Some of my favorite emails are from artists who have taken up painting for the first time. It is wonderful hearing about about their exciting discoveries. Some are from artists that have returned to painting after a long interval. Life does get in the way at times. But more and more artists lately are concerned about the cost of getting their painting kit together. Shocked may be a better word for it. Once all the painting paraphernalia is put on the shopping list it can add up to quite a sum! But why should it? I think I know the real problem and there is a way around this.
The Leisure Market is Mad!
Do you love to visit art stores? If you have a local shop that has lots of art goodies does it attract you like a moth to a flame? What about the many online art supply stores? Yikes – I am also a fan of these treasure troves of artist equipment. I confess, without shame, that I have spent too much on stuff that I did not need. Easels and paint boxes have caused some damage to my wallet in the past.
I have learned from my mistakes. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I did not need three easels. I only used one. Still works fine. Plein air boxes? I don’t use the fancy one imported at great expense. I prefer the homemade one that cost a few bucks. Like every leisure activity these days, painting is massively catered for. It is nuts actually. How did Da Vinci cope with just a little egg tempera?
Then there is paint. Many varieties at every price point. Then mediums to go into the paint. And the colors! Sixty tubes or more! There are only three primary colors. How did this happen? I have written before about the high costs of paint. Especially on imported paints with our weak currency. My solution is to paint generously on smaller panels. I stick to that advice.
Painting Is Cheap
Here is the truth. Painting can be enjoyed very cheaply. We need to be aware of the crazy attitude that results in massive credit card purchases of art supplies. The fact that these goods exist does not mean you need them to paint well. It is simply business. You can paint at a high level with only the basics. I have proved this to myself every time that I go away for a holiday. I take a bag of supplies and a paint box. A few painting panels and about three brushes. Result? A series of paintings of similar quality to that in my studio.
So with that in mind I want to see how easy it can be to start oil painting without hurting the wallet. And without scrimping either. I want decent results from good materials on a small budget. Sounds like an experiment worth trying.
What Paints to Get?
Do you want to save and learn to paint better? Then use four tubes of paint. The primary colors and white. I prefer Maimeri's Classico paints. They have 60ml tubes and have a buttery quality I enjoy. Plus they are good value for money and still have a professional quality. Winton paints will also be fine if you cannot secure Maimeri. Check out the video below to see how easy it is to mix your colors. Okay so four tubes of paint at R90.00 per tube. Total R360.00.
Things can get out of hand quickly if you go for sable or premium brushes. Get a student oil paint brush size 6. A fine brush to sign your name? Optional. There are other ways like turning the brush around and scraping your name into the wet paint with the thin end of the handle. Brush cost: R60.00
Easel? Not Necessary. In a pinch you can use a shelf to house your painting panel. In fact a shelf is a good idea since it can take large canvasses too. Simply lean the canvas on the wall, but make sure the shelf is at a convenient height. Alternatively use those adjustable shelf brackets. Other alternatives are basic DIY easels. A table top easel is simple to make. A few planks of wood and basic skills should be enough.
Please use a small panel or canvas. The 10"x12" size is ideal. A panel of MDF or masonite provides an excellent painting surface. Simply prime with a few layers of gesso or suitable acrylic primer. Small panels are good not only because they are inexpensive, but you can be generous with your paint without running out. I do not like a starved painting! Feed it lots of paint and you will get better results.
This can be expensive too. Rather use good quality turps. The type that does not smell bad is best. It cleans wonderfully and costs very little. It can be resued often too. Cost? R20.00.
That is it. No mediums required. Other fancy palettes, containers and so forth can be purchased when you sell your first painting. This way your painting pays for itself and need not cost anything. Wonderful!
Total cost including painting panel? Less than R500.00 with enough paint left for another couple of paintings.
Now add the other benefits of painting to the account:
Now how much does the average hobby cost these days? Looking at what most folks get up to it looks very expensive indeed. Even general crafts, with all sorts of supplies, quickly adds up. Painting can remain simple and yet lose none of its power. Consider how little it has changed in two hundred years? The basics remain the same. Stick to this and you will be the better artist for it.
Mix Your Paint Easily and Save: Demo
Do you have a few money saving tips for painting? Add them below or send them to me.
Looking for reliable screen capture software at great value for money? I use Screencast-O-Matic