In the introduction of the book Glittering Images: A journey through art from Egypt to Star Wars, author Camille Paglia states, "Artists are craftsmen, closer to carpenters and welders than they are to intellectuals and academics..." An interesting thought to say the least and anybody who has set foot in a foundry or wood shop can verify the validity of this statement. Approaching the actual creation of art with emphasis on craftsmanship will obviously improve the quality of piece being produced but it also opens up a new realm of cheaper materials that may have been previously overlooked. Consider the hardware store...where prices are usually lower than the designated art store with similar products gracing their shelves. You might also find that some of the products at the hardware store come in a "heavy duty" variety intended for a longer lifespan...another great way to pinch some pennies. The variety of materials can be overwhelming at first, so on your first trip to the hardware store start with something small like sand paper or a paintbrush. I encourage walking around a bit though before you leave because you never know what you will find. And let's face it, almost everybody in there is wandering around too ashamed to admit they are lost.
Hardware store best buy:
Blue Hawk Contractor's Paper
Price: $11+ tax
Drop cloth, custom stencils/masks, bristol, textures, wrapping for transporting paintings, drawing, etc.
Still working my way through my first roll of this stuff...well over a year after I bought it.
By the way, as of this post I am still currently reading Glittering Images so expect a full review in the near future...so far so good though.