What to Buy when Starting Painting

What to Buy when Starting Painting Lessons

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Here is a short list of what to buy when starting painting in oils or acrylic.

You may wish to paint in oils, I now paint in acrylics.
Colors, brushes, painting knife, canvas, palette, cleaning rags and turpentine if painting in oils.

The list of what to buy is same for oils and acrylics.

With the acrylic brands you need a paint that is not runny.
The paint should come out of the tube like toothpaste.
Oil paint is usually not runny.
Colors for starting painting lessons.

Burnt umber and white is all you need if you will be starting with the mono color (brown) lessons.


You need a lot of white. Titanium white for oils. Any white for acrylics, but it must not be runny.

Colors for starting painting lessons

Burnt umber,

A lot needed if starting with mono color lessons.

Cobalt blue,

A lot of this color is needed.

Warm yellow,

A lot of this color is needed. Note, Warm yellow is any yellow that looks more like an orange than a lemon.


A lot needed but not as much as the 2 above.

Raw sienna,

Not A lot of this color is needed.

Burnt sienna,

A little of this color needed.

Warm red,

A little of this color needed. Note, Warm red is any ‘fire engine’ red.

Viridian green,

A very little of this color needed. Phthalo green may be used.

Phthalo blue,

Not A lot needed. May only be available in ‘artist quality’.

Indian yellow.

Not A lot needed. May only be available in ‘artist quality’. Australian red gold or Australian sienna are better and usually more available.

Additional colors

For starting painting lessons these colors are not necessary but are mentioned in the Paint with Len lessons.

Phthalo green.

Can take the place of viridian green. Great for mono color forests.

Cobalt violet.

Great for mono color scenes and foliage for jacaranda trees.

Prussian blue,

Can be used for moonlight scenes.

Ultramarine blue,

Can be used in place of cobalt blue to give warmer tones.

Indigo blue.

Can be used for mono color blue black paintings.

Black can be used in mono color paintings.

Do not buy any colors in the junior quality paint, it is too runny.
Use student quality paint when starting painting lessons in oil or acrylic.
Some colors will only be available in the more expensive artist quality paints.
I now use acrylic paint because it is cheaper, less smelly and easier to clean up.
You need to decide if you will be starting painting lessons in oils or acrylics.

Brushes for starting painting lessons.
My brushes.

Brushes for starting painting lessons.

No need to buy expensive brushes.

Fan brush,

Medium size must be the firm bristles type, the soft bristles ones are very soft and not suitable.

Flat brush,

Common house painting brush.
1 or 1-1/2 inch. Later you may need a 2-inch flat house painting brush for larger paintings.
Nylon brushes are okay.

Round hog bristle brush,

As big as you can get, that is about a 1/2-inch diameter feral, not the pointed one, the blunt ended bristles is better. The pointed ones can be cropped with scissors. (unavailable in some countries so a 3/4 inch common house painting brush will do just as well)

Flat hog bristle brushes,

Say 2 brushes, quarter inch and half inch wide bristle area, these are common with white bristles.

Fine hair brush,

For little twigs, not too small, about size 5.
Different brands have different sizes but most sizes are useful.

A cranked painting knife.

Cranked painting knife

Choose a flexible knife with a cranked handle when painting in oils or acrylics.


You need something to mix the paint on.
A tear off palette pad is ideal, or a wooden palette, a piece of glass or a wall tile.


Prepared artist canvas is the first choice.
Prepared means primed ready to go (undercoated on one side before you buy it, usually white) or canvas stretched on a frame, or canvas panels (thin canvas on thick cardboard).
You may also use particle board undercoated with white acrylic house paint.

Best sizes for art panels

Or canvas pieces:- 9×12, 11×14, 12×16, 14×18 inches are good sizes to start but any similar size will be ok.
When slicing up loose canvas then leave about 1 1/2 inches all round and mask off the area to be painted with masking tape.

And don’t forget

You will also need, rags, water or turps, something to steady and hold your painting.
Wear old clothes, sit or stand comfortably and have good lighting and fresh air.

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