by Trev Goodwin
Although books, videos and magazines advise you to buy the best equipment possible, it is really not necessary to spend a fortune on your supplies when you are learning how to paint. I would like to share with you how, as a working man with a mortgage and household bills to pay, I manage to satisfactorily balance all of this with the cost of my hobby.
When regularly using the same art and craft shop - ask for a discount. I asked and without any hesitation I was given 20% off everything I buy. You could also take a look in the bargain "pound" shops which sell an A - Z of items. They sometimes offer a selection of smaller canvases for sale. As an alternative to canvas you can paint on MDF board, plywood or even hardwood. Purchasing these products from your local DIY store will enable you to buy the exact size you need, cut specifically to your requirements. Of course, these surfaces need to be prepared correctly so remember to rub down with sandpaper prior to applying the base coat.
Base coats Many modern day artists use Gesso, a chalk based white liquid which has been used for centuries by painters. However, this can be quite expensive.Personally I use acrylic primer/undercoat available from paint stores. It is water-based and dries very quickly. I apply an average of six coats, using sandpaper to rub down in between each coat.
Although artist quality oil paint can cost as much as ?12.00 a tube due to the purity of the pigments, I buy student's quality oil paint which comes in 38ml tubes and is priced at around ?3.00 per tube depending on the colour. I have found the quality of the Rowney brand to be quite good overall both in pigment and price and it is ideal for hobby purposes.
Brushes In the past I have purchased cheap and expensive brushes and found very little difference between the two, so would advise you to buy mid-priced or student brushes. There is no need for dozens of them as you can complete a painting with around six brushes, one of which should be a fan brush used to soften the edges of the painting.
Available in various shapes and sizes such as oblong, round, and kidney shaped, and in numerous materials plastic, wood etc, I have had experience with them all and while the kidney shaped ones do look very arty, I find them cumbersome and heavy when using regularly. Cleaning and scraping pallets is time consuming so if you would rather spend your valuable time painting, why not use plastic or paper disposable plates normally used at parties. The white background helps you to see the exact colour being mixed and there is no mess, you just thrown them away when you have finished with them.
At $3.00 for a small bottle, Pure Artist Turpentine, made from pine trees, is widely available in art shops although I use this mainly to clean brushes and not, in fact, to thin my paint.
I use the absolutely brilliant medium, Liquin Original, which I buy in appropriate quantities from art shops. It helps the paint to dry more quickly and at the same time provides a great glaze. These are just a few ways you can keep the cost of your art hobby to a minimum whilst fully enjoying your painting experience.
Hopefully that covers the majority of art materials you will need as a beginner.
About the Author
This article was written on behalf of Simon's father Trev Goodwin, Trev has been an artist for 40 years, and has been commissioned to paint military paintings, portraits and landscapes.