Art materials can be quite pricey. Which can of course be a difficult thing to sustain as an artist who possible is not selling their work continually. Here is a list of some of my favorite art materials that are under $25. There is quite a range of variety from frames to pencils. Hope you will find something that will become a favorite for you as well.
When going out into the landscape once upon a time I was horrified to find that I missed packing my palette knife. I didn’t know what to do with myself as I literally can’t paint without my palette knife. I whisked out a bus ticket I happened to have along with me to use instead – its sharper ends could scrape a little bit like a palette knife. It was not the same but was good enough to use for several hours. Especially as I had no way of getting back anytime soon. Since then, I am extra cautious to make sure I always bring my palette knife with when painting!
A palette knife literally stays in my hand with a few brushes throughout the entire painting session. I use it throughout my painting to scrape paint away and measure via using the end of the palette knife as a ‘drawing’ tool. Thus, I never use it to put on paint but take away. It sounds counter intuitive but it really isn’t.
It is also useful for mixing larger quantities of paint (I use brushes to mix smaller amounts). So, I could not recommend it more, as I can’t paint without it!
I discovered this paper by accident when being told that there was a 2 for 1 deal happening at Blick art materials. So, I grabbed this pad of paper as it was going to be free anyway! Ever since then, I have enjoyed this paper quite a lot. It has a bit of tooth but not too much.
It works with well with ink and watercolor due to its heavier paper weight. I love the texture it leaves when drawing on it with a woodless graphite pencil. It is a real bargain for a 60 page pad of paper!
I have loved drawing woodless pencils ever since being introduced to them about 6 ears ago. They are wonderful for making line drawings as well as working more tonally. In fact, they are ideal for shading and creating tonal drawings because of they are woodless.
As a rule of thumb H pencils are hard and leave less graphite on paper. The more H’s you have in a pencil the lighter it is. This means that a 9H is much harder than a 4H or a 2H for that matter.
On the other hand B pencils are very soft. The more B’s the softer the pencil. So, a 5B pencil is softer than a 2B, and a 9B is softer than a 5B. I personally prefer softer pencils far more than harder pencils. There is much more that can be done with soft pencils as they have a much greater value range.
Viewfinders are incredibly important when it comes to creating compositions for drawings and paintings. They are helpful when searching for motifs when out landscape painting, still life painting or working on portraits. When standing in front of a potential painting subject it is hard to find a composition without being able to isolate areas – which is exactly what a viewfinder helps you with.
This particular one – the color wheel artist viewcatcher – is hard plastic and will not bend easily. You can easily throw it in a bag and pack it with you as you go out into the landscape without worrying about it bending or breaking. My home made paper viewfinders always got destroyed very quickly…
I nearly always paint on panel. Or more specifically, I paint on linen mounted on panel. When there is a hard surface it gives a lot of freedom to press into the surface without worrying about stretching the surface.
The museum series panel by Ampersand can easily be primed with gesso or rabbit skin glue. I use it to mount linen on it, but you can also mount watercolor paper or photographs.
The boards are museum grade and thus are moisture resistant, formaldehyde free, archival and eco – friendly. So, you can be assured that your work will be well preserved on these boards.
I did not use a wood palette for a while, but once I started using one I haven’t looked back! I love the surface and patina that develops on it over time. It is lighter weight than glass and thus much more functional for plein air painting than other types of palettes. You can easily hold it in your hand while you paint if needed.
Additionally, the price of a wooden palette is unbeatable in comparison to other palettes available. You can purchase one like the one above or simply have a piece of wood cut at your local lumber store. You will however need to give it a couple coats of linseed oil before using it as an oil paint palette.
Framing can be a bit of a hassle AND very expensive. I was excited when Ampersand released floating frames that you can fit cradled panels into quite easily. You just place your painting into the frame and connect it on the back by screwing the two pieces together. It works perfectly. They come in white, black and maple. The maple is the more expensive of the options but still quite reasonable. The one above is currently (at the time of this writing) listed at $24. A steal when compared to getting a piece framed at a traditional frame shop!
The only downside of course to purchasing pre made frames is that they are of course standard sizes. So, you are limited to framing standard sized paintings. If you want to frame something of irregular size you will have to either make your own or go to a traditional frame store.
I was excited to happen upon this wonderful linen. It is not just wonderful linen but also oil primed. Painting on an oil primed surface is entirely different compared to working on an acrylic base. If you have not tried it yet, you should. The first time I tried it I did not like it. However, after trying it again with this Claessen oil primed linen I love it! I recommend trying the Claessens Double OP Sample #15 – Medium Texture. Currently, the sample size is listed for $22.39. You can find it at Jerrys Artarama.
You can purchase trial sized pieces of linen for a reasonable price before going big and purchasing larger amounts. I highly suggest getting a more trial sized piece of linen. It is great to try even just for the experience of painting on linen and something with an oil primed base if you have not experienced either before.
I didn’t start using Cremnitz white until a little later into my life as an art student. I am so glad that I made the switch from using titanium exclusively to now using cremnitz white pretty much all the time. Painting with cremnitz is quite different than titanium. The colors you mix cremnitz white with change much less than they would with titanium. Titanium in general is more of an opaque white and does not allow for as much minute color mixing or creating more transparent effects.
Cremnitz white is wonderful, but it does not come without a warning. It is a lead based paint, so you need to be very careful not to let it get into any cuts you might have on your hand. In general you should try to not let it touch your skin at all. I did not wear gloves for the longest time, until after hearing numerous stories of painters getting lead poisoning I was scared enough to start wearing gloves…
Technically these are the same kind of gloves you could expect your dentist or health care provider to wear. To me they are just my painting gloves. In my opinion, nitrile is much better than latex. It has a superior protection barrier and is much more comfortable. Latex can still let through certain substances like turpentine.
The size small fits me perfectly and still feel that am able to use my fingers why I paint. My biggest initial resistance to using gloves in the first place was that I love to use my hands and fingers in my paintings. However, these gloves feel the closest thing to having a bare hands while wearing them. So, be safe and wear gloves while painting!
If you have any thoughts or questions leave a comment below