Art on the Cheap

There can be lots to buy when stocking a homeschool.  There are all the traditional school supplies, computers, tablets, printers, furniture, and, of course, workbooks, and textbooks.  It can really add up fast.  Most of us on a budget just don’t have the spending power to really stock up on a robust collection of art supplies.  For those who still want homeschool art, but can’t spend a bundle, here are a few tricks that help us stretch our art budget:

  • Start cheap – For younger or inexperienced students, cheap supplies are totally fine.  Crayola may not produce the highest quality supplies, but they’ll do just fine for a beginner.  For most novices, the difference in quality will not even be noticed.  So shop cheap in the start – Crayola makes some respectable art supplies.  (One exception to that rule – skip Rose Art brand.  That’s one time when even novices will notice the difference in quality.)
  • Shop in fall – Walmart and Target have amazing deals on basic art supplies around back-to-school time.  It’s worth a trip down the school supply aisle to stock up on crayons, markers, colored pencils, construction paper, and water colors.  The prices can be unbelievably low if you shop around, especially in the big box stores.  It’s worth hording away a few extra packs of whatever you know your students will need later.
  • Store properly – Even with good deals, it does no good to have your supplies go bad from being stored improperly.  Never store markers cap up!  Always store them horizontally to keep ink from draining.  Keep colored pencils safe from drops (as much as you can).  Crayons need to be stored in comfortable room temperatures.  Hot or cold environments can damage them.  Most of this is common sense, but I can’t tell you how many homeschoolers I see storing markers cap up.  Get a lot more life from them with a little care.
  • Step up to Student Sets – If you have an older/more advanced student that is ready to graduate from Crayola and the like, you don’t have to jump into the deep (expensive) end of the art world right away.  Many high quality companies make a scholar or student version of their products that are suitable for developing artists.  Your student will notice the difference in quality from the ‘kid brands’, but you’ll not be in professional artist territory.  For example, a 48 pack of Prismacolor brand colored pencils runs about 28$ on Amazon right now, while a 48 count set of the scholar Prismacolor runs 13$.
  • Card stock for paint – To get proper paper to paint on, you have to spend a bunch.  Many types of Bristol paper can easily run over a dollar a sheet.  When you have young children who slop paint on paper with little to no thought, getting Bristol paper is joke.  However, regular paper will not hold up to paint.  It will warp, tear, and the paint will crack.  Card stock is a great paper for young painters.  It will warp a little, but it will hold up like a champ, and the price is better on the budget.  It is versatile enough to be used in lots of other projects too.  This stuff is homeschool art gold.
  • Shop your closet – Some art supplies are difficult to use.  Crayons and markers always have their place in the classroom, but working with other supplies in can be less obvious.  If you do decide to spring for a less common supply (always good to expand your student’s repertoire), Google projects you can do with that particular supply.  Finding new life for that obscure supply can enrich an art curriculum and save you in the long run.
  • Sales – This one is really a no-brainer.  Art supply stores and online retailers rotate sales, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on prices.  Acrylics are great to have, but getting a collection together can be a little pricey.  Keep an eye on places like Micheal’s and Hobby Lobby.  Amazon can even surprise with a great price now and then.

With so many options and ideas out there, shopping for art supplies can be painful.  Since many don’t consider art to be a fundamental, it can be an easy place to skimp on.  However, art offers boundless possibilities, and investing in collection of basic supplies can be priceless.  By shopping thoughtfully, a good art collection can be within reach.

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