La Cheapette’s Tips for Art Kits as Gifts

For the curious, the pic shows my fooling around with watercolor wash (Sennelier and Holbein watercolors), acrylic pen (Pitt Artist pen), Conte Crayons, and extra soft pastels (Sennelier). As you can see, I didn’t have a handle on clear stamping (Inkadinkado).In our art journal page swap group, the theme was writing text and then doing art on the page. I loved the idea and intend to do more work with the idea in the future.

On with it.

I’m an art supply retailer’s dream. If I watch an artist’s video and I like her work (underscore “like”), then I’m likely to try that product. When I have more time on  my hands than I should have, I meander around art stores, giving into any impulse  buying that pings into my head. If I hear “donate toys to an underserved kid,” my brain translates that as “Buy and donate art supplies to an underserved teen,” and into the store I leap.

Which brings us to the topic of “La Cheapette’s (or is that Monsieur Cheap? ) Tips on Art Kits for the Budding Artist.” I couldn’t help noticing that the retailers are pushing art kits as gifts this month. At the risk of incurring  some professional artist’s wrath, I’m putting it out here right now.  This month marks the first month I’ve ever exhibited art in public — and it was a charity event. My work was chosen among the works of others for the event. I won’t know if my piece sold until January — and I don’t much care. I speak from a hobbyist’s pov.

Tip 1) As a child I was immediately turned off by the dullness of paints purchased for my school supplies. I thought little of art supplies until I caught a glimpse of an art teacher’s pastels. Alleluia!   Bottom line: go for the quality stuff if you wish to encourage your chickadee’s interest in the fine arts. Nothing pisses a kid off like having paintbrush hairs all over his work or trying to wield a brush with unruly hairs– nothing except cheap ass paints. You’re better off with buying three primaries with an intense paint load. You may be able to find some good stuff for roughly seven dollars a tube. Prices on oils or acrylics may be higher or lower. Target price: roughly  21  bucks.

Tip 2) If you want to expose your mini-Degas to different mediums (charcoal, markers, etc.) and you want a ready-made kit, then go for a kit put out by a manufacturer of high reputation. If your teen swears he or she lives and dies by charcoal (and I was surprised by the number of artists who favor this medium), then take a crash course in charcoal via the Internet. That way you can mindfully assemble a DIYcharcoal kit! Target price: 15 to 2o dollars.

Tip 3) The type of paper you get depends on the medium your future Donatello uses. You may wish to mix up papers designed for wet and dry media, and ask the store rep to cut the papers to your specifications. Or is it cheaper to buy a pad for wet media and a pad for dry media? Or will a pad designed for mixed media work? I’m gun shy about buying student grade paper after experiencing such paper a few months back. Talk about a rip! The manufacturer should have paid people to take that shit home! Prices will depend on manufacturer.

Now wait a minute. Roughly forty bucks sound cheap compared to what? A Faith Ringold quilt? Actually, I have never seen a quilt created by the uber talented artist, but whatever the asking price, I’m sure I can’t afford it.  Forty bucks is a rough estimate of aforementioned prices.  You may wish to go  online and find a reputable store that offers 40 to 50 percent off its list price. Once you have the reduced price, look for a free shipping coupon code from the retailer. Which means you’ve done your homework on said retailer, product,  and manufacturer. Should you shop in person and you don’t live within hoofing distance of an arts and crafts mart (uh oh. Damn those gas prices!), you may need several months of lying in wait for those 25% or more coupons.  In this case, if you start in January, you will build up quite an arsenal of art supplies by December.


One response to “La Cheapette’s Tips for Art Kits as Gifts

  1. I completely agree with you there! The more quality, the better. We need to capture their attention with art at a young age and they will lose interest if they’re left to use poor quality supplies.

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