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Many beginners get overwhelmed when they go shopping for acrylic paint supplies, because there are so many materials and brands to choose from.
In this post you’ll discover all the essential beginner painting supplies you need to get started with your acrylics. Besides mentioning everything you should look for, we’ll also share some of our recommended supplies.
1. Acrylic paint
Acrylic paint can be categorized as either “student-grade” or “artist-grade”. The student-grade is cheaper and is great for some basic practice. The artist-grade is more expensive because it contains more pigment, and therefore produces more vibrant and vivid colors.
Most starter acrylic painting kits will come with student-grade paints. But if you are buying all the art supplies separately, I strongly suggest you go with artist-grade paint. They might be a little more expensive but your results will be much better.
However, even after making up your mind to go for the artist-grade acrylic paint, there are still many options left to choose from because most brands sell both. If you want to know more about what to look for in acrylic paint, read our article on the best acrylic paint for beginners.
I normally recommend the acrylic paint set by Liquitex to beginners. The set comes with 48 different colors, which is more than enough for a beginner.
Although this paint is technically student-grade, it contains a surprising amount of pigment and still produces nice colors.
The paint has a pretty thick and creamy texture, which makes it feel similar to oil paint. However, if you want you can dilute it to your desired viscosity.
2. Acrylic paintbrushes
Paintbrushes come in all sizes and shapes, and knowing which brush to use for certain situations is part of becoming an amazing artist. However, as a beginner you might be wondering if you really need all the brushes to begin with. You probably want to start with a few round and flat brushes of different sizes, and one fan brush, angled brush, and wash brush each. This combination of brushes is versatile enough to handle most situations.
To make sure that the type of brush you are using is suitable for acrylic paint you want to make sure that the bristles is made out of synthetic fibers. These synthetic hairs are cheaper than natural hairs and much more durable as well.
If you want to learn more about what to look for and what each brush is used for, also read our article on the best acrylic painting brushes.
The brush set by Mont Marte is great for beginning acrylic painters. It 15 piece set includes 4 angled brushes, 2 flat brushes, 2 filbert brushes, 5 round brushes, 1 fan brush and a rigger.
The synthetic hairs are thick and sturdy, and the handles are relatively long which makes it easy to hold them during canvas painting.
Moreover, a high quality ferrule keeps all the hairs tightly together to minimize losing hairs while painting.
If you are a beginner at acrylic painting, you might want to start out painting on paper. But as soon as you get a good grasp of the basics you probably want to start painting on canvas.
Canvas can come in a variety of different forms. However, the most commonly used one is the canvas stretched on a wooden frame. Normally these stretched canvases are already primed with gesso as well, so you can start painting right away.
Unfortunately, these stretched canvases only come in a few standard sizes and always in a rectangular shape. If you want a canvas with a different shape, you will have to stretch it yourself at home.
To learn more also read our article on canvas painting for beginners.
Regardless if you are a beginner or professional artist, in 99% of the cases you are best of using a canvas panel that is already stretched.
To save some money, it’s normally best to buy several canvases at the same time. I often go with the multipack by US Art Supply because it comes with 24 panels of 4 different sizes (6-5″x7″, 6-8″x10″, 6-9″x12″, 6-11″x14″).
Most people prefer to mix their paints before applying it on the canvas. This makes a palette one of the most important painting supplies for artists. Just like paint and brushes, there are many types of palette to choose from. Fortunately, palettes aren’t very expensive and most experienced artists actually have several palettes that they rotate through. So you can just get a cheap one and if you don’t like it change to another palette.
The main question you have to ask yourself is if you want to have a heavy studio palette that you leave on the table, or a smaller lightweight palette that you can carry while painting.
To discover all the pros and cons of different types of palettes, read our article on the best palette for acrylic painting.
Personally I love to use a stay-wet palette. Acrylic paints have the tendency to dry faster than any other type of paint. So if you work pretty slowly or take breaks between painting sessions, your paint might have completely dried already before you finish.
The stay-wet palette by Masterson is a good option. The sponge and palette paper create a moist environment such that the paint can stay wet. This has saved me a ton of paint over many sessions.
The easel has made its first appearance in the art studio many decades and ago and has remained a crucial piece of equipment for many artists. Finishing a painting can take many hours, so it’s important that you are feeling comfortable and prevent bad posture. For most people this means that they prefer to paint while standing.
There are many types of art easels and some of them can be quite expensive as well. Fortunately, for most artists buying an easel is a one time investment, because a good easel can last an artistic lifetime. If you want to know more, read our article on the best easels for painting.
You probably want to choose between an “H-frame” an “A-frame” easel. The main difference being that an A-frame easel can be collapsed, whereas an H-frame rather bulky base which makes it more stable but difficult to store.
The Mabef Lyre easel is a good option for beginners. This height and inclination of the easel be easily adjusted to suit your preference, and it can hold a canvas with a maximum size of 53″. Moreover, it’s surprisingly lightweight for an easel, so you can easily move it around by yourself.
6. Palette knives
Although maybe not as important as the other items on the list, many professional artists like to use palette knives alongside their brushes.
These palette knives can be used to mix and move paints on the palette, and more experienced may even use them to apply paint directly to the canvas and/or create some interesting textures.
Fortunately, palette knives aren’t very expensive so their usefulness easily makes up for the price.
The main thing you want to look out for is if the blades are made out of stainless steel, because those knives will last you the longest.
The knife set by Meeden is a good option for beginners. It comes with 5 different blades that are made out of high quality stainless steel, and the handles are also comfortable to hold.