What Supplies Do I Need to Start Acrylic Painting?
I'm asked often about what supplies I use to create my artwork. So I am going to give you a run down of my favorite acrylic painting supplies. So, what do I use? I love Golden acrylic paints. I work fast and in thin layers, so usually I turn to Golden Fluid Paint the most. I often follow up with Golden Heavy Body for details or texture. All of these paints have a very high pigment load and can resist fading over time, an important thing if you want your painting to last.
ALL ABOUT PAINT
It’s really tempting when you are just beginning an artistic path to buy inexpensive or student grade paints and supplies. You might think that because you are new at this, inexperienced, or unsure of your skills that you should start out with the cheapest set of paint available. STOP. If your intention is to continue to learn and grow as an artist, then buy the best you can afford, no excuses. Yep, go for the good stuff first and you’ll be much happier.
Why? Because you will paint better. Seriously? Professional grade paints are formulated with a higher pigment load. That means that the amount of color added is a higher density and quality. In fact, you will probably find that you need less paint because a little bit will cover more space and you’ll struggle less to create the painting you set out to accomplish.
I can't get enough of these paints. After I complete my first few layers in Golden Fluid paint, I love to come back in with the Heavy Body acrylic to add texture and details. In GOLDEN's own words, here is why they are the best:
Heavy Body paints are known for their exceptionally smooth, buttery consistency. The Heavy Body palette includes the largest assortment of unique pure pigments in a 100% acrylic emulsion available to professional artists. These colors offer excellent permanency and lightfastness. There are no fillers, extenders, opacifiers, toners, or dyes added.
Each Heavy Body color formula reflects the qualities of its pigment. Colors that tolerate a higher pigment load dry to a more opaque, matte finish. Colors that are more reactive and do not allow as much pigment loading tend to have a glossier, more transparent, finish. Because Heavy Body colors contain no matting agents, the gloss of each color will be different.
Golden Fluid Paint is not the same as craft paint you can find at the hobby store for a couple of bucks each. The intensity of the color and versatility of the consistency is why they have become my all time favorite paint. I love that many of the colors are transparent and that helps with my particular technique of layering colors. In GOLDEN's own words, here is what they say about fluid paint:
GOLDEN Fluid paints equal the intensity of GOLDEN Heavy Body Acrylics but with an even, flowing characteristic useful for dry brush application, fine details, pouring, spraying (particularly when mixed with GOLDEN Airbrush Medium), staining techniques and many others.
Fluids are created by loading an acrylic polymer binder with concentrated levels of quality pigments for a wide selection of permanent and lightfast colors. No fillers or extenders are added to achieve the desired consistency, nor is the fluid quality achieved with additional water. GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics have the same pigment load as the Heavy Body Acrylics, but in a viscosity similar to heavy cream. Fluids allow for smooth flowing applications while retaining color intensity, tinting strength, film integrity, and adhesion.
Fluids blend easily with all acrylic colors, and readily tint gels, mediums, gessoes and grounds. Fluid Acrylics are extremely versatile, and ideal for fine brushwork, glazing, staining, water media techniques and many more. Mix Fluid Acrylics with Airbrush Medium for airbrush application of artwork including textiles.
Experiment with Mediums
There are so many mediums you can mix into your paints to make glazes, new textures or keep it wet longer. You really only need water to start with for washing and occasionally thinning out your paint. Be careful how much water you add because it weakens the paint and over time the paint would be more likely to crack, especially for the thicker layers. I like to use a liquid gloss or matte medium to add to my paint when I want to thin or extend the coverage of my paint. And when the work is done and completely dry, I like to put a final varnish to protect the paint from the sun and dirt and just give it a really finished look.
Brushes are a matter of trial and error. For acrylic I suggest synthetic bristles and a long handle. I chose Princeton Catalyst brushes because they are a bit stiffer and can hold up to the vigorous wear I put them under. Generally speaking, a better brush will last longer. If you are picking them out in person look to see if the ferrule is secure. That is the metal part clamped onto the wood handle. And look to see if the hairs of the brush are still straight and even. You will have to decide if you want a stiff or a soft brush, square or round, small or large...all through experiment and play. In Princeton's own words:
Catalyst™ Polytip Bristle brushes are another Princeton breakthrough that advances the science of synthetic hair. This new series is super stiff yet still extremely responsive. Unlike natural hog bristle, Catalyst™ has real integrity in water. Natural bristle can be rendered useless when it is water-soaked. The true advance in Catalyst™ is the Polytip feature. For the first time, the tip of each individual hair has been split to replicate the natural flags on the finest natural bristle. By giving each individual hair 2 to 3 distinct tips, Catalyst™ is able to hold a higher volume of paint while providing a smoother application. Designed for use with medium to heavy-bodied acrylics and oil paints, Catalyst™ pushes even heavy gel media with assurance. Catalyst™ Polytip Bristle brushes truly are tools that move paint.
Ready made canvases are the best option because they are durable and have come down significantly in price over the years. I prefer thick gallery wrapped canvas because I can paint the sides and hang my work without a frame. I watch for mega sales at Michael’s and buy as much as I can fit in my van. Buying online is a good option as well, but there are surcharges if you ever want an extra large sized canvas. No matter where I get my canvas, I always give the canvas an extra coat of gesso before I begin my painting. Cheap gesso is thick and clumpy and defeats the purpose of a smooth surface. You can also gesso high quality watercolor paper as another option for a painting surface. Just remember that usually paper must be framed and that is another added cost.
Liquitex: Another Great Option
Alright, as much as I am a GOLDEN girl, sometimes I switch things up. Liquitex is also a great paint and they have a variety of colors that sometimes differ from what I can find with GOLDEN Paint. Sometimes I find the paint a little gritty, but I love their Titanium White for my cloud paintings because it's a stiffer paint and holds it's shape better when I want to create a stronger texture.
Supply List Made Easy from Amazon
Give Golden a Try with this Affordable Sample Set
5, 1 oz tubes of Golden Heavy Body Acrylic (Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Magenta, Ultramarine Blue, Iridescent Gold Fine, and Titanium White)
3, 1 oz tubes of Golden Open Acrylic (Alizarin Crimson Hue, Phthalo Blue GS, and Indian Yellow Hue)
5, 0.5 oz bottles of Golden Fluid Acrylic (Hansa Yellow Light, Quinacridone/Nickle Azo Gold, Green Gold, Teal, and Titanium White)
3, 0.5 oz bottles of Golden High Flow Acrylic (Indigo (Anthraquinone), Fluorescent Pink, and Iridescent Silver Fine)
2 oz Clear Tar Gel, 2 oz Soft Gel (Gloss),2 oz Heavy Gel (Matte), 2 oz Light Molding Paste, 2 oz Crackle Paste, 2 oz Glass Bead Gel, 2 oz Fiber Paste, 2 oz Absorbent Ground (White), 2 oz Acrylic Ground for Pastels, 2 oz Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Gloss), 2 oz Polymer Medium (Gloss), 2 oz Matte Medium, 2 oz Open Thinner
As with anything in art, once you've learned the rules, you can throw them all out! Can you paint with house paint? What about drawing with coffee stain? Can you paint on found wood? Or an old book? What if you add beach sand to wet paint or glue in an old train ticket? What if you really like cheap student paint?
The answer then becomes YES once again! Know your material then experiment. If you are going to use non-conventional materials, learn how to make sure they are properly sealed and varnished to protect them and ensure they will last through your lifetime. Go for wild ideas and enjoy the process!
Enjoy the Journey,