I often read comments that suggest starting artists should just buy the cheapest art supplies because they’re not making good art anyway. I highly disagree (on both accounts).
I always felt frustrated and disappointed when I started out painting with the student grade paints. They are so cheap because they have more fillers and less pigments in them.
Everything changed for me when I finally decided to try heavy body acrylic paints by Golden and Liquitex. Golden is my absolute favourite, the colours are just so beautiful. But Liquitex is a great runner up!
This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get you started. I would suggest starting out with two or three colours. For example black and white (you could even use white gesso instead of paint). Payne’s Grey is also very nice to use instead of black.
With these colour palettes you can really focus on your values (the lights and darks in your painting) first to understand shading and creating form before trying to figure out how to do this in colour. You won’t accidentally create muddy colours. Simplify your learning process and take it step by step. This is why I created my class Tiny Portraits, Tiny Palette.
You can always pick up one additional colour each month or so and expand your collection gradually. One tip: keep a list on your phone with the colours you already have so you won’t end up with a lot of doubles like me.
There are some supplies that I do save money on, such as:
- Brushes (as long as the metal part is sturdy enough so that they won’t shed while painting. I really like the Daler Rowney Graduate brushes);
- Mixed media papers for practice purposes (I gesso them first anyway).
Another tip: buy pastels, neocolour crayons, etc. seperately instead of one big box with a lot of colours in them that you will never use. This is another good way to gather a big collection of them over time without you having to spend a lot of money at once.
There’s something that I would like to address. If you are painting with cheap art supplies and you are rocking them, good for you! Don’t ever feel bad about that. Keep creating beautiful art with them. I know that there are a lot of artists out there that are doing just fine with them. The most important thing is that you’re enjoying what you’re doing. If you haven’t invested in a good varnish yet, then maybe that is interesting to look into. Because the light fastness of your paint could be lower and I wouldn’t want your beautiful art to fade over time.
Also, if you decide to invest in some high end brands, there’s no need to throw out your old paints. You can continue using them, building up layers while making awesome textured backgrounds without any hesitation or anxiety about “wasting” expensive paint.
I hope you liked these tips and please feel free to share your own below!