Mixed media on the cheap....the cheatsheet

Art supplies can be quite an investment especially when you are just starting to dabble in mixed media. While I encourage you to buy the best supplies you can afford (not necessarily the most expensive) because as a newbie, it can be quite discouraging to struggle with both technique and challenging supplies, there are some ways you can save money, using some supplies you might already have at home. Here is my mixed media on the cheap cheatsheet. :)

1. Make your own "gel medium".
Gel medium is my fave type of adhesive because it is non-sticky, dries clear and can take lot of wet media once it's dry. If you don't have gel medium, you can make your own at home with one part white glue and one part water.

2. Don't throw out the disposable cutlery.
Personally, I hate to eat with disposable anything...but sometimes, to go is the only way to go and I get stuck with used-once cutlery like plastic forks and knives. I use them in place of plastic palette knives to spread paint and mix colours. They are a little flimsy but at least you get to use them a few times before they break and you have to throw them away.

3. Keep your hairspray nearby.
Don't want to splurge on a fixative? Hairspray works well as a fixative for powders.

4. Find objects around the house that can be used as a mask/stamp.
Stencils are great for creating interesting backgrounds but it is quite an investment to build up your stash. Why not look for interesting objects in your home that can serve as a mask/stamp? Toilet roll tubes can be cut into fun shapes that can be used as both a mask and a stamp. If you are good with a penknife, create and cut out designs and use it as a stencil.

5. Create interesting effects with common at-home items.

You don't need fancy mediums to create spectacular effects - you can experiment with common household items like salt, bleach and rubbing alcohol. Try sprinkling salt when your paint is still wet. Dust them off when paint is dry and you get little stars on your background.  Use bleach with an old toothbrush to remove colour from parts of your background. Use acrylic paints, watered down gesso and then add some rubbing alcohol (follow the order) for a really interesting background. I love using my correction pen when my white paint pen refuses to's great for outlining and highlights.

6. Old makeup brushes make great paintbrushes.

Acrylic paints can be really hard on paintbrushes especially if you let the paint dry on them. If you have some old makeup brushes or ones that you get free with makeup, use those instead. I like to use natural bristles for my facial makeup so all the synthetic makeup brushes I get free goes straight to my art supply pile. 
Image via

7.  Buy super heavy gesso.
Gesso is a must-have if you are dabbling in mixed media but if you only have budget for one type   of gesso, go for the super heavy gesso.
     a. You can thin it down with water to get regular gesso.
     b. You can thin it down further with water to get an even lighter consistency.
     c. You can use it with stencils for a slightly raised effect (in place of light modeling paste).

8.  Create your own paint with old makeup.

I love buying makeup like blushes and eyeshadows (I am but it drives me crazy that I never ever finish using them before their two-year expiry date. To make them into watercolours, mix them with a little gum arabic. To make them into acrylic paint, mix them with gel medium. Or just use them like chalk and spray a fixative after.

9. Make your own mists.
Those beautifully displayed rainbow of colours can add up to a pretty penny and the truth is, you don't really need that many colours (you just want

If you already have acrylic paints at home, why not make your own bottles of mists? Get some spray bottles from the dollar store, mix your acrylic paints with some water and add a little bit of airbrush medium (it thins the paint and prevents clogging at the nozzle). 

There you have it, 9 tips for mixed media on the cheap. Which one will you try?


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SD pooja said...

I have already tried few ;) Great compilation of cheap MM tricks Yvonne :)

Lizzy Hill said...

Love this post! Given me some ideas - like the hairspray & the makeup brushes....super informative, thank you:):)

Sindhu said...

thanks for sharing the tips...

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

You are simply amazing!!!!!!!!! I loveeeeeeeeeeee it!!!!!!!!!!!! And sadly, we have tried that treat trick with Dandy ... he's too smart for me! LOL!!!!

Dr Sonia S V said...

Such a beautiful post Yvonne. I love your list style posts
Dr Sonia

Karon said...

Fabulous post and just great ideas! TFS

Lisa said...

What fabulous tips!! I'm bookmarking this so I can refer to it often!! Thanks for the info my friend!! Have a great day!! Big hugs :)

A Mermaid's Crafts

Audrey Pettit said...

Wow, you have such great tips, Yvonne! I always try to be quite thrifty with my purchases, so I totally love any tips for saving a few bucks. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Lynn said...

I think I will have to try all of them.....wonderful, money saving ideas. I am sending you a BIG Mahalo (thank you) for being creative and generously helpful.

Cindy deRosier said...

Excellent tips! I had no idea that eyeshadow expires in 2 years. I wear makeup so rarely that mine are all 10+ years old (most closer to 20 years). Oops.

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Cheers, Yvonne.

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