This article provides guidance for teachers who need to equip a classroom for high school Painting / Fine Art students – or for students who wish to purchase their own art supplies, ensuring that they are well-prepared for their high school Art course. Papers and other materials are recommended by Amiria Robinson, an experienced teacher of Cambridge IGCSE and A Level Art & Design.
General Purpose Drawing and Painting Papers
Wet Strength Cartridge Paper 130gsm
This is a standard cartridge paper, suitable for almost all drawing and painting exercises. It is suitable for wet and dry mediums, sketches, composition plans and quick exploratory exercises. An ample supply should be available for students in A3 and A2 sizes.
Wet Strength Cartridge Paper 180gsm
A sturdier and heavier weight paper than above, this is suitable for almost all drawing and painting exercises. It is especially useful for important artworks or those which require a heavier, stronger painting surface. (A1 sheets are also suitable for mounting preparatory work on if posting away for assessment). An ample supply of this paper should be available in A3 size.
Wet Strength Cartridge Paper 230gsm
This strong and heavy paper provides a sturdy base to work over and is suitable for supporting textural elements within a painting. Erasing lines can disturb the surface on this paper, so it is less useful for graphite drawings (however producing a rendered drawing on this paper is possible if an eraser is not used). This paper is typically used by students for final pieces and important preparatory artworks. An ample supply of this paper should be available for students, although its use may need to be monitored to minimise wastage (this paper is more expensive than the two above).
Supplementary papers, cardboard and other painting or drawing Surfaces
In addition to the papers described above, the following materials (or their equivalent) should be available in smaller quantities. These materials are used in whole sheets for individual artworks or are torn into smaller pieces to use for mixed media backgrounds in sketchbook pages or artwork.
This is the same paper that is used to make brown paper bags. It is great for using as a mid-tone in charcoal drawings. A relatively inexpensive paper, this is best purchased in a thicker weight (i.e. 140gms) and in A3 reams.
Black Drawing Cartridge
Useful for dry mediums, such as white charcoal, this is an essential paper for students to experiment with. A light weight paper is usually all that is needed for dry drawing mediums, however, heavier papers such as black Malmero paper, 145gsm, or Stonehenge are also available. (Note: Do not use black sugar paper – this lightens rapidly when exposed to sunlight).
Watercolour Paper, such as Fabriano 200gsm
Only a few sheets of this paper are needed, so that students can experiment using watercolours and other liquid mediums (unless, of course, students are specialising in water colours – in which case much more is needed)!
Assorted Textured Papers
Handmade papers have beautiful textures and are great for incorporating within paintings. It is also also possible to purchase assorted packs of machine-made textured papers which are very useful.