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Going to an art store is like a child going to a sweet shop ( candy store). The shelves are overflowing with a buffet of pots, brushes and tubes of paint. The choices are overwhelming to the untrained eye. But it is important to remember the rule of quality over quantity when choosing art supplies.
How much should Art Supplies Cost?
If you do not know what you are looking for your eyes will immediately be drawn to the very large sets of inexpensive paints. These are beautifully packaged and full of gorgeous colors. They also seem like an incredible bargain. 40 tubes of acrylic for $19.99. 100 markers for $9.99.
The $9.99 price tag for one tube of acrylic paint in the professional section does not seem to make sense to someone that does not have the knowledge to actually compare what they are buying.
One of the things that influences the choice is an ability to mix color or lack of. The need to mix color is waived if you buy a set that seems to contain every color under the sun.
How to Save Money on Art Supplies
I love a bargain. I am known for loving a bargain but there are certain things that I will never compromise on. One of those is the quality of my paints. Large sets of any art materials for $9.99 will lack this.
One of the first things I tell my new students is to ask grandma to contact me before buying them art materials as gifts and also to put all those large sets away in a closet. I then introduce them to the paints and materials that I use.
“WHY?” I hear you shouting at the screen, looking over at the piles of markers with a big $9.99 sticker on the package. Let me explain.
Cheap sets of paint contain very little of what you really need and that is pigment. What you are buying is lots of medium with something added to give some color. It is not good quality and you will be very disappointed in the experience. You will also use much more of it than you would if you were using a high quality paint.
How Many Tubes of Paint should I Buy?
Trained artists use very small palettes. I am not referring to the thing they use to mix their paint on but the amount of colors they use when they paint. Most artists use a maximum of eight. I have done paintings using 4-6 and you would never know. Why? Because a limitless amount of colors can be made by mixing the primary colors.
Quality over Quantity when Choosing Art Supplies
When I was growing up I gained a very important skill during art class. That skill was mixing colors. Each time we entered the classroom in high school we would retrieve a set of poster paints from the supply cupboard. The pots were about the size of the single serving for applesauce. There was a lid that was meant to protect the juicy paint from drying out.
There were six colors; the primary colors, red, yellow and blue, and then black and white and a “baby poo” beige that is known as yellow ochre to anyone that is not a teenager. That was it. During the year, that soft paint became a hard little brick in the pot. Water would have to be introduced and the sad excuse for a brush we were given was swirled around and around to produce a puddle of color. At the time all this seemed like an insult to me.
In those years of minimal colors I learned to mix color. I spent so much time with those six colors that it became ingrained in my mind how to make all the colors I needed from them. Even though I did not have quality or quantity it taught me a lot.
When Should Students Start Using Professional Art Supplies?
Before you journey down the road of art buy a few tubes of good quality paint. They are not even that expensive because you will use very little on each painting. Do not think either that you have to be a certain age to use the good stuff. There is no ID checking at the art store. I teach my five year old students about the value of good paint.
Being that grandma has already given them all the sets of cheap ones they appreciate the difference and you can too. So, remember quality over quantity when choosing art supplies the next time you are tempted by that $9.99 value sticker!