Whether you want to make your art supply gift card go further, or you are into recycling, what are your methods of stretching your art material dollars?
The above picture is a 4 ounce jar of specialty paint that retails for nearly $40, but is most valuable not in the jar, but on a canvas! The tub of brush cleaner was a pricey item because of its sheer size, but purchased with a 40% off coupon, it was not at all scary. It keeps my brushes nice and I use it a lot. It also keeps well, (unlike the paint). The brush is one of my favorites and is nearly 30 years old and still in excellent condition. It was an expensive brush but has has really held up, making it more economical than a string of cheaper brushes that don’t last. Taking good care of it helped, too. Below are some tips I’ve learned over the years. I hope you’ll comment and add yours!
Shop the screaming sales! Obvious, but if you’re not a natural born shopper, (I’m not!), you need to remind yourself. Only caveat is don’t overstock on perishables, they may dry up before you can use them up.
Sign up for email coupons on art supply sites. And/or “Like” their page on Face Book, they often post coupons there. Don’t worry if they expire, there will be another one coming. Having a valid coupon on you at most times, helps defray the cost of the items you use up fast or might otherwise skimp on.
Avoid “False Economy.” A $40 jar of paint that dried up waiting for you to think of “something special” is a sad thing. Special is Right Now. Your buyers don’t want a jar of paint, they want a painting. Use it or lose it!
RECYCLING, REUSING, AND REPURPOSING
Shop the hardware stores, and ask at construction sites if possible, or snag materials that someone’s throwing out, for scraps of wood and other surfaces to paint on, and even mismatched house paints, etc. Worried about archival qualities of these things? Most will outlive you even in a landfill let alone if primed, painted, and taken good care of. But house paints are not formulated to be light fast as long as artists paints. Those may be best for temporary art, base coats, etc. Be up front with your buyers, e.g., “painted on reclaimed lumber.” To some buyers recycling is a plus, but not all. Give discarded material a sniff test…things left on the curb for trash pick up for very long can be scent marked by passing stray dogs and cats…ewww.
Reuse your own art. Paint over things! The old masters did it, and gessos and primers do a good job of hiding and sealing off old work, so you can repurpose the canvas or board. Use broken ceramics to make mosaics. Cut up old drawings you were going to trash, and make collages. Make sculptures out of found objects including some of your work that you weren’t going to keep.
Use acrylic mediums more. They can extend expensive paints a bit before they lose tinting strength. They make textured surfaces, without using up expensive paint for it. Mediums are the material that paint pigments are added to, so they are not a lesser quality product than paint, they just aren’t colored.
Buy good quality paint. It has more pigment so it goes farther, is often easier, more satisfying, and therefore faster to work with, and is less likely to deteriorate. I firmly believe that, A) a big reason kids give up on art is because they’re only given cheap, disappointing art supplies, and B) cheap supplies may have their uses, but you need to know their properties compared to “the good stuff” before you can apply them to their best use.
That said about paint…Have a set of cheaper, or older worn brushes, for work that’s hard on tools. Like outdoor murals on brick walls. Save your best precision tools for when they are really needed and/or for final detail work. Old brushes are also good for scumbling, drybrushing, etc.
Buy some good brush cleaner with one of those half off coupons, and keep your good brushes good for a long time. Other cleansers may seem ok until your varnish suddenly has bubbles in it or paint build up in a good brush ruins its point. Rubbing alcohol will dissolve old acrylic, sometimes, if you have a brush that seems ruined. Never leave brushes soak sitting on their points/bristles, they usually never come back from that once bent.
Save short stumps of colored pencils, etc, for a travel sketch kit. You can use a pencil holder if they are too short to hold.
PRESERVING YOUR WORK
I won’t begin to tell you how to actually preserve mediums I don’t work in. I can tell you that I use mostly acrylics, and I’ve read quite a bit on paint science. I’m currently going with the theory that good acrylic paint should just have a clear acrylic top coat, some call it an isolation coat. Google this, there are numerous methods, and opinions. Some say sealed acrylic paintings are not porous, some say they are. You will need to find what works best for you. But I do believe paintings need some sort of clear coat between them and the world. And, work on paper almost always needs to be framed and matted and under glass. Never let the artwork touch the glass, it can stick. Store drawings between leaves of glassine paper or baking parchment. I have found these two papers to be about as non-stick as anything. Pastels, which I no longer do because they are just too fragile for my liking, need extra care! Dorland’s wax medium can be used as a final protective coat on some types of art. It requires applying and waiting for it to dry, then buffing, but for certain types of work it is a nice finish.
Capture your work with a digital camera or scan it. Even if your recycled, unconventional art begins to fall apart, you could sell reprints indefinitely with a good high resolution digital image. Not sure what varying definitions exist as to “high resolution,” but as an example, the Print On Demand art site I’m on has pixel dimensions for all their products, and if it’s not at least that big, it won’t make the product. Save a big file. Make smaller versions for uses that only call for small (low resolution) images. So, photograph at high resolution, scan at high resolution, then in photo editing software programs, make your various smaller size versions as needed.
Before you sell your originals, always get a good digital capture of them. If it’s a piece you would want to sell large high quality art prints of, spring for a professional photo shoot or commercial scan. You might be able to save money by having several done at once.
Though copyright registration has not been required since 1989, registration with the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright.gov, does have advantages should you ever have a serious infringement case. So, if you have images that could be seriously infringed on, consider registering them, preferably before you publish them, as that is when there is the greatest advantage. At the very least, do some due diligence in controlling infringement on your work by learning to do “reverse image searches” and “DMCA takedowns.” (Google the topics, and see my Journals on Red Bubble.) Preserving your images as yours, and keeping others from claiming they did the work, or from selling them, is important, particularly if you are, or want to be, selling your work.
Email and Face Book sources to sign up for notification of sales, coupons:
Dick Blick: http://www.dickblick.com/
Jerry’s Artarama: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/
Arizona Art Supply: http://www.arizonaartsupply.com/
Technical how to info and products:
Tri Art paint: http://tri-art.ca/
Golden Artists Colors info on “isolation coat” and varnishing: http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/varnapp1.php
Liquitex combination Varnish and Medium: http://www.liquitex.com/glossmediumvarnish/
Digital, and copyrights, preservation:
Google: Rheni Tauchid, and/or, The New Acrylics, or look for her two books in the library or book stores. Tauchid wrote the books as a consultant for the Tri Art paint company, (acrylics), and she talks about varnishing, isolation coats, and use of mediums.
Google: photographing scanning artwork and read methods, and opinions on when it’s better to scan or photograph, and tips on avoiding glare, fixing minor problems etc. I personally scan anything small enough to scan, and photograph larger pieces. If anything more than a minor adjustment is needed in color, contrast, etc, then the scan/photo is probably not good enough and needs to be done over if possible.
U.S. Copyright Office: http://www.copyright.gov/
Art Theft; copyright infringement; find it and act on it: http://www.redbubble.com/people/cschnack/journal/7750976-art-theft-copyright-infringement-find-it-act-on-it
Search more. Suggested terms:
- making your own art canvases
- art on unusual surfaces
- recycled art
- storing artwork
- varnishing oil paintings
- framing artwork
- preserving artwork on paper
- varnishing acrylic paintings
- acrylic isolation coat
- protecting pastel paintings
- art fixatives
- Dorland’s wax medium
You Tube for tutorials/demonstrations: http://www.youtube.com/