Here in wonderful downtown Linuxville there is always an opportunity to have an epiphany when you least expect it. I know it's been done but I will lay it on ya anyway. If you are an artist like me you will appreciate the possibilities.
Most of us are either hunched over a PC terminal, laptop or running around doing god knows what for others. You go to the library or school or your brothers/sisters, get to use their PC but your work is at home listen.
Get your Linux live-CD or DVD or Linux installed on your Flash drive along with an extra Flash drive/stick to save your work on. You put your disk in or your Flash, boot up, do your stuff, save it, remove the disk and stick, reboot and who knew you were there. What's cool is that there are distros designed for artist, like Artist-X, Ubuntu Studio, gnuArtist, Puppy Photo Art Workshop, Dyne:Bolic and a few more. You can also remaster a CD/DVD with apps of your own choosing.
Me, I am downloading several of the artist distros to use at the art gallery. We have a couple of older Windows PCs I will install the Windows versions of Open Source software. I know many are used to Windows. I will have the Linux Live-CDs handy to show the portable artist tools. You can take them anywhere you have access to and as long as the PC will boot from an external device you are good to go. Your friend don't have graphic apps, fine, you can run from the flash or CD and not effect their PC. Theory, but a real working theory. I'll give you an update, let you know how it goes, but I know you will beat me to it.
I just wanted to add, If you can stop the upgrade fever, you can use the live-cd till the cows come home. Most artist like their tools not to change for a while. And unlike most people I believe a PC doesn't have to be connected to the Internet to be useful. Offline, hurts but you can get some art done.