Basic Equipment List


There are many types and brands available, which can be confusing for the beginner. Look for Artists or Graduate Quality with medium viscosity or soft bodied (avoid Heavy Body paint as this is more suited to painting with a knife) are thick texture. Daler Rowney System 3 Artist Quality is a good brand and easily obtainable in various size sets of basic colours. Their Graduate range is slightly cheaper and excellent for practice. I suggest purchasing small tubes to begin with. These are readily obtainable through most art & craft stores or online via Jackson’s, Amazon, Pegasus, to name but a few.  Different brands can be used together but each brand reacts differently in some small way with other brands.

Always buy the best you can afford as you get what you pay for: the lower the price, the lesser quality you get. Cheaper brands have less pigment hence less colour and coverage quality which means you could well be disappointed with your results.

There is a vast range of colours available in acrylics but I suggest you do not buy lots of different shades and colours, rather keep to a basic palette and learn to mix the colours you require from these. With a red, a yellow, a blue, white and a black you have all you need to paint any colour. A good starting palette consists of Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red, Cadmium or Process Yellow, Mars Black or prefably Paynes Grey, and Titanium White.

With acrylics, there is always one colour you will need more of than any other colour and get through far quicker than others, that is White. Go for Titantium White as Zine White is more translucent.


Most types are suitable including those for watercolour but those for oil and/or acrylics are far more suitable and usually synthetic as opposed to sable or hoghair. Acrylics are inclined to spoil watercolour brushes and make them unusable for us with watercolour again. 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, often on a 3 for the price of 2 offer and usually carry the complete range. Other arts and craft stores may hold stock 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 wood, stone and 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 on its smooth surface with white undercoat ready for painting.

Water pots

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 do not buy one initially as these can be expensive and are easily made at home. I use an old Tupperware box, or those plastic boxes when gets with Ferrio Rocher chocolates, but any container with a tight-fitting or airtight 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 or clingfilm on top of the kitchen paper. These homemade liners can be used in the Stay-Wet palettes too 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. Because acrylics do dryout quickly especially in a warm room, I strongly suggest using a stay-wet palette.

Board or Easel

For small works using acrylic paper, ie A4 approx size, I use a piece of card, larger than the paper. This is more often than not the hard backingboard at the back of a pack of painting paper, to rest my work on to paint flat. This is taped on all four edges to the board as some papers do curl a little initially when painted. to

Sundry Items (useful but not a necessity)

Paper towels, ie Plenty, and a roll of toilet paper. 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. A few cotton buds and cocktail sticks. A few small natural sponges.