This post reviews art supplies for acrylic painting classes and workshops. Note: pictures show Golden brand, we ARE NOT using Golden as a medium of our choice any longer. Tubes are difficult to open, they break and quality does not go hand in hand with the high price. Please keep reading to see what we prefer.
Summary: 1-2 brushes for acrylic, pencil, acrylic marker/s; 8 or 9 colors of acrylic paint; 12 x 16 in or up to 16 x 20 inch canvas, white plastic disposable plate, 5 sheets of paper towel, please see below what brushes and paints.
You will need for almost every first class or workshop acrylic marker with medium fine tip which do not bleed with application of water in black color. For initial sketching we are using any graphite pencil. Medium softness works the best.
Please get rather separate paint tubes than any sets. Do not buy beginner sets which consist of different low quality brushes and paints which won’t work for any medium: neither watercolor, nor acrylic, nor oil. If you would like your paintings last, you should always use artist grade paints which won’t fade away that easily, and provide better covering and curing effects.
The colors we are using most often are:
White: Titanium white, required more than other colors, please get a good brand because the student’s grade white does not work too well. White is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
For darks: Black, and/or Raw umber, Black and/or Payne’s grey; if you can afford only one, please get Black
Red is important color: Primary magenta or Cadmium medium red; Quinacridone crimson, Crimson pyrrole, Naphtol red light or medium. Generally speaking, one dark red and one light red would do. Primary magenta covers the broadest range of necessary reds, but we love Carmine red (Crimson lake, Carmine lake) and Pyrrole red also.
2 yellow shades: Hansa or Lemon yellow for light greenish yellow shades; Cadmium yellow medium for warm yellow. Yellow is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
Yellow ochre or golden ochre, yellow oxide: we use them quite often
Much used: Burnt sienna
Much used: Burnt umber (warm deep brown shade) or Raw umber (almost black brown which is used in many mixes for dark shades), we are also mixing it with lemon yellow for attractive green shades
We use a lot of blue: Sky blue, Prussian blue, Cobalt blue and Ultramarine blue
Prussian blue: very much recommended, we use it almost always
Cold shade premixed grey: to save time, but you can mix it up from black and other shades
You do not need any premixed green paint unless you are using large amounts of straight green. We are mixing up different shades of green.
Orange is useful for mixing up good other colors.
It is better to buy only a few tubes/jars of a good paint than have very many of bad paint. Other paints you will get as you go depending on what you like more/what you paint more. If you are limited to only 8 paints, you should get white, black, lemon yellow and Cadmium yellow medium, Prussian blue, Primary magenta, burnt sienna and burnt umber. It is great to have golden or yellow ochre, as well.
We like Liquitex heavy body most because of easy to use tubes, and Graham has fairly good quality acrylic paints, good option for starting out is Amsterdam brand acrylic paints and Liquitex Basics. Both have easy to use tubes, their whites, yellows and other light colors make sense. Golden is acceptable, but not recommended: bad tubes, difficult to open and close, and they have really bad Titanium white. Do not buy Open Golden acrylics, they are sticky and bad for use in the class. We find the other brands unsatisfactory for many reasons. So called Galleria acrylics by Winsor and Newton practically don’t work, they act rather as a paste than paint, if you need something inexpensive, please stick with Amsterdam or Liquitex Basics.
Do not buy paints at Wallmart or Dollar store, crafter’s acrylics do not work for our painting style; but they have some really inexpensive good size canvas/canvas boards which are good for practicing. If you are buying at Curry’s or other art store, choose canvas/canvas boards 16 x 12 in (if you are rather slow learner) to 16 x 20 in. Curry’s has better art products than Michael’s, and prices are more reasonable at Curry’s art store.
There are value packs of stretched canvas, 3 or 2, or even 5 together. Canvas boards are very inexpensive. Painting on a ready to use stretched canvas allows to hang painting on the wall without a frame straight after you have finished it.
You will need at least 1 flat brush, 3/4 in wide, and 1 flat 1 in wide; fairly soft, synthetic, inexpensive (look for something cheaper for acrylic or watercolor, not the stiff one for oils) and a round brush with fine tip, size 6 to 8. Generally speaking, the larger your canvas, the larger brushes. We use fan brushes, stiff cut out brushes for spotting (like the brushes for window or wood painting, just a smaller width). We adjust also flat oil brushes for this purpose. Bristles have to be uneven, we cut these brushes out using scissors. Please remember not to get oil brushes (they are not soft on touch and have visibly rough bristles) for basic painting with acrylics.
For texture effects, we can use seaweed sponges. Some have surface which is compiled of tiny sharp tops, choose those ones.
For strong textures, we are using modeling paste. However, drying takes a lot of time and we cannot apply it during every first class. Whenever we need it, you’ll get instructions.
Mediums help with blending or glazing, or keep the paint moist for longer time. Blending medium is a fairly good thing. However, we usually survive just using mist out of spray bottle.
Spray bottle with water helps.
We are using quite a lot of strong/thick paper towel, minimum 5-6 sheets for class; and any medium or larger size white plastic plate can be used instead of palette; very small paper plates do not work for this purpose, paper absorbs paint. If you have mixing paper, please place it in a flat box like a lid of a shoe box.
Plastic knives can be used for mixing up paint.
Please dress so that possible paint spots don’t damage your clothes, wear something which can be made dirty. We get spots even on sleeves, shoes, etc.
When it is snowy, muddy or dirty, you will need to switch to slippers or similar footwear.
I hope I covered the most often asked questions, and see you in my art classes!