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Readers Respond: What Do You Think is Essential to Start Painting?

Responses: 13


What do you think someone about to start painting and creating art art for the first time needs to have? What are the essential painting supplies, whether it's for oil painting, acrylics, watercolor, pastels, or mixed media? Is there anything you wish you'd discovered or started using earlier? Share what you think you need to start painting, your choices of the essential painting supplies.

Essential to Start Painting: Ideas

For me the most important thing to start painting is/was an idea or a vision. I've been painting for years and years and have use everything from cardboard to cheap scrapbook paper to paint on and from the cheapest children's watercolour paints to some pretty good quality equipment. It didn't matter because without the spark of an idea I didn't even get off the ground.


I absolutely agree -- if you WANT to paint / create you HAVE to -- doesn't matter how little you can afford, you will find a way to produce paintings.
—Guest Anne Coutts

Beginner's It

When I started painting I began with a small kit and added on from there. I paint with acrylics on large canvasses so a few items listed here may be specific to the medium. Filbert, straight, angle brush and 2" wide brush. Stay-wet palette. Paint: red, blue, yellow, white, Payne's gray. White pencil, graphite pencil, eraser, flow aid, sturdy economical easel, t-bar. Buy the best paint and brushes that you can afford. You will definitely notice a difference.


The desire to create is foremost, the rest will follow. Exploring the various painting supplies available can be magical, limit buying too much, too soon. Find a beginner's class or instructional videos, and enjoy.

Supplies for Acrylics

A multipack of different brushes, palette knife, and a few colors that you like. You don't have to have too many to start out with. I make a stay wet palette with an old plate, wet paper towels, and parchment paper. Also, a water sprayer is good to mist over the paint to keep it workable, this is a trick I learned more recently.

Essential Supplies to Start Painting

As a beginner, I think every one should start with the minimum amount of tools he/she needs for the art chosen. But I think a sketch book and pencils are a must for everyone. As for me, now I have two sketchbooks (big and small ) some H and B pencils, about thirty tubes of different and most required oil painting colors, turpentine, linseed oil, brushes, two knives, a palette and some yards of canvas. I think it's too early to have a studio or a special corner for painting as my stuff is very limited now, besides, I don't have that number of paintings yet. I think a camera is important for every one who draws or paints because, beside taking photos for desired places or things to draw later, you can photo your work to spot and examine the faults.

Good Palette Knife

Besides the obvious, like quality paints and brushes, a good, springy palette knife is a must for mixing colors and for applying paint. I have one that's shaped like an elongated triangle that's my favorite, but another shaped like a willow leaf has also proven very handy.

What You'll Need

Some paints will be needed.. the three primary and three secondary colors colors would be enough along with white and some type of black. A color wheel and some brushes, small, medium, and large size would suffice. A canvas pad or a paper pad suitable for the type of paint you will be using. As problems arise an instruction book or the search feature on about.com/painting will help. What you set your support on is your choice. A foam sheet on a tabletop easel and some push pins would work fine. I personally prefer the KISS method as I find less is usually more.. Less confusing.

The Basics

I really recommend watercolours for anyone starting out. There's less mystery in it, as many children first learned to make pictures with watercolour. So.... All one needs to start are: Inexpensive natural hair brushes - a couple rounds of various sizes, maybe squirrel or a low-cost sable blend. A pad of 140 pound paper with a medium cold-press finish. An 'academic' assortment of tube paints. An inexpensive palette with at least a dozen wells. And: a connection to the internet to watch how-to videos. The only thing I'd add to the basic setup would be a few watercolour pencils. I do all my drawings using them, rather than graphite, because I can easily erase the lines or I can blend them into the painting, and they don't leave impressions in the paper. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but with those materials anyone can start immediately painting pictures and discovering how to put paint to a surface to create an image.

What Do You Think Prehistoric Art Used?

An animal's furry tail. A shovelful of ocher earth. Some animal fat. An earthen bowl. The rib of a small dinosaur for stirring the mix. A cave wall.
—Guest mickryobe

What You Need to Paint

A desire, a subject, brushes, clean water and of course the right paint.

Start Painting Art

In order to start painting you have to want to start. If all you think about is painting then you are ready..it doesn't matter what media you choose just do it...love of art will win out.....and if it turns out good or not so good, you did it and should be proud.
—Guest maidbobbie

What You Should Have to Start Painting

Regardless of which kind of painting you are doing using the best paint and brushes you can afford will improve everything. Definition of a great brush- one that holds it's shape so that you can control the paint. The best paint- highly pigmented colors. A little will go a long way when you are mixing and you will save money in the long run. "Color and Light" by James Gurney. This book just came out and its the most amazing resource I've ever come across on the subject. Better than any class I've ever had on color theory. Bonus tip: I paint mostly in acrylics and in recent years have started using glazing medium to layer the paint. I think it makes a big difference ....allowing you to achieve effects similar to oil paint.
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