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How Do I Start Painting - Beginners guide to art supplies



I was recently asked what was needed to start painting so I compiled a few lists to help you get going. First, have no fear. Go in to this boldly and don't overthink your new adventure. I wrote a blog post about "Art Through The Eyes Of A Child" and in a nutshell, it was letting you know there are no rules. You cannot be wrong no matter how hard you try, art is an expression and there are no grades or tests.


So you want to get started... The easiest way to get a feel for painting is to begin with a basic sketchbook and a few pencils. Graphite and colored pencils will be a good start. Choose a watercolor book for your journal so if you decide to start painting in your book, the paper will be strong enough to hold the paints.


What makes you happy? Birds, flowers, buildings, abstract? Just start putting some ideas down on paper and see where it takes you. Once you are comfortable with that, add some color by using watercolors, acrylics or pens. When you feel you are ready, start with some small stretched canvas or canvas boards. At the beginning, you will want to purchase less expensive materials until you know you will continue painting.


Experiment! See what makes you happy. And guess what, if you don't like it, you paint over it again and again. I'm an abstract painter and when I make a mistake, I start randomly painting over my mess, then I start removing some of the paint. Over and over again, I add, I remove, until I get some really unique colors and textures, however, that's not really a good concept if you are painting still life or portraits, so a good quality white paint, or gesso, will suit your needs to cover the design you don't like.


Here are a few basic lists of supplies. You may purchase at any of the online sellers or local stores. I am an Amazon Associate so I may make a (very small) commission if you purchase via my links. This helps me buy more paint!


Phase 1 - Sketching/Drawing


Watercolor Paper - 9" x 12" Spiral bound book is my preferred, so you can keep it as a reference, or tear a page out if you wish. 140 pound (300 gsm). Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook is one of my favorite brands, another being Canson XL Watercolor Paper


Colored Pencils - Don't get too large a variety just yet, unless you think you may really enjoy sketching. A 25 to 50 pack of colors will be more than enough, and you will use them for years if you get a quality pencil. Arteza Colored Pencils makes a really good quality 'adult' colored pencil


Graphite Pencils - You will want a smaller pack to start, with multiple degrees of hardness. This Faber-Castell Graphite Sketch Pencil Set 6 pack is superior quality and just the right size.


Eraser - I suggest a kneaded eraser where you can pull chunks off as needed. This Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser is under $4 and great quality


Phase 2 - Beginner Painting


Canvas - A great way to start is by using an artist's grade stretched canvas. They are easy to work with, you don't need a large studio or work space, and they are affordable. These are a good quality canvas in a multi pack Arteza 11" x 14" Stretched Canvas 8 Pack - I buy a multi pack from Michaels at times, but I'm finding the wood is warped and the canvas is not stretched well. They about half the price but you will get what you pay for when it comes to canvas.


Brushes - This is where you can save some money by buying a multi pack. These are by no means professional quality brushes, but they are perfect beginner brushes and the pack has multiple sizes. I have purchased this brand many times and they are still going strong. Bosobo Paint Brushes 20 pack


Paint - You can mix about any color you want using the primary colors of red, yellow and blue. Later we will have a fun tuturorial on mixing paint, but for now, a nice small multi colored selection of paints from Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Paint (Super Premium Paint) or this larger set of paints if you want a bigger variety of colors Arteza Acrylic Paint Set 14 tube set - paints can range from small bottles of craft paint to squeeze tubes of professional grade paint. It's all about the pigments within the paints, and higher pigmentation will cost more. In the long run, a better paint will give you a much better finished product. Lower pigment paints are see-through and need multiple coats, and I would steer clear of them for canvas painting.


Gesso - Gesso is an artist's best friend. What does gesso do? It's a very concentrated pigment with out any color, so it will cover your errors. Liquitex Basics makes a good affordable gesso that I find more than adequate


MISC Supplies - you will need a few supplies to assist your painting adventures

*Plastic tablecloth and floor cover - I buy cheap shower curtains and then just toss them when they are beyond repair. The Dollar Stores have shower curtains but they are so thin they won't last a few days. Get a better quality gauge plastic

*Styro dinner plates and bowls - perfect for mixing paint and then you toss.

*Water container for your dirty brushes

*Dr Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap for cleaning your brushes

*Baby Wipes - I get inexpensive packs of generic baby wipes and they work wonders cleaning your hands and drips

*Tabletop Easel - I use an easel 80% of the time so this is completely optional. It's really helpful when first starting out, and especially helpful if you are working in a very small space. Conda 31 Inch Easel (Love mine!)

*Paper Towels - Have some regular paper towels handy but also grab a few rolls of these shop towels, amazing! Scott Shop Towels


This, now, is your starter 'kit' for beginner painters. Once you have gotten comfortable, you may continue to purchase different supplies like palette knives, varnish, sandpaper, gesso, modeling paste, and glazing liquids. So many fun things ahead in this great new adventure.


There are so many great YouTube videos on beginner painting - Enjoy and remember, Paint like a child - NO RULES.




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