Pencils and Paper

I cannot stress enough, even to myself, the necessity of starting your art hobby with a pencil and a piece of paper. Any pencil, any paper. We all have our goals of what we want our drawings to look like. Spending your time trying to copy other people on YouTube or following the steps in a dinky step but step “draw a cat” tutorial will only get you so far. Let me emphasize that learning technique is very important, but it is also important to find out who you are as an artist and not learn primarily by copying other people.

What I will teach you in terms of drawing are basic “art grammar” tips to help you get the most out of your pencil and paper during your practice time. Look for the word TIP! hiding around my posts.

It can be very frustrating to practice day in and day out and not feel like you are getting any better. Please see the page “A Drawing a Day” for inspiration. I will not be posting just my new drawings, but I will also do many flashbacks so that you can see that we ALL have to start somewhere.

So, the next three steps are how you can kick off your art hobby with a vengeance.

  1. Get some paper, pencils, and a pencil sharpener.

  • My favorite pencils are #2 Ticonderoga pencils. I have bought them at Walmart and the Dollar Store. They are cheap and they sharpen well.
  • The paper does not matter right now if you follow the drawing tips that are to come later. I just use plain old computer paper most of the time. You can get a ream for 2-3 dollars. Nothing fancy mind you while you are starting out. If you inherited or were given a sketchbook, you can save it for later or work in it now to boost your “artisteam”.
  • A pencil sharpener is a pencil sharpener. I have no preference. I have an electric one and several $1 ones from the store. If you get one and it is tearing up your pencils, it’s not worth it. Get a new one.
  1. (TIP!) Start with a light touch.

  • To check and see if you already have a light touch, draw a smiley face and then try to erase it. If you can still see the lines, you are drawing too hard. Get this down to where you can draw and erase your lines with ease. You can always go back over the lines later to emphasize them. Great sketching requires a light touch since very few even professional artists can get a line right the first time.
  1. Draw what you like.

  • Just like in music where it is easier to learn an instrument when working towards learning a certain song, you can help yourself by applying drawing techniques to objects you enjoy. If you like horses, draw horses. If you like babies, draw babies. If you like drawing random stuff around you house, good for you! Go for it and release those “joy” endorphins.

Happy drawing!


Cheap Paint vs. Expensive Paint

As you walk down the paint aisle at your local craft store, you see brands ranging from $0.99 per bottle to $15.99 per tube! What are the differences in these brands and how can I determine what I NEED for my specific project? I am so glad you asked :).

Let me start off by explaining that when it comes to paint, markers, crayons, pencils, etc. more often than not, you ARE getting what you pay for. Most of the time what you are paying for is the quality of or amount of the specific ingredients present to make the product. Paint is made by grinding different pigments and mixing them with a binder and other fillers. The ratio between these materials are what can affect the pricing. If you have a higher pigment content, your paint will be more expensive since the raw materials required to make such a color are expensive. If you have a lower pigment content, the producer can charge less since it costs them less to make.

What is the pigment and the binder and why are they necessary?

The PIGMENT is the color you are looking for. Blueberries have a natural violet-blue pigment that causes them to look blue. They are a very vibrant blue and so is there juice. Therefore, you can assume that their pigment ratio to rest of the fruit meat is very high. The same is true for paint, crayons, etc. The greater the amount of pigment and the higher quality of the pigment the brighter, bolder, and deeper your colors will be. The quality of the pigment can also determine the longevity of the color lasting over time and not fading. It also affects how much paint you need to make a new color when mixed with another.

The BINDER is what holds in the pigment in a form that allows it to be transferred to a surface. Crayons have a binder of wax. Have you ever bought really cheap crayons that do not color well or seem dried out? That is a result of insufficient pigment and a low quality binder.

Can you still make art with such crayons and the like? Of course! That is what this blog is all about.

Binders, liquids and fillers are how we can determine whether paint is classified as watercolor, acrylic, or oil. Not all binders are created equal, but then again neither are the pigments. All this to emphasize again that the price range between different brands of paint and student/professional grade paints vary as greatly as the number of colors and brands represented.


In addition to the pigment and the binder paints have other liquids and fillers. The amount of liquid can determine how runny or thick paint consistency is. Fillers can vary also and, as stated above as with everything else, they are not created equal. We will not get into all that, though there are a myriad of websites offering information on how there paint is made. Individual brands will also usually have the pigment ratios on their websites.

Looking at the diagram above, it may be easy to interpret one paint as being better than the other. Instead of using the terms cheap paint and expensive paint, it would be better to see them as fulfilling different purposes and generating different results.

Why is pigment so important anyways?

This is greatly dependent on what kind of project you are trying to complete. Pigment allows for easier mixing of colors. There is less of a learning curve when using highly pigmented color because they do not turn muddy or gray out as easily. The key then to mixing the less pigmented paint or “craft paint” would be that you need to mix much more to get the colors you desire, and even if you do mix the general “red+blue=purple”, you may not get the exact result you were imagining. The plus side of the cheaper price of craft paints is that they come in a huge variety of colors so you can just buy the color you want. Since the “thick paints” are more expensive it is important to learn the fine art of mixing in order to save money. With higher quality paints it is possible to achieve the color you want through mixing, but it takes a lot of practice and an intimate knowledge of color theory.

The best way to save money with the expensive paints is to only buy the basics (red, blue, yellow, black, and white) and mix the rest from there. For those just starting out, it may be more efficient and inexpensive for you to start out with the “buy per color” craft paint.

Welcome ArtScrapers!

Hello Friends!

If you have found your way here, it is probably because you want to start making art but you do not have the money to buy the materials. Paints, canvases, brushes and even the “recommended” drawing pencils and paper can really take a chunk out of our paychecks.

If you are just starting out with art making, you may have inherited certain supplies that you do not know how to use. You may also have taken a recent trip to the local craft store just to find that there are too many options! If you are an art veteran, you may just be looking for creative ideas to make use of the “cheap” materials you have lying around the house.

Let me be your guide into this discovery process to find what materials and brands are best for you and your wallet!