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What Should I Buy to Start Painting?

By Sarah, published on 05/06/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Painting > Essential Painting Equipment

Manet, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Munch, Courbet, do all these names make you want to paint? The road to becoming an artist, however, is a long one, paved with exhibitions, painting classes and hard-work.

That’s why all painters should have the best equipment possible at their disposal so they can express themselves and work to the best of their abilities. Painting on silk, painting on glass, painting on canvas, painting with watercolours, each artist has their own style.

The equipment needed, therefore, will depend on the artist. Linen canvas, drawing material, paint tray, knives, fixative, painting kit, sketch pad, you choose according to what you want to learn to paint.

Here are some ways to get the essential materials.

Pick Your Favourite Paint

Have you just uncovered a whole new passion for painting?

Acrylics, oil painting, watercolours, does all of this make you want to get your hands on a paintbrush?

Equip yourself with the right artists equipment before your painting class. Don’t forget acyclic paint dries very quickly! Source: Pixabay

Now you have to go and practise. This is where things get complicated.

You won’t become Van Gogh overnight!

To paint the most beautiful portrait of your little sister, you need to know what paint to use first.

This depends entirely on your taste, your objective and your style of painting.

Watercolour Painting

This type of painting is often used by artists on the move. A paint that’s easy to carry and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. All you need is a paintbrush and some water to use watercolour paints, even in the middle of the street!

This type of painting, made from finely crushed pigment, is used on special paper. It must absorb the water without creasing. You can buy notebooks with this type of paper, which are handy for taking with you everywhere you go.

The paint is sold in the form of small tubes or cubes which are stored in a special box that can also be used as a palette. Buying a set will cost you between 20 and 100 pounds. It all depends on the size of the kit.

Make sure to check out the painting resources online when choosing your equipment!

Gouache

Gouache is a paint composed of pigment, the binding agent gum arabic and a solid white pigment. It is widely used in schools and is the easiest paint to use.

Simply dilute it with water and then paint on any type of paper. Its appearance is much more opaque than watercolour paints. The price of gouache paint is relatively low because of its composition and the fact that it’s intended for children.

Acrylic painting

This paint is a mixture of pigment, drying oil with a binder made of acrylic resin and water.

Thanks to this water, acrylic is a paint that can be easily washed when it gets on clothes.

It also dries very quickly which makes it the perfect paint for painters who don’t want to spend days on their artwork. However, this also means that you have to act fast when mixing colours.

You should spend around £3 or £4 on acrylic tubes of paint.

Oil Painting

Made with drying oil and pigment, oil painting is very popular among artists who like to take their time.

It usually takes three layers to achieve the right finish.

The first layer is done with turpentine essence to get an outline. The following steps involve applying different layers of paint by adding more and more oil. Each layer must dry for several hours before you can continue.

Painting in multiple layers makes it easy to correct any errors you might have made.

However, make sure to paint in a ventilated area as oil paint is rather toxic. It costs between £5 and £10 for a small tube of oil paint.

For each painting, it may be wise not to go for the cheapest price. Choosing good quality paint is the first step to a successful artwork.

Kit Yourself out with the Right Brushes

Brushes are essential for all artists. Even if some prefer to paint with their fingers, it’s still common to have one or two brushes to create a masterpiece.

The advantage is that there’s more than just one type of brush. Brushes come in shapes and sizes.

First, you have to choose the right handle.

While short-handled brushes work well with watercolours, long handles are usually used for painting on canvas. Indeed, the longer the handle is, the more it allows you to take a step back from your work.

On the other hand, a short handle gives you greater precision.

In terms of the material of the brush (birch, beech, oak, etc.), choose a handle which feels most comfortable.

The brush is an extension of your arm, so you need to have the best tool possible.

The bristles of the brush come in a variety of forms: natural extra fine, natural fine, ox, goat or pony hair, as well as synthetic hairs. Again, the choice will depend on the type of painting you do.

Remember that painting kits for children not only have proper brushes but also various essentials such as:

  • Pastels,
  • Glazes,
  • Cotton canvas,
  • Linen canvas,
  • Synthetic canvas,
  • Frames,
  • Tracing paper,
  • Graphite pencils,
  • Acrylics,
  • Watercolours,
  • Etc …

Round tip, flat tip, fan brush, all brushes have different shapes. Opting for a set of different brushes allows you to use each brush for different effects: fine lines, paint a surface, etc.

How to Choose a Brush

If you go to an art shop, ask the shop assistant to show you a selection of brushes according to your requirements.

For example, polecat or ox hair is recommended for watercolour painting whereas stiff brushes are good for oil painting.

Make an art materials list to bring to an art shop. Art shops sell all sorts of brushes! Source: Pixabay

Stay clear of cheap brushes that are usually for children. Synthetic hair come out very quickly and your brush won’t last very long if you use it regularly.

How Much Should I Pay?

The price of brushes varies enormously according to the type.

The main reasons for an expensive brush can be the type of wood and the type of hair used. If you’re working with a small budget, try to find a compromise between quality and price.

What Surface Should I Paint On?

Many artists choose to paint their artwork onto canvas. These give you a large surface to paint on and are strong enough to be exposed.

But of course, several types of canvas are available.

Some canvases are made of linen. This material is perfect because it’s solid and absorbent. However, linen canvases are often the most expensive.

The most commonly used is the polyester canvas. It is reasonably priced and is good quality. This type of canvas does not crease too easily, unlike cotton fabric.

Indeed, the latter is the cheapest, but the quality often leaves something to be desired. The surface loosens over time and with changes in temperature. This is not ideal when a professional painter or art student wants to exhibit their works in a variety of places.

Read our art equipment list to learn how to start painting. Painters often use a canvas for their masterpieces. Source: Visual Hunt

If your preference is watercolours, you probably prefer using paper. In this case, you need to look at the thickness and the grain. Some paper is smoother than others, they snag the brush less.

And for the most original artists out there, why not get creative and try using wood or even porcelain.

Other Useful Art Accessories

To paint the most beautiful portrait, you might want to add a few more accessories to your kit. Equipment that will still serve you well when it comes to painting your great-grandchildren.

The Easel

Painters who like using a canvas must find a stand to support it so they can easily exhibit their creations.

Inwood or metal, the price of an easel ranges between £20 and £100.

The Palette

Often forgotten about, a palette can be very helpful for painters.

It is very hard to work on a piece of paper. Most pallets are, therefore, made of wood.

Some shops also sell a whole pad of special paper in the shape of a palette. This may be preferred by painters who don’t like to overlap several layers of paint.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a palette, cardboard always comes in handy to remove excess paint from the brush.

The Art Box

Once you have all the right equipment, you’ll need to take care of it.

Especially since your brushes can be kept for many years if they are looked after. A small case or box is perfect for protecting your art equipment.

Get everything on your painting tools list online or at an art shop. A good protective case will keep your brushes in good shape and prevent any mess! Source: Visual Hunt

Your painting kit can hold a number of accessories, there are no limits (extra fine brushes, casting, special-effect paints, gilding, decorative painting, painting on fabric, etc.).

Some people like to use a pot of water, others a cloth to clean their brushes, …

It all depends on your painting techniques (porcelain painting, watercolour painting, painting on glass, Ink wash painting, …).

Every artist has their own unique way of painting.

Where to Buy Your Art Supplies

Watercolour paper, white spirit, painting palettes, linseed oil, dry pastels, Canson paper, graphite pencils, paint stripper, thickening agent, varnish, Sienna, paint thinner, canvases, fine art materials are all easily found in specialised art shops.

Case Art and Hobby Craft are examples of good art shops, popular with art students and even professional painters.

Here you will find a wide range of painting and drawing supplies:

  • Charcoal,
  • Stencils,
  • Mechanical pencils,
  • Markers,
  • Colouring pencils,
  • Spraypaint,
  • Drawing paper,
  • Paint pots,
  • Painting surfaces,
  • Paint rollers,
  • Brushes, etc.

If you take painting classes, your teacher will surely encourage you to go to one of these stores to find good quality materials.

Of course, you can also buy online or at large retailers but you won’t get the same advice or selection. On the other hand, it be a good way to get the basic supplies at an affordable price.

Whatever way you decide to paint, you now know what you need to get going!

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