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help please - art supplies and spending on the kids

(15 Posts)
brdgrl Fri 02-Sep-11 13:10:51

I need some guidance, please! We have a girl (16) in grammar school; she just finished GCSEs. She'll be doing an A level in art and is talented at drawing; she would like eventually to go to art college.

Our problem is that throughout the year she has a lot of "needs" for art supplies. This year she has come home and announced all the things she would like to have. There seems to be no written list of required things from the teacher(?). We would like to encourage her in her love and skill at art, and obviously to do well on the A level she needs to have materials between now and then. But I am questioning just how much she needs versus how much she'd like to have. We simply can't afford - truly, truly can't afford - to give her everything she wants, even if we wanted to do that. And while she legitimately needs things for school, she also does her art for fun - so giving her free rein doesn't seem fair to the other kids (her brother plays video games for fun, and is very good at them - but we don't buy him games or accessories for that; he gets presents at holidays or buys them from his pocket money).

So, I guess I am wondering what other people do...what is a "normal" amount to spend on art supplies for a student at this level? How do you make decisions about these kind of open-ended sort-of school and sort-of hobby expenses?

We have two other kids, they are younger. But I would like to have a fair system so that all the kids are treated the same. My idea is that we make a budget based on what DH and I think we can afford, and that is it for the year. Within that budget we can shop around to find bargains and get her as much as possible. But once the budget is tapped, then she has to use her pocket money, or get a part-time job, or use her christmas/birthday money (she gets cash from her grandfather and uncles). DH is far more indulgent than I am, and doesn't like to say no to her on anything. He is uncomfortable with the idea of a fixed budget, and thinks we should just get her what she wants because it is all "educational" expenses. (He doesn't quite seem to have an answer when I ask what the limit is!) We also have fundamentally different attitudes towards money (he lives beyond our means and wants the nicest of everything, while I am accustomed to being without things) and towards the kids (I'd like them to learn to work for things, to appreciate things more, and to feel less entitled to stuff; he feels guilty if they don't have all the things they want or that their school mates have).

Sorry for the long post.

gillybean2 Fri 02-Sep-11 14:03:44

Speak to the art teacher/head of art and ask them what things they would consider essental or recommend she should have as a necessity, or desirable etc to assist her studies.

Some things such as certain paints (water colour, oil etc), good selection of coloured pencils and the like may be considered essential. On teh otherhand she may be able to borrow these from school.
She will be doing some work at home so will require materials to enable this so ask if school will supply these or if you are expected too and what kind of things they would expect her to have available at home.

Some things may be wanted but not necessary as such.

Also can you not buy some of the items for her as birthday/xmas presents? Or advise her that, while something is desirable it isn't essential, and perhaps she could look at spending her own money on these kind of items.

Also point out that some famous artists were quite poor in their lifetimes and had to make do with what was available to them and that part of being an artists is finding ways to work with what you do have available.

lemonmousse Fri 02-Sep-11 14:32:50

When my DS did Art A level he was given a grant from college for Art supplies. I think this was because he was entitled to the full amount of EMA. I realise that EMA is no longer available (or only to those who had it last year?) but it may be that there is still some sort of financial assistance available to buy Art materials - might be worth checking with the college or sixth form.

senua Fri 02-Sep-11 14:51:14

I totally agree with you, OP. I would set a defined budget and watch as 'essentials' suddenly become no longer needed, or she finds the money from elsewhere (not least, a Saturday job).

Has she learned about objet trouvé and poubellisme yet? Just tell her that by doing without traditional materials you are helping her to develop her creativity. grin

Snapespeare Fri 02-Sep-11 15:30:49

depending on where you are - i buy all of my art supplies from cass art they have amazing sales. smile

LIZS Fri 02-Sep-11 15:37:30

One of these might be near you and provide a source of materials surplus to others but which she could use in projects. You may have to pay a fee to join but then you can come and go for a year.

brdgrl Sat 03-Sep-11 00:03:49

Thanks for the tips. I'll check those out!
She's been doing art already and did an art GCSE so she has lots of supplies already. And up to now, DH has pretty much gotten her anything she wanted, I'm afraid. For me, the issue is as much about getting her (and him!) to understand that some desires won't be met, as it is about the actual dollar amount.
I think we are going to have to have a word with the teacher.

EvilTwins Sat 03-Sep-11 00:11:04

Might be worth speaking to the Head of VI Form at her school. EMA has gone, but has been replaced by the 16-19 Bursary Fund - her school will have been allocated a certain amount of money to assist post-16 students - there are certain conditions set on it - for example, students who fall into particular groups (looked after children, care leavers plus a couple of others) are eligible for a £1200 bursary over the year, but then the school is responsible for deciding how best to use the rest of the money - one of the suggestions is that a certain amount is ringfenced for helping with expenses in subject which require specialist equipment to be bought by the student. The Head of VI Form at the school would know about it and should be able to explain how the school's allocation is going to be spent.

thekidsmom Sat 03-Sep-11 08:03:44

We spent a small fortune on art supplies for our DD so I know exactly what you mean.

check first - at our DD's school the girls could make up as many cotton canvases as they liked themselves - cotton and wood supplied. But for linen canvases or silk painting, they had to buy their own (an A1 size linen canvases set us back about £15 each time from the sale in the local art shop with student discount).

And for specialised ceramics work, the school ordered, and paid for, all of the unsusual glazes whcih the girls wanted to use.

But DD did have all of her own brsuhes and knife type things, and full sets of oils and pastels and acrylics at home. When they are working on practice pieces at home, they dont have to have a full range of everything but some stuff is needed so they can progress their ideas.

but the key is to check with the school first!

brdgrl Sat 03-Sep-11 12:50:27

Thanks for all the suggestions. The bursery might be an idea. And DH is going to get a list from the teacher.

I guess what I am wondering, besides how to save money on things, is how to set the limits. Saving money on the stuff is one thing - but the other half of the problem is deciding what is reasonable to get anyway!

I suppose it is like if I needed a car. I'd need something reliable to get me to work, say, with an engine and doors and 4 wheels. And I might reasonably want - but not NEED - for it to have a stereo that worked. But if I wanted - I don't know - a Ferrari, that would be too much - even if I found a great deal on a Ferrari!

I need to figure out what things are the engine/door/wheels of art supplies, what things are the stereo, and what things are the Ferrari. I hope this list from the teacher will help with that. I feel like we are in over our heads because we just have been taking her word for what she "needs" for so long...

CustardCake Sat 03-Sep-11 18:00:01

I'd set the limit after you get from the teacher a list of essentials, a list of desirables and a list of luxury extras.
Anything in the "luxury extras" category comes out of pocket money, anything on the essentials list is paid for by Mum and Dad and anything on the "desirable but not essential" list is judged on a case by case basis or given as a Christmas / Birthday gift.
Until you know what the teacher deems to be bare essentials to complete the course you won;t really know how much money you're looking at.

gillybean2 Sat 03-Sep-11 19:57:55

I check on ds's school website. They list expenses expected per month each year. For art A Level they list £20 a month, plus extra for trips to art galleries and the like, plus additional extra's as required.

So assuming that it is similar you're looking at a minimum of £20 a month (ish) it seems. But yes first step is to check with school

mumslife Sat 03-Sep-11 22:09:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

brdgrl Sun 04-Sep-11 23:28:26

thanks, all. custardcake i think what you outlined there is what i'd like to see, myself. it will be a bit of a change for her, but as someone posted earlier - artists have to learn to work with what they can!
gillybean thanks, that's a helpful guideline. i think DH and i have been guessing it might be about £75 for the year, so it sounds like we might not be far off. (i wish the school website was as helpful - it is absolute rubbish! getting direct communication with any of the teachers seems to be a struggle, too!)

mumslife Mon 05-Sep-11 21:00:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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