If you’ve chosen acrylic paint as your media of choice, you have the best of both worlds.
Those worlds in the art realm are watercolors and oil paints.
You have the fluid translucency of watercolors with their amazing capacity to express an image with just a few swipes of watery color. You also have the thick and luxurious oil-paint consistency that can be applied in layer after layer of buttery texture and color.
Added to that, you can use acrylic paints in mixed media creations to give you an almost limitless choice in style, technique and material choice.
Did you realize just how smart you are for choosing Acrylic Paint? Give yourself a little pat on the back. However, now you need to add accessories to go with all those great paints. Since you have so many options in style and technique, it may be hard to control your spending when it comes to setting up your studio. As an acrylic artist, you’ll probably want to try every technique you come across. Be strong and decide what you want to try first. Then, choose the tools that will be best suited for the techniques you want to master initially.
Adding Accessories To Your Studio
Some of the tools and accessories you choose can be used regardless of the techniques you employ. However, there are job-specific tools that may only be suited to watercolor technique or expressly designed for use when you are painting with an oil painter’s technique.
Whenever possible, choose accessories and tools that can be utilized with all techniques. You’ll save on the cost of multiple purchases and save precious space as well.
Your initial excitement with your new found love will have you poring over glossy magazines and high-resolution websites for the latest in artistic accoutrements. Every page shows a wondrous invention for the artistic world and advises that you will become a better, faster, more prolific artist if you include this item in your tabouret.
If you’re the type of person who is sucked in by late-night infomercial programs, you need to be very wary of the bazillion offerings you’ll find available to the unsuspecting artist. Just remember that the great masters worked with a limited palette, used hand-made brushes and only had natural illumination or candle light by which to create their works.
The less you spend on superfluous accessories, the more you’ll have to purchase needed supplies like paints and supports. Take your time in outfitting your studio. Experience and exposure to how others work will help you decide what is essential and what is merely a device used by manufacturers to make more profits.
Supports For Your Support
As pointed out, you have the luxury of painting in any fashion you choose. Therefore, you need to be prepared to work on paper, plastic, canvas, board or a three-dimensional object. Unless you’re limiting yourself to one technique, you’ll need more than one support for your supports.
A water media artist typically uses paper as a support. The paper is taped or clipped to a rigid board. This can be a sheet of Masonite, thin plywood or even cardboard. If you’re using a great deal of water, you will place your support at a horizontal or nearly horizontal angle. Any table will do nicely, and a drafting table that can be raised or lowered is a great luxury.
If you’re planning to use your paints in a thick formulation, you’ll probably want an easel for painting in a vertical position. You can spend less than $20.00 or more than $2000.00 for an easel. While most of us don’t start out with an easel that is equal to a down payment on a car, you probably don’t want a $20.00 model either. You’ll need one sturdy enough to support the largest support you’ll be working with, but if you need to pack your studio up at the end of the day, choose one that folds down to store in a closet or under a bed. A folding easel is necessary if you plan to paint en plein aire or need to transport your equipment to a class.
Painters love their Paintbrushes. We lust after them, cherish them and mourn their passing. We buy them spontaneously and probably wind up with more than we can ever use. If you’re really insistent on adding to your brush collection, look for specialty brushes. A rigger brush allows you to paint long, sensuous, slender lines without recharging your brush. A Funny Brush is manufactured with rubbery noodles in lieu of hair or bristles for controlled, random splotches of color that’s perfect for foliage and grasses. Keep a firm rein on the brush-buying imp that lurks in your artist’s soul.
A palette knife is essential for blending thick paints and scraping your palette clean after a painting session, and painting knives are used for knife painting techniques. They’re available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Just like brushes, you don’t really need many knives. However, a flat one for mixing and scraping and a shaped model for painting is a good idea. Before manufacturers came out with painting knives, artists just used the flat palette knife for painting. It’s okay, but you tend to end up with permanently colored knuckles from inadvertently scraping your joints on the canvas as you paint.
A mahl stick is a great tool if you’re doing detail work in the midst of a wet canvas. It’s really just a stick with a rubber tip on one end. You certainly can make one, but you can buy them for less than $15.00. A nice thing about a purchased mahl stick is that many of them are made in sections that can be screwed together to make several different lengths. Whether you’re working on a small canvas or a giant mural, you’ll have a stick that’s a suitable length.
If you have loving friends and family that wants to give you little gifts, many accessories are fun, useful and give your studio an aura of professionalism. Brush holders and washers, special water containers, plastic modeling tools, atomizers, sponges and paint boxes are just a few of the items that you’ll find appealing. Just like buying a new puppy, you don’t walk out of the pet store with only a dog and a leash. You wind up pulling a loaded shopping cart out and try not to forget the little critter that started the whole thing. It’s the same with painting. You only need a brush, a tube of paint and a canvas. Just try walking out of the art supply store with nothing else.
You don’t really need most of these items, and you can certainly peruse a second hand store, hardware shop or your own garage and attic for many suitable alternatives. Save those luxury purchases for birthdays, anniversaries and holiday gift giving. This way, your family will have the fun of being a little involved in your progress and success.
One thing you do need is a Paint Palette. Manufacturers would really like you to choose one of their ultra-deluxe models that include an airtight cover, mixing wells, and perhaps a little built-in speaker system for your mp3 player. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
You can spend a lot on a wonderful palette, or you can buy an inexpensive one. Either way, you’ll have a flat surface on which to prepare your paints. Simple palettes only cost a few dollars and are inexpensive to replace.
You may be asking why you would need to replace a palette. You’ll probably be called away for an urgent appointment, need to go pick up the kids from school, carried away by a dashing knight, or need to go rescue a damsel in distress. When you return, your paint has dried like a rock. Your once-pristine palette is covered with solid lumps. You can scrape most of them off, but eventually you’ll tire of the bumpy mixing surface and need a fresh start. That’s why.
Alternatively, you can use a piece of glass or rigid plastic, a clean Styrofoam meat tray, a cookie sheet or an old porcelain serving plate. Browse around the kitchen and you’ll be sure to find several good palettes that don’t cost a dime.
With Acrylic Paints, you have the luxury of using no additives, water or choose from a number of specially designed products. You can extend the drying time with a slow-drying medium or a gel drying retardant. A flow release increases the flow of your paints without diluting the pigment’s concentration. There are additives to increase the shine or give your painting a matte finish. You can bulk up your paint for heavy, impasto applications with thickening gel, or add a crackle effect to the surface of your work.
Paint additives and mediums for acrylics are great products to expand your repertoire and for experimenting with many different styles. However, use these products sparingly. Your personal style and skill shouldn’t be based on the use of tricks and shortcuts. Overuse of any obvious technique or trick marks you and your work. You should be known as a painter with a wonderful style or vision, and not a painter that relies on visual ploys and tricks.
Around The Studio
When you’re first starting on your artistic journey, it’s a good idea to keep things simple. If you’ve the luxury of a spare room to commandeer as a studio, you’re very fortunate. For many artists, a dedicated room is on the permanent wish list. You may be able to carve out a permanent corner of a room, or free up a closet.
If a corner or a closet is possible, use a minimalist approach to stocking your studio. A rolling cart or tabouret is perfect for holding all your supplies and tools, as well as small supports. You can use the top as your table to hold your palette, drawing supplies, water or medium and paper towels. It’s also easy to move when you’re setting up or finishing a painting session.
One thing that’s very important is good lighting. If your studio doesn’t have proper lighting, invest in quality, portable task lighting. If you’re doing still life paintings, make sure you can illuminate your arrangement properly, as well as have adequate light from which to paint. You’ll probably need to invest in at least two or three lights. Portable lighting allows you to set up wherever it’s most appropriate. If you need to schlep off to the kitchen because the kids are having a movie night, you’ll be able to take your wonderful, full-spectrum lighting with you.
As you get more familiar with your craft, you’ll find lots of things that will make your painting life simpler, more efficient or even more fun. You’ll probably wind up with a wish list the size of a phone book, but don’t get bogged down with too many accessories. Just remember that it’s not the cool toys and accessories that make an artist. It’s you and your paint that counts.
Painting En Plein Aire
One of the joys and terrors of painting is packing your gear for an afternoon of painting in the open air. Acrylic painters have it beat over oil painters. Your paint will be dry by the time you’re ready to leave, and unlike an oil painter, you can simply carry a spare bottle of water, a handful of paper towels, a brush or two and a small selection of paints. Grab a block of watercolor paper, a canvas board or a small sheet of Masonite, and you’re ready to capture nature for all posterity.
You may want to include a hat, a can of bug spray, a waterproof rain slicker, hiking boots, sunscreen, a beverage and snacks to cover all contingencies. However, what could be more fun than picking bugs out of your paint, watching a tube of paint rolling down the hill towards a mud puddle or slipping and winding up with a butt print on your newly completed landscape? Plein aire painting – it’s not for the faint of heart.
Acrylic paints have so much to recommend, and this chapter could go on and on with all the wonders available to the acrylic painter. Unless you have bottomless pockets or a money tree hiding in your back yard, you’ll have to tread cautiously through catalogs, stores and web pages dedicated to taking hard-earned cash from bedazzled artists. Spend your time, and not your money, in learning your craft. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to decide which products are for using and which are for selling.
FREE Online Art Paint Course
There are 27 Chapters in this Free Online Painting Course:
Let Us Begin…
Watercolor – Where to Start
Watercolor Paint Brands
Watercolor Paint Brushes
Watercolor Basic Painting Techniques
Advanced Watercolor Painting Techniques
Watercolor Painting Accessories
Watercolor Painting Tips and Tricks
Acrylics – Where to Start
Acrylic Paint Brands
Acrylic Painting Support
Acrylic Paint Brushes
Acrylic Painting Techniques
Acrylic Painting Accessories (This Article)
Acrylic Painting Tips and Tricks
Enjoy the Free Art Course!
Paint on! :)