Getting Started With Acrylics
So you’re ready to get serious about painting! Here’s my list of recommended materials to get you started at one of my multi-day painting events if you’ll be using acrylic paints. I’ve put as much detail as I can think of as well as suggested brands for beginners (good quality to get professional looking results, without paying ridiculous prices).
Summary of what you will need: 1 set of paints; at least 3 brushes; palette/white plastic ice cream container lid; canvases/pieces of paper; pencil & eraser; a water cup.
This article is about acrylic painting, if you’re considering getting started with oil paint, click here
1. Acrylic Paints
Recommended colours: a true red (cadmium or vermillion), a cool blue (cerulean, pythalo, cobalt or cyan), a warm blue (ultramarine), a yellow (cadmium/lemon), titanium white, yellow ochre, burnt umber and black.
Recommended brand is Pebeo Studio Acrylics, set of 18x12mL PLUS get a bigger size of titanium white. As you paint you’ll figure out which colours you use the most and you can buy bigger tubes of those colours as well.
If your whole painting is one particular shade of colour (e.g pink), I really recommend just buying that shade vs trying to mix lots of it. Acrylics dry so fast and a few shades darker so it can be very hard mixing a previous shade you’ve made.
Cost: Pebeo Studio Acrylics $12-20 from Gordon Harris
Or paper. Or MDF board that’s been painted white. Start with whatever’s in your budget.
I recommend a stretched canvas instead of the canvas boards/paper/anything else because they will be ready to hang up on your wall once the painting is complete and you don’t have to worry about the expense of framing afterwards! Plus, framing looks a bit traditional/classical. A stretched canvas is much more contemporary.
A good beginner size is 12×16’’ and for the next painting go larger! You can buy whatever size you want but it can be verrrryyy daunting looking at a large blank canvas.
There are generally 2 standard canvas depths (3/4 inch or 1 1/2 inch). Canvas frame depth is totally a personal preference on what you think looks best and whether you plan to frame it. Personally I like the 1 1/2 for large canvases, I paint over the sides and don’t frame them.
Cost: $7-12 for a stretched 12×16” canvas depending on the depth.
You’ll need the following brushes (see image below to match brushes with their names):
– 1x fine tipped Round or Rigger Brush – for fine detailing
– 1x small Bright or Flat or Filbert brush (less than 0.7cm wide) – for detailing
– 1x large Flat brush (at least as wide as an adult thumb ~2cm+) – for covering large areas of canvas
For 99.7% of my painting I use the above three brushes. Occasionally I use an extremely fine tipped brush for detailing and signing, and a sponge brush to cover large areas of canvas.
These are the three standard brushes and sizes you’ll see being used at all my Painting Parties and Painting in the Park events.
Brushes for acrylic painting can be synthetic/soft bristles or hog hair, depending on whether you want to achieve a smooth effect or see brush strokes.
Cost: from $1 each to…$$$ If you invest and look after 3 brushes (around $3-7 each), you wont need to replace them for a while.
Any white plastic surface for mixing colour on – this can be a white ice cream container lid, or the clear lid of a plastic take out container.
5. Water container
An old mug works fine.
6. Table easel (Optional)
If your painting is bigger than 12×16” you may feel the need for an easel. I sell these for $25 – let me know if you would like me to bring one in for you to buy. They are fully collapsible and extend to accommodate quite large canvases – see pic below.