Must it be costly to be creative? It does not have to be! First of all, you can be creative coloring with your kids, dancing, journaling or drawing a chalk village on a sidewalk.
However, I was recently given a reason to pause as someone asked about the materials cost for my upcoming workshop.
If you purchase every item, it could impact your pocketbook. There are alternatives!
As I grew up, I was fortunate. My mother and uncle always had a houseful of supplies, and I could experiment. Over the years I have certainly replaced and added to my collection. I always look online through at least 3 major sellers: Dick Blick, Jerry’s Artarama and Cheap Joe’s. Today online prices are standardized, and companies compete for business.
I always accept offered gifts of art materials and often donate mine to other artists. Some art associations run a shop featuring donated supplies.
My studio as it looks NOW, full of supplies I have collected.
If you want to experiment with a new medium, explore the options. I bought Golden acrylics at a friend’s art/garage sale. She was giving up acrylics for oils. I also borrowed a “Sta-wet palette” before buying it because I didn’t believe it would really keep acrylics wet for several weeks in the desert. It does! Seeing is believing.
I very often look for sales. It’s a game, but it saves money.
When I was young, we shopped at Standard Brands Paint Store (a Torrance based chain which eventually went bankrupt). Those days are gone.
Today, I shop Big Lots and other discount stores. At certain times of the year, they carry stretched canvas and cheap brushes-some of which are not too bad. I love buying inexpensive Unison mechanical pencils for on the spot sketching – no sharpening required, and you do not lose your eraser!
Home Depot sells “Oops” or “Oopsies”- mixed paints that are not the shade the buyer wanted. Often these pint-sized containers are 50 cents! It takes a while to accumulate a collection of suitable colors, but I find they are great for classes and are often in subtle shades ideal for beginners.
Used art supplies sale, new paint tubes, retro Standard Brands Paint Store
All this being said, don’t skimp on materials if you are serious. When I first began taking workshops, an instructor was horrified that I was using my mother’s old brushes, and she said I could not paint well with them. Stubbornly, I continued to use some. I actually like some stubby old brushes to “scumble” or sketch with (some people use sticks or branches). However, I also find there is nothing like gifting yourself a lovely new brush!
Using good paint will make a difference. I found that my acrylic paintings were more vibrant when I used better brands such as Golden or even Liquitex. I had always loved the juicy rich color of oil paint. Rich reds, blues, and yellows cannot be substituted! A good medium is important, also.
I just type in “acrylic sets” on Amazon – and my reaction is buyer beware! Liquitex student grade “Basics” is inferior to the same brand’s heave body acrylics. Like many generic products, you must experiment to see what works for you.
If you are painting for fun- a variety of surfaces can be used: old wood, furniture, or sale canvases. Masonite or watercolor paper covered with white gesso makes a wonderful surface.
Learn about your materials! With the ease of Google, knowledge is readily available, but there are some tried and true references such as the many times revised The Artist’s Handbook of Materials & Techniques by Ralph Mayer.
Sometimes, buying a set of paint is the best way to go-but buyer beware!
If you have kids, surround them with the art supplies you can afford. The biggest expense is your time and the mess! 😉,
Your creative investment rewards your soul! Not all hobbies require money, but they do require time. Drawing and painting can be an exercise in meditation, like yoga or prayer for the creative spirit. Most artists feel they must create. They are happiest when surrounded by a variety of colors and textures. Sports require equipment. Attending theater or film has a price. Although the best things in life are, indeed, free, many go more smoothly with a collection of the right and lovingly cared for tools.
Above: Allow kids to experiment-blackboard for drawing with colored chalk; amazing art space for a child; Matisse in his studio; Cezanne's studio (perfect - on my wish list); my desk today and last, but not least, maybe toooo much organization can stifle creativity!
Note: The last 15 months have challenged us! This month I encourage you to learn from the isolation and I wish you a cautious, but joyous June reopening!
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