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Art Supplies Shopping List for Acrylic Painting

A list of the art supplies you need to start painting with acrylics.

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When you first decide to try painting, the choice of art supplies available can be overwhelming and confusing. So here's an art supplies list of everything you need to start painting with acrylics. (Page 1 | Page 2)

Acrylic Paint Colors to Start

Acrylic painting supplies shopping list
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
Don't get seduced by all the paint colors available. Start with a few essential colors and get to know each looks and mixes. Buy a tube of these colors:
• naphthol red medium (Buy Direct) or cadmium red (Buy Direct)
• phthalo blue (Buy Direct)
• azo yellow medium (Buy Direct) or cadmium yellow (Buy Direct)
• burnt umber (Buy Direct)
• phthalo green (Buy Direct)
• titanium white (Buy Direct) and
• Payne’s grey (Buy Direct)

You don't need black to darken colors or for shadows as mixtures of the other colors will give dark colors. I personally like cadmium red medium and cadmium yellow, but you must be careful not to get the paint on your skin as cadmium pigments are poisonous.
Best Acrylic Paint Brands
Artist's Quality vs Student Paints

Paint Brushes

Art supplies for acrylic painting Filbert brush
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
Again, you don't need handfuls of brushes in different sizes and shapes. With time you'll develop a preference for a size of brush and shape, as well as type of hair. To start, I recommend two different sized filbert brushes, with stiff hairs. A filbert is a versatile brush shape that gives a range of brush strokes depending on how you're holding it, from narrow to wide. A lot of my paintings are done with just one filbert.

Palette Knife

Palette Knife
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
If you use a palette knife rather than brush to mix paint colors together on your palette, you don't end up wasting the paint that stays stuck in the brush. It's also easier to mix colors together well. A palette knife can also be used to scrape paint off a canvas when things go wrong (if the paint hasn't dried yet).

Moisture-Retaining Paint Palette

It's convenient to have a bit of each paint color squeezed out of the tube onto a palette, ready to be picked up with a brush. Because acrylic paints dry fast, you need a moisture-retaining palette not a traditional wooden one. If you squeeze paint out on an ordinary palette, a lot of it will dry before you've used it.
How Does a Moisture-Retaining Acrylic Palette Work?

Paper for Practicing

Art supplies shopping list for acrylic painting
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
You're not going to paint a masterpiece every time you pick up your brush. Sometimes you need to play and practice. If you do this on paper rather than a canvas it's not only cheaper but storage is less of a problem too. I like using a large, wire-bound sketchbook, but another option to consider is a pad of canvas-texture paper (buy direct).
Best Painting Sketchbooks

Painting Canvas

Canvas for painting with acrylics
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
Buying canvas that's already stretched and primed gives you more time for painting. Buy a few different sizes and shapes. Long and thin are great for landscapes.
Canvas: What You Need to Know

Water Container

You need a container for water for both rinsing your brush clean and for thinning the paint. An empty jam jar will do the trick, though I prefer a plastic container that won't break if I drop it. You can buy all sorts of containers, including ones with holes along the edges for storing brushes that are drying.

Rags or Paper Towel

You'll need something for wiping excess paint off a brush, and for getting most of the paint out before you wash it. I use a roll of paper towel, but an old shirt or sheet torn into rags also works. Avoid anything that's got moisturizer or cleanser in it as you don't want to be adding anything to your paint.
Compare Prices

An Apron

Once dried acrylic paint doesn't like to wash out of clothes, so wear a heavy-duty apron to protect your clothes.

An Easel

H-frame floor standing painting easel
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
Easels come in various designs but my favorite is a floor-standing, h-frame easel because it's very sturdy. If space is limited, consider table-top version.
Types of Painting Easels

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