Basic Equipment List
There are many types and brands available, which can be confusing for the beginner. Look for Artists Quality with medium viscosity or soft bodied (avoid Heavy Body paint as this is more suited to painting with a knife). Daler Rowney System 3 Artist Quality is a good brand and easily obtainable in various size sets of basic colours. I suggest purchasing small tubes to begin with. These are readily obtainable through most art & craft stores, and online via Jackson’s, Amazon, Pegasus, to name but a few. Different brands can be used together.
There is a vast range of colours available in acrylics but I suggest you don’t buy lots of colours, rather keep to a basic palette and learn to mix the colours you require from these.
Most types are suitable including those for watercolour, but synthetic brushes are best. Whilst I always advocate buying the best you can afford, I can recommend Royal & Langnickel synthetic brushes (white or yellow bristles). These have acrylic clear handles and many have a soft grip, easy to clean and are very inexpensive. Brilliant for the beginner. The Range at Filton sells these, usually on a 3 for the price of 2 offer and offer the complete range. Other art 7 craft stores may hold stoks and some are available online via Amazon. You will need a one-inch flat brush, a smaller flat brush, a round brush, a filbert, a fan brush and a rigger as a starting point.
Other types of brushes can be very helpful, ie deerfoot stipler, foliage brush. Remember, too, that the larger the canvas you paint, the larger the brush, especially for painting skies or laying down a background. For putting on gesso or even painting skies, a small paint roller may be useful, as can be good quality decorating brushes, but these are not necessary for the beginner.
Acrylics work on most surfaces, often the soother the better, be it canvas, canvas board, canvas paper, practice acrylic paper, hardboard, heavy watercolour paper. Even pebbles. Start with something small, ie postcard size but, say, no larger than A4, for practice paintings. With the exception of hardboard, there is no need to prime with gesso. Hardboard can be primed with white undercoat.
Three water pots. I use plastic yogurt/dessert pots (after I’ve eaten the contents, of course!). Plastic pots are lighter to carry if you attend an art group or require equipment at a workshop. At home, jam jars, old beer glasses, or any other container will suffice.
If you already have a Stay-Wet palette, fine. But please don’t buy one as these can be easily made at home. I use an old Tupperware box, but any container with a lid can be used. Simply line with good quality kitchen paper, ie Bounce or Plenty. Add a few drops of water until the paper is damp but not wet. Pour away any excess water, then lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on top of the kitchen paper. These homemade liners can be used in the Stay-Wet palettes and far cheaper than those you can buy. An old china plate, even a paper plate can be used if necessary for a short painting session.
Board or Easel
For small works, ie A4 approx size, I use a piece of card, usually the hard backingboard at the back of a pack of painting paper, to rest my work on to paint flat. Some practice papers do curl a little initially when painted, but this can be easily remedied using plastic paper clips, or taping the paper to your board.
Sundry Items (useful but not a necessity)
Paper towels. Colour wheel. Ruler. Scrap paper for testing colours/mixes. Pencil or pastel pencils for drawing. Incidentally, I prefer to draw/outline with pastel pencils because lead pencil lines can sometimes show through acrylic paint. Pencil sharpner. Plastic paper clips/bulldog clip/plastic clothes pegs (for securing). Masking tape (same job).