Acrylic Canvas Painting Supplies – For Beginners
Pssst: there is a simplified guide located here if you just want a short list of the supplies I use!
When you’re getting started with acrylic painting you may be wondering what supplies to get.
There’s so many brands, price points, brush sizes, etc.
All you really need to get started with acrylic painting are the basics: acrylic paint, something to paint on, something to hold your paint (palette) and brushes!
I will list out all the supplies that I mostly use in my tutorials. If you like to use a different paint brush brand, brand of paint, etc. that is okay! This post is only meant to act as a guide to help you decide for yourself what supplies to get.
It’s also important to know that, while quality of product is great (and yes does matter), what is more important is the artist using the tool.
YOU have the power to produce beautiful art no matter what tools you have and don’t have!
Sometimes that means starting out with dollar craft paints from Walmart, cheap brushes and a Mixed Media Pad – And that’s okay!!!
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List Of Supplies You’ll Need For Acrylic Canvas Painting:
The best deal that I have found for canvases are the bundle packs at Michaels in the Artist Loft brand OR the bundle packs on Amazon. I recommend the 11″ x 14″ size or the 12” x 16” size. Some tutorials were done on 16″ x 20″ but I now rarely use that size.
You CAN, however, use whatever size you want for these tutorials!
I also use and love canvas paper. It’s great for practicing on but it will “curl” when you paint on it.
I also love this Mixed Media Pad!
Lately I’ve been using these Canvas Panels (which are easier to store) & This Art Alternatives Canvas Pad.
UPDATE: As of 2020 I switched to “Princeton Velvetouch Brushes” and have not turned back ever since! I love the quality of these brushes and the softness of the bristles. I almost exclusively use every brush in this set:
Other favorites include: Royal & Langnickel Zen or the Majestic Royal Brushes. I find them to be great quality and frugal. They’re readily available at Michaels and a few other craft stores. There are a few other brands thrown in the mix that I like to use too!
I also like the Simply Simmons brushes which can also be found on Amazon and Michaels.
What to look for?
Look for something that says synthetic and made for acrylics. The synthetic bristles are able to handle acrylics well.
My Recommended Brushes (With links):
Just starting out? Totally understand how it can be overwhelming! The 4 brushes I would start out with are: 3/4″ wash, 12 Bright, 4 Round and Tiny Spotter. Then you can add to your collection later!
3/4” Flat Wash Brush
- Royal & Langnickel “Zen” 3/4 Inch (Zen’s are a GREAT starter brush! They are readily available at Michaels at a great price point).
- Simply Simmons 3/4 Inch
- Velvetouch has a 3/4″ Wash Brush
12 Bright Brush (1/4″ in width)
- Royal & Langnickel “Zen” (Note: a #12 bright brush should be about 1/4″ wide. I have ordered this online before and received the wrong one. You might benefit from going into the store to make sure you are getting the right size)
- Royal & Langnickel Moderna
- Royal & Langnickel Majestic Royal
4 Bright Brush
4 Round Brush
8 Round Brush
Tiny Spotter Brushes (A liner brush has longer bristles, a spotter shorter)
- Detail Paint Brushes (Love these brushes for detailed work, however, they did not last as long as I hoped for.)
- Simply Simmons 10/0 Round Spotter
Mop Brush (blending)
- I actually use an Elf brand makeup brush as a mop blending brush! (Yes a makeup brush! It works so well with blending techniques!)
- Princeton Round Mop Brush
Top 12 Most Used Colors:
- Titanium White
- Mars Black
- Burnt Umber
- Cadmium Red Medium Hue
- Cadmium Orange Hue
- Primary Yellow (or cadmium yellow medium hue)
- Hooker’s Green Hue Permanent (or deep green permanent)
- Ultramarine Blue (or phthalocyanine blue)
- Dioxazine Purple
- Medium Magenta (or quinacridone magenta mixed with white)
- Cerulean Blue (or cobalt blue)
- Raw Sienna
Student Grade Acrylic Paints:
Ahh paints! This can really bring out a lot of opinions in artists! What kind of acrylic paint should you get and why? That answer is really dependent a lot on your preference and budget.
The old saying goes “buy the best quality paint you can afford”. Yes, that is true. More expensive paints are better quality. Student grade is better than craft paint. Artist quality paint is better than student grade.
That said, I have personally been using Liquitex BASICS for over 15 years and it is my tried and true paint that I love! It is a student grade paint but I love the consistency of it.
I also use Artist’s Loft, Royal Essentials and DecoArt Americanas in the mix.
Find a brand that you love too and stick with it! You can still do these tutorials with whatever brand of paint you love to use. You can also convert colors if they are labeled differently. AND you CAN mix brands. I will give suggestions of brands below.
Liquitex BASICS Paint:
These are my favorite! I’ve been a fan of Liquitex BASICS for a LONG time now.
I absolutely love this 48 piece set! The little tubes will probably last you 3-4 paintings and I recommend you buy extra tubes of titanium white which is a color that goes fast. You can always buy bigger tubes of other colors you run out of.
It is the PERFECT starter set for a beginner painter. The set includes all the colors that you could possible need and you won’t have to worry about mixing. <—Update!! Liquitex BASICS has recently added new colors to their line and not all of them are included in this set.
While the 48 piece is a GREAT STARTER SET, I do recommend that you eventually buy larger tubes of most common colors (like white, black, the primary colors, brown)
DecoArt Americana Premium
Another student quality option that I sometimes like to use is the DecoArt Americana Premium Paints.
These paints can be found at Michael’s and Amazon. Tip: check the craft paint aisle in Michael’s.
They are surprisingly REALLY great paints! I love how smooth these paints flow and how vibrant the colors are! I have done quite a few tutorials using these, including my Fall Barn Tutorial.
Artist’s Loft Michael’s Brand Paint
Speaking of Michael’s, they have a line of acrylic paint called “Artist’s Loft”. They are similar to the BASICS but cheaper.
I have noticed, however, that the colors seem to be SLIGHTLY different. I often pick up tubes of these paints when I run out of specific colors or need a lot of one color like Titanium White.
They also label their colors slightly differently, however, I have never had a problem converting some of the colors to Liquitex BASICS terms.
Buy a gigantic tube of Titanium white because you’ll be using a lot of it!
Royal & Langnickel Acrylics
These are another great student quality paint that you can find on Amazon and Joann! I love the consistency and the vibrancy of these colors as well. I find them very similar to the Liquitex BASICS!
I actually did a tutorial using this exact set! You can learn how to paint the four seasons tree here. This is a neat little set that include brushes, a palette, palette knife, sponge and 24 colors. The tiny tubes won’t last you very long but it is a nice little set to start out with if you are looking for an all in one kit.
Can I Use Craft Paint?
Most craft paints are acrylic paints and in my experience they do fine on canvas. If you’re on a budget, working with kids or just want to test out this painting thing, the Apple Barrel Craft brand is great! In fact, I use craft paints with my kids when we paint.
While I don’t create any new tutorials using them, I still use these paints to practice with and I enjoy the fluidity of the paint. They also work GREAT for DIY paint parties!
I am also a fan of the DecoArt craft paints including the Crafters Choice and the Americana.
Higher Quality Acrylic Paints
Above student grade there is artist and professional grade. These paints have less fillers and your painting will essentially last longer because the paint light-fastness is higher.
Three go to brands for high quality professional paints are Liquitex, Golden and Winsor and Newton.
I, personally, do not own an expensive easel. I’m kind of an oddball that likes to paint flat or with the canvas in my lap or at odd angles that I hold it!
If you’re looking for a “paint party” style easel, I use and love these that I found at Hobby Lobby!
If you’ve seen my videos, you may have noticed that I use paper plates or old coffee lids and sometimes I use those classic circle plastic palettes!
In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter what you use as a palette. You can even grab a piece of cardboard.
Or if you want to get really fancy, you can invest in a stay wet palette. These are actually REALLY nice because they keep the colors wet longer.
It’s really up to you and what you feel comfortable using!
I use glass Mason Jars! There’s something about the glass that makes it easier to rinse your brush off between colors! A glass jelly jar or Marinara Sauce Jar can work too. Just find something large enough to hold a lot of water.
Cleaning Your Brushes
I’m a huge fan of The Master’s Brush Cleaner! In fact, I wrote a whole post about it! I keep it at my sink where I wash my brushes and will use it every other time I rinse them out. It really keeps the brushes from getting too much dried paint build up and preserves the shape of the bristles.
If you’re using traceables, you’ll have to get graphite paper to transfer the image onto the canvas. Graphite paper is a very small investment because one sheet can be used multiple times.
They also make White Graphite paper for transferring on darker surfaces!
I love using T-square rulers! They are great for making nice crisp horizon lines and any straight line as needed.
Occasionally I use chalk to draw on the canvas, especially over dark areas of a painting. Chalk erases easily with a wet paint brush. It’s also a good way to “test out an idea” before painting over the object.
I use sketchbooks to practice with and sketch out ideas. I recommend that you get one as well! They are great for practicing brush strokes and techniques.
Do you still have questions about art supplies! I’d be happy to help! You can contact me here or send me a message on the Facebook page. No question is too silly so don’t be afraid to reach out! You can also join our private Facebook Group to ask all the questions you want!
Having a DIY Paint Party?
You can see my post specifically about supplies for a paint party. They may be different from the ones in this post because you’ll be buying in bulk.