Getting started - Buying paint.

There are five things standing between you and the creation of your first acrylic painting. Paint, brushes, a painting surface, water, and a desire to paint.

The first three are easy enough to get at your locally-owned, and expertly staffed, art store. At that locally-owned art store you will find a bonanza of options, so many options in fact, that you might feel overwhelmed at the choices you face. Don't be intimidated by the vast selection or by the coolness of the staff. Yes, the people behind the counter might look like Fiona Apple or the crew from Clockwork Orange, but don't be intimidated. They might look cool or potentially dangerous, but they are working there because they love art, they love art supplies, and they are art geek and freaks who live for talking about art and art supplies the same way the guy at your local roleplaying store lives for talking about Warcraft characters. They will be happy to help you find what you need.

(However, if the idea of interacting with actual human beings in an actual retail setting is too much for you, there are online shopping and home delivery options like Dick Blick and Utrecht.)

So, you are now standing in an actual art supply store. What paints do you need?

Paint is not cheap but it is not necessary to spend a fortune on it either. You really only need the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) and a tube of white to get started.

Brand: My personal preference as far as brands is Golden Heavy Body acrylics. They have a lot of pigment in them, they mix well, and I like the thickness of the paint. A few other good brands include Utrecht and Winsor & Newton. If at all possible, avoid buying ‘student grade’ paints because they are more difficult to mix in a way that will result in something good.

Basic colors: This group of colors is a strong starting point and what I recommend to my Painting 101 class. 

Red:  Naphthol red medium or cadmium red

Green: Phthalo green

Blue: Ultramarine Blue

Yellow: Hansa Yellow Medium

Earth Color: Burnt Umber and/or Burnt Sienna

White: Titanium white 

Black: Mars Black

If you have the budget for a few more, these colors are not necessary, but they mix well with other colors.

Cerulean Blue

Quinacridone Red

Phlato Blue (greenish blue)

Hansa Yellow Light

Yellow Ochre

Raw Umber


Or you can order a set of basic colors like this:

That wasn't so hard. Now, if only you had something to paint on...