Why are good materials important?
A brush that behaves more like a club than a soft tool to spread colorful paint, a crayon that puts down so little pigment than it has no impact, or a piece of paper that tears with erasing and redrawing can shut a child down. Risk-taking stops, confidence fades, and the pleasure of creative experimentation is needlessly robbed.
It’s usually not obvious...the child will simply say, “Oh no, I don’t really like painting/drawing/whatever...” or “I don’t want to do that today.” Meanwhile, they just think they aren’t very good at it, or they’re frustrated by it. Never occurs to them that I/EYE couldn’t paint with that crummy brush either!
The best non-toxic materials made for children are not necessarily more expensive. They just work better, boosting kids’ success, confidence and experimentation.
The one exception is brushes. I recommend a brush that’s more expensive than you might choose on your own. Well cared for, they last a long time! (Project directions tell you how.)
Artist & Craftsman Supply in Philadelphia cooperates with Eyeball It!® by offering Materials Kits at a significant discount. All are materials I’ve tested extensively with kids.
A one-child package for a family (with optional extra tools) or a larger package for organization use with a group of 10-15 kids.
Purchasing the Materials Kit is optional. Please don’t let the cost of materials keep you and kids from doing the Projects!! (Look around with a creative eye…for example, those giant brown paper leaf bags can be cut open flat and used for big tempera paintings.)
If you decide to work with what you have, filling in where needed, what’s most important?
– Big pad of 18”x 24” white drawing paper. The two brands I recommend that tolerate lots of kid-level abuse are Canson and Borden & Reilly. Look for 55-60 lb. weight.
– High-quality scissors with sharp, safe blades good for both right- and left-handers. I recommend Fiskars “Kids Classic 5” scissors”. For those 4th-7th graders with bigger hands, Fiskars “7-inch Student Scissors”. Both are available online.
– A couple of good brushes in different sizes. White nylon brushes that work quite well are often available in packs at office supply stores. Make sure one of the brushes comes to a point. Avoid the yellower, stiffer bristle brushes with flat ends.
Note for organizations:
1) The Materials Kit for 10-15 young artists will be enough for a group that size to complete all the Projects and Drawing Exercises 3 times. That may sound confusing, but the key factor is how may kids are working at once.
Example 1: if you’re running the program with 3 groups (each with 10-15 kids) at different times, all in one summer, one Materials Kit will do the job.
Example 2: if you’re running the program in 3 subsequent seasons – like fall, winter, spring – with a group of 10-15 kids, one Kit will do the job.
2) Many organizations (a public library, for example) don’t have all the extra equipment needed for easy art-making and easy clean-up. We’ve compiled the List of Equipment For Groups to help you out!
Important: Neither Eyeball It!® nor the author receives any financial gain from the sale of art materials. My goal is to help kids succeed!