When thinking of painters, the names of the greats come to our minds such as Michelangelo, Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and many more. These artists were from different countries and yet, today their work is known and treasured throughout the world.
But, even this small list of artists demonstrates the beauty of art. Not one of them had the same style of painting and all created beautiful pieces of work. Pieces that have survived through time and rendered their creators immortal through them.
With this romanticized idea of immortality and the various styles of artwork that can be created, why wouldn’t you want to get started creating your masterpiece?
What is that I hear?
You don’t know where to start?
Well, my friends, let’s start with the supplies you will need.
Honestly, to get started you don’t need much. I have been painting for around 19 years and I started painting with the cheap acrylic paints they sell at Walmart and poster boards. Over time, I progressed to oil paints and canvas. Then I started experimenting with other painting surfaces. What I have learned over these years, is that all you need is a paintbrush, some paints, and something to paint on. However, for the sake of this blog, I will focus on oil painting supplies: things you need, and things that come in handy.
How many brushes and what type of brushes do you need? There is a vast array of brushes available at your local arts and craft store. I recommend when starting, grab a variety pack and experiment. When I started painting I knew I was going to mess up because I was learning, so I bought the cheap packets that came with an assortment. Since then, I still like buying those packets because if the brushes break or get ruined they are easy to replace but I have also invested in individual brushes that would meet my needs.
The pallet knife, the fan brush, and the tiny one there at the end were a bit more in terms of price. The rest came from an assorted packet.
How many brushes do you need? You don’t need a lot of brushes because one brush can make several different strokes but as time goes they do tend to accumulate.
This is my current paintbox and the mass of brushes that mostly sit in it unused. I have my favorite brushes like most artists do, so I tend to use those 4 or 5 brushes over and over again.
You can paint on ANYTHING! However, the most common surfaces are the pretreated canvas that can be purchased at most arts and craft stores. Pretreated canvas is a stretched canvas that has a primer coating. This primer makes it easier to paint on the canvas because raw canvas will absorb your paint and you will end up using up more paint. You can usually find multiple 16x20x1 or 8x10x1 canvases that come in bundles and aren’t too expensive. They also sell things like canvas paper and canvas board if you are aiming for that kind of surface. But, you can paint on just about any surface, I have painted on canvas, wood, walls, glass, even a broken mirror backboard. You just want to have fun with your art and each surface will give you different opportunities. Below you will find examples of the different surfaces I have painted on.
GLASS CANVAS WOOD
For most of my painting years, I have used an oil paint brand called Georgian by Daler Rowney. I started with this brand because it came in an inexpensive starter kit that had multiple colors. As time passed I started to stockpile these tubes whenever I had extra money and for the last couple of years, I haven’t needed to buy more paints. Sadly, this year I started running out of my titanium white and had to make a trip to the store for more. Only, now the store is no longer carrying the brand of paints that I have used and I ended up buying the only brand they had available which was Master’s Touch. While this paint doesn’t seem bad, I’m not used to it. It is less grainy than the Georgian paint and it takes much longer to dry. I was able to find more Georgian paints on Amazon but there wasn’t a very large selection. So, after doing some research, I found a couple of other brands that are available through Dick Blick art supplies online called, Rembrandt Artists’ Oil Paints and Winsor and Newton Artist Oils. I’m going to purchase a tube of each of these to try them out and I will update my blog with my experience in working with these.
A pallet is something that I would say comes in handy. You can use anything that is disposable to mix your paint on but a pallet is portable and nice to have. I have a wooden pallet that I cover with aluminum foil. It is a nice clique artist pallet with the thumb hole, mostly because I wanted to look “authentic” and it fits in with my romanticized idea of what an artist needs, but you don’t need one of these. They also sell booklets of pallet paper and pallets that come in other shapes, sizes, and materials. What’s important is that you find what works for you. And again if you are just starting you can use a strip of foil or plastic to mix your paints. I use the foil to cover my pallet because it doesn’t allow the oils to bleed through the way paper would and if I add it directly to the pallet it requires more cleanup time.
For acrylics and water paints, a cup of water or rinsing in the sink will be enough to get your brushes clean if you wash them immediately after use. Oils on the other hand will need something stronger. Paint thinner is one option but it is flammable and not recommended for use in the house. Most arts and craft stores will sell odorless cleaners by different brands. I use a small about of mineral spirits in a silicoil jar to keep my brushes clean because it is also odorless and a cheaper option. I also use the mineral spirits to thin my paint before I brush it on my canvas.
Asilicoil jar is a clear glass container that has a springy and smooth coil on the inside that is perfect for dipping your brush into the mineral spirits and rubbing on the coils to clean the brush. Of course, you can use any glass jar to store your mineral spirits and clean your brushes. I particularly like this because I found it helps to keep the old paint and the spirits separate so I can use the same liquid longer before having to dump it out. Plus, the coils are great for rubbing out the paint when I have over-saturated the brush. If you are just starting, use what you have but this is one investment that I do not regret.
I hope this helps you get started on your path to painting like the greats. As always the hardest thing to do is to get started so even if you are not ready, turn on some music, grab a brush, some paints, any surface, and just start painting.
Check out my YouTube channel Maine’s Mind, to see all of the products I use and to get more tips and tricks to painting. Also, please comment and let me know if this blog helped you or share your new painting, I would love to see everyone’s works. Or if you have tips you would like to recommend, please share them because learning new things is a lifelong experience and I am always looking for ways to improve my art.