10 Ways to Easily Save Money On Painting Supplies [Update 2022]

A pile of dollar bills with text reading "how to save money on painting supplies"

If you want to save money on painting supplies but don’t know where to start, this one’s for you, friend.

Nothing kills creativity faster than worrying about your budget being blown to smithereens, so I will share my best tips and tricks to help you save some major moolah.

I’ve been using most of these little hacks for years, and I can’t even begin to fathom how much savings that’s led to, but I bet it’s a lot! Ready to get this party started? Let’s get to it.

How Much To Spend On Art Supplies

You don’t have to spend a fortune on painting materials to create impressive art. You’re all set as long as you have some paint, something to spread the paint with, and a paintable surface!

To paint as cheaply as possible, you should:

  1. Use a limited color palette
  2. Get as much of the paint out of the tube as possible
  3. Invest in versatile acrylic mediums
  4. Use a limited number of paintbrushes
  5. Experiment with alternatives to paintbrushes
  6. Take advantage of coupons and deals
  7. Buy in bulk
  8. DIY canvases
  9. Try painting on different surfaces
  10.  Check out yard sales, vintage shops, and flea markets

Do yourself a favor and start small and simple. It’s less overwhelming, and it will save you money. Go to your local dollar store and look at their art and craft area. You can find inexpensive craft paints, brushes, and canvases of various shapes and sizes. Keep in mind that the quality of the paint, brushes, and canvasses aren’t high quality but when you’re first starting, it doesn’t matter.

Assorted painting materials including a tube of Quinacridone Magenta, a couple of bottles of craft paint, some paintbrushes, and a flat stone.

It’s also worth noting that if you follow along with YouTube painting tutorials, your results may vary from the instructors, and that’s okay. They have a ton of experience and most are using more expensive tools. Don’t compare your work to theirs; that is not being fair to yourself.

How To Save Money on Acrylic Paint

To paint without blowing your budget, think about using a limited palette. That will save you so much money because you’ll only be buying a few different paint colors!

Instead, you can start creating different mixes with the paint you have. You will be so surprised by how many different colors you can make!

You really only need primary red, blue, and yellow. These are the basic colors that, when blended, can create purple (blue + red), orange (red + yellow), and green (blue + yellow).

Also, it’s a good idea to get a couple of tubes/bottles of white. You’ll be amazed at how much white you use compared to any other paint!

Black is another color you should have so you can deepen your other colors and do black and white paintings with a pop of color.

Copper pennies spilling out of a brown wallet.
Image by Mimzy on Pixabay

Another thing you can do to make the most out of your paint is to use a tube wringer, if you have one, to get every last bit of paint out of the tube. If you don’t know what a tube wringer is, it’s just a small tool that helps to squeeze the paint tube very tightly, to force all of the paint toward the opening.

However, if your paint tubes are plastic, you can just as easily cut the bottoms off and scoop the remainder of the paint into an air tight container. I like to use little plastic condiment containers with lids that you can find at the dollar store or even at the grocery store.

Using Mediums To Make Your Paint Last Longer

If you don’t already own a couple of acrylic mediums, friend, you are missing out! Mediums allow you to change the consistency of your paint without sacrificing the binders. On top of that, they usually have more than one use.

I will caution you that because the mediums don’t have any pigment, they can make your paint more transparent if you use a lot. Slowly adding the mediums is always the smartest route to take.

What Are Acrylic Mediums

Acrylic mediums are used to enhance your acrylic paint in many different ways. You can use them to extend the drying time, create glazes, make your paint thicker or thinner, and so much more.

Acrylic mediums come in liquid form, gels, and pastes and most can be either mixed into your acrylic paint or used on their own.

The best thing about acrylic mediums is that they have the same type of binders as your acrylic paint so you can change the behavior of your paint without compromising the binders.

So, although mediums can seem expensive, you will more than get your money’s worth out of them because of their versatility.

The Best Acrylic Medium To Thicken Your Acrylic Paint

When I first started painting, I used craft paint because that’s what I had and what I could afford. In time, I wanted to try painting with thicker paint but couldn’t afford to replace what I had with all new colors.

Instead of going out and buying a bunch of paint, which I didn’t even know whether I’d like, I bought a jar of Golden’s Extra Heavy Gel (Gloss). It was one of the best purchases I have ever made!

A couple of flat paintbrushes with thick red and yellow paint on them.
Image by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

A thick gel will take your craft paint and make it more like a creamy student-grade paint, but that’s not all. You can also use a palette knife and use it directly on the canvas, wait for it to dry, and then paint over it. This will give you fantastic texture!

On top of that, you can use the gel as glue. In my article where I adhere a paper painting onto an old canvas, this is exactly what I used and it worked beautifully!

For this reason, I always recommend a gel when you want to thicken paint.

Using Acrylic Mediums To Thin Your Paint

One way to save money on painting supplies while still having the ability to create amazing art is to buy heavy body paint and use a liquid medium to thin them down for practice pieces and experimenting.

My favorite liquid mediums are Golden’s Gloss Glazing Liquid and Liquitex’s Gloss Medium and Varnish.

Very thin paint running down from the paintbrush and onto the hand that's holding it.
Image by martabystron on Pixabay

The glazing liquid will thin your paint while also extending the drying time so you have a bit more time to work with it.

The gloss medium and varnish, which is now just called gloss medium, is excellent for using as a non-removable varnish sealant, extending the dry time of your paint, and thinning down your heavy body paint.

I’ve been using both of these mediums for years, and both are worth every penny.

Best Paintbrushes For Beginners On A Budget

Flat paintbrushes against a purple painted background. Choosing your brushes wisely can really help you save money on painting supplies.

I totally get wanting to have paintbrushes in all the shapes and sizes but, believe me, friend, you don’t need them. At least, not until you’ve decided that painting is something you want to make a permanent part of your life.

I have created some great art while only using one brush and I even do it on purpose as a challenge to myself. But, hey, I get wanting to be able to experiment with different brushes and see all of the strokes they can each do.

Angled paintbrushes against a purple and pink painted background.

If you do want to spend some money on paintbrushes, I caution you against buying a pack of assorted shapes. Typically, they include some brushes that just aren’t that useful.

Like, right out of the gate, you really don’t need a fan brush (and if you’re thinking you do because of YouTube tutorials using a fan brush to paint pine trees, you need to look at my article that will show you how to paint evergreens using a bunch of other brushes)

Four round brushes in various sizes against a purple and pink painted abstract background.

Also, I highly recommend choosing the size of your work surface first to get the right size paintbrushes. You don’t want all of your brushes to be too big or you won’t be able to add fine details. On the other hand, you don’t want your brushes to be too small or it will take forever to finish your masterpiece!

Because of the gazillion different sizes of paint surfaces, it wouldn’t make sense for me to give you exact sizes for each brush. When shopping for your paintbrushes, you will just need to look at what you have to paint on and keep that in mind.

Paintbrush Recommendations:

  • Flat brush (3 sizes):
    • A large one to quickly cover your canvas when you’re doing the background
    • A medium sized brush for painting most of the subject matter
    • A detail/small brush for getting into tight areas
  • Angle brush (3 sizes):
    • Angle brushes are great for painting in sharp corners, creating trees and branches, flowers, and many other things
    • Again, you need to keep the size of your canvas in mind when deciding which brush sizes to buy
    • For example, I tend to use the ½”, 3/8″, and ¼” the most when painting on a standard sized sheet of paper
  • Round brush (2 sizes to start):
    • Round brushes are excellent for creating curly vines, small shadows or highlights, and even signing your artwork
    • Start with a medium and a small (the fewer bristles they have, the finer a line you can create)

You may think that buying this many brushes is not a great tip to save money on painting supplies. Still, other than tubes of paint, I’d say that paintbrushes are a tool that people can get carried away with. Not gonna lie; I have four containers stuffed full of paintbrushes…. I know, tsk, tsk!

On the flip side, some may think there should be a wider variety of brushes when starting out, but it can get overwhelming real quick!

Bonus Tip

These brushes should have synthetic bristles (like nylon) because they soak up less water, stand up to the ingredients within the acrylic paints, and are pretty easy to clean. Take a look at my article to show you how to properly care for your paintbrushes. That, in itself, will save you a ton of money!

Your best bet is to start with a few brushes and play around with them. Give yourself some time to become one with the paintbrush before moving on to another.

The above recommendations are more than enough to experiment with and get comfortable using. Later on, have fun trying different shaped brushes with varying handle lengths and different sizes.

Ditch The Paintbrushes And Use These Super Affordable Alternatives Instead!

Suppose you really want to save money on painting supplies, and you don’t want to invest in brushes until you have a few paintings under your belt. In that case, there are many things, even lying around your home, you can use to paint with.

A brown wicker basket filled with natural sea sponges, which are great for painting as an alternative to a paintbrush.
Image by manfredrichter on Pixabay

Paintbrush Alternatives:

  • Palette knives (so, soooo good for squishing paint!)
  • Old gift cards/credit cards, etc. (these can work much like a palette knife)
  • Utensils (you can get some interesting effects with the back of a spoon!)
  • Cotton buds (great for certain flowers)
  • Sponges (pounce them to create a speckled look or swipe them to blend out colors)
  • Paper towel and plastic wrap (lightly ball it up and pounce it on your paint surface to create a textured look)
  • Bubble wrap (‘cause, bubble wrap is just plain ol’ fun!)
  • Old toothbrush (to make a starry sky or a snowy scene)
  • FINGERS!!! (The ultimate way to save money on painting supplies! You can do so many different types of paintings with just your fingers. Search for acrylic finger painting tutorials on YouTube and prepare to be amazed!

Coupons and Deals Are A Great Way To Save Money On Painting Supplies

One super simple way to find affordable painting materials is to take advantage of deals. Some aren’t very obvious but it’s not just coupons that can keep the cash in your pocket!

A bright pink piece of fabric with the word "SALE" written on it in white paint, laying on a lime green fabric background.
Image by TooMuchCoffeeMan on Pixabay

Where to Find Deals:

  • Signing up for email newsletters – when you give your contact info, many companies will provide you with a one-time discount as a thank you. You’ll also be the first to hear about any upcoming sales and new product releases!
  • Sales and coupons from places like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Blick Art Materials, and Jerry’s Artarama
  • Look for customer loyalty programs or points programs – the more you buy, the more points you get, which could lead to huge savings on your next art supply purchase!
  • Art supply websites – clearance section

How To Save Money On Art Canvases

A stack of brown stained stretched canvases.
Image by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

Canvases can be pretty expensive but, luckily, you have options! Remember, you can paint on a ton of different surfaces. If you’ve got your heart set on painting on a stretched canvas, You can still save some major money.

Ideas for Saving Money on Canvases:

  • DIY stretched canvas – I would caution that this is an advanced option but if you’re handy, here’s a YouTube video that shows you how to DIY your own stretched canvases
  • Look for them in yard sales and second-hand stores – seriously, don’t discount using old paintings! The only downside to this is knowing whether or not the original artwork is oil. If it is, you can’t use acrylic to paint over it (the whole water and oil don’t mix thing)
  • Buy in bulk during a sale or use a coupon

Another way to save money on painting supplies is to ditch the canvas altogether. It’s a nice experience, to paint on a canvas, but it’s not necessary. You can use just about anything to paint on.

Budget Friendly Alternative Painting Surfaces

Using other surfaces to paint on is not only an awesome way to save money on painting supplies but it also allows you to add to the creativity of the piece. Winning all around, am I right?!

A colorfully hand-painted guitar representing the variety of surfaces you can paint on instead of canvases.
Image by stuarthampton on Pixabay

Surfaces You Can Use To Paint On:

  • Cardboard (without a shiny coating on it. Raw cardboard is best!)
  • Cardstock (preferably white, and the thicker, the better, but you can use any white cardstock. Just be prepared that the dampness will cause the paper to warp, which can be fixed by flattening the dried painting. Place a piece of parchment over the surface and stack something heavy on top.)
  • Old pieces of wood (something smooth, like a piece cut from a 2×4 or a fence picket, works best to start. I’ve even used cedar grilling planks that you can sometimes find at the grocery store!)
  • Rocks (flat ones are best)
  • Glass (try a piece from an old unused picture frame. Make sure to tape the edges, though, so you don’t accidentally cut yourself)

Bonus Tip

Each surface will behave differently with the acrylic paint. Some may take a bit more water to get the paint moving more freely, while others may make it spread really far, leaving you with inconsistent coverage. These concerns are easily fixed with patience and letting the layers of paint dry before going back over it with a second coat. Trying different painting surfaces will definitely save you big bucks!

Inexpensive Framing Ideas For Your Artwork

You can certainly splurge and get your paintings custom framed, but it can be costly. Instead, look for opportunities to upcycle which is far more affordable.

An assortment of black and white picture frames leaning against a wall.
Image by JimBear on Pixabay

Keep your eyes opened the next time you visit a second-hand shop or check out a yard sale. I always see tons of frames that are perfect for future paintings once they’ve been cleaned up and maybe had a coat or two of paint.

If you are a traditionalist and are set on using canvas, try to paint on canvases that will be easy to frame. I’ve seen really nice frames at my local dollar store that go all the way up to poster size! It’s much cheaper to frame an 8×10 than to frame a gigantic piece.

Penny Pinching Ideas For Art Materials (Wrap Up)

It’s easy to save money on painting supplies if you’re willing to think outside of the box. Start with a limited color palette, just a few brushes in the most popular shapes, and try painting on surfaces other than canvas.

Save the more expensive materials for artwork you’re planning to gift or sell. However, if you’re just having fun and practicing, make it a habit to use cheaper art materials.

Don’t let a tight budget stop you from bringing art and color into your life. There are many ways to create a beautiful painting without burning a hole in your wallet.

Help your beginner acrylic painting pals to save money too by giving this article a share!

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