As an acrylic painter, having the right tools and supplies can make all the difference in the success of your artwork.
From the canvas you choose to the brushes you use, each element plays a role in the final product.
In this article, we will explore 30 essential tools and supplies that every acrylic painter should have in their arsenal. From traditional canvases to palette cups, we’ll cover everything you need to create beautiful, vibrant paintings.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, these tools and supplies will help you take your acrylic paintings to the next level. So let’s dive in and see what’s on the list!
Canvases and Surfaces
One of the first decisions an acrylic painter must make is what surface to paint on. There are a variety of options to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics and advantages.
Stretched canvases are the most traditional option for acrylic painting. They are made by stretching a piece of canvas fabric over a wooden frame, creating a firm and stable surface to paint on.
Stretched canvases come in a range of sizes, from small 6×6 inches to large 30×40 inches or even larger. They can be purchased ready-made or you can stretch your own canvas using canvas fabric and wooden stretcher bars.
Canvas panels are a more portable and affordable option than stretched canvases. They consist of a piece of canvas that is mounted onto a rigid board, making them easy to transport and store.
Canvas panels are also a good option for acrylic painters who prefer a firmer surface to paint on.
Acrylic paint can also be used on watercolor paper, which is a thin, absorbent paper specifically designed for water-based media. Watercolor paper comes in different weights, ranging from lightweight to heavy, and can be purchased in pads or as individual sheets.
It is important to use high-quality watercolor paper when painting with acrylics, as cheaper options may become too saturated with paint and start to buckle.
Wood panels are another surface option for acrylic painting. They provide a smooth, stable surface that is ideal for detailed work and can be purchased in a range of sizes.
Wood panels can be painted directly on or gesso can be applied first to create a more even surface.
Acrylic paint can also be used on glass surfaces, such as windows or mirrors. Painting on glass requires a different technique than painting on other surfaces, as the paint will not adhere as well and will need to be sealed to prevent it from smudging or running.
Glass surfaces can be a fun and unique option for acrylic paintings, but it is important to keep in mind the extra steps required for proper application and sealing.
Having a variety of brushes is important for any acrylic painter, as different brushes are suitable for different techniques and effects. Here are some common brush types to consider adding to your collection:
Round brushes are the most basic and versatile brush type for acrylic painting. They come in a range of sizes and are shaped like a cylinder with pointed tip.
Round brushes are good for detailed work and can be used to create thin or thick lines, depending on the pressure applied. They are also good for creating soft, blending effects.
Flat brushes are wide, flat brushes with squared-off tips. They are good for creating broad, even strokes and can be used for blocking in large areas of color.
Flat brushes are also good for creating straight lines and edges.
Filbert brushes are similar to flat brushes but have a slightly rounded tip.
They are good for creating soft, curved lines and are especially useful for blending and smoothing out brushstrokes.
Fan brushes have a wide, fan-shaped head and are good for creating texture and sweeping strokes.
They are often used for creating foliage or grass in landscape paintings.
Palette knives are not technically brushes, but they can be used for a variety of techniques in acrylic painting. They have a flat, flexible blade that can be used to mix paint on the palette, spread paint onto the canvas, or create textured effects.
Palette knives can be particularly useful for creating impasto effects, where the paint is applied thickly to create a raised, three-dimensional surface.
It is important to choose brushes that are made with high-quality materials, as cheap brushes may shed their bristles or become misshapen after repeated use.
Natural bristles, such as hog hair or sable, are generally considered the best option for acrylic painting, but synthetic brushes can also be a good choice and are often more affordable.
It is also a good idea to invest in a range of brush sizes, as this will give you more flexibility in your painting.
A palette is an essential tool for any acrylic painter, as it provides a surface for mixing and organizing paint. Here are some common palette options:
Traditional palettes are often made of wood or plastic and have a flat surface with wells or cups for holding paint.
They are a good option for working in a studio setting, as they provide plenty of space for mixing paint and are easy to clean.
Palette paper is a disposable option that can be placed on top of a palette or used on its own. It is made of thin, absorbent paper and can be torn off and discarded when it becomes too dirty or saturated with paint.
Palette paper is a good option for painters who prefer a more portable palette or for those who do not want to deal with the mess of cleaning a traditional palette.
Palette cups are small, disposable cups that can be filled with paint and used as a palette.
They are a good option for painters who are working on a small scale or who only need a small amount of paint at a time. Palette cups can be easily discarded when they are no longer needed.
Mixing trays are shallow containers that can be used to mix paint or as a palette. They are a good option for painters who prefer to mix their paint directly on the canvas or who need a larger surface to mix on. Mixing trays can be made of plastic, metal, or ceramic and are easy to clean.
It is important to choose a palette that is suitable for your needs and working style. Some painters prefer a large, traditional palette, while others may prefer a more portable option such as palette paper or cups. Experiment with different palette options to find what works best for you.
In addition to paint, there are several mediums that can be added to acrylic paint to alter its properties and create different effects. Here are some common painting mediums to consider:
Gesso is a white, primer-like substance that is applied to a surface before painting. It provides a smooth, even surface for the paint to adhere to and can also help to reduce the absorbency of the surface.
Gesso is especially important to use on porous surfaces such as wood or canvas, as it will help to prevent the paint from soaking into the fibers and becoming dull.
Gesso can be purchased pre-made or made at home using a mixture of white paint, glue, and water.
Acrylic mediums are substances that can be added to acrylic paint to alter its properties. There are a variety of acrylic mediums available, including glazing medium, which can be used to create a transparent, layered effect; impasto medium, which can be used to create a thick, textured surface; and matte medium, which can be used to create a matte finish.
Acrylic mediums can be a useful tool for creating specific effects and are especially useful for painters working in mixed media.
Retarder is a medium that is added to acrylic paint to slow down its drying time. This can be useful for painters who want more time to work with their paint or for those who are working on a large scale and do not want the paint to dry too quickly. Retarder can be added to the paint directly or sprayed onto the canvas.
Flow improver is a medium that is added to acrylic paint to make it flow more smoothly and evenly.
It can be particularly useful for thinning out thicker paints or for creating a more fluid brushstroke. Flow improver can be added to the paint directly or sprayed onto the canvas.
It is important to use painting mediums sparingly and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, as using too much can alter the consistency and drying time of the paint.
Experimenting with different mediums can be a fun way to explore new techniques and effects in your acrylic paintings.
Other Tools and Supplies
In addition to canvases, brushes, palettes, and mediums, there are several other tools and supplies that can be helpful to have on hand when acrylic painting. Here are a few to consider:
Pencils and Erasers
Pencils and erasers can be useful for sketching out a composition or for making corrections on a painting.
It is important to use a pencil that is light enough to be easily erased, such as a 2B or 4B pencil. Erasers can be used to lift out paint or to erase pencil marks.
Ruler and Straight Edge
A ruler and straight edge can be useful for creating precise lines or for making sure that elements in a composition are evenly spaced.
A clear plastic ruler can be particularly useful for painting, as it allows you to see the painting underneath.
Masking Tape and Masking Fluid
Masking tape and masking fluid can be used to protect areas of a painting from accidental brushstrokes or to create clean, sharp lines. Masking tape is applied directly to the canvas and can be removed after the paint has dried.
Masking fluid is a liquid that is applied to the canvas and dried, creating a protective barrier that can be painted over.
Masking fluid is removed by rubbing it off with a rubber cement pick-up or by soaking the painting in water.
Having a water container on hand is essential for any acrylic painter, as it is used to clean brushes and dilute paint.
A jar or cup with a wide opening is a good option, as it allows for easy access to the water. It is important to keep the water clean, as dirty water can affect the color of the paint.
Rags and Paper Towels
Rags and paper towels are useful for cleaning up spills, wiping off brushes, and blotting excess paint.
Rags can be made from old t-shirts or other scraps of fabric and can be washed and reused. Paper towels are disposable and can be useful for quick clean-ups.
Solvent and Brush Cleaner
Solvent and brush cleaners are used to remove acrylic paint from brushes and other surfaces. Solvent is a strong, chemical-based cleaner that is effective at removing dried paint, but it can be harsh on brushes and should be used sparingly. Brush cleaner is a milder option that is specifically formulated for cleaning brushes and is less likely to damage the bristles.
It is important to clean brushes thoroughly after use to extend their lifespan and to ensure that they are ready for the next painting session.
Apron or Smock
An apron or smock can be useful for protecting clothing from spills and splatters while painting. They can be purchased or made at home using an old shirt or other pieces of fabric.
An easel is a stand that holds a canvas or other painting surface at an angle, making it easier to work on. Easels come in a variety of styles and can be free-standing or tabletop.
They can be particularly useful for painters working on larger canvases or for those who prefer to work standing up.
Having these additional tools and supplies on hand can make the acrylic painting process more efficient and enjoyable. Experiment with different options to find what works best for you.
Acrylic painting is a popular and versatile medium that allows for a wide range of techniques and effects. Having the right tools and supplies can make a big difference in the success of your paintings.
From canvases and surfaces to brushes, palettes, and mediums, there are many elements to consider when setting up your acrylic painting studio.
We’ve explored 30 essential tools and supplies that every acrylic painter should have in their arsenal, including stretched canvases, round brushes, traditional palettes, gesso, and more.
Each element plays a role in the final product and can help you create beautiful, vibrant paintings.
It is important to experiment with different materials and find what works best for you.
Don’t be afraid to try out new tools and supplies and see what creative possibilities they can open up. With the right tools and supplies, you’ll be well on your way to creating stunning acrylic paintings.