• Tylor Adair

Can You Make Good Art With Cheap Paint?

We all know that art supplies can be expensive, but you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to produce a quality piece of art. There are pros and cons to “cheap” and “expensive” paints. Ill display a few examples of artwork at the end of this article that use different grades of paint and explain the differences of each one.


Choosing the right paint is important. Look at each type and decide which is best for you.

Like I mentioned in the first sentence, your supplies do not have to be expensive to produce good art. The quality of your materials does make a huge different however. There are two grades of paint. Artist or Professional grade, and student grade.


If you are wondering what the difference is, I'd love to tell you!

but before I do I need to explain what paint really is.


Paint is a colored substance made up of 3 things. Pigment, Binder, and Solvent.

  • Pigments are minerals ground up into a colored powder, this powder assists with the color of the paint. There is also something called, Pigment Filler, a very inexpensive powder used to in place of pigment. This changes the consistency of the paint and makes the paint cheaper. The less filler, the better the paint.

  • Binder and Solvent are the two ingredients that determine the type of paint. Binder holds the pigment together and solvent softens it into a usable consistency. Oil paint uses linseed oil as a solvent which has a natural binder. Acrylic paint uses water as a solvent and acrylic polymer as its binder. Watercolor paint uses the same solvent as acrylic paint but, requires the use of gum arabic as its binder.


So in a nut shell, this is the difference.

Artist/Professional -

  • Highest pigment levels

  • Higher prices

  • More color options

Student -

  • Contains filler

  • Cheap prices

  • Limited selection of color


Below are a few paintings so you can see what level of work different grades of paint can make.




The bottle painting on the left is called "Planes of Glass" it was created using Artist Grade oil paints. I use Gamblin Oils. There are other artist grade brands out their you can explore.

This paint goes on the canvas so easily, and goes a long away. Because this paint has the hight pigments levels even the smallest squirt of paint will do the trick!








This Present painting was created using Art Loft brand student grade oil paint. This was an experiment more than anything. The paint covers well but it takes more paint to do the same job as the artist grade, also the paints are more oily. Occasionally a small pool of oil will come out of the tube when squirting some on to the palette.












This painting, 'A Familiar Place', was done using student grade Liquitex basic acrylic paint. This particular brand is quite thick. Other student grades are almost like water. Which is still okay if you like that. The Black I used in this piece is a cheap apple barrel black. Its one of the liquidity-ist paints Ive ever use.
















This is a watercolor painting created using a cheap tray of paint like you would have used in elementary school, except mine as 24 colors and those had like 6. Watercolor also looks cool with you complement it with a pen.










Play around with different materials. Especially when you are learning. If you have student of artist grade paint like I do. Use the good stuff on your more serious works and use the cheaper stuff for studies and experimentation.


Let me know in the comments what you use. Do you use both Student and Artist grade materials? Does it not stop there, perhaps different grades of brushes or surfaces to paint on. Id love to read your thoughts on the subject.