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.
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.
Tier 2 – $$
Total Cost: approximately $30-$40, again, depending on what you choose.
Tier 3 – $$$
Total Cost: approximately $70-$100; this is more of an investment in supplies.
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
- 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!