2023 Holiday Art Supply Gift Guide – Marianne Vander Dussen

2023 Holiday Art Supply Gift Guide


Happy Holidays! 

If you're overwhelmed by the excitement of art supplies going on sale this week for Black Friday, don't worry! You're not alone.

To help simplify your shopping, here is a comprehensive list of all of the supplies I am currently using in my own studio, with links to find them on Amazon (but please shop local if you can). 

An important note: I'm really not a fan of acrylic or oil gift sets if you're planning to continue with your art in the long run. I'm talking about those paint sets that come with a million tiny tubes of paint in all colours of the rainbow. Predictably, you will quickly use up all of the anchor colours, and be left with colours that may be utterly useless. 

Then, if you're like me, you'll spend precious mental energy trying to figure out how to use those leftover colours, because you don't want to buy more paint in the actual colours you need when you've got a perfectly good tube of lime green. 

That being said, if you do want to grab a nice set from a reputable company (ie. Liquitex, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham & Co., Gamblin), there's nothing wrong with using this as an opportunity to start with a set as a foundation, while anticipating that you will need to buy larger tubes of your core colours. 

Without further ado, let's dive into my favourite art supplies!

To peruse my full Amazon shop, you can click the link here. For individual supplies, keep reading!

Acrylic & Oil Paint:

Core colours to buy: I haven't linked each paint colour individually, only the brand, but most have a drop down menu or can be searched. My core colours are titanium white, ultramarine blue*, burnt umber, quinacridone magenta, hansa yellow light OR cadmium yellow light, cadmium red medium.

*ultramarine blue sometimes comes in red or green shades, or sometimes just plain ultramarine. If you have to pick, I prefer ultramarine blue in the red shade.

Additional colours: burnt sienna, phthalo blue (green shade), dioxazine purple, sap green, mars black (for painting the side of your canvas).

Favourite brands of paint:

Acrylic: Liquitex basics, Winsor & Newton Galeria, Grumbacher AcademyLiquitex Professional, Golden, Winsor & Newton.

Oil: Winsor & Newton, Gamblin, M. Graham & Co.

Oil paints don't tend to have as many student grade options available, and I cannot vouch for water soluble oils because I don't use them, but if the thought of cleaning traditional oil paint out of brushes is detrimental, I recently discovered that you can just use Murphy Oil Soap and it works like a charm.

Favourite brushes: 

Silver Brush Ltd, Royal & Langnickel, Princeton. My favourite brushes are long handled filberts, followed by flats. I typically only use rounds for detail work. 

Silver definitely has the priciest set of brushes, but they're worth it if you are willing to take good care of them. 

Favourite canvases:

Winsor & Newton, I typically use a gallery profile unless I know that the piece will be framed, in which case I will use a regular profile. 

Gouache & Watercolour:

Sets are no problem when it comes to watercolour or gouache, as most are sold in sets with pans or tubes and you can use almost all of the colours they come with. 

Favourite gouache paint: Holbein, Schminke

Favourite watercolour paint: Winsor & Newton (if you have room in your budget, go for the professional level, but the Cotman student grade works great and is what I use), Daniel Smith

Favourite brushes: Silver Brush Ltd.


Favourite sketchbook for painting/multimedia: Stillman & Birn, Beta series if you like cold press paper and Zeta series if you like hot press (which is what I use). 

Favourite sketchbook for drawing: Moleskine. It just looks classic. There's a reason these books have a cult following. I am currently experimenting with painting into a plain version of one of these...I'll be writing more about this later.

Favourite pens: Uniball Signo Ultra Micro 207, Zebra F301

Favourite acrylic ink: Liquitex Professional, I use transparent burnt umber and Prussian blue the most. 


Are there any of your favourite art supplies that I've missed that you would recommend as a gift? Let me know in the comments below! 


  • Nadine

    Hi Marianne,
    I discovered your Youtube channel and love your sketchbook acrylic painting!
    Now I want to start with acrylic painting in sketchbooks too and already bought your sketchbook recommendation. Now I need brushes! What brush sizes do you recommend for an A4 sized sketchbook? Size 6, or smaller/bigger?
    Thank you so much!
    Greetings from Germany,
    Marianne Vander Dussen replied:
    I’m so happy you found me, Nadine!!!

    I’d go for a wide variety of brushes, you certainly will be on the smaller side for sketchbooks but my favourite shape is the filbert. It’s nice and versatile, maintain soft edges but still allows you to do some good blends. Size wise, you’ll probably be in the 4-6 range for a large chunk of it, but you might want some larger ones (8-12) for larger areas and blending.

    The smaller brush that you see, the pointier one, is a silver brush, round size 2. The larger filberts that I used to do the blends were size 10.

    I hope this is helpful, happy painting!

    Marianne Vander Dussen, MEd, OCT Artist and Educator www.mariannevanderdussen.com www.youtube.com/mariannevanderdussen

  • Angel

    It’s very helpful
    Marianne Vander Dussen replied:
    You’re so welcome!

  • Janina

    I have tried Murphy’s Oil Soap and I have not found it anywhere as good as Country Chic’ Paint’s Brush Soap, which lives by my sink! It is great for any kind of paint, and especially wonderful for oil paint. It also conditions your brushes. I recommend it highly.
    Marianne Vander Dussen replied:
    Amazing! I’ll definitely check it out!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published