If you’re like me, there’s probably a mountain of art supplies sitting in the closet, collecting dust. A good way to save money? Use what you have on hand! Especially for studies and practice work. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a closetful of various supplies: pastels, watercolors, ink, charcoal, colored papers, acrylics… I think artists have a tendency to hoard this stuff–we see it in the store in its pretty packaging, or maybe it’s on sale, and it somehow ends up in our studio closet. These materials are perfect for experimentation.
It’s almost time for spring cleaning! Go through what you have and make a list of only what you REALLY need.
You can also get creative by looking in your recycling–cardboard boxes and paper bags make great surfaces for charcoal and pastel drawings, newspapers are also quite interesting as backgrounds for drawings. While the results are not likely going to be archival, they are great surfaces for creating studies and less permanent works.
If you like working on canvas, I highly recommend Fredrix canvas pads. They are great for doing studies, plein air and other informal paintings. Plus, they are much easier to store and a lot less expensive than working on stretched canvas all the time.
If you work in oils or acrylics, another way you can save is by switching to gallery wrap canvas for your exhibit pieces. Back when I would exhibit, I always used them. Gallery wrap enables you to forego framing–it is especially effective with contemporary themed work. You just paint the edges with black acrylic for a professional finish or continue the painting on the sides for a high detail finish. Collectors who buy your work can either hang it as is without a frame or select one that matches their taste.
I also love using little journals for watercoloring, easy to take with you everywhere you go!
So next time you need some inspiration, take a look in your supply closet and pull out those watercolors you bought 5 years ago and never used, or the pastels, or the Chinese brushes, or…whatever it may be!