Arting Affordably: Pour Out Your Paint, Not Your Money

As my self-confidence as an artist has grown, so too has my intense, almost undeniable urge to buy every art supply I see! Paints, mediums, brushes, even stirring sticks—I’ve become a mid-level supply hoarder.

This wasn’t always the case though. When I first began pouring, I didn’t have a budget set aside for art supplies because extra funds were non-existent for our household. As someone who had been continuously told that “self-education” isn’t a thing when it comes to art, I had stuck to sketching and hadn’t really shown my work to anyone besides a few close friends and family for fear that they might think I was (gasp!) an imposter.

When I joined the Acrylic Pouring Facebook Group (if you haven’t joined yet, you definitely should), I saw other beginner-level fluid artists using nothing but craft paint, water, and something to pour on. I was excited to see that so many people were starting out this way; I could afford that!

Off to A.C. Moore I went. I picked up four acrylic paints in black, white, bronze and gunmetal metallic. I couldn’t quite afford a canvas yet, so I stopped at Home Depot and bought four ceramic 4×4 tiles.

The paints were buy one get one free, and cost $1.08 for four. The tiles were $0.16 apiece, so roughly shy of $0.75 for all four. In total, my first pouring experiment cost me less than $2.00—humble beginnings for what has turned into a real passion both for me, and the people I teach.

If I had had the disposable income, would I have preferred to start out with Golden or Liquitex paints? GAC800? Even Floetrol?


A small initial investment in supplies meant that I was much more willing to experiment and step out of my comfort zone. Not only that, but I was also more forgiving of my mistakes and didn’t beat myself up if something didn’t turn out quite right color-wise. My first paint mixture was about 1-1.5 parts paint to 2 parts water and a spritz or two of OGX Coconut Oil which I had bought for my hair. There wasn’t a lot of exact measuring at that point, but there was a lot of awe at the ebb and flow of the colors, and a sort of addiction to the meditative nature of the process. And a few swear words.

In those days, obviously I wasn’t selling my work. When I became more comfortable with my abilities and could afford longer lasting, vibrant paints and Floetrol, that’s when I felt my work lived up to my own standards of quality.

Many times, we set our standards of quality according to other artists, and you need to tailor your prices and standards to your own skills and goals. Is selling a painting that uses craft paint, water, and a piece of MDF board ok? YES! Should you mislead a buyer into thinking that the piece’s price is reflective primarily of materials in this case? Absolutely not.

“Affordable” means something slightly different to each person, so let’s look at it in three cost tiers.

Tier 3 – $

Total Cost: approximately $10 – $15, depending on if you buy all of this.

AffordableArt Image1 featured image

Tier 2 – $$

Total Cost: approximately $30-$40, again, depending on what you choose.

AffordableArt Image2

Tier 3 – $$$

Total Cost: approximately $70-$100; this is more of an investment in supplies.

AffordableArt Image3

If you’re on a tight budget, but you really want to start pouring, here’s the bottom line— you don’t need to invest in hundreds of dollars worth of supplies.

Here’s what you need to start:

  • Three craft acrylic colors
  • Four plastic or otherwise unwanted cups
  • Three popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, or old, unused cutlery
  • Four 4×4 ceramic tiles
  • Water
  • Four additional plastic cups and some saran wrap, aluminum foil, or an old box.

That’s it! You can get started and experiment for less than $7.00.

To cut costs, I always use only the paint I need, and wash my cups after each pour. I also ask at the paint counter at my local hardware store and they will usually give me a handful of paint stirrers for free, which are great for bigger projects or resin.
I guess what I’m saying is this —you don’t have to break the bank to get started. If you’ve scrolled through our group, this website or online and fallen in love with pouring, grab the basics and do it. Don’t let the idea that art must be taught/expensive or some other ridiculous notion stop you; and make sure you show us what you’ve made!

18 thoughts on “Arting Affordably: Pour Out Your Paint, Not Your Money”

  1. Very good information for beginners. Because paint is alot less expensive than resin. I started out with resin years ago but only used it for clear coat on wood, didn’t know I could color it. Wow what fun. But I had an advantage over most beginners in resin because I all ready knew how to use the product , which saved a lot of wasted projects and resin. Now I experiment with paint of all kinds even house paint. I found that sometimes the cheaper paint that drips off the brush and roller works well for pouring. lol and it is all fun. I even experiment with white paint and color it with pigment or other paint to get unique colors. Thanks for you insites and information.

  2. I’ve been so excited to start this new hobby/craft/art. I’ve always loved being artistic some way or another whether it was crocheting which I’ve done since childhood, jewelry making, floral wreaths etc. I really am a bit apprehensive about Paint Pouring and that’s because I’m hard on myself, plus making a decision especially with colors that go good together is going to be a challenge. I won’t know until I try though. Money is very tight right now because I had to resign from my job because my mom was recently diagnosed with an incurable disease out of the blue. It called Amaliodosis and I did not leave her side for 9 months while she was constantly in and out of the hospital. She would want me to try something new because she knew how much I enjoyed it. I bought the book but have not had the courage to read it yet. I also have joined the Facebook page. I just feel lost and afraid to start. Maybe in some deep seeded way I’m afraid to fail, plus using extra money we don’t have and that I would disappoint everyone. Thank you

  3. I had a little chuckle as I read your introduction today and the reason is I started acrylic painting and pouring the same way as you started lol. I’m still a beginner, but I have learnt so much from reading what others say regarding acrylics, as well as watching dozens of utube videos, I’m addicted. I have also started working with resin; wow what an eye opener that has been. I have made a few 6 inch round clocks with resin and love they way they look, I have since given them to friends and family as gifts. I ventured out on my first raw edge wood table top a few weeks ago, followed by a resin pour on an old table, I’m thrilled by the end result. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  4. Thanks Sara for the great article. I now know how costly this love/addiction can be, and this is fabulous advice for newbies. It’s always fun to look back at our creations, so we can enjoy the process and the journey, not just the outcome.????????

  5. Patricia Powell

    Thank you Sue.
    You are so encouraging.
    I have a broken wrist at the
    moment and I can’t wait to begin to play with my paints again.

  6. Hi. I’m 65 and was given a smart phone, that is smarter than me. Lol. I wanted to order your pouring book, but will need advice on how to order and pay on my phone. I started pouring and self learning about it on the cheap. I too thought I was a fake when it came to art. Love the sound of your site and the others who join you. Thank you

  7. what can be said? everyone starts when they are is wonderful it fills a void in your soul. acrylic pouring is so freeing something that is not encouraged in our fast paced society.i love it , have been pouring approximately 3yrs. and this site and artist,s videos/comments very helpful.thank you

  8. Thank you so much for all your articles! They aren’t just full of helpful information but inspiration as well! My son had a terrible bicycle accident last year which left him with traumatic brain injury and in a wheelchair. I, therefore, quit my job and am now at home taking care of him. I have, since, taken up this form of painting, not only as a way of finding something for myself, but in hopes that someday I may actually be successful at it. Similar to your story, I’ve made a few pieces, all of which I’ve given out as presents to family and friends (I even gifted a painting to my ex who, according to my son, was impressed, so that gave me some confidence). But, as you mentioned, I want to buy everything…lol. Thank you for the tips on how to work with a small budget for the time being (until we make it “big”…lol). Your words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us.

    Sonia Marie

    1. Hi Sonia,

      It sounds like you’ve had a difficult time, and I’m so glad to hear that acrylic pouring has become a source of happiness for you! It is SO hard not to go out and buy a ton of supplies right off the bat, but I think that sliding yourself up to the more expensive supplies incrementally also helps you become a master with ALL levels of supplies.

  9. Hello, I would love to take a in-person class. However, can find the place close to my town. I am in the town of Punta Gorda, FL please advise. Thank you, yv

    1. Hi there,

      I’m not sure how many artists are offering in-person classes right now because of the pandemic, but I’d recommend joining our Facebook group where you can ask to see if there’s anything in your area.

  10. 77 y/o retired. Never had any talent or interest in anything artsy. Then ……. Had a stroke and found a brain tumor. As I started rehab I mentioned to youngest son that perhaps painting would help with creative things and with coordination and steadiness. About two weeks later I received two large boxes of art supplies from him. So……I figured what the heck, I had nothing to loose. And off I went. Not being on FB or IG just YouTube. As I watched what seemed like thousands of hours, I slowly began to paint multiple techniques. Acrylics only. That was two years ago. I recently was featured in a local newspaper. I then was invited to take part in an “emerging new artist” show. Unbelievably I sold 5 pieces, a commission and was asked to help a local hospital create a program to help patients finishing cancer treatments, celebrate their accomplishment by choosing a painted rock (I produce them on the side) to be placed in the “Surviver Garden”. I would encourage this to anyone for therapy and relaxing.
    Bob M (Lancaster, Pa)

    1. Wow Bob, what a journey! Congratulations on your progress, it’s very inspiring to me.

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