7 Tips for the artist on a budget

Buy on Sale to save money on Art Supplies

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”

~Thomas Merton

If you want to get started with art or struggling to pursue art on a budget, then here are 7 easy tips to help you get started and sustain your cherished hobby on a budget plus allow you to express your creativity.

# Work with what you have in your art stash

It’s so easy to give in to buying art materials thinking that more art materials you own, better would be your artwork.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are many ways to create good artwork with limited art materials and tools. Have a look at this limited palette painting created by artist John Magne Lisondra. His videos show how he’s able to create beautiful paintings buts with a limited palette made of 3 primary colours, white and black.

Watch a free demo by John Magne Lisondra on Basic Colour Mixing :

# Buy the best in your budget

There is no need to give up on art because of unaffordable art materials or cheap ones that set you up for failure. Cheap paints are often meant for children and so contain less pigment and more binder – which means you will need more paint and thus get less value for money. Try to buy the best you can afford. Then when possible, you can add a good quality White and Payne’s grey to your stash which will help in creating strong contrasts in your artworks.


Source: http://Image by tookapic from Pixabay

# Start Small

Following on the tip to buy the best you can afford, consider starting with smaller and standard sizes in surfaces to paint/draw on. As Gary Gumble[1], (founder of BeginningArtist.com) explains “You can save money and still achieve wonderful art on a budget by thinking small. Whether drawing in a sketchbook or doing a painting, you can still use your imagination, develop your drawing and design skills and exercise your creativity”. Buying smaller surfaces may enable you to buy greater quantities at lower prices. This way you can keep practising and build your skills before you get to that bigger sized canvas on which you’ve always wanted to create your masterpiece!


Source: http://Image by Daniel Kirsch from Pixabay

# Go green – recycle and up-cycle

Find alternatives for paint supplies. Explore the hidden potential in unconventional items found in salvage yards and op shops. Old metal pans and garden tools make excellent surfaces for oils, acrylic and variety of permanent marker pens.


Check out the following link: http://mertensfrontierranch.com/cast_iron_skillets_and_shovels


Rocks, shoes, old guitars and ukeleles – all make great surfaces to paint on.


Examine the plastics that are going in your recycle bin – question if these can be reused for paint storage or water containers to clean brushes. You could also recycle your canvases by gesso-ing them. As Gumble suggests, “If you are not yet at a stage where you can sell your work, you can do art on and with almost anything. You could draw on kraft paper, for instance, or other perishable or light-sensitive materials until you reach a point where you want your work to last”.


Artist Lee Hammond [2]discusses on her blog on how her ‘favourite palette is one that she found at the corner Dollar Store. A tray made for condiments or chips came with a very slick plastic surface, enabling the paint to peel right off. Being lightweight, it was also easy to hold, and the wells in it were perfect for mixing colours. Being plastic she found it was great to use for both oils and acrylics’.


So look for unconventional surfaces to express your creativity, save money while helping reduce waste going into landfill!


Source: http://Image by stuart hampton from Pixabay

# Up skill with the web

If you’re lacking skills to paint a particular subject then hop online and search. The web offers an abundance of information and you can find a variety of resources to suit skills of any level. From paid online tutorials, eBooks to free videos of art techniques, it’s all available and quite a few for free. For example, YouTube has free tutorials where many artists generously share their skills and showcase their work. Make use of this generosity and aim to pay it forward.

Source: http://Image by John Iglar from Pixabay

# The smart way to shop and save on art supplies

Websites such as eBay and online school art supplies stores have bulk buy specials running a few times annually… which is a fantastic opportunity to shop in bulk and stock up for the year!  Networking with community art groups and joining them is a great way to find like-minded individuals and form a group to bulk buy art materials. Shipping costs get shared and the costs per item can at times be significantly lower than even the dollar stores.

Source:http://Image by Pexels from Pixabay

# Mind over matter: There’s a way around everything if you put your mind to it 

And the last one…Not quite an art tip but an apt quote for anyone who’s struggling to create something in life but faced with limitations. So apart from budget constraints, other aspects (such as undesired life situations, creative blocks, or lack of skills) can make it challenging to achieve the results you seek. Someone I once knew in the arts scene, always reminded us that it’s possible to find solutions if we took a chance at pursuing our goals despite the hurdles.

This particular lady (the inspiration for this tip) had lost her ability to walk after numerous surgeries over a decade. But she was well-known in the community for her positive attitude, smile and zest for life. Her mobility issues did not stop or define her – or rather she didn’t allow it to. She was a familiar sight around the town on her gopher, handing out lollies, stopping to say hello and spreading sunshine!

At our weekly art meet, she would struggle to get off her gopher and into our art studio… but the smile never left her face. And when she finally made it to her designated spot – she would thank those around her and then add ‘there’s a way around everything if you put your mind to it”.

So whatever is preventing you from creating, stop and look around. Ask yourself what else you might do to get around the problem. If you don’t seek cost-effective solutions to art expression, you’ll never find innovative ways to continue creating unhindered by budget constraints.

And while you’re ‘finding’ and ‘seeking’ ways to nurture your creative side on a budget, enjoy the process. Leave the outcomes to a bit of serendipity and magic.

Warm regards
Soma M Datta
Founder of tranquilcanvas.com.au

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[1] https://www.beginningartist.com/art-on-a-budget.html


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