December 23, 2012
In these tough economic times and with all the extra expenses of the Christmas season, making art may seem like an expensive luxury. Here are some ways to cut expenses while following your creative muse. First, the obvious, read the ads for the big art supply chains, such as Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. But if you are one of the many who no longer subscribe to a daily newspaper, buy a copy just on Sunday, since that’s when their ads appear. You will not only learn what art supplies are on sale but there is usually also a 40 percent off coupon on any one item. So don’t stock up all at once. Buy what’s on sale or use the coupon. As a bonus, you’ll also find food coupons in the Sunday paper.
If you are selling your art, remember to get a tax number card from the store where you buy your supplies. You don’t have to pay sales tax on supplies used to make things to sell.
If you don’t like cleaning up a messy palette, use those plastic foam trays that meat comes on. Just run them through the dishwasher first. You can also use the lids from the boxes of food that you bring home from restaurants. If you use acrylic paint, which dries fast, and you still have several globs left on your palette when you finish painting, don’t throw them away. Just put them on one of those meat trays and put it inside a resealable plastic bag. Acrylic paint will remain useable for several days if stored that way.
Frames can be a big expense for a painter. Canvases with wide edges are a bit more expensive but if you paint the edges too, you don’t have to frame your painting. I prefer to frame, so I’ve found some ways to cut the expense. If you paint using standard sized canvases, you don’t have to have a frame for every painting. Just switch them around when you are planning an exhibit.
Especially if you do watercolor, look for sales of prints framed and matted under glass. Because that particular print wasn’t selling, you can buy it, discard the print and have a mat, glass and frame ready for your creation. Also, businesses that do custom framing sometimes make mistakes in the size of the frame. They may sell these odd sized frames quite cheaply. You can cut a canvas board to size or buy canvas stretchers and stretch your own canvas to fit. If you work in small sizes check out Salvation Army or Goodwill stores. You have to be careful to look for damage, but I have sometimes found very good quality small frames in these stores for very little money.
If painting classes or workshops are not in your budget, check out your local PBS TV station. I watch painters demonstrate their craft on our local PBS station and it’s free. If you think they go too fast, just record them and play them back when you can pause them as needed. As I’ve mentioned before, library book sales are a good way to stock up on expensive art books at bargain prices. If you know someone who subscribes to an art magazine, maybe they would be willing to pass some of them on. They do tend to pile up.
If you are really determined to produce art, I hope these suggestions will help make it affordable.