Learn how to get started painting with acrylics. In this post and video below, I teach you all you need to know to get started painting and what I have learned over the years using acrylics. All you need to start painting with acrylics is the basics. I am a big fan of simplicity especially right now as I travel in an RV around the country and have very little space. Get ready to take the leap from beginner painter to intermediate, this will be fun!
The first things you will need is supplies to be able to paint. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get supplies. I still don’t spend a lot but would rather put my money where quality counts.
Here is the list of supplies I recommend and use for my paintings (Amazon affiliate links below)
1. Paint Brushes and wash brushes
2. Acrylic Paints - The paint colors I use include: Heavy Body - cadmium yellow Medium Hue, cadmium red light Hue, quinacridone magenta, ivory black, Emerald Green, Phthalocyanine Green (blue shade), phthalocyanine blue (Green shade), brilliant blue, Bronze yellow, dioxazine purple and two tubes of titanium white. I also use bronze, gold and silver metallic paint, same brand.
3. Canvas Panels 8x10" - Large Canvas - Dickblick Premier Canvases (not affiliated)
4. My PALETTE (Colors don't dry out!)
6. Paper Towels
Optional supplies include-
Know Your Brushes
You can still paint quality work with inexpensive paint brushes. Because of this I always recommend the paint brushes listed above that are inexpensive. They include all that you will need to get started. As you develop as an artist you will discover your favorite brushes and may desire to have more expensive brushes.
Round Brush: Here you have the round, the round brush is used very often by most painters. The tip allows you to make small brush marks and with pressure, the brush strokes get larger. You can buy small- large rounds. Having a variety of sizes is a must. I make sure to have a small, medium, and large. Here are things I use this brush for.
Flat & Bright Brush: The flat brush and the bright brush I use as if they are the same brush, but the difference is that one has longer bristles than the other. I prefer using the bright brush as I feel I have more control with it but I tend to use them both for the same purpose. I use this brush for edging and filling in space. Here are examples of how I have used this brush. This is my favorite brush.
Wash Brush: Once a flat brush gets to a larger size it is called a Wash. I use a wash to cover large spaces. See how I use it.
Filbert Brush: If you look at a filbert it is like the flat but with a round edge on the end. I use this brush for rounded edges like clouds. See how I use this brush.
Fan Brush: The fan brush is well known for it’s blending abilities. This is how I use the fan brush. You can also use this brush to paint trees, grasses, and flowers in the distance because the bristles make small marks like this.
Angle Brush: The angle brush is great for lines and angles. If you have a lot of angles and edges going on in your painting, this will be a must-have.
There are more brushes out there and many more tools but these brushes will get you started. A palette knife is one of those tools that isn’t necessary but nice. I use my palette knife for mixing paints and for painting with. My favorite knife is round at the end. As you learn to paint you're going to discover more tools and possibilities. It’s fun!
Let’s move on to acrylic paint. Not every paint is the same. This is where quality counts. I am more willing to pay for quality because it will affect my work. I get asked this so I will answer this, tempera paint is not the same as acrylic, it dries flat, not shiny and cracks.
What you should look for in paints is no separation of liquid and pigment when you place it on your palette! You want great color pigment, not grainy or dull paints.
There are few consistencies of acrylics you can get at the store based on what you want to make with your acrylics.
Liquid Acrylics- The liquid acrylics would be used for spray painting with acrylics or pouring.
Regular acrylics - These don’t create texture when you paint with them and these are most commonly used.
Heavy body- My favorite, is less transparent and can be used smoothly or to create texture depending on how much water you add. If you like painting with oils this is a great consistency to transition to acrylics with.
Additives: There are also additives you can add to the paints you have, to change the consistency and as you paint more, they are fun to explore. I like to use the same brand in additives as I buy for my paints. I don’t carry any of this with me as it is not needed to start with, but worth mentioning.
check out these additives: Pouring Medium, and more for all kinds of textures.
Canvases are a primed surface. If you don’t want your paint to peel or crack, prime it. The most common primer is Gesso. Canvases at the store are already primed with gesso. But you may see wood panels at the store not primed and I recommend priming them.
Not painting on a canvas? If you want your paintings to last I still recommend priming whatever surface you are painting on. The exceptions are for murals, I recommend buying wall paint, not the little tubes of paint at the art store. For clothes, I recommend getting the paint specific for painting on clothes. For the outdoor pieces, I recommend acrylic paint that is for outdoors. So as you see, whatever surface I’m painting on I think of the specific brands that made the best paint specific for that purpose and go with them.
You will probably start out with canvases. I’m always on the lookout for quality canvases that are inexpensive. You can go really cheap for small canvases and use panels that you can just place in a glass frame, taking out the glass. The larger the canvas the more I have to pay for quality. If I don’t the wood can warp or the canvas can be wrapped loose and I have to re-wrap it.
This has been my favorite discovery painting with acrylics. Before I was using spray bottles and it was a fight to keep my acrylics wet so they wouldn’t dry out. I hear all the time, how do I keep my acrylics from drying out. Well I have your answer, the Sta Wet Palette. What it is, is a sponge with a special paper in a plastic container. You close the lid and your paints will stay wet for weeks. While you paint, even in the wind, the paint stays wet the entire time you paint. I love it. I used to use just a plate, I’ll never go back.
The easel is nice to have, but like I said, it is not necessary. I would however get one if your painting a lot. I don’t have a very expensive one, and I can fold it for table use or stand up use. It holds my canvas in place so it is upright.
Now you are ready to paint!
The next step for you now is discovering your colors and I have that lesson ready for you to watch, How to Mix Colors and Get the Color you want every time.
After you have watched the coloring mixing lesson you're ready to paint with me and I have hundreds of tutorials for you to choose from. Pick your favorite projects and follow along. In most of them, I give you the basic steps and share the crucial techniques I’m using. I won’t give you every little detail, I leave it up to you and your creativity. The most important part of the painting journey is discovering your own style.
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