"It's difficult in today's world to feel like you can't support your creative soul because of finances," says Kaitlin Meadows, owner of Kaitlin's Creative Cottage art studio in Tucson's Dunbar Spring neighborhood.

Creative hobbies can be expensive, especially if you're new to them and want to take a class or a workshop to test the waters.

"It's hard to persuade yourself to take a lot of money out of the family budget to try an art class when money is tight," Meadows said.

That's why Meadows offers workshops for women for just $20 at her studio. Classes include supplies, tea and camaraderie.

The classes Meadows offers are not of the traditional painting and drawing variety. They range from writing to collage to book art.

For a calendar of classes, go to thundermoonstudios.wordpress.com and click on Kaitlin's Creative Cottage.

If informal studio time is more your pace, The Drawing Studio, 33 S. Sixth Ave., offers open-studio figure sessions.

Each three-hour session costs $10 and gives students the chance to practice figure drawing from life.

"Open studio is a nice way to get support without being in a formal class," said Lynn Fleischman, The Drawing Studio's director. "You're in a group with like-minded people who help each other informally."

The Drawing Studio offers four different open-studio figure sessions per week. They're at 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays; 9 a.m. Saturdays and 9:30 a.m. Sundays.

Another open-studio opportunity is through Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation. It's called Painting Open Studio, and it costs only $1.

It's from 7:30 a.m. to noon every Monday at the Northwest Art Center, 7770 N. Shannon Road. Sign up at www.pima.gov/nrpr online.

I can't say enough about Pima County Public Library when it comes to free activities. Creative classes are no exception.

They have knitting, writing, cartooning, animé drawing, music, quilting, pastel drawing, crafts and more.

These programs are a great way to try something new without commitment or cost.

A nice thing about library classes is they have outside groups teaching them.

For example, Young Rembrandts of Tucson, an art-education group, will be teaching pastels, cartooning, elementary drawing and kinder drawing at various library branches.

Participating not only allows your kids to decide if they want to take regular art classes, it also allows you to sample the group teaching it - for free.

If your child enjoys the Young Rembrandts class, the director of the group, Angela Burton, said its regular classes are very affordable, averaging about $10 per class, with supplies provided.

Side note - taking classes that provide supplies is a huge money saver.

"Being a vendor with the Pima County Library system is such a wonderful opportunity," Burton said. "It exposes children to a quality educational art class and shows them they can draw."

Go online to library.pima.gov for class schedules.

Pima County also offers pottery classes for kids and painting, pottery and drawing classes for adults. The sessions are approximately six weeks long and range in price.

The county even has a one-day clay workshop that costs only $15.

You have to register by June 24 for the next session of classes, which starts June 30. Go to pima.gov/nrpr and click on classes to see the catalog.

Pima County and Tucson Plein Air Painters team up to host free "paint outs," which allow novice and experienced painters to get together and paint landscape scenes in the open. This is another great way to get your feet wet in a new skill.

Keep an eye on the calendar at www.pima.gov/nrpr to see when the next one is scheduled.

You can also check out classes and workshops at arts and crafts stores.

Michaels, for example, offers a four-part cake-decorating class for $22.50 plus supplies. It also has a class called Passport to Imagination for kids, where students learn about other cultures through craft projects. It's $2 for a two-hour class. Go to Michaels.com for a calendar of classes.

Tucson artist Karen Keller recommends Arizona Art Supply for art classes. She said the instructors were great, and she felt it was a good value. The art journaling class Keller took was $80 for four two-hour classes. The store's website, www.arizonaartsupply.com, has a class calendar.

Bookmans offers a chance to be creative for free, with family fun nights, music events and a weekly Craft-apalooza.

Go to bookmans.com to see a schedule of events.

I've listed several low-cost or free creative workshops and classes, but I'm sure there are many more. Feel free to add to the list in the comments on my blog at azstarnet.com/centsiblemom online.

Be Creative at home

Here are ideas to be creative without paying for classes.

• There are free online art tutorials, some with youtube videos. www.free-online-art-classes.com is a good example.

• If you want feedback from other artists. join an online arts community like wetcanvas.com. It's free, and there are experienced and beginner artists to connect with.

• Grab a pencil or pen and any paper you have lying around, and sketch from observation, suggests The Drawing Studio's Lynn Fleischman.

• Look at items you have at home that can be refurbished in an artful way. Repaint the end table or make something with an old picture frame. Good advice from Jenni Steinberg Pagano, manager of 1st Rate 2nd Hand Thrift Store is to "look at something for what it could be." That has stuck with me since I spoke with her a few months ago.

"Centsible Mom" Angela Pittenger shares tips, news and ideas on how Tucsonans can stretch their budgets. Send your questions and suggestions to her at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137.