Getting Started with Acrylic Paint

So, you want to start painting but are not sure where to start?

In a perfect world, your studio will have a northern facing window for the best light, but since lots of people (including me) paint in the evening after work, any well-lit space will work.

Make sure to protect your floors and walls since acrylic paint is permanent once it is dry. I place a shower curtain liner that I purchased at my local dollar store on the floor and then cover it with an old sheet. The shower curtain liner will repel any spills not absorbed by the sheet.

sandipainting3By the way, you’ll also need to protect your clothing from spills as well. Make sure to wear an ugly painting shirt, just like I do. (Please tell me that you didn’t really think I dress like this.)

You’ll need an easel. There are many types to choose from. Table-top easels are probably the least expensive, but when I start to get really passionate about my painting, I have been known to send an table-top easel flying across the table!!! I use a drafting table in my studio and I have a great French easel that is portable that I take when I travel. You can even make an easel out of a step ladder. Some artists hang a blank canvas on the wall and paint without an easel.

You will need a palette to mix your paints on. While you are more than welcome to spend money on wooden or plastic palettes and time cleaning them (use a razor blade to scrape the dry paint off) I simply use a paper plate (make sure it has a waxy coating) and throw it away when it gets too messy. Wax paper works, too. I find that Styrofoam plates cause the paint to dry too quickly, so I avoid them.

You will also need water for washing your brushes and a brush cleaner. The water should soapbe lukewarm, never hot or you will misshape the bristles and ruin the brush. Store the water in plastic or glass jars, metal may alter the chemistry of the paint pigment. I use plastic coffee cans because the lids fit perfectly over the paper plates and keep my paint moist longer.

I have tried may types of brush cleaners, all of which work really well, but I discovered a great secret. I use leftover soap slivers!!! Simply rub the brushes over the soap, make sure all of the paint is out and rinse. I then wipe the brushes with a shop towel to ensure no paint is left on the brush.

You will also need canvas, brushes, and paint (which are all covered in depth in other articles.)