Painting Tools

From easels that you wouldn't leave the house

What Are Your 3 Must-Have Painting Tools?

We asked you: what are the three most indispensable tools in your studio or to your art business — those things you reach for all the time and never let you down.

From easels that you wouldn't leave the house without, to brushes that changed your life, we compiled a list of must-have tools for professional fine art painters.

If you have been searching for the perfect primer, varnish, paint brand or more, these artists have recommendations for you.

Roberta Murray

1. Oakblade Palette Knives

Besides paint and something to paint on, I couldn’t live without my

knives. These knives, in particular, have long handles, are thin and flexible, and well balanced. They are a real joy to handle.

2. Strada Plein Air easel

These are great for getting outside to paint from life and traveling to workshops. I tried a variety of pochades and plein air easels before purchasing the Strada. The rest just gather dust now. The Strada is light, simple, and fast to set up. Basically, put it on the tripod, open it, and go!

3. Easy Easel display stand

I use this to store wet paintings while they are drying. The stand can hold up to eight paintings and is adjustable to accommodate a variety of sizes.

Ginny Butcher

1. The Paint Saver Palette from Camille Przewodek

The paint saver palette has a few parts: a plastic container it fits in, an aluminum housing for the palette itself and the palette (which slips on a thin panel and is held in place by clamps in my studio and by a small bungee cord on my Open Box M pochade).

The reason I love it is that it truly is a paint saver! I use it interchangeably in the studio and in the field. When I’m through using it, I pop the palette and housing into the plastic container and into the freezer they go.

It saves me from wasting paint and from having to carry tubes of paint. It also saves me time in the field because I don’t have to put paint out on my palette.

2. Home-constructed panel holder.

I got this design from Carol Marine. It holds small, thin panels and allows me to paint off the edges without any hindrance. This is especially helpful when painting a cropped image because you can carry the image off the panel (think circles and ellipses) making it easier to keep them from getting wonky.

3. My trusty viewfinder

I use it indoors and outdoors, with photos on my computer or in the field. What can I say? It makes it easy to crop to the size of my canvas and easy to choose a composition.

Holly Ann Friesen

Well, one of my indispensable studio tools has become Artwork Archive. It has truly improved my cataloging efficiency in the studio.

As artists, we like to focus on creating and gathering inspiration, but the business side is also important. This program has streamlined things for me from client interaction to applying for grants and awards.

Now for more traditional artist tools. I looked back at my photos and the tools I count on surprised me. I always have a backpack, sketchbook, portable easel and filbert brush… but I’ve decided on the list below.

1. Filbert brush

It doesn’t matter what size it is, a filbert brush is my go to brush. It gives me options with a simple twist of the wrist!

2. Sketchbook

I usually like to have a quality paper that I can use with pencil, pen, and paint. It also has to be light and fold down flat so that I can take it anywhere. I usually carry it in a sealable plastic bag as well … as I live on an island for several months of the year! Water is always readily available should I want to sketch with watercolor pencils (another favorite tool!)

3. Portable easel

While I don’t consider myself a plein air painter, I do a lot of painting on-site and outdoors, but also at galleries and studios other than my own.

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