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Free (Or Almost Free) Art Supplies

watercolour, art supplies

I just saw on Instagram a 2 Day Challenge this month to "Buy No Art Supplies" for 2  days . . . . It is scheduled for February 30th and 31st. 

. . . It took me a minute, but when I finally got the joke, I laughed! 

There are a lot of jokes about how Artists like to spend too much on Art Supplies. I've heard students tell me that shopping for art supplies and using art supplies are two different hobbies. I'm guilty myself. 

I thought it would be fun to share a handful of FREE Art supplies that we all can use. So if you've hit your Art Supply budget for the month (or year) already, here are a few Art Supplies you can get for Free (or close to free). 

Ps: I'm not including water! haha




Old Toothbrushes
These are the best spatter tool for fine spatter. A toothbrush and some white gouache can be used to create star effects or Snow. A toothbrush creates a very fine, controlled spatter and it saves your brushes from this sometimes rough technique.

With or without the Shaker, Salt is a great way to add texture to your watercolours. When put into a wet wash, it absorbs water and colour to create a unique crystallization effect. Those tiny salt packets you get in take out containers are great for travel art sets! 


White Crayons

Okay, so these aren't technically free, but I swear you can raid a toddler's crayon stash for the white crayons and they will never notice!

Crayons can be used to create wax resists  and build textures with Watercolour. I used this this technique for the small background trees in my "Last Breath of Autumn Painting."

birches, trees, canadian landscape, birch trees

Porcelain Dinner Plates

These make the best Watercolour Palettes. You can get them at dollar store, thrift stores, or probably raid your pantry for a ceramic plate you never use. The benefit is that watercolour paints don't bead up on your palette like they would on a new plastic palette. The only drawback is they don't have nice little individual wells for drying and storing paint, but if you are the type of artist that uses Fresh squeezed paint from a tube, these are ideal! Ceramic Butcher plates from Curry's can be $50 or more, so a dinner plate is a wonderful option! They can even be used with your current palette to expand your mixing area. 


Mugs are amazing brush holders and who doesn't have a few mugs around from their favourite store or brand. I love my Wordsworth Books Mug and it has been a fixture in my studio for storing brushes since 2017!  I store my watercolour brushes upright in a mug so they dry nicely. It is important to keep brushes dry and NEVER leave them tip down in the water.

Pickle Jars or Mason Jars
I love pickles, so I always save the jars for water vessels and tall water containers are the best for rinsing brushes in because the sediment moves to the bottom. You can soak the jars in soap for thirty minutes and their labels will come off easily. But you can also leave the labels on in your studio. They don't have to look pretty!  And of course, any jar will work. Not just pickle jars. Spaghetti Sauce Jars, Apple Sauce Jars . . .

"Shop" Rags

Save old T-shirts, Towels and Clothes to use in your Studio. Old washcloths are my favourite. Its a great way to save a few pennies and also make your studio a bit greener. You can also wash them and reuse them instead of using paper towels. A small rag in your travel kit is also a great tool so you don't have to worry about keeping it stocked with paper towels.

My Favourite art supply hack I learned from Urban Sketcher Steph Lee. An old Sock with the top cut off, makes an excellent towel for urban sketcher. And if you are sketching on the go, you can slide it onto your wrist for easy access! Like one of those sporty wrist bands athletes use. 

Cut up Gift Cards or Credit Cards 

Cut up Gift Cards of Credit Cards make great scrapers. These can be used for adding texture such as fine lines for grass can be done when paper is wet. 

I'd love to hear if you have any free art supply hacks.

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