Four creative ways to use your art supplies

 When your brushes have gone stale and crunchy, and you find yourself on your last bottle of paint, it can sometimes feel like the creative juices are drying up too.

But your well-loved art supplies haven’t finished their course just yet – whether you bring them back to life with some clever tricks and tips, or use them to create new textures and patterns, a fresh perspective on your art supplies can inspire new forms of artistic expression. 

Four innovations for your art supplies collection:

1. Give old brushes some life

creative ways to use your art supplies: customize old brushes

Many can relate to having a heap of old, dry paint brushes taking up space in their art box or cabinet. And while your brushes are not what they used to be, you still don’t want to just throw them out.

That’s where these 12 hacks to bring your brushes back to life come in. Artists share their tried and tested methods for restoring old brushes and keeping new ones smooth and soft.

Some highlights? Try soaking them in fabric softener or baby oil, coating them in hair gel, and remember – never let them rest on their heads!

2. Build texture and patterns

Modifying the bristles of your brushes, either by spacing them out or cutting some out, can add highly unique textures to your piece. On this forum, artists discuss the ways in which they shape their old brushes to create new patterns and lines.

One tip: Paint bush trimming. Simply cut out some of the bristles to create a series of pointy brush ends, and then use the brush to create new impressions like the look of grass. 

3. Explore mixed media

Mixed Media art
We’ve talked a lot about old brushes. But painting is far from the only way to create art. In fact, when your usual supplies are needing a little TLC, you can always opt for mixed media projects that use funky materials like wood, flower petals, or tea leaves, or that combine other mediums like photography and drawing.

Start here. This beginner’s guide to mixed media art covers the basics of mixed media collage and paper craft, sculpture, photography, and yes, painting too.

4. Water things down

Watering down acrylic paint gives it a flowy, matte feel that makes the paint easier to spread. But the exact recipe is tricky – some say that with too much water, the binder could break down, causing flaky paint that doesn’t adhere.

But how much water is too much water?

This article takes an in-depth look at the watering down process, examining four types of acrylic paints on multiple surfaces. It’s a long and detailed piece that challenges the warnings around water and adhesion failure, with the tests to back it up.

If you’re in a hurry, the authors also released some core findings that you can absorb with just a quick scroll. One important discovery: 1 part water to 10 parts acrylic paint is your safest bet.