What artist doesn’t love buying art supplies? In an art supply store I feel like a kid in a candy store. I wish I could go in with a load of cash, crab a cart and fill it to the brink. That’s just a dream for now of course – hopefully someday. I love art materials, and wish I had thousands to spend on them!
Like the vast majority of artists, I have had to find ways of saving money on painting supplies. I have had to search for art supply deals, and only buy tubes of paint and other items that I really need at the time.
10 Money Saving Tips for Painting Materials
- Painting Palettes
Many things can be used as a paint palette. Use meat trays found at grocery stores. The trays from some boxes of chocolates, and Styrofoam or tin foil plates also work very well for this purpose.
- Paint Brushes
There are many ways of saving money on paint brushes. Of course, the number one method is to take proper care of the brushes you already have. Brushes can last years if they are taken care of properly.
Buying cheap paint brushes will also help to save money. Purchase low quality brushes in bulk. They can serve a variety of purposes that can help to preserve your more expensive paint brushes. Only purchase brush sizes that you often use instead of buying many sizes. Using palette knives for painting also can help to save on brushes.
- Tubes of Paint
Use paint sparingly. Only place colors and amounts that is needed to make maximum use of the paint.
Learn to mix colors. Buy primary colors in bulk (and when they go on sale), and use them to mix various colors. Not only will it save on buying tubes of paint, but you will learn how to mix paint colors.
Large tubes of paint. A large tube of paint costs much less than the same amount in smaller tubes. Plus, you may save much more than you realize, since prices go up.
- Paint Smaller Paintings
A smaller painting is much less costly than a larger one. The canvas is cheaper, and there is normally less paint used. Plus, it is much easier to sell. Check out this post to find out about smaller paintings: Creating Smaller Paintings to Sell More
- Reuse Canvases and Stretchers
There are many paintings that I have created that were experiments, or did not turn out the way I liked. Some of these I have painted over with white paint, and started over again. Another thing I like to do is rework old paintings with a new idea, and keep some of the elements of the first painting. A canvas never goes to waste!
Stretching your own canvases instead of buying pre-stretched canvases will save a lot of money, and can be a good experience. The minimal materials needed are a length of canvas, strips of wood, nails, staples, and braces for the corners. Search for tutorials online for constructing a stretcher, and stretching canvas. I may even write a tutorial here sometime on this. (If you want one, please comment below)
Another way to save money on canvases and stretchers is to paint on other surfaces. A friend of mine in art school used bed sheets instead of canvas. Nearly any surface can be used to paint on. Many artists paint on wood or board instead of canvas. This can be economical, since it is not too difficult to go to a local lumber store, and request a large sheet of plywood to be cut into smaller sections.
- Save Money with Gesso
Buy gesso in the largest container to save money. Something which I have often done is use interior flat white latex paint, instead of gesso for painting over reused canvases.
- Plan an Artwork
Do preparatory sketches for paintings and sculptures beforehand to cut down on experimentation with actual materials. This will not only save money, but time. Work out your palette of colors and composition before even beginning a painting. Then, complete the painting in stages, with a under-painting, and building up tones and details. This depends on your personal process of course. Whatever your way of creating art, there are always ways of planning and minimizing expenses.
- Look for Art Supply Deals and Sales
Most art supply stores have them. Michaels and some other art stores have money saving coupons. Go through the bargain bins at your local art supply store. Signup for email newsletters from popular art supply stores, who sometimes offer exclusive deals for email subscribers.
- Art Supply Gifting
Ask for art supplies as birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, etc. For myself, there is nothing better I would like to receive as a gift (well, besides a car, :) - but that’s unrealistic)
- Search Art Supplies on Ebay
Art supplies are generally very cheap at Ebay. Sometimes people auction off a bunch of their partly used art supplies for a very cheap price. Keep a lookout for these auctions, especially if you like buying things from Ebay.
These are just a few ways I have managed to save some money on art supplies over the years. This is directly related to painting. If you use a medium other than painting, what things have you done to save money on art supplies?
Please share your experiences and any cost saving tips with us!