Inside the Art Box


by Bri Kilroy • photo by Two Eagles Marcus

The art toolbox is the utility belt to those who regularly exercise their artistic super power. Its contents are as diverse as the artwork they help create, but every good art box contains basic supplies that allow the artist to spend less time searching for the right tool and more time exploring the realm of her creativity. Take a tour of my personal art box below and note the long-term members that help me shift from one project to another without having to pause the creative process.

ArtBoxOnline1. Eraser(s)

Keep a fat one for the big mistakes and a thin, retractable one for the errors whose removal requires target precision. White erasers prevent the canvas from discoloring.

2. Q-Tip

These work wonders for soaking up small bits of runaway paint or drips on the canvas. They also serve as a good tool for shading and making texture.

3. Pencils & Sharpener

A set of four ranging from 2H (light and hard) to 4B (dark and soft) on the HB Graphite Scale provides a good range for sketch projects and mapping points and figures on a canvas. Keep a sharpener to keep those leaded beauties on point!

4. Blackboard Chalk

In a shade that’s not white, blackboard chalk lets you sketch out distinctive layers, measurements or features of a picture without risking permanent marks on the canvas.

5. Poster Tape

Place on canvas to block out stark angles or use it to perch a copy of the photo you’re painting on your easel for eye-level reference.

6. Nail

A long, thin one is useful in removing dried paint that is blocking the paint tube’s spout since fingers can’t quite fit within the tiny space.

7. White Charcoal Pencil

Provides a point for controlled, visual detail placements, such as roof tiles on a distant house or the outline of an object in the foreground. The white can easily be painted over or wiped away with a damp cloth.

8. Absorbent Rag or Paper Towel

To pat off your brush after rinsing and absorb excess water from the bristles. The same goes for excess paint that your brush may have picked up.

9. Triangle Ruler

It serves as a measuring device and helps you create perfect right angles when you’re mapping out vanishing points or measuring facial features.

10. Water Cup

To rinse off your brushes while working and keep the paint from drying on the bristles.

11. Paint Brushes

Basic sets include a round brush (for precise strokes), a flat brush (for blending long strokes), a filbert (rounded top), and an angled brush (for shading). As you paint, you develop an idea of what kinds you need.

12. Scissors

Whether it’s an insubordinate brush bristle or you’re working mixed media into your masterpiece, scissors are essential to any tool kit.


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio. This is her actual art box.


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