This month's roundup of the best tools for traditional artists has a bit of travel theme. We've rounded up the best new holiday reads (plus a book that takes you on a vicarious trip to Italy), ideas for mixed-media projects, and a couple of new releases celebrating the work of two great modern artists.
We also found some great travel sets, so you can take your art outdoors and on the road: there's a limited edition Moleskine to note down all the ideas travel inspires, and a new bag from Tate Modern to keep them all in. Finally, we have some of your favourite artists as you've never seen them before.
Everyone from Van Gogh and Picasso to Chatwin and Hemingway used Moleskines to note down ideas while on the road. This new limited edition bundle features graphics by the late, great American artist Keith Haring and includes a collector's pen and notebook, with customised end-papers and a sheet of stickers.
02. Ophelia tote
This cotton tote bag – new in the Tate Modern gift shop – features a section of Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais’ Ophelia. We're ignoring the fact that the full painting depicts one of the saddest scenes in one of Shakespeare's most tragic tragedies, because this tote focuses on poppies and daisies, which are nice and summery.
The Resourceful Artist has everything you need to get into collage and mixed media. There are step-by-step guides, tool lists, tips, ideas, materials and finishes, suitable for "enthusiasts and design professionals who love to experiment with new paths." It also includes a section showing you how to create small, domestic photographic sets with easy-to-make lighting effects.
A new edition of Andrew Hunter's best-selling book on the late Alex Colville. The Canadian artist's paintings "depict an elusive tension, a deep sense of danger, capturing moments perpetually on the edge of the unknown," Hunter says. The author shows how the artist's work connects to the films of everyone from Stanley Kubrick to Wes Anderson. Inspiring stuff.
If your summer holiday is still months away, then travel vicariously through Italy with artists like Lorrain, Bonington and Turner. This 96-page book, put together by Julian Brooks (senior curator at Getty Museum), is "a narrated assemblage of some of these beautiful views, which transport the reader effortlessly to Italy, rekindling memories, setting intentions, or provoking curiosity."
06. Van Gogh set
If those artists' views of Italy get you charged up for a bit of en plein air, then this beginner’s set has everything you need. It includes Royal Talens' Van Gogh range acrylics (100 years lightfast), a palette, two paintbrushes, a double-palette cup, acrylic varnish and thinner, and a cleaning cloth, plus a portable wooden case to keep them all in.
If you prefer watercolours – and something a bit easier on the wallet – go for this Winsor & Newton travel bag. It contains 14 half-pans, two brushes, a mixing tray, collapsable water jar, pencil, eraser, and storage case. Plus, you can strap the bag to your waist so you have both hands free to paint. It also comes with a basic guide to painting with watercolours, and a pad of watercolour paper to get you started.
This month's best new coffee-table book celebrates the life and work of Roy De Forest. The American artist's "brightly hued, crazy-quilted paintings and sculptures are dotted with nipples of colour and inhabited by a cast of characters uniquely his own," author Susan Landauer says. It features full-colour reproductions of De Forest's best works, plus rare figure illustrations.
Faber Castell's polychromes are a favourite among professionals – Vincent Van Gogh used them. They are oil-based – as opposed to wax-based like other pencils – which allows you to blend them like oil paints. The colours are lively, and they're tough too. Plus, their lightfastness and high-grade pigments mean they'll last for years. This new set comes 68 pencils in a limited edition, collector's pencil cup.
We've feature ChattyFeet's arty socks before, but the British brand has upped its game with this gift set. The set features some of world's most famous artists – sort of – reimagined and renamed in ChattyFeet's own, inimitable style. Included here are socks titled 'Andy Sock-Hole', 'Feetaso', 'Frida Callus' and 'Vincent Van Toe'. They're unisex and available in all sizes.