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If you want to make a creative friend smile, give him or her a set of art supplies. There are kits that cater to a specific medium but also beautifully put-together boxes that allow users to experiment with all sorts of materials—paints, oil pastels, and more. Art sets offer a convenient way to learn something new while carving out some personal relaxation time. Note that because they are often designed as an economical way to explore different media, the quality of the products are typically student-grade or intended for hobbyists. In other words, they’re a great option for beginners who would like to familiarize themselves with painting or drawing before investing in the absolute best materials. Read about our favorite art sets for adults below.
Artist’s Loft Necessities Gift Art Set
The diversity of media that this set offers makes it our number one pick. You get acrylics, watercolors, oil paints, oil pastels, colored pencils, and watercolors, each group offering from 10 to 28 colors to work with. There are tools, too, including 6 bristle brushes and 3 palettes so you can work with more than one medium at a time. Everything comes packed in an aluminum box that features fold-out shelves so you can access everything at once and a convenient handle. Adults who have never picked up a paintbrush or pastel before will appreciate the included book of instructions, which provides a clear introduction to each medium and explanations to achieve specific effects. All you need to begin is some paper.
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U.S. Art Supply Painting and Drawing Set
This set stands out from the competition because it comes with a wooden easel that can be set flat on a table or adjusted to any angle. The kit’s focus is on coloring and illustration: The wooden case includes 24 colored pencils and 24 oil pastels as well as 60 wax crayons. But with 24 watercolor cakes also provided, adults can experiment with some mixed-media paintings too. This set comes with three paper pads for watercolor, drawing, and field sketches. It also includes a color mixing chart so recipients can learn color theory.
Buy: U.S. Art Supply Painting and Drawing Set $69.96
ANOTHER GOOD CHOICE
Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Drawing Art Set
If your giftee loves to sketch and draw, consider buying this set, which comes in an attractive tin. It includes a range of essential drawing tools that budding artists can use to create realistic shadows and depth. Among them: deeply pigmented aquarelle pencils for creating washes; sepia chalks; and charcoal, graphite, and lead blocks that are super smooth and excel on heavily textured surfaces. Everything lays down pigment nicely, and tips and blocks alike are sturdy to accommodate a good amount of pressure. We’d recommend an update to the eraser, which can be a bit crumbly.
Buy: Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Drawing Set, 24 Pieces $26.98
TOP OF THE LINE
Arteza Mixed Media Art Set
For higher-quality tools, we’d recommend this set from Arteza. It’s pricier than the competition, but you’re paying for an excellent range of materials that can continue to feel satisfying as their user’s skills develop. Highlights include 24 wax-based colored pencils that are resistant to breakage; 24 watercolor pencils that stay brilliant when wet; four water-brush pens with precise points; and 36 highly pigmented watercolors. You also get four kinds of art pads to cover drawing, watercolor, and mixed-media needs. The wooden case is sturdy and attractive and keeps everything in place even when moved about.
Buy: Arteza Mixed Media Art Set $98.99
Golden A-Z Acrylic Set
Golden’s paints and mediua almost always make our best-of lists, so we have to give this acrylic set a mention. It offers an excellent sampling of the brand’s products, from easy-to-mix, highly concentrated heavy-body paint (in three colors) to high-flow paint (in two colors). There are samples of clear tar gel, a matte heavy gel, and light molding paste, which helps painters build layers of textured acrylic. This set is great for newcomers to acrylic, who can get help from an included instruction guide, but it’s also a great gift for hobbyists who might be interested in trying out different gels, pastes, and media from a highly lauded brand.