I am a big fan of looking at what you already have on hand and reimagine its uses. Things like bottles, butcher's twine, old clothing, items in your recycling bin, and even things in your junk drawer may become tools for your exploration.
[Have a copy of the Handsmaid Tale, Harry Potter, or other previously beloved authors that just aren't it...transform the pages into erasure poetry or collage!]
*Flyers, newspapers, magazines, or catalogues
These items are great for collaging!
Items in nature are incredible supplies! From being able to use leaves as textural elements, to smooshing petals up for pigment, there are endless possibilities for creation.
*Mix Bag from Urban Source
Urban Source is my go-to place for non-traditional art supplies. For under $8.00, you can fill a paper bag with all sorts of treasures. You can also order ahead and have them pick out supplies for you.
*Fibrous DIY Paper
Have some old fabric or an abundance of paper products hitting the blue bin? Make a pulp with water and a blender, sift it through some screen attached to an old picture frame and make your own paper. Add dried florals, leaves, or sparkles for extra flourish.
*Spices / Items in your kitchen
Creating with spices and items from your kitchen is a fun experience that also comes with a scent journey!
By no means do you require fancy expensive arts supplies to engage in expressive arts therapy. However, investing in supplies that you do love will ensure you enjoy the process of creating. I recommend starting out with a few basic supplies, and as you explore deeper, to assess what supplies you have on hand and which supplies you may want to try.
*Paper (mixed media or watercolour paper)
[I recommend Canson XL mixed media spiral book - You can get it at Michaels and it is often on sale. Or, buy a few Opus brand watercolour sheets and cut them to size as needed]
*Paints (watercolour, gouache, or acrylic)
[For beginners, I recommend Reeves as it is fairly affordable and comes in a good amount of colours. If you want to invest in better quality, special paints, I highly recommend Beam paints and Caitlin Ffrench earth pigments]
Okay, full disclosure,I am someone that does not take care of my brushes. I leave them in jars of water for weeks on end. For this reason, most of my water colour brushes are from the dollar store and have been serving me well, despite my lack of care.
Oil pastels are highly pigmented and really good for smooshing and layering. They are also a supply where there is not much difference between cheaper and expensive price points
*Chalk Pastels / Charcoal
Chalk pastels and charcoal are essentially condensed pigment and some of them may be water soluble. They are fun for layering and adding water to. You can get the Artist Loft 36 pack from Michaels for under $10. Charcoal will run you about $1.25 a stick
I am in love with Crayola Supertip markers. You can get them just about anywhere and they are so pigmented for the price point!
Some of my favourite fine-tip pens are from Muji, Micron, and the S-Gel pen by Sharpie.
I recommend getting a glue stick and also basic white school glue
I highly, highly, highly recommend journaling about your process. Use it as a space to explore and ask questions, especially in between sessions.
Art supply shopping can be scary and incredibly overwhelming. If you need any support navigating art supplies stores or brands, please do let me know! Additionally, if you let me know your budget, I can curate you your very own art kit. Shoot me an email at
Here are some other materials that you may want to explore further with
Airdry clay is fun to mess around with. Dollarama has a fairly good quality one for $1.50
I didn't really care for watercolour pencils until I discovered Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils. They run $6.50 each but are SO buttery smooth and have the most incredible colours
Caran d'Ache Neo II are so dreamy. Buttery, velvety, concentrated pigments sticks that are water soluble. I love! $3.30 a stick
AKA grease pencils. They can make marks on all sorts of surfaces. $1.50 a pencil
Mediums are a lot of fun and can change the consistency and texture of your paint! You can get high glossy gel mediums and even mediums that have glass beads added to them! If you are someone that loves to play with texture, you will fall in love!
*Posca Paint Markers
These babies pack a pigment punch! They are great for painting on surfaces other than paper and will run you $4.00 and up per colour/size
In efforts go ensure everyone has access to expressive arts therapy, if you have extra supplies that you would like to donate to someone in need or would like to make a donation towards ensuring someone can afford to put together an art kit, please do let me know!
If you are someone who is facing barriers to accessing art supplies, please reach out so I can get an art kit to you