View Full Version : Absolutely green artist

11-04-2004, 02:23 PM
Hello everyone,

I have been visiting this forum regularly for going on six months. Since I was about 10 years old I haven't drawn or painted anything until this year. I decided to pick up a drawing lesson book (I believe its called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain") and have come to believe myself to be, at heart, an artist.

I have overcome my fear of putting pencil to paper through the help of the book I mentioned. Like most people in this world I didn't think I could get something to look on paper like it does in life. But I have been extremely excited to find that it was actually possible, and now I want more.

I want color. I want to paint. I have read enough to know that acrylics are a good place to start. I spoke to an artist at his studio in Nashville, and he was very inspiring to me. I guess I even felt a "kindred spirit" so to speak, in regards to creating. He suggested that to begin learning color and technique I could use "craft acrylics" of the sort one gets at places like Hobby Lobby, but suggested I get good brushes. I am on a very limited budget and even though I could starve myself for art, I have two young boys to feed. I like the idea of using craft acrylics at this beginning stage for this reason. However, craft acrylics usually don't have the same color descriptions as real artist's acrylics. They have stupid names like "banana yellow" and the like. I have been reviewing various acrylics books and a bunch of material on this site, and am developing a cognitive understanding of color and technique, but it is all based on proper artist's acrylics colors. I desperately want to paint but need to figure out what colors would work for me out of the range of craft acrylics available. I can't get ahold of the artist in Nashville I mentioned I would really appreciate it if anyone out there has used craft acrylics in their work, to let me know what colors I could use to develop a beginners pallet that would jive somewhat with the material I am reading. Does this all make sense? I hope so. I want to paint and I want to start posting my own stuff. I am an artist, damn it, and I aim to live it. :D

11-04-2004, 03:27 PM
Hello sightedone,
I too, am a late bloomer in the art world. I stumbled into painting after I quit smoking. I have been painting on rocks (don't laugh) now for over 2 years and selling them at craft shows. I am making a good little part time income in addition to my day job. I started with craft paints but found they faded if exposed to sunlight. I use Patio Paints on my rocks now and they don't fade or crack even if the rocks are left outside. Might not be your thing but it was a great place to start for me. Now I am moving to the flat surface and about to start lessons from an artist I admire. I have made the money to invest in good quality artist paints and canvases now. If you are interested in starting the easy, cheap (rocks are FREE), way I did; buy or borrow any of Lin Wellford's "Painting on Rocks" books. I started with houses (the easiest) then flowers, then on to animals. Now, I do pet commissions and have painted well over 200 rocks. OK That's my little story - maybe it will help you get started.
ps I am halfway through the Betty Edwards Book - You should check out the course we have going over in the Drawing Forum .

11-04-2004, 05:45 PM
Well, I do not recommend starting out with craft acrylics. They are formulated far differently than standard acrylics, which causes them to react differently, giving you a bad start at acrylic painting.
I don't think artist acrylics are the way to go either.
Your best bet would be to get some cheap student-grade acrylic paints. These are very different from craft acrylics because they are formulated the same way as artist acrylics, although the pigments are not as pure and the body and handeling is not the best. Student-grade paints will give you a much better start than craft acrylics, though. I would suggest using Liquitex Basics or Winsor and Newton Galeria paints. Both are very good quality student-grade acrylics and probably fit into your budget.
As far as colors go, getting a set of those paints might be helpful. Depending on what kind of painting you will be doing, as well as the subject(s), you will need some other colors not inculded in the set.
If you plan on getting Winsor and Newton Galeria paints, I would suggest starting out with the following colors:
Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
Cadmium Red Hue
Winsor Blue
Pthalo Green
Yellow Ochre
Burnt Umber
Raw Umber
Titanium White
If you plan on getting Liquitex Basics paints, I would suggest getting these colors:
Titanium White
Ultramarine Blue
Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
Cadmium Red Medium Hue
Phthalocyanine Green
Burnt/Raw Umber/Sienna (just to give you some brown; it is very difficult to achieve a brown using these paints by mixing)
You can always mix these two types of paints together. I would highly recommend getting something along the lines of a "starter set" rather then buying indiviual colors (it can be very overwhelming deciding which colors you need and which ones you don't.)
You will notice that I have not included any kind of black in the color lists. Mixing your own black is a very good way to learn mixing and color theory. It also adds more varity to the dark, blackish color since it is not one single pigment.
Hope this helps,


Charlie's Mum
11-04-2004, 05:51 PM
Artists' quality are always the best to use, but if you're limited in spending, look at the students' range in Winsor and Newton or Daler Rowney - at least these will get you started with reasonable paints. You can get 'Starter Packs'.

For brushes, don't, for goodness' sake, spend a lot! You need synthetic brushes, in sizes suited to the size you want to work on.......and you can paint on fairly cheap paper too to begin with.
Look for a brush that has some 'spring' in the head, bristle may be too stiff.....again, it depends on the kind of painting you wish to do.

Ask the store to help with a selection of sizes........and if you want to paint on a big scale, use household brushes.
Check out the Classroom thread above on various supports and their preparation for further info - and start painting!
Good luck! :D

Edit; Here's the link to the Classroom/support prep thread


Brian Firth
11-04-2004, 06:09 PM
I too would recommend starting with a good brand of student acrylics. Winsor & Newton's Galeria, Liquitex's BASICS, Grumbacher's Academy, Talen's Van Gogh, or Rowney's System 3 are all great for beginners. A starter set of any of these would be much preferred to craft acrylics, which blend horribly and have very weak pigments. Also, I would recommend you buy a bunch of cheap canvas panels, the kind that are canvas glued to cardboard. These are very cheap but they still are primed canvas and have a good surface to learn on. Get decent brushes, not great but not less than a couples of dollars a piece. With the real cheap brushes you will be picking the bristles out of your painting. Buy a BIG tube of white, you will use this color more than any other.

11-04-2004, 06:29 PM
I think these two PDF files from Liquitex and Chroma (makers of Jo Sonja) will prove helpful:
As you might expect there are no equivalents to some artists' paints in craft colours because they commonly use proprietary mixtures but these should be a good start.

Additionally there are some craft paints that do list the pigments they contain on the label, so if you learn the pigment names from books and/or the labels of artists' paints (PY3, PR108, that sort of thing) you can use this information to help make informed purchases in your type of paint.

Hope it helps,

11-04-2004, 06:29 PM
Sightedone, you might want to look into Liquitex Medium Viscosity acrylics. They're surprisingly inexpensive, and the only paint I use. They're similar to craft paints in thickness and texture, but artist's quality and come in the standard artist's colors that coincide with the colors you see recommended in books. Most 2 oz. jars are less than $2 (usually $1.88 at Dick Blick), and if you substitute "hues" for the cadmium and cobalt colors, even those are inexpensive. (For example, Cadmium Red Medium Hue/Lacquer Red, instead of Cadmium Red.) These paints have a lot of pigment, and a little goes a long way, so that also helps keep prices down. But they're not the paints you would use if you plan to do heavy impasto or need a very opaque paint.

A lot of my brushes were $10 sets of 12 or 18 Loew-Cornell synthetic brushes from Dick Blick. I don't spend a lot on brushes for acrylics. When I worked in watercolors, I spent a fortune, and when I worked in oils, a lesser fortune. But acrylics are rough on brushes, so as long as it doesn't shed hair, it works for me. ;) I also have a jar full of housepainting brushes, both bristle and foam. The foam ones are usually about $0.59, and are very useful for laying down large areas of paint.

Good luck!


11-05-2004, 09:35 AM
I don't know "craft acrylics" but I have tried student & artist quality paint. My advice is to use a limited palette:

- phthalo green
- medium or dark blue (ultramarine blue is good)
- medium or dark red (carmine or napathol red)
- an opaque yellow (azo or real cadmium)
- white

If you use amsterdam, which is fine for a student quality, they're cheap and relatively thick for student brands. Here each tube is about $4, so that's $20 total.

For brushes, I have 20+ and half I bought on a 50% off sale and never used. I routinely use 4 brushes, 3 flats large, med, small, and a small rigger for small details and signing. For acrylics I prefer synthetic brushes or real sable. For synthetic this should cost about $30 for good quality.

That should be enough to keep you busy for several months if you paint small, which is another way to save money! I paint on whatever I can find, paper, old plywood primed with acrylic house paint, etc. I often get the scrap wood from the hardware store and use it. If it's just for you and not to sell then it's fine.


11-05-2004, 10:55 AM
Thank you so much everyone for your help. I hadn't seen the classroom thread and that helps a lot too. Thanks for taking the time to answer. It is so hard to get started with all of the information available. The best way to learn something is from those who have been there. Again, I can't thank you all enough for giving me a boost! I am so excited!

11-05-2004, 05:41 PM
Hello sightedone,

I also lived in Nashville for 2 years and I am sure you can find lot of landscapes in and around the city to bring out the artist in you!

I know Dick Blick is WC industry partner, so I hope it is not improper to suggest ebay for buying paints and canvas panels. If yes, please let me know and I won't do it again! I bought I think 26 W&N Galleria for $30 and 20 Fredrix and Gumbracher Canvas panels of various sizes (16 X 20, 15 X 30,20 X 24) for $25, S&H included, from ebay. I did shop around a lot and didn't find anything as competitive. Ofcourse you have to get on to the habit of browsing ebay regularly to find what they have, be patient for the right item and bid in the last one minute of the auction to get over! But it was worthwhile for me.


11-06-2004, 02:16 AM
That's fine Manju. I like to plug Dick Blick as much as possible because they've supported the site for so long but you'll often see people recommend other online suppliers for various things.