Acrylic painting Supplies for First-time & Beginner Painters
The Basic Supplies to get started painting:
1- Painting Surface = 8x10 or 11x14 inch canvas (flat panel or stretched)
2- Brushes = 2 flat brushes and 1 pointy
3- Acrylic Paint = colors as needed
Your supplies are just simple tools. The more you use the tools the more comfortable you will become and confident with what you can produce with them. The definition of a tool is as follows: A device or implement, especially one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function. The work and creativity come from you, the more you paint the more you will discover your creativity.
The first item you need for painting is your surface to paint on. For acrylic painting, it is recommended to paint on canvas. With canvas you generally have two options: stretched canvas or canvas panel. Stretched canvas is canvas stretched tight around a wood frame. These are more traditional for painting. A canvas panel is a thin panel covered with canvas. Great for small pieces & fits in standard frames. Both are great and affordable options to paint on, you can usually purchase in a pack. Unless it is specifically stated, your canvas options will be prepped and ready with a gessoed surface. The gesso is the white base “paint” on top of a cotton canvas. You can purchase a black canvas, that has been primmed with black gesso; try different options if you feel inspired.
Some alternative options are wood panel and watercolor or mixed media paper. Wood panels cost a bit more than the canvas options. The benefit of the wood panel is the solid flat wood surface, contemporary style and I personally like the sharp clean corners compared to canvas corners. Compared to the canvas options, most wood panels come raw or unprimed. You can choose to prime it with gesso (if you want to keep the wood grain try clear gesso) If you do not prime (gesso) your wood panel it’s ok, just know that your first layer of paint will absorb into the wood. You will likely need multiple layers of paint for coverage.
Watercolor or mixed media paper is another affordable option. I recommend taping the edges of the paper to a board to help with warping. (see this demo) The limitation with paper is the amount of paint & blending you can add to it, it is not as ideal for layers and layers of acrylic paint. Paper is ideal for 1-4 layers of paint and is a nice quick way to make a unique card for a friend or loved one.
Brushes for acrylic painting can last a long time if you take care of them, even the cheap brushes will last longer if you clean them each time you use them (WikiHow: How to clean your brushes). For acrylic painting synthetic and natural hair, brushes will work well. You will want the brush to have some flexibility. When starting out painting the cheap value pack of brushes is a good place to start. As you find the brush shapes you enjoy try the nicer and pricier brushes especially if you start getting into detail and fine line brushwork. If I could only paint with 2 brush shapes, I would use a Round (pointy) and a Flat (sq. tip) Keep it simple, in all of my beginner videos I recommend 3 brushes, 1 small round, and 2 sizes of the flat.
Brushes: Acrylic brush shapes
Recommended brushes for beginners:
Rounds (Pointy) #2 & #4
Flat/Bright (sq. top) #4 & #6
Angle #2 (optional)
Rigger/Liner #2 (optional)
(brush # = the larger the number the bigger the brush)
3- Acrylic paint:
This is the place that is better if you buy quality over cheap. Quality paint will have a longer dry time and good coverage and better blending. If your paint dries too fast you will have to paint faster. Don’t let this stop you, if you already have paint, use what you have. When you go to buy more supplies, try a different brand and see what you like about it.
With acrylic paint, there are 2 levels Student grade and artist grade.
(video: Should I buy cheap paint- Artist-grade vs Student Grade)
Student Grade Paint: Is less expensive and thinner (more transparent) and may require multiple coats for opaque coverage. Cheaper student grade and craft paint tends to dry faster, affecting blending.
Recommended Brands: Liquitex Basics, Blick Student, Arteza
Artist Grade Paint is more expensive, more opaque, and nicer buttery consistency. Many brands are archival, meaning made with materials to last a long time. This is important to professional artists so their works of art physically last “forever”
As you get more into painting move up to artist-grade paint 1 color at a time
Recommended Brands: Liquitex, Golden, Daniel Smith, Winsor Newton
So now that you have a better understanding of the basic supplies you need to start painting, don’t wait too long to get your tools and get started painting. The sooner you get your first painting finished the faster you can move on to your next painting and creative journey. Your future self will thank you for starting today!
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Paint colors come in various Shades and names
Below is a chart of acceptable ranges for colors used in Paint with Lovejoy videos. Use what you have that is closest to the color referenced.