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9 essential art supplies a thrifty beginner needs


Many consider that being creative is not precisely a cheap hobby, but let me contradict: you don’t need to spend tons of money just to try yourself! Actually I’ve been painting for nearly 2 years on a regular basis (though not as much as a professional would do) and haven’t spent a tuppence on art supplies the past 6 months. As a beginner, you will be perfectly satisfied choosing some of your things cheap, while you don’t want to be thrifty on others. Of course your supplies and the quality you want to choose greatly depend on your medium. As I am mainly into watercolours I will be specific there, but I’m happy to give some tips on other mediums in the comments below. So, here it goes:

Graphite pencil

For your preliminary sketches. Choose a pencil which is neither too hard nor too soft, so it doesn’t scratch the surface of your paper, but doesn’t leave graphite marks all over the place either. A 2B-pencil should do the trick. As a matter of fact I don’t pay much attention to my pencil as I erase my sketches in the end anyway, or they stay in my private sketchbook for nobody’s eyes but mine. I use a pencil a friend of mine brought me as a souvenir from her holiday, with “Barcelona” written all over it and a completely useless eraser on the top :D


That is a key point, as it can ruin your artwork if it rubs graphite on top of your finished painting. However, I didn’t go and buy myself new erasers, but collected a few from the household and checked them previously. Erasers and pencils have a delicate relationship, some pencils don’t go together with some erasers, so you definitely want to check how they work together before creating your masterpiece.



Strictly speaking, a sketchbook is not essential if you want to plan your design before painting, but it is kinda useful to have one as you can search back your old ideas. I often make notes next to my sketches, reminders of how I’ve planned to finish my artworks – which sometimes I only complete months later. However – unless you are a stationery geek or you want to collect your art in a book – you don’t need to invest in some fancy sketchbook, a simple one with average page thickness (100-120 grams) will be perfectly fine.

Watercolour paper

If you ever decide on painting, don’t kid yourself that you don’t need this material. You do. You really do. Watercolor paper is designed to drink up water effectively but not too quickly, so you can play with blending colours. There are different types of textures, which you can experiment with, but if you are new to watercolour paper I’d say choose the one you like most. It’s not texture that matters at first, but weight and structure. Canson’s 200 gram watercolour paper will do perfectly.

Adhesive tape

The nature of watercolor is so that during the process of drying your paper can curl up. To prevent this from happening I usually stick the paper onto my desk using some adhesive tape. You can grab this cheaply from any DIY store. I use one called Tesa, but some people use simple cello tape.



Whereas professional artists often use tons of brushes, I only use 3 different sizes and to my purposes – and possibly yours, if you are a beginner – they are perfectly enough. If you are to experiment with watercolours, you want to choose some soft brushes with natural hair, which can lift a lot of paint and water. While I managed to find suitable brushes in the household (which you might do too, especially if you have kids) I’d advise to go to an art store and get a bit of help. As a beginner, again, you don’t have to choose the most expensive ones, but it is worth having good brushes. For detailed info on brushes, look here.


Okay, so we’ve reached the most exciting point. But let me disappoint you: almost ANY watercolour kit will do at first! Except it’s important that it really is watercolor and nothing else (I had my first attempts with aniline paint, which was fun, but you want watercolours, right?). I have some further disappointment for you guys: you don’t need all the colours in the world. As a beginner I’d choose a collection of 12 colours. In fact, the less the better, as you can experiment with mixing colours, which is a key point to painting. Actually my watercolour kit consists of 12 colours, but there are some that I hardly ever use, I prefer to mix all my colours out of 7-8 favourites.


Paper tissues

In short: to clean up the mess and have exactly the amount of water in your brush that you need.


Finally, you need something on which you prepare and mix your colours before applying them on your masterpiece. A lot of artists use plastic palettes which you can get in any art store at a very low price, others use white plates but personally I use scraps of watercolour paper for this. Now, the advantage of this is that I can immediately see how the colour will look like on the paper, but it also means that my palette “drinks up” my paint quickly and I have to re-mix them a lot. This depends on your personal preference, so don’t hesitate to experiment!

I hope I managed to destroy the myth that painting is an expensive hobby. You really don’t need much and once you get them, you won’t run out of them for ages – with the exception of paper (hopefully). If you enjoyed this article, please pin the image below. Happy creating, guys!

9 essential art supplies the thrifty beginner needs

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Comments (5)

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