We get questions about what basic supplies are needed to start creating with different mediums, so here is a series of posts about the fundamentals we recommend for artists beginning their creative journey. First up, Acrylics!
Acrylic paints are easy to start with: they dry quickly, clean up easily with soap and water before they dry, and although you can work with a variety of techniques, it is very easy to get started by simply applying paint to a surface right out of the tube.
Royal Talens makes two lines of paints that we recommend for beginning artists.
ArtCreation Expression Acrylic Paint Sets come with five to 24 colors. The sets with 22ml tubes work well if you’re going to be painting small, and the 75ml tubes are a good size to get larger quantities of paint onto a larger surface.
If you have a specific idea of what you want to paint and/or have a color scheme in mind, we recommend you opt for individual tubes of Amsterdam Standard Acrylics, which we stock in 120ml and 250ml tubes, plus a few colors in 500ml jars.
When you are ready for a higher quality paint, our recommendation will be to step up into products from GOLDEN, whether it’s their Heavy Body Acrylics, the Fluid Acrylics, or the slow-drying OPEN Acrylics for when you want the ability to blend colors on-canvas, or just need more time.
You will need something to paint on, unless you plan to start out by painting murals directly onto your walls.
Canvas Panel Super Value Packs from Art Alternatives are a cost-effective way to try out a variety of small surfaces that are easy to paint on. Great for experimentation and playing around, yet not so expensive that you’ll feel bad about messing one up, but also easy to pop into a frame when you strike creative gold.
Canvas Paper Pads from Strathmore are another easy way to get started, but we found that because they don’t hold up as well to a lot of paint, some beginning painters can find it a frustrating surface to start with.
Stretched Canvas from Raw Materials (that’s us!) is a step up from canvas panels, and as you get into larger sizes it is less prone to warping out of shape compared to canvas panels. While you can frame stretched canvases (like in one of these floater frames), these also look great if you hang them on the wall as-is.
While we don’t want to overwhelm you with choices, Cradled Birch Panels from American Easel are another great alternative, especially if you prefer a more rigid surface.
The brushes (and more)
You’ll probably need a way to get the paint from the tubes to your surface, and brushes are the most frequently used tool here.
Painting small? Check out this set of Short Handle Snap Brushes from Princeton Brush. Three brushes, no waiting. Painting large? Check out the set of Long Handle Snap Brushes from Princeton Brush.
We say “painting small” and “painting large”, but what really makes the difference in determining which handle size you choose is whether you are painting on a surface laid flat, or placing your surface on an easel. For a flat surface, a shorter handle is generally easier to manage, and on an easel, a long handle works better for most artists.
Looking to get overwhelmed by choices and pick out your own brushes? The Catalyst Brushes from Princeton come in short handle and long handle varieties, and both are excellent with acrylics. (They have a fancy synthetic filament that holds more paint in the bristles.)
You can also use a painting knife to help mix colors and paint with. This basic set of Plastic Painting Knives from Art Alternatives is a fast and easy way to start, or you can pick and choose your own shapes of Italian Plus Painting Knives from RGM.
Did you opt for tubes of Amsterdam Standard Acrylics? These Dosing Nozzles are a fun way to deliver paint straight from the tube to your surface in interesting ways.
It is very handy to have a surface to mix your paints on, and this Mijello Fredi Weber Palette is great because once the acrylic paints dry, they just peel right off, and just like that, you have a fresh palette for next time.
We also recommend these Palette Paper Pads from Strathmore for an easy tear-and-toss way to clean up when you’re done painting.
When painting with acrylics, it is very important that you wash the paint out and not let them dry on your brushes. This Brush Wash Basin from Art Advantage is a great way to keep the water close to where you’re painting. Sure, you can use an old coffee mug, but it’s really easy to accidentally drink it instead of your coffee. Blech. Learn from our mistakes.
SavvySoap Hand and Brush Cleaner is an important aid to keep yourself and your brushes clean.
We hope that helps you get started painting with Acrylic!