Tips & Techniques

Tuesday Tip: Cheap Art Boards

Pros and Cons

The benefits of the art board (or wood panel) are numerous. Outside of using them for mounting artwork, they are ideal for traditional painting, drawing, mixed media, and collage. They are rigid enough for impasto, encaustic, and general craft use. You can apply the appropriate ground to make them perfect for watercolors or other mediums, too.

The con is they are expensive. If you go to Blick or Jerry’s Artarama, a value pack consisting of 4-5 (depending on the size of the panel) will set you back $25. Amazon has similar packs for similar prices. And that’s the cheapest I can find even on sale.

My Dealer

That’s why my wood panel dealer is Target’s $1 section (where everything costs $3 or $5?). Target’s dollar spot consistently has wooden signs for sale matching whatever season is upon us. They are almost always $3. updates her website with the dollar spot items if you want to see what’s current, but they are always there. I have bought a lot of these signs and file them away with my blank canvases. This ‘Peace, Love, Happy Hour’ sign pictured is exactly what I’m talking about. I actually bought 3 of those because they were 10×10 and what a cute pattern in the background for a first layer.


I tend to take some sand paper to the surface before I use these. I don’t spend an hour getting them back to bare wood or anything, but I find sanding the surface a bit takes off the coating they put on it and primes it for whatever abuse I give it. Also, the sanding will take off the barcode and other info Target sometimes prints on the edges of the panels.


Here are some finished panels hanging on my wall. I gessoed and marbled the top left one last week. The top right one I finished last night. I love the little bird. The bottom left one I gave my 3 year old to smear purple paint on. I later painted the LOVE letters and glued them on it. The one on the bottom right I liked just as it was and didn’t alter. It’s a Target original. I often buy more than one of the same design, though, so I might have a twin one to paint on.

As long as you can resist spending another $200 on beautiful things you didn’t know you needed, Target can be a cheap source for wood panels. Happy arting and shopping.

Let me know if you have any cheap art product sources.

Tags: acrylic, collage, mixed media

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • What a great tip! I’ve been meaning to paint on wood and have sourced the expensive ones (but always feel bad about the price.) I’ll be looking for similar shops and signs in my country. <3

  • Love your samples and your ideas. The purple one where your daughter prepared the background is especially sweet. Thank you for sharing your tips and your work.

  • Wood panels are my favourite surface for painting, this is a great tip, thank you! 😊

  • I didn’t think of hitting up the Target $$$ section, but I’ll often do some “canvas” shopping from the bargain bin at dollar stores and certainly at thrift shops like Goodwill, where I can score framed stretched canvas artwork that becomes a new surface with a little gesso at a fraction of the cost of buying new canvas.

  • great idea! thnx for sharing.

  • OH! What a fabulous idea! I’m always looking at thrift stores for things to alter. Or I’ll check out the wood craft section and buy the cheap plain wood plaques from back there. The last one I picked up was a 5×7 I think for under 2 bucks. It’s in my craft pile because now I forgot what I was doing with it LOL


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