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The Drive to Economize-- Unseen Thief of Creativity

April 09, 2021 8:12 AM | Dan Nelson

I know not everyone grew up the way I did. To put it bluntly, we were poor. Thankfully, we didn’t realize it, and our parents taught us how to hold our heads up, behave, and be thankful. One trait it engendered in me, however, is a life-long tendency to skimp. That can be a good impulse in much of life . . . but it's not so good when you sit down to paint. My years of observation as a teacher has shown me that I’m not the only one with this tendency.

I heard a smart teacher say once, "You can't paint and save money at the same time!" That is really true.

When you set up your oil palette, you put just the tiniest dab of paint possible for each color? Do you use a tiny little cup for your Brush Cleaning Solution? Do you buy small tubes of paint, cheap paint, and small brushes? Believe it or not, ALL of those habits are actually COSTING you money... and making you a WORSE PAINTER at the same time!


1) You want to do good artwork

2) You don't want to waste money.

HERE, then, are some money saving tips you might not have thought of, yet --


- Put reasonably large dollops of paint on your palette -- from the size of a Hershey's Kiss up to half a golf ball. ***When you are finished painting, put your palette in the freezer. If you know you're not going to paint for more than a week, put Saran wrap on the paints. A tiny pile of paint will make you overly cautious about using some of that color!

- Use a LARGE (at least a pint, preferably quart-size) canister for your Gamsol / Turpenoid WITH A LID. Remember: the oil pigments will settle to the bottom of your cleaning solution, so you can use the Solution over and over. If you want, you can periodically collect the gunk at the bottom of your rinse can and put it into new paint tubes for your own "Torrit Gray". Do NOT use "odorless paint thinner," however-- It will eat your synthetic brushes and cause the fibers to curl.


- Cheap paint is usually expensive because it has LESS PIGMENT in it, so you have to use a lot more to achieve the desired effect.

- Buy Titanium instead of Zinc white. Zion is weaker, so you just have to use more. Get Titanium and adjust accordingly.

(If you're an oil painter, you might want to try fast-drying Alkyd oil for your Titanium.)

- Speaking of Titanium -- put out several small dollops of white instead of one huge pile. That way, you're less likely to cross-contaminate each pile with the wrong color.

- Good quality brushes tend to last a lot longer, so cheap brushes might be more expensive than you think.

- If you think you can save money by stretching your own canvasses, think again; you can't touch the efficiency of a factory-stretching process.


- A Masterson Stay-Wet Palette will pay for itself in ONE painting. Get one and follow the instructions.

- In addition to that - - you already know to have spray bottle handy, right? Good. I thought so.

Well, that's enough for now. What have YOU found that saves you money... And still let's you do good paintings? Agfa with us here.

In the meantime,

Keep On Painting!


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