art tools and materials


Art tools and materials are things used by artists to create artworks. Artists use different tools and materials. Today they usually buy all tools and materials in special art supplies stores. Artists also collect objects and materials from their environment. Sometimes they use a lot of everyday objects, objects found in nature, like sand, soil, etc. to create an artwork. Some artists also use their body as a material, and their actions, their speech and movements can become an artwork. Even a game can be an artwork.



In the past, there weren’t any art stores full of art tools and materials. Artists had to put a lot of effort into getting all the tools and materials they needed. It was especially difficult for painters to get paints and pigments. They had to buy pigments and mix the paints themselves. Pigments were made from different coloured soils and by rubbing and treating various minerals. Some of them were very difficult to get, because they were very rare and were also often very expensive.

Painter Jože Tisnikar lived and worked in the 20th century, when most artists were already buying paints in stores, but he was an exemption to the rule. He learned to mix colours using the egg tempera technique, which was used by the old masters of the past up until the 15th century by painting on a wood base. In the 15th century the Dutch painters started to paint with oil paints on a piece of canvas that was stretched across a structural frame.

Today most painters use oil or acrylic paints that are made in factories.

If you want, you can try to mix an egg tempera colour yourself. You need only an egg yolk, some vinegar and some pigment. You don’t have to buy expensive pigments in the art supplies store – for your home experiment you can use chalk ground down to a powder.

Have a look at the video and you’ll see how an egg tempera colour is made.



Look at some examples of artworks that are made with different techniques and using different materials.

Vlado Martek

Letters, words or sentences can also be used as material for artists to express themselves visually. Words can become images and messages can become artworks.

“Write its name on everything you buy or have” is the message artist Vlado Martek has for  us.

That’s what he was doing himself. On a house he wrote the word “house”, for example.

But, he also wrote the wrong names on some objects to puzzle viewers, and to make the viewers think about them.

He invites you to do the same. Follow his advice and write real names – or just invent names you would like to give to the object you see.

Lada Cerar & Sašo Sedlaček

The artists travelled by plane, from Europe to the East, and they noticed different types of toilets in different countries. They remembered Slavoj Žižek writing about different types of toilets, and his thesis that you can recognize different national characters through different types of toilets.  The artists counted five different types of toilets, and used textile workers in India to embroider their sketches of those toilets.  They also made a video about the sewing procedure behind gobelin tapestries.

Štefan Marflak

An artist who makes paintings not only with paints on canvas, but by putting different objects from his surroundings on the canvas. He comes from the town of Ravne, where the iron factory provides work for the majority of inhabitants there, so he often includes iron as a material in his work.

Jože Tisnikar

was a self-taught artist. He learned how to mix egg-tempera paints by reading about it in books. Sometimes he mixed substances he had on hand at the moment, because in the early years of his career he did not have enough money to buy expensive materials to paint with. The result is art made with paints that create very special atmospheres in his paintings.

Unfortunately, he was very mysterious about the substances he used to combine in the egg tempera technique. That’s why restorers today have a lot of problems when they have to try and restore some of his artworks. 

Antoni Tàpies

and the Arte Povera artists add lot of everyday objects in their works, objects found in nature, like sand, soil, etc. Look at some works created by Antoni Tàpies and pay special attention to the materials he used to create them. 

Bruno Munari

For artist Bruno Munari, it was important not only to see art, but also to play with it – to play art.

One of his artworks, Flexy, was born in 1968 in his studio in Milan. Its body is made of steel and weighs 40 grams.

When alone, Flexy is still, but when you play with it, it can take any number of forms. It can transform from 2D to 3D and back, it can move in various directions and assume different magnificent spatial forms. They all depend on your guidance and the imagination you bring to this open game.Bruno Munari




In this artwork by Dadamaino, nothing is determined in advance, but numerous combinations can emerge before our eyes.

We only have to follow the artist’s invitation to freely move the red plastic cubes that slide on nylon treads. This way we can create a different image every time we change the position of one cube. By moving the cubes and changing the image you participate in the creation of this artwork!

“Discovering Art” is an educational portal where you can discover interesting facts about art and museums of art.

The online portal Discovering Art is the collaborative effort of four institutions:

Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Fundació Antoni Tàpies from Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška from Slovenj Gradec.

The portal is part of the European project Performing the Museum.