Summer is a great season to rest, recharge, and not set the alarm. It’s also the perfect time to try out new art materials for fun at a leisurely pace. Whether you are investigating a tool or material for the upcoming school year or your own practice, try something new and get creative. Experiment with fresh supplies to spark new ideas and keeps things from getting dull. Most of us have a stash, closet, or even a whole studio full of art supplies to experiment with. Use any art supplies you have on hand or purchase something new from the list below to get started.
Test out these 15 fun art supplies this summer. Try something new, get creative, and share your work with us on social media by tagging @theartofed!
1. Puffy Pen
Science and art combine with this social-media-famous art tool. Apply heat to the ink and watch it puff up like popcorn! OOLY’s website suggests using a hairdryer. If you don’t have one, you can often grab one for cheap at a thrift store.
2. Gel Highlighters
These neon drawing tools feel like markers and smoothly glide on paper. Play with translucency and overlap strokes to create interesting textures and colors. The Sharpie® website says you can accidentally leave theirs uncapped for days, and they will not dry out. This is great for those of you with young kids or forgetful students! Check out the Mixed Media Basics Pack in PRO Learning for ideas.
3. Holographic and Rainbow Scratch Paper
Scratch art shows the magic of negative space! Arteza® scratch paper kits are holographic and come with stylus scratchers and sharpeners. The papers look like they are solid black. However, color appears when the black is gently scratched off.
4. Watercolor Dot Cards
Winsor & Newton have a great sampler of all 109 of their watercolors. There is no need to commit to an entire tube; test them out first! A dot of dried paint is prepared on a sheet of watercolor paper. Simply use a wet brush to activate the pigment.
5. Funky Palette Knives
Create different textures with uniquely shaped palette knives. Drag, slide, or press these tools through your artwork to create unique lines and surfaces.
6. Circle Cutter
Consistently cut a perfect circle with this tool. Adjust the Fiskars® circle cutter to cut circles from one to eight inches on paper and cardstock. Test it out for yourself! If you need ideas to use this tool and more, check out the Generating Ideas for Art Pack in PRO Learning.
7. Paint Markers
If you want to try more controlled paint marks, paint pens are a great option. Posca paint markers have extensive options when it comes to tips and colors. There is a chisel tip, bullet tip, thin tip, brush tip, and wide tip to create an array of interesting marks. There are pastel, primary, and neutral sets to build your own palette.
8. Retractable Eraser
This is a tool you never knew you needed! It’s like a mechanical pencil but an eraser. This eraser travels well, is surprisingly easy to grip, and is a breeze to retract inside the plastic casing. You can usually purchase refills too.
9. Masking Fluid
Masking fluid is incredibly helpful because it resists watercolor, keeping part of your painting white. Although handy, there is a small learning curve. Apply using a brush or needle and let dry. Then, paint over or around the area. Watch the fluid act as a “bumper” and push the paint away. After the painting is completely dry, use tweezers to carefully peel up the masking fluid.
10. Reloadable Film Camera
This camera is great for beginner photographers. Break the monotony of the digital age and test your hand with this fun medium. If you have a darkroom, develop it there. If you’re a novice photographer, mail your film to a company to have them develop it for you.
Simply mix papier-mâché with water in an old bowl or bucket. Seriously, that’s it! Next, decide what you will sculpt and determine if you need to find or construct an armature. Add dye to alter the clay’s color or paint it after it dries.
12. DIY Paint Pens
Fill empty paint pens with custom-colored inks, dyes, or paints. Experiment with color mixing, types of paints, and mark-making on multiple surfaces.
13. Removable Glue Squares
Removable glue squares may be the perfect adhesive if you’re impatient! Depending on your project and needs, purchase by the sheet or roll. They are double-sided, easy to adhere, and come in permanent and removable varieties. The Glue Dots® website says they stick to paper, foam, plastic, metal, glass, and more. This makes them great to mount art for a quick art show install!
14. Washi Tape
This decorative tape comes in a variety of options. Washi tape can be opaque, translucent, removable, tearable, and so much more! Use it to hang photographs, update a collage, or mask off an area you want to paint.
15. Pom-Pom Maker
Need a few fuzzy, furry, happy pom-poms? Purchase a pom maker or whip up your own with a piece of scrap cardboard, like in the video below. Use yarn, fabric, or even ribbon to make simple faux flowers or a fun garland. Or add them to the corners of a throw pillow for a whimsical touch!
Testing out new art supplies is fun, and you’re never too old to reveal a holographic image with some rad scratch art. Try out any of these art supplies with your current mediums of choice to add variety and keep things fresh. Add a layer of texture with DIY paint pens or upcycle some trash to create an armature you cover in papier-mâché. Take your art to the next level by testing out funky subject matter, viewing something at a different angle, or playing with light and shadow.
If you find using new supplies to be more daunting than fun, remind yourself that you don’t need to create a masterpiece or fully resolved artwork. Free yourself of any expectations and just play with the tools and colors. And join AOEU’s supportive art teacher community! Every Monday at 5 p.m. CT on Instagram Live’s Make Art With Me, follow a guided artmaking activity to dip your toes into something new. We hope to see you there!
What fun art supplies have you experimented with recently?
Share your non-negotiable top three art supplies.
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.