Featured image by Tommy Kane

We all love our art tools. For artists, whether they’re just starting out or very experienced, art supply shops are what candy shops are for kids. We even published a few posts recently about keeping track of your many sketchbooks and supplies. However, here is a little reminder that you don’t always need all that jazz. There are plenty of ways to freshen up your drawing that don’t require running to the store or shopping online.

Cathy Johnson, Fakulty member and teacher in Sketchbook Skool’s Seeing, says in klass: “All you really need is something to draw ON and something to draw with. Experiment with your art tools!” And she is absolutely right. Instead of buying new stuff, you could take it upon yourself as a personal challenge and go to your stack of art supplies and see how you can make best use of it.

Here is a list of tips from both community and fakulty on how to reduce your spending and reuse some of your materials:

  • Use water-soluble pens, and then add water here and there for a yummy blue/pinkish watercolor effect.
  • With watercolor pencils, you can draw with them and then add water, but you can also try taking color right from the tip of the watercolor pencil without using water to save you from buying new fancy color pencils
  • Use a skewer or something else found and pointed instead of a dip pen
  • Fill your water brush with colored ink or premixed watercolors, instead of water
  • Paint with coffee, tea, or some other natural materials to try to achieve new colors
  • If you’re not happy with a sketchbook page, collage is the answer! Cut, tear, paste, and tape your page into something you like. Make the most out of every page in that sketchbook.
  • Swap! If you have friends who also draw, come together every now and then and add some items to a pile you haven't touched in a long time. Pick through it and exchange items. You might find someone else's unused material to be a true useful treasure!
  • Make your own. There are tons of tutorials online for making your own fun papers using recycled paper you already have. You can also make your own charcoal or pigments using natural materials.
  • Challenge yourself! Assign yourself a challenge of using up old materials in your supply box or drawers. Document what you make out of them and try to keep the streak going. Artist Allison Buenger did a similar experiment, calling it a "creative cleanse" and made a blog about it to keep track of materials used up and artwork she made.

What do you do when you want to avoid buying new materials but still want to experiment with something new?

Filed under categories: Tips