings on canvas or wooden panels.
Surfaces—paper, canvas & panel
Stock up on surfaces for your studio so you never run out. If inspiration to paint hits, you don’t want to be without a surface to paint on. This is the type of art supply I find myself buying most frequently.
There are some brilliant brands of canvas, oil paper, watercolour paper and wooden board available to artists too. Although I enjoy working on wooden panel most, I usually keep lots of different types of surfaces in my studio in case I want to work on something else.
Sundries & accessories
This is essential if you’re working with oil paint. A lidded brush washer will store solvent safely, preventing fumes from becoming overwhelming in your painting space. Brush washers also filter paint sediment, keeping solvent (or water if you paint in acrylic) cleaner for longer.
Squeeze all the excess paint stuck inside your tube out with a paint wringer. It’s a tool that saves you money and prevents you from wasting paint.
Masters’ brush soap is the best option for brush cleaning. This cleans oil, acrylic and watercolour from brushes. It also conditions bristles and preserves them, helping them to keep their springiness.
Organise your art studio supplies
Containers for brushes
Brushes look best when they’re stored upright, plus the bristles are much less likely to get damaged. You can find a container from around your house—it could be an old jar, or vase you’re not using. You could even get some handmade pottery pieces to store your favourite brushes in and jazz up your space. Check out our guide on how to organise brushes and other supplies for more tips.
Another option is to keep your brushes in a canvas roll. A brush roll is a transportable and space saving option. Pack all your brushes and store them away after using.
If you have lots of art supplies, a rolling cart is a great way to keep everything in one place. Wheel it around your studio and keep your supplies close by. The shelves give easy access to art supplies. Get extra containers to separate paints, pens, pencils and brushes into.
Baskets and trays are great for dropping materials into. Get multiple baskets to divide up your supplies. These are useful if you share a studio space and need to collect all your supplies together.
If you have the space for it, get a cabinet. Use the drawers to store paper and sketchbooks and use the cupboard to store larger materials like canvases, panels, and paint brushes. Get additional organisers to fit inside of the cabinet to keep brushes separate from pencils and other supplies.
Keep all your pens, pencils and even brushes in one place with a desk organisers.
When you run out of floor space, create areas to store supplies on your walls. I have shelves up in my studio to store drying paintings. This is a great solution for me because I get to display them while they dry before varnishing.
You could put anything on your shelves, like pots of paint brushes, plants, ink, large tubs of paint, art books.
Many professional artists make their own prints and sell them online. A print rack is a way to store the prints safely, keeping them from getting damaged.
Running out of space to store drying paintings? Get a drying rack to keep paintings level, safe from damage and from dust.
If you’re working with oil paint, you will need to dispose of oily paint waste properly. Keep oil soaked paper towels or cloths in an airtight container until you can take it to a waste disposal unit. You don’t need to get a large sealed can to keep oily waste in, any sealed container would work.
Electronic art studio supplies
Good light is the most essential thing to an artist. Natural light coming from windows is optimal, but sometimes natural light can be too bright and create surface glare on a painting, especially if you’re working in oils.
The best kind of artificial light for a studio is daylight balanced photographic film standard light, that’s bright but diffused. Look for bulbs with a CRI (colour rendering index) of 80+ and a CCT (colour temperature) of around 5500k.
These studio lights are a great option for filming or photographing artwork for print. Set each of them at a 45 degree angle from opposite sides of the artwork pointing inwards. That way, light will be diffused and no shadows cast.
To learn more about lighting artwork and to find the best lamps for the studio, including table lamps for pencil drawing, read our art studio lighting guide.
A computer can be a useful tool to have in the studio, for referring to photo references, editing images of your artwork and sharing them on your website or social media.
Photoshop and a graphics tablet
Photoshop is a useful tool for editing reference photos or for editing photos of your artwork.
A graphics tablet gives precision when editing photos, with a large trackpad, stylus and pressure sensitivity, you can edit small areas that you would otherwise miss with just a computer mouse.
Take reference pictures to paint from, or photograph your artwork for your website or social media. Photograph your artwork for print.
By creating your own art prints at home, you can cut costs in the long run that you would otherwise have to spend from outsourcing.
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