For me, no two years of teaching art had the same classes or schedule. This meant my supply list varied greatly from year to year. However, I always had the same base supplies I ordered regardless of what I was teaching.
Even though your courses may look different than what I taught, I hope this supply list will give you a base for what to order. I ordered almost everything through Blick, we had a local store as well as an online school account. Blick has many fine art supply brands and options. If I couldn’t find what I needed at Blick I sometimes turned to Amazon, Michales, Binders (another local art store), and similar.
I highly recommend putting in an initial supply order BEFORE pre-planning. Typically, I would order my first batch of restocking supplies at the end of the school year, this was the best way to use up the remainder of my budget. When I arrived for pre-planning it was like Christmas morning unboxing my first batch of supplies. During pre-planning, I would order supplies for the first two weeks of projects, if not the entire semester.
If you are new to a school or don’t have any leftover budget from the previous year, I recommend getting in touch with your administrators or bookkeeper to see if you can use a portion of your budget to order supplies now. If they prefer you wait until the school year starts, order supplies on day one.
These are the supplies and brands I ordered most years no matter what my budget was (which ranged from $0 and putting in wish list items to my admin, to thousands of dollars). The quantity will vary based on the number of students you are teaching.
- Class Brush Set
- #2 Pencils: I don’t know why I love these so much, but they are amazing!
- 18″x24″ Drawing Paper Ream
- Pint Size Acrylic Paint Basic Color Set (3-6 depending on your classes sizes) (these are not my preferred brand, see my preferred brand under the big budget list. Some colors are thin and more transparent but can be mixed with white to help. The paint works for those on a budget!)
- Half Gallon of White Acrylic (yes, you need a TON of white)
- For extra cost savings skip the basic color set and get a half gallon of ultramarine blue, primary yellow, bright red, white, and mars black.
- Half Gallon Premium Tempera Paint Basic Color Set
- For extra cost savings purchase the half-gallon primary colors and have students mix colors.
- If you have wiggle room I love to have fluorescent tempera paint colors on hand as well.
- Watercolor set: a little pricier but you can’t beat the price for the color range. Have students share these.
- Cheaper but still a decent watercolor set.
- Watercolor Paper Ream will not have to be ordered every year.
- You can also order a larger watercolor paper size with fewer sheets and cut the paper down as needed, order 22×30 at least 50 of these.
- Elmer’s glue, order 25 or enough for a class (I prefer the 4oz or 7oz bottles, refill as needed. The larger size dries out and gets clogged).
- 1 gallon Elmer’s glue refill in future years to refill bottles.
- Elementary student scissors
- Middle, high school student scissors
- Pink Pearl Erasers: These are also on the donation requests list
- Metal rulers: If you are cutting straight lines with Xactos, you need metal rulers. I prefer longer-size rulers, 18″-24.” You only need to order a handful of these.
- Student rulers: Get a class set of wooden rulers for student use, using the grid, and similar.
- Construction paper: I prefer getting large sizes, 18X24 and cutting them down as needed.
- White printer paper: Use for sketchbooks, scrap paper, and similar. Your school may provide this for you, check before using your budget!
- Scrapbook paper packs: great for collage projects, decorating sketchbooks, and visual journaling.
- 1″ Masking tape: keep a few rolls on hand.
- Packaging tape
Download a PDF of this list for future reference below.
While I taught at a not well funded school I had to get creative with my resources because I wasn’t given a budget for the first 2 years. They allowed me to submit a list of must-haves (pencils and paper) but the rest I had to figure out on my own.
Because of this constraint, I requested students in every class to donate the following supplies. I considered this a class fee and required it as a homework grade. However, I always emphasized that if a student couldn’t bring in supplies for any reason I would exempt them from this no questions asked. 95% of students in my class would bring in supplies and it helped make those consumables last much longer.
- Pack of #2 Pencils
- Pack of Pink Pearl Erasers
- Elmer’s Glue
- Fine Point Black Sharpie OR Ultra Fine Point Black Sharpie
- Scissors: This can be requested every couple of years, request as needed. If you don’t need them one year request neon Sharpies, cosmic Sharpies, basic color Sharpies, secondary color Sharpies, fine Crayola markers, or Crayola marker pack instead.
- 2 Sheets of white posterboard: I used this in my Intro class to have them create a portfolio to store work. This is more useful for lower-level courses that create smaller works of art than advanced courses.
If You Have a Big Budget:
My second art teacher job was at a well-funded private school. I taught in 3 different equally enormous, beautiful studio classrooms. I had a budget I couldn’t believe and I was able to add “big ticket items” to a wish list every year. Most years I got those big-ticket items as well. With that lovely budget, I was able to order just about anything I wanted for my classroom. These are some of the spoils I purchased for my students with those funds:
- Prisma Colored Pencils (150 pencil set)
- Class Drawing Pencil Set (144 pencil set)
- Canvas Panels: I often use 18″x24″ canvas panels, especially in advanced classes. I also often used traditional canvases in advanced and AP classes.
- Mod Podge: Gloss and Matte
- 24 Assorted Pack of Higher quality acrylic paint basic colors (although I prefer the 250 ml tubes)
- 36 Assorted Pack of Quality acrylic paint wide range of colors (although I prefer the 250 ml tubes)
- If you want the 250 ml tubes and order them individually these are my favorite colors Titanium White, Mars Black,Payne’s Gray, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Light Hue, Cadmium Right Medium Hue, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Phthalo Green, Phthalo Blue, Cobalt Blue, Bright Aqua Green, Naples Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange Hue, Yellow Oxide, Dioxazine Purple, Sap Green, Hooker’s Green
- 3-4 Additional 250ml Tubes of White acrylic (yes, you need a lot of white!)
- Paint brush class set: I order these brushes for my advanced classes, I order the set referenced above for all classes.
- Close top palette
- Tube Watercolors: Great for advanced art students to experiment with
- MY FAVORITE ALL TIME WATERCOLORS: Buy this for yourself
- Cold Press Watercolor Paper: I love the texture of cold press paper. I use sheets from this pad for in-depth watercolor practice and the sheets referenced above for practice.
- Hot Press Watercolor Paper: I prefer cold press but keep hot press on hand and give students a choice between the two.
- Waterproof Pens: Great for watercolor projects and drawing projects
- Brush storage system: Order one per student, you only have to do this once and can start with advanced courses. This is my favorite way to assign and keep up with brushes. Read about how I do it here.
- Kneaded Erasers
- All the Sharpie Colors
- Posca Paint Pens, Posca Fine Point Paint Pens
- Heavy Duty Stapler: Great for sketchbook making
- Gelli Plates: I love incorporating printmaking in my classes and Gelli printmaking is a very easy jumping-off point. My favorites are the 8″ rounds, but it’s nice to have a rectangle and square ones as well. You will also need brayers, texture plates, and paint for this project. There is a journal kit you can start with, but I prefer ordering the links above and picking exactly what I want.
If you place an order at the beginning of the school year be sure to consider what you will need on the first day of school! More on that tomorrow.
Whether you are a first-year teacher or a veteran teacher I hope you find information to help the summer to school transition easy for you. While you wait for the first day check out some first day of school project ideas and art projects to keep on hand during the school year.