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Art on a Budget

Updated on December 23, 2011

Finding Your Supplies

As an artist, keeping supplies in stock can be hard on the budget, especially if you are experiencing financial hardship. Not to worry! Some simple tricks can take the strain off your budget and keep you creating.

If you're just starting out you might want to begin by looking around your home for supplies.

For drawing look for: Pencils (the numbers on the sides eg, No.2, tell you how hard of soft the 'lead' of the pencil is look for as many different numbers as possible), pens, felt tipped markers, erasers, emory boards, crayons, plastic pencil sharpeners, cotton swabs, a bit of soft leather or soft suede, colored pencils, powdered eye shadow, are all just examples of the supplies you can use that you might already have. Keep your eyes peeled for any burned wood or brush near your home. You might be able to use pieces of burned vines for charcoal! You can draw on all kinds of paper: graph paper, newsprint, plain brown wrapping paper, end pages from old books, poster board, stationary, scrapbook pages, blank journals,to name a few. My grandfather sketched on the backside of the oilcloth table cover my grandmother kept on the kitchen table. He flipped it over, grabbed a pen or pencil and went to town! When the cloth was replaced the backside of the old one had sketches all around the edges.

If you're a painter here's what to look for around the house: children's watercolors, acrylic craft paints (yes you can use these on canvas or heavy paper and they blend nicely), small brushes including make-up brushes (check your makeup bag for powder eye shadow applicators, eyeliner brushes, blush brushes, etc) and even house painting brushes, sponges of all shapes and sizes (can be cut up and used as brushes too), rubber cement (keeps paint off selected areas when working with watercolors), heavy papers, old canvas paintings ( for painting over). If you work on canvas you might want to look for old paintings on stretchers, carefully remove the canvas and re-use the stretchers by getting some primed canvas yardage for them.

Shopping for supplies doesn't have to leave you broke either. When shopping make your first stop at discount stores that sell items for a dollar. Look in the stationary section, they often have sketch pads, blank journals, different types of paper and lots of pencils and writing supplies that you can use for your drawing. Check the mailing section for plain brown wrapping paper.

You next stop should be your local thrift and second-hand stores. These places have a wide variety of gently used art supplies. The downside is that they don't usually have an art section so you will have to take your time searching so be prepare to spend some time here.Be methodical and look throughout the store. Try the office supplies area, the book section, the children's toys section, and the crafts section (usually this is in the area where yardage and sewing notions are kept) look in this area for primed canvas too! If they have an area with bagged items, look carefully through these. I have found pastels, charcoal sticks, artist's pencils, oils, acrylics, and watercolor tubes, many unusued. Also check the picture frames section for blank canvas, art boards, drawing boards, easels, frames, mats and masonite pieces which are also a good painting surface and great for drawing boards.

Lastly, for making-it-yourself: Portfolios for storing drawings. You can make a nifty portfolio with some posterboard and duct tape! Lay two sheets of posterboard (or any heavy art board you can get, you can also double the poster board two sheets for each side) side by side on the floor or on a table. You will be taping the two (or the doubles) together with the duct tape. First tape the top edges (these will not be taped together, this is your opening) individually. Then put the two together with the taped edges at the top. Match the edges up so they are square. Then tape the edges by carefully cutting the duct tape to fit each side edge. Do this on all three sides. TaaDaa!! You have a portfolio! Not beautiful, but it will keep your drawings flat and protected. For more support you can run a band of duct tape around horizontally and then vertically. You can fashion a handle by starting just off center at the bottom attach the duct tape tape vertically and leave enough tape to form a 'handle' then make a 'U' and work your way back down to the bottom leaving a space down the center between the tape. Do this on both sides aligning the tape on both sides so they are oriented in the center. Wrap the 'U' loop with more tape to form the handle. You can reinforce the bottom and sides with more tape if you like. That's it!

If you have experience with art you will know what to do with the supplies listed here. If you are new to art, search online for drawing or art supplies and you will be able to match the stuff listed here with their suggested supplies and then be able to learn what they are used for.

Happy hunting!


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