Household Art Supplies

When I was a student I used to get into the habit of gathering household items to use as my art supplies. I may not have had the money to buy stuff from the art store or I just thought that what I was using from the house was just as good. When I graduated from the University and went on to work with children from schools and my own children. I continued to find basic household items very useful when working on art at home or with learning groups.

Protective Covering

When I paint I find it useful to protect the area that I am working in.  Living in apartments and at times working in another person’s space, I had to be very careful when I was painting.  I have splattered paint from my paint brush onto the floor and at times the walls because of the moisture in the brush.  Useful household items are garbage bags.  If you cut them down the seam along one side and the bottom you have a plastic tarp that covers quite a bit of space.  Shower curtain liners can also be spread out over a larger working area.  Newspapers are also very useful before they are recycled they can be reused for protecting a work space.  Finally, brown paper shopping bags can be cut along the side and the bottom to create a protective covering as well.  The beauty is that some of these items can still be recycled after they have been used so you protect the environment as well.

Paint Pallets

I have used several different items in the place of paint pallets simply because I decided to paint regardless of whether or not I had everything I needed from the art supply store.  I have also found myself in situations where my kids want to paint and I have to get creative looking for supplies that they can use.  Items that I have found very useful are plastic container lids from empty yogurt or butter containers.  I like using these because they have a lip when they are flipped around and will hold water.  Paper plates are usually in every pantry for those sunday barbeques with family, well they have also been very useful for paint.  Empty egg cartons can be cut down and filled up with paint.  I used to buy tempera paints for the kids and filled up egg carton segments with several different colors of paint and gave each child their own segment.  They loved seeing all of the different colors available to them.  Ceramic plates that have been glazed are also excellent pallets because of the smooth non-absorbant surface.  Finally, glass from an old frame makes an excellent pallet for painting, although I would recommend it more for adult use.  Sheets of glass are also used by printmakers for rolling out the inks that they are going to apply to the print block just before running it through the press. 

Although these are all great items to use for painting (unless working with oils), I find that the paints (acrylics)are harder to keep moist when using these items as pallets.  My paints didnt stay wet for very long, and I had to keep them moisturized.  Plastic water spray bottles are very handy for keeping your paints moist while working with them.  Just set the sprayer to mist, and every once and a while mist over your paint to keep it from drying.  I would also recommend planning out how much paint you are going to need because at the end of the working period it is more difficult to keep paints moist on the pallets listed above.  Professional acrylic paints are costly and so I use them wisely and sparingly, and plan to let any leftover paint dry on the pallet after I am done. 

Painting Tip

When I paint (I use mostly acrylics), I usually like to paint clean fine lines with my paint brush. I have a variety of liners of different sizes and brands, but one that I have used quite frequently has been my Loew/Cornell 10/0 liner.  For the paintings that I have done recently, I find that its just the right size.  One of the ways that I accomplish painting clean fine lines is by dabbing off excess water from my paintbrush after I’ve cleaned it in water on a paper towel.  If I dont have paper towels available I cut up an old t-shirt, or use a washcloth.  As long as I have something there to absorb any moisture from the brush after its been cleaned it keeps the paint from running after I’ve dabbed it in the paint.  By using this method to clean your brush you can also see if there is any residual paint on the brush, you may have to clean it more than once to be sure your paint is gone. 

After my brush is clean and ready to use I always dab my brush in the paint about halfway up the brush.  I try not to allow the paint to touch the metal.  This will give you just enough paint to start a clean line without having excess paint.  Excess paint can be a waste and can sometimes cause your lines to vary in thickness.  After painting about three lines I clean my brush and start the process over.  This will keep my lines consistent in size and very clean.  It has taken me many years of practicing to get my techniques down, but its a method I still enjoy and continue to use.

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