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10+ Cheap (but good) Art Supplies I Love

I'll be posting a quick watercolor lesson for Episode 2 in my series 5-Minute Art on Friday and I thought it would be helpful to share my favorite, inexpensive art supplies. This list has some of my favorite art supplies all of which will be used by me in the next few weeks of my 5-Minute Art classes. All of these are either super, duper cheap or less cheap, but still pretty inexpensive. (If you want any tips on expensive materials let me know - I've got lots of opinions on those as well).

Most of these can be purchased in the office supply aisle at your local grocery store, but if you have a small, local art or craft shop (like Starlandia in Savannah, GA), that would be the best place to shop. Links are provided to some of the options listed here.

I should mention that I don't get any referral bonus for these links, so these are truly my picks. If you know how a referral bonus works or want to give me one for talking about an art supply, please do tell. I'm definitely not against selling my opinion to the highest bidder (wink face). Okay, on to the art supplies:

Grocery Store Watercolor:

  • Crayola - Less than $3. Available at most grocery stores. Comes with a paint brush. The paint brush is terrible. Buy another one. Otherwise, you are good to go.

  • Prang (slight upgrade) - Surprisingly great colors. I would get the one with the 16 color options for under $4, but what do I know. (Kidding - I know a lot. Get the16 pack).

Slightly Fancier Watercolor:

Pelikan Opaque Watercolors - (definite upgrade - set of 12 for $17) This is what I use in Episode 2 of 5-Minute Art. They mix so beautifully together. I love to watch paint dry and THIS is my favorite paint to watch dry. Join me.

Note: I illustrated my book with these watercolors. Fun fact and shameless plug - the perfect combo.

Collage Materials:

  • FREE Collage Materials - Save your junk mail, food wrappers, magazines, wrapping paper, newspapers, and even old clothing items or fabrics (you can collage with them I swear). This is the BEST collage material money can buy because you didn't buy it!

  • Construction Paper (available at your grocery store) or Scrapbooking Paper (upgrade therefore mostly available at a craft or art supply store).

Color Pencils:

  • Crayola from the grocery store OR

  • Crayola Watercolor (probably got to go to the craft store for this one - you can blend them with water and a paintbrush, which is fun) OR

  • Prismacolor Scholar Brand (upgrade, but still the cheaper brand from Prismacolor)

I've got a lot of opinions on color pencils, so send me a message with your shopping questions and I'll talk your ear off about them.

A Note on Pencil Sharpeners: Get One.

Pencil Sharpener - any brand will do, but get one and get one now. Friends don't let friends draw with a dull pencil. Nothing ruins my art day more than a dull pencil.


Pencils come in different levels of hardness or softness. Softer lead is usually darker. Your regular #2 pencil is going to be just fine for sketching and drawing. If your pencil says something like HB or 2B, that means it is middle of the road between hard and soft lead and it is a perfect sketching pencil.

  • Ticonderoga - Anyone want to fill out a scantron? Or a little blue composition notebook? No? Your writing prompt today is - go draw something!

  • Blackwing (big time upgrade) - Just go to this site and get pumped about pencils with me.

  • CW Pencil - Great pencil shop with lots of different pencil options. They have pencil sharpeners, erasers, and many other beautiful products. Wanted to mention them here in the pencil section, so you would take a moment to check them out. Super awesome small business all to do with pencils. Go. Leave this site now and enjoy.


None of these options are too expensive. You can definitely find a good inky pen in your grocery store, pharmacy, or local giant chain store.

I know I didn't cover everything here. I'm missing acrylic paint, markers, gouache, and so much more. But there will be time for that. In the meantime, hit up your grocery store or, even better, a local art supply shop (like C.C. Lowell in Worcester, MA) and grab what you need to make quick and inexpensive art. It will be fun. It will be relaxing. It will be cheap. Let's go!

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