Published On: 28/09/20221577 words7.9 min read

Which art materials we use and why

Let’s start with the basics. There are so many types of drawing supplies, papers, paints and brushes that it can be difficult to know what to choose for kids art lessons, and then there is the budget to consider. Some art materials are very expensive, some are worth the money and some are not. How can you tell? I have been making art as a professional artist and as an art teacher for over 30 years. So here are my thoughts on what to buy and where to spend your money on art materials for primary school art lessons in Australia. 

When it comes to art supplies for kids, lead pencils and oil pastels are classic choices. They’re affordable, easy to find, and versatile. Pencils can be used for drawing and sketching. Oil pastels are another great choice for kids. They’re creamy and smooth, making them easy to blend. Plus, they come in a wide variety of colours. Paint sticks are another popular option. They offer vibrant colours and can be used on a variety of surfaces. Plus, they’re mess-free and easy to use. 

Drawing Basics


We use 2B pencils for drawing. They have a softer lead than HB pencils and you can create shadows and depth. HB pencils are good for sketching out ideas as they are easier to erase and make edits. 2B pencils are good for drawing when you want shading and tone but are more difficult to erase if kids press hard when drawing. We buy from Oxlades as they have a bulk purchase pack. 

Oil Pastels

We buy the biggest packs possible to get the best range of colours, so packs of 48. We use Micador or Zart oil pastels and purchase them from Educational Art Supplies or Oxlades. We also buy packs of just white and just black oil pastels from Zart as these are needed for many projects and in-class sets. 

Coloured Pencils

We use Faber Castell Classic sets of 24 pencils, or there is also the Crayola coloured pencils 24 pack which is cheaper. Officeworks often has them both on special during the back-to-school time in January. These are often school list items so kids may have their own. 

Portrait pencils

These are sets of skin colours that are great for portrait drawing, desert landscapes, shells and animals. Mont Marte has skin colour pencils or splurge on Prisma colour portrait sets for your older students. 


We only use these Faber Castell sets occasionally and purchase just the basic colours, mostly for Kinder drawing projects. 

Permanent Markers

We use the Sharpie brand and purchase from Officeworks or sometimes the supermarket has them on special. The bulk packs are the best value. We use fine and ultra-fine for drawing and outlining. They are permanent markers so the ink won’t run when you put edicol dye, watercolours, or acrylic paints over the top.  we use these a lot in the art room and would consider them an essential purchase. 

We also have them in colour sets. There are often special releases of various colour sets and we stock up when they are on special. Officeworks has big sets on sale every so often. We use these occasionally. 


We only use textas or coloured markers occasionally and school list brands seem comparable. Officeworks or supermarkets tend to be cheaper to purchase from but shop around. These are often school list items so kids may have their own set. 

Drawing extras

Paint Sticks

These are a relatively new drawing/painting medium. They are available in many brands and all we have tried seem to work well. We use Little Brian or Zart brands. Paint sticks are a creamy textured paint stick, and they wind up like lipstick. They are a great way to get lots of colour and texture with virtually no mess! We love them for our K-2 classes, and all the kids right up to grade 6 like using them too. 

They come in mixed colours and again we buy the widest range we can. We also love the Warm Earth and Cool Ocean colour packs from Zart. I was hesitant to spend the dollars on these when they first came out thinking they wouldn’t last long but they last well so have been a great addition to the art supply cupboard. 

Bingo Dabbers or Daubers

These are dot markers that are available in several colours. They are used to mark off the numbers in bingo but also make a great little art material. We mainly use them for the K-2 classes. They can add interest to backgrounds and are great for dot-day art! We purchased ours in bulk on eBay. Amazon stocks them as well, and prices will vary. They typically come in 4 to 6 colours, red, yellow, blue, orange, purple and green. The Dab-o-Ink brand can also be used as an ink marker to draw with. 

Soft Pastels

We have many sets of the Mungyo brand. They come in half-size pastels in 64 colours or full-size pastels in 48 or 24 colours. We have sets of all three. We have also purchased smaller, inexpensive soft pastel sets from Daiso that seem to work well. If you are setting up an art room and are going to bulk purchase soft pastels, wait for the sales. They can be up to 50% off. Riot Art online seems to have them on sale every year. Soft pastels are a more expensive item. 

Gel Pens

Sets of gel pens can be purchased relatively inexpensively. These are a good drawing medium for grades 3 to 6. They come in white and a huge range of colours from brights to fluoros, glitter and metallic pens. These are great for adding detail over watercolour and to drawings. They have a ballpoint like a writing pen so a fine tip for detail. We purchase ours from Officeworks or places like Target that stock kids’ art supplies. 

Paint Pens

These are expensive! I have tried tyre markers (not great) through many brands including Life of Colour (an Australian Brand) and the Rolls Royce of paint pens, Posca. Tyre markers were cheap but leaked a lot and had transparent colours so don’t waste your time with these. Life of Colour paint pens are good, they come in several different sets with fine or medium nibs. The best and most expensive brand is Posca

Posca don’t clog up as easily as other brands. They have a wonderful range of colours with a variety of tips. The paint colours are opaque, and they write on most surfaces such as plastic, metal, paper, canvas etc. We have fine, medium, and wide tip sets. They don’t ever seem to be on sale. We found the cheapest option was a bulk set from Amazon.  

Paint pens are worth the investment, we use them in a wide variety of projects. They will create opaque colours over acrylic paintings and dry-like acrylic paint. They are a great way for years 3 to 6 to add fine detail to their work. We also use them for sculpture, masks, drawings and many other projects. If your budget is tight, we recommend buying a few sets at a time to gradually build up your supply. 


Cartridge paper is a great basic for drawing and a lot of other art projects. It comes in a slightly creamy colour or white. We buy in bulk, 500 sheets, 110gsm from Oxlades. There is also a heavier-weight cartridge paper at 200gsm which is twice the price and good for more heavy-duty art projects. Cartridge paper is like sulphite paper in the USA. Some cartridge paper pills (makes little round balls of paper on the surface) if used for watercolour, so it’s always a good idea to try it out first. 

Discounts on Art Supplies

Schools and art clubs can get discounts on many art supplies by setting up an account or using purchase orders. 

Monte Marte has accounts for schools with wholesale prices. Minimum quantities apply to all materials purchased. They are based in QLD so factor in freight as well.

Oxlades are one of our favourite suppliers, based in QLD and Perth, they have a good range, competitive prices and low freight cost. 

Some art teacher friends love Art Basics. They do online ordering for schools but with the freight cost, you need to do a large order for the entire year to make it worthwhile. 

Zart has a wide range of art materials and they can be ordered online. They produce a number of materials themselves and the ones we have used have been good quality. They have some great $1 sale specials where you can purchase end-of-line materials. 

Riot Stores have art and craft supplies available online. They have some great specials, at the time of writing this they have 44% off Mungyo Soft Pastels!

So, there you have it. Our definitive list of art materials we prefer for primary school art lessons, and where to get them cost-effectively. To make your life easier, all our art lesson plans include information on exactly which materials you’ll need for each project, so you can be even more organised. Become a member today for access to over 50 lesson plans for K-6 students, or see our individual art lesson plans for single-purchase plans.

Take a look at our Art Room Materials List for a comprehensive  list of the supplies we use most in art classes for Kinder to year 6. Art Room Materials List


Latest Articles

Popular kids art lessons for teachers and ideas for the artroom