Affordable Paints for Art


Ready for another Art on a Shoe String post? Actually I posted this on The Creator’s Leaf almost three years ago and I wanted to pull it back out.

Art doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, many artists don’t have the dollars to spend on expensive name brand paints. I don’t always have the money to spend on the paints I’d like to use every day. Don’t get discouraged. You can obtain some incredible results with affordable products.

Today let’s look at Washable Kids’ Paint from Walmart. Yep, you read that right! I found this set on the Crayola aisle and it cost me just $2.97 for eighteen little pots of color. I want to show you four sets of color projects I made using these inexpensive ‘kids’ paints.

This set has some really beautiful colors. Little pots of pure sunshine and rainbows! Did I really say that three years ago? Hahahaha! You get some really wonderful bursts of color in this set! I started with some scraps of watercolor and mixed media paper and the cheap paintbrush that came in the set. And I tend to use loads of water. Yes, I can see Sandra and Jennifer cringing over there. Hahahaha! It is important to use a heavier paper when you use as much water as I do.

I started by spreading water on the paper surface . . .

. . . then took a wider brush and wet it, then dipped it into the little pot of pink and started dabbing color onto my paper.

A couple things happened. The water caused the color to begin spreading. Then I used the paintbrush to push the color around in the water. I mentioned I changed paintbrushes. El Cheapo was not the best brush. It kept dropping bristles into the paint. Walmart has inexpensive paintbrushes on their craft aisle and that is where this brush came from.

Then I picked another color and repeated the process. As I added more water to the paper, little puddles and streams of color began to happen. I used the paintbrush to push them where I wanted them to go.

This little technique has a real specific name – it’s called dripping. Really not a rocket science kind of art I do. While there is plenty of water on the paper, tilt it to one side or the other and the color will start running down the paper causing these wonderful drips. In this case, where the pink crosses over the blue – I got purple. Basic color mixology. Boom!

I felt the pink was a little too watered down, so I added more . . .

. . . and walked that pink all the way around the blue. Then added more blue. Because I could. I could never have too much color for my tastes!

While it was still good and wet, I added more drips. See that bit of purple starting to build down through the middle of the blue? Like a little river of awesomeness! Actually, back then I said ‘rivulet’ but now I like ‘river’ better.

Then I turned the whole piece to the side and ran some drips from side to side.

And here it is dry. I love it! All ready for tangling!

Here is an important note: rub your hand over the surface of the dry paper. If you feel residue, buff the surface with a paper towel and remove that residue before you tangle. Your pens will thank you.

Project #2: Using a paintbrush I wet the entire surface with lots of water. A wet mess! Then I began adding yellow in long brush strokes.

This created a color wash of sorts – and I covered the entire paper with it.

I believed the bright green would work well here . . .

. . . so I added it and started spreading the color.

Anytime I have a lot of water my brain automatically goes to drips and runs. It’s engrained.

Originally I was going to add blue, but this mauve really called out my name. Truly. It did.

I used a wet brush to pick up some of the color and started spreading it onto the already wet yellow.

And created a little texture by being choppy with my brush and paint.

If you need to add more water prior to starting your drips just load your paintbrush with clean water and shake drops of water into the color mix. I am so not technical with my painting expertise. Hahahaha! Then let the dripping and running begin.

Voila! Dry!

Project #3: I wet the paper but not the color. I just took a brush full of color straight out of the pot and swirled it around onto the water covered paper.

You can see without any real help – the color is spreading into the water causing lighter shades around the edges.

Then I added a blob of purple on a dry-ish brush and painted it across the top.

Because there was so much water on the paper, the purple started spreading and began mixing with the pink – without any prompting from me.

Did I mention I began with a ton of water on the paper? Drips were the natural direction to go.

I tend to throw the color wheel out the window when I make art. I don’t care that purple and orange usually make mud. I play with whatever color catches my eye. I grabbed the orange mainly because I hadn’t used it yet. I am so not an orange person but I actually liked this shade.

I added a little water to make the orange spread better.

Enough to make dripping necessary.

And dry. My favorite of the pieces I made that day.

Project #4 – I was working on a non-stick craft mat and I had wet color left behind from the dripping.

You know the drill. You don’t waste product that is paid for. Even if it was dirt cheap to start with, so I placed a piece of paper over the wet and blotted it up.

Then I turned the paper around and came at it from a different angle

I was greatly disappointed with the small amount of color I could see. I like really bright and crazy colors! While it was still wet, I took a palette knife – a butter knife from your kitchen would work – and tapped it up and down in the wet color. The knife – not the paper.

And tapped it up and down onto the paper. Just trying to add color to the flat, light color I had. I liked the bit of texture it added.

But I just had to add a little more of that beautiful orange color!

And that was enough to create some drips and runs.

For the tanglers reading this post – I like drips because of the look they give. But I also like them because they can act as a string and give me sections that can then be tangled. Start thinking about drips and runs in that mindset.

And dried! Art on a shoe string! It might not be for everyone, but it is definitely for me. And even though this post is originally from almost three years ago, you know what?

I still have these paints and I still use them. Three years later! I began by paying almost $3 for this set – that comes out to a dollar a year. Pretty good Art on a Shoe String in my opinion!

And just because she is so adorable, here is a shot of Studio Assistant Aurora waking up from her afternoon nap. She is seriously wondering what all of you are doing in her art room. Hahahahaha! Art on a Shoe String. It’s where it’s at!

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6 thoughts on “Affordable Paints for Art

    • you are welcome. it is amazing the supplies we can find at a dollar store or even in the hardware section. maybe I’ll work on that next!

  1. Love how Aurora co-ordinates with the background – & yes she does look a little surprised.
    The tip about buffing the paper before tangling is brilliant (didn’t remember reading that 3 years ago! so I obviously needed reminding.

    • I have a chamois cloth I use sometimes, too, but I figured everyone had access to a paper towel – hopefully – or something similar. and hahahaha! Aurora looks startled a lot of the time with these dogs we have living here with us hahahahahaha!

  2. Really good post Alice – I think it’s important for people to realise that creativity relies on imagination and experimentation far more than on pricey materials.

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