Teaching art at home can be a daunting task. One of the most difficult aspects of that chal- lenge is in knowing how much
to spend on art supplies. Some art teachers say to buy the best supplies you can
afford while others say that you should
get the cheapest supplies available.
Which opinion is correct?
Actually, both are. It all depends on
the situation. Here are some tips that will
help you determine what you need and
how much to spend.
Five Tips for Controlling Costs
1. Keep It Simple
If you are just starting your homeschool
art program, there is no need to spend a
lot of money up front. My goal with beginning art students is for them to have fun
and enjoy the process. You do not need
expensive art supplies for that. Chances
are you already have many of the supplies you need for basic art instruction.
Watercolors, temperas, crayons, markers,
2. Focus on Drawing Supplies
colored pencils, and even regular #2 pen-
cils are all a great way to encourage your
children to draw and create. As for paper,
plain copy paper works well. There is no
need for a big investment when you are
just getting started.
When your children are ready for more
3. Teach a Single Medium
challenging work, make drawing sup-
plies your first purchase. Again, these do
not need to be expensive. You can buy
a basic drawing set for anywhere from
five to fifteen dollars. The main ingredi-
ent of a basic drawing set is a number of
pencils with different degrees of hard-
ness. A number and letter combination
identifies the softness or hardness of the
graphite, for example: 3B, 2B, HB, 2H 3H.
(Here’s a video from See the Light’s mas-
ter artist, Pat Knepley, which explains
what the letters and numbers mean:
“History of the Pencil”). A basic draw-
ing set will usually include a white eraser
(which does not damage the paper) and a
kneaded eraser (for shading). Sometimes
these sets will also have pencil sharpen-
ers, sandpaper board (also for sharpen-
ing) and blending stumps (for shading).
I encourage my students to spend time
learning to sketch and draw before they
move on to other media. It does not mat-
ter which media you use: oil, watercolor,
pastel, or even crayon. It is all drawing.
If you do not know how to draw well,
you will struggle. Take the time to learn
how to draw before you experiment with
Whenever your children are ready
to move on from pencil sketching, I
106 Winter 2015 • The Artistic Homeschooler www.TheOldSchoolhouse.com
Art Class on a Budget:
A Common Sense Guide
Adding art to
not need to be