View Full Version : Question on paint supplies

07-16-2008, 08:02 PM
HI All, I know there are lots of discussion of paint brands on this forum, and I read them, but since most are not available in my area, I don't really keep track. I have a Hobby Lobby here and so far have pretty much stuck to Liquitex basics. I am going to graduate slowly to Liquitex heavy body as I replace my paints. However, I am going to Minneapolis next week and will have more options of shopping!!:clap: Any suggestions for me? I've heard about Michels, but never been there. Where would I get Golden products that so many talk about? Anything else I should be looking for to add to my supplies? I haven't really experimented with any additives either. So is there anything I should shop for that is a must!!?? Thanks!! Ruthie

07-16-2008, 08:16 PM
I did a search @ Goldens site, and these are the stores in Minneapolis Ruth!
Here in Canada Michaels used to carry Golden, but now they don't.
So I would assume that as Michaels is not on the list for Minneapolis that have stopped carrying this brand.
But now Michaels does carry Liquitex brand here, may be worth a look see for both, and then you can compare.

As you have Dick Blicks in the USA, they do deliver, and you, have that option once you decide what you like.
Here is a URL that will get Golden to send you a comphrensive package of material about their products,
I found that it was wonderfully easy to understand, and helped me with sorting all the information out there re Acrylics and the different products to utilize with the paint!
Just email them and ask for their artist information package and they will send one free of charge.
To look up stores in your area go here

07-16-2008, 10:27 PM
There are also 3 Dick Blicks locations in the twin cities area. Here (http://www.dickblick.com/stores/default.asp?state=minnesota) is the link if you would like to check them out.

07-16-2008, 10:40 PM
I use Liquitex Basics, VanGough, and System 3,,..Ive also got some Liquitex Heavy body but Im not really stuck on them...
Is there a reason you want to graduate to the Heavy Body?

07-17-2008, 12:38 AM
Thanks Kathleen and Barb for your suggestions. I am excited to see/have more options in the cities! I really am fine with the liquitex basics, but haven't had other paint experiences so I think I should try others. I have only tried one tube of heavy body and it seemed a lot thicker and I liked the color. I was having trouble finding the color pink I wanted and couldn't get it with mixing the basics I had. I was told that the basics are a student quality and heavy body a proffessional product? I'm not at the selling stage of my work, but would like to get there some day. Do I need to "graduate" to a different quality of paint or will Liquitex Basics be okay since that is what is readily available to me? Thanks!! Ruthie

07-17-2008, 11:10 AM
I'm actually planning to upgrade to Liquitex, the soft body paints. I have to travel to the next city for that, otherwise I've been using Folkart all these years. But if they only have Basics where you shop, then you might want to check out Michael's and get the professional grade paints.

And oh, you are going to love Michael's. It's like a big candy store for creative people. :D

07-17-2008, 12:52 PM
Here in Georgia, Michael's prices are a good bit higher than Hobby Lobby. Watch for Michael's coupons in weekend newspapers, and they also honor Jo Anns coupons, and may honor Hobby Lobby.

07-18-2008, 01:11 AM
First, in Liquitex paints, the BASICS series is a student grade paint...more fillers, less pigment, and more mixes than single pigment paints. They are intended for the student, beginner, etc.

Both the soft body and heavy body are "artist grade". Most (but not all) of the soft and heavy are single pigment paints, and have the highest pigment load that they can get (according to them, you know how that goes :D). They are also 100% compatible, with the only difference being the consistancy. While the soft body and heavy both cost more than BASICS, for me they are more economical because the colors are more vibrant and I get more/better coverage due to the pgment load.

I have both the soft and heavy (and I believe they have a super-heavy as well, but I haven't tried that), and use them both. My only regret about the soft body paints is this: I bought a "get introduced to it" 8-pack, and could use some of the other colors in the line. In heavy, I have quite an assortment of colors.

I'd would like to try other brands, but need some moeny to come in first. Of course, you won't draw me into a "which is the better brand/line" debate, since I have very little experience in the other brands, and there's too much subjectivity to truly know which is best.

Now, I WAS going to suggest Dick Blick, but since it has been mentioned a few times, I won't :lol:. The Hobby Lobby here caries mostly the heavy Body Liquitex, but the Michael's carries what appears to be the complete line of soft and heavy. They also have Golden and at least one other brand.

I would LOVE to be neear a Dick Blick store, but alas I must order online from them :(

Well, that's the info I have to throw in here, so, uh, bye!

Michael (not the one that has a chain of stores named after him.)

07-18-2008, 09:21 AM
If you were near a Blick Art store, you would be more broke!!! :)

Ours is a 40 mile 1 to 1.5 hour drive away across metro Atlanta. My wallet is glad, but my inside artist is sad. :crying:

07-18-2008, 09:32 AM
I started wth a tiny 6 pack of liquitex basics and bought some larger tubes then graduated to the heavy body and thats all I use, still some basics to use them up but mostly heavy body liqutex and I love them!!
Michaels store is 40 min drive for me and thats about all around and they do NOT carry Golden! But I'm happy with what I have!

07-19-2008, 01:09 AM
'Coverage' of paints and brands varies a bit from store to store. One Michael's here has Golden paints (some HB and some fluids), another one 12 miles away does not. Both have Liquitex, HB and SB and Basics, paint selection varies between them.

Web ordering is probably the 'best' way to get what you want. DickBlick, CheapJoe's, etc, etc.

Here the art/craft supply stores will usually cross-honor each others coupons and sale prices. They usually have a 40%-off-one-item coupon almost every week. YMMV.

As stated, the Basics line has a lower pigment load and may include fillers/etc in the paint. The paints are also usually mixes/blends and the actual pigments used are not specified. You can also not get the 'toxic' pigments, like real cadmium pigments or chromium pigments or cobalt. The colors in the Basics (or most any student-grade line of paint) would instead have a Cadmium xxx Hue or other Hues, instead of the real XYZ pigment that is there in the name. Cad Red Hue, instead of Cadmium Red. Cobalt Blue Hue, instead of Cobalt Blue. etc, etc

You can get pigment information and lots of other information from the various websites. Liquitex, Golden, etc. DickBlick now has lots of info as well including many painted samples (pictures of the painted samples, and displayed on the web, all true, but still handy to see some of the differences in color in masstone and undertone).

07-19-2008, 01:15 AM
Moonrise said....
'Coverage' of paints and brands varies a bit from store to store. One Michael's here has Golden paints (some HB and some fluids), another one 12 miles away does not. Both have Liquitex, HB and SB and Basics, paint selection varies between them.
This does not apply in Canada.
So for Canadian shoppers (among the many world-wide that post here)
Michaels has stopped carrying Golden paints.
Your statement applies to USA only as I know it.
And, I have already posted a link for Goldens information package on request.

07-19-2008, 02:03 AM
This is some really good information being brought out here! As I stated previously, I do use the Liquitex Basics and am very satisfied with them. I understand the Student vs. Artist grade but I think there is alot to be said about the way your attempting to use them. If your trying to achieve the look of Oil with acrylics than you'll likely want the heavy body, on the other hand if your looking for a smooth almost illustrative look you might enjoy the basic line or soft body.
Also, at what "Point" does one graduate to a Artist quality Paint? Does it make you paint better? I understand the color may be more vibrant, and youll have a more pigmented paint but does this mean good quality artwork is unachievable with student quality? I would like to think that quality art is achieved with a Crayola Crayon in the hands of a skilled artist. Obviously, this is not a debate but a information sharing thread so there is no debate on my part and Im anxious myself to try out and experiment with different paints and see what the results with bring out.
I wish you all the sucess in the world with what ever paint you choose to use!!!

07-19-2008, 05:52 AM
I have several brands of paint, grumbacher, winsor&newton galeria, daler-rowney, liquitex artist grade and black and white in the basics. There is a LOT of difference in quality, feel and coverage between the basic and the others, even between the higher quality paints theres a difference in feel and coverage but I dont personally see much difference in the finished piece.

Im fairly lucky I guess in that there are a number of stores in my area to shop at, Michaels, ACMoore, JoAnne Fabrics and one actual artist supply that although expensive has a very wide selection.

If I was going to make a recomendation it would be more about convenience than anything else, Grumbacher and Daler-Rowney come in a larger tubes so would last longer with Grum being somewhat cheaper and at least here, easier to find.

07-19-2008, 06:10 AM
I'm not sure I would say that one "graduates" to artist quality paint. If on a tight budget, the use of student grade paints would probably be the best option. In fact, with the exception of my last three paintings (one is actually a set of three, but is only back and white - literally), ALL my artwork has been done with student grade paints. I switched for several reasons, but the largest reason was that I was having a hard time locating the brand/line I was using, but the artist grade was widely available. Secondly, I was able to afford it at the time, and so purchased tubs instead of tubes.

Artist quality is in the artist, not the material used. A talented artist can use a single crayon (colored pencil, pen, charcoal, whatever) to create an amazing work. A person that has no talent or desire to be an artist may not even be able to turn out some presentable using the best artist quality material. (My opinion, not based in provable fact.)

The biggest difference in using student or artist grade paint - other than pigment load and color choices - is one I can't answer; the longevity of the material. What I mean is, how colorfast is the student grade? will it fade significantly over time? How much time? And is it even, or do certain colors fade more than others?

I've seen very attractive paintings done in student grade, artist grade, limited palette, and expanded palette. My advice is to get the most and best information you can from the manufacturer(s) of your paint, so that you can know what to expect from your chosen paint.

If you are selling the painting, you can be sure to let the buyer know the best way to care for their purchase. If it's for your own enjoyment, well, the same applies.

If, on the other hand, you are like me and the ACT of painting is where your enjoyment comes from, then I think the whole discussion is rather moot. It's always nice to have others express joy and adoration to your work, but it's the act of painting that I truly enjoy. After my time in the military, it's a nice feeling just to CREATE instead of destroy :rolleyes:

So, to sum it up, my opinion is that use what suits you - your style, your financial situation, the "feel" you want, all that. Don't let what I, or anyone else, use be what you "have" to use. We use what we have decided to use, or are searching for something else, but we aren't you, so we can't really say that it's best for YOU.

I'm liking this discussion! Let's keep it going.


@dreamz: It would seem we were posting at the same time!

07-19-2008, 01:23 PM
dreamz- When you say there is a difference in coverage could you explain that a little more? When using the Basic Series paint I can pretty much squeeze a dolop on the canvas and take a painters sponge brush and move it around into a nice even cover. I covered a 30x40 completely last night with two coats of paint. If I were using the heavy body I would have went through far more due to the consistancy, and there is no way I could have used the brush I used thereby I would have created brush strokes on the cavas which I really was not wanting. I guess you could trowel the paint on but again I think you would not get a smooth surface....
I do agree with you about the comment of convienence, I have a Hobby Lobby and that is where I purchase my supplies, for instance yesterday the Amsterdam paints were 40% off so you can guess what paints I bought. I think I paid $5 for a 8oz. tubes. As well, many times I am hunting a certain color, if it doesnt come in Liquitex than I am more than happy to purchase Amsterdam/VanGogh or Dawley&Rowney just for the convienence of not having to mix a color and starting right from their base color.

Mixeal I think one graduates when one begins to sell or paint on a more regular basis, that would be when I would consider myself to be a graduate. Not that I would necessarily switch brands because of this but that would be my opinion of graduation.
Ok, as far as longevity and fading of student grade paints, unless someone that purchases one of my paintings is going to hang it on a tree outside I would say that the quality is near the same of any other paint that is available on the market today. Ive not seen any data to support the longeviety of student/artist paints so Ill assume until then its close at best.
Love the comment of "Artist quality is artist, Not the material used"..How true that statment is!!! Purchasing better paints will not make me a better artist, It might make my painting last a extra 200yrs. or so, it might make the color of the painting more vibrant,(if thats what I am aiming for), it might even prevent pre-mature fading, but in the long run it doesnt change the way I put that paint on the canvas..and on that note.
Since were on the disucssion of paint and supplies, how many of you are purchasing the Artist quality paints and merely putting them on the cheapest canvas you can find???? Or what Type of Canvas are you using?? Are you preparing it correctly???

07-19-2008, 02:26 PM
There's usually flat-out more pigment in the artist-grade paints than the student grade.

If you want to 'thin' it out in viscosity/thickness and/or coverage, then you can use different mediums to get the paint just the way you want. IIRC, if you take the Liquitex HB paint and dilute it 50-50 with 'plain' medium, you are around the pigment load of the student-grade. Which one is now so expensive?

Also, by using the single-pigment artist-grade paints, you know what the pigment is in the paint. You can choose paints based on the pigments and their properties, how they interact with other pigments and mediums, etc, instead of just picking the student-grade paint 'color'. You may have more control and repeatability over your color mixing when you know what pigments you are dealing with, as opposed to mixing 'blue' with 'red' and expecting 'purple' and instead you end up with with a duller 'color' that isn't what you really wanted or expected.

And in addition to not knowing what pigments are in the student-grade paints, many pigments are not even available in the student-grade lines. And to me, a hue may usually be close in some ways but often is not -quite- the same as the real pigment that the mix is trying to replace. Wrong undertone, even if the masstone is dang close. Wrong opacity. Weird mixing properties, because of the already mixed pigments in the hue-paint or student-paint. And you may or may not even know what pigment(s) are in the hue/student paint.

Yes, I fully agree that the artist makes the art.

But using 'better' materials may make the art easier or more durable or more repeatable or more pleasant to work with in some manner.

07-19-2008, 02:42 PM
Excellent points and a good education!!! So if I purchase HB paint and dilute it 50/50 Im at a student grade paint...To me that kind of defeats the entire purpose of purchasing a Artist grade paint, but to each his own.
I would agree with you 100% on Pigment and pigment load in artist quality. You definately get what you pay for!

07-19-2008, 09:41 PM
My point was that there is a lot more pigment in the artist-grade paints than in the student grade. The 50-50 is what I faintly recall, the actual pigment load proportions may vary.

You may want to go 50-50 with a paint and a medium, depending on what your are trying to do. You may use an even greater proportion of glazing medium to paint if you are thinly glazing something. Or you may use the paint 'straight'. It all depends on what you want to do.

But if you start out with a known pigment or pigments, and you are starting with a lot of that pigment(s) in the paint, you have options and choices as to how you can or may want to tweak the paint. While still having or at least starting with a lot of pigment.

Use the HB paint if that thickness of paint suits your needs. Use the SB or fluid paints if those suit your needs.

btw, the pigment load in the HB and the SB is the same. They just use different resin/binder/acrylic in the two viscosity/thickness paints.

07-19-2008, 10:04 PM
My whole "argument" about "graduating" to artist grade comes down to the artist. I for one won't say "You are ready, you are not," as YOU must decide that.

I prefer the artist grade for the feel and consistancy, as well as the vibrancy of the colors. Had I been able to find the colors I wanted and needed in the student line I began with, I would have stayed with them. And, since I have seem some wonderful work in the student grade stuff, I KNOW you can get great results from them.

In fact, I *THINK* that if you were to use a final covering varnish (spray or brush) with UV protection, it might mitigate the differences between the two grades in that regard. I have no PROOF of that, but it's my gut feeling.

As to canvas...I use some canvas boards for some things, such as a small study, or a quick experiment (or to give to my kids). But for my "serious" work, I make my own canvases. I buy 1x6 (8) poplar and a roll of UNprimed canvas, build my stretchers (properly called strainers the wa I make them), and stretch and prepare my canvas. I have total control as too the size and surface of the canvas. I've researched building and prepping canvases, and follow the best information I have been able to find.

All told, I like to make my own canvas because I have fun doing it. And that is the key to this whole art thing, in my book....if it's enjoyable for you, then you are most likely doing it right. And if you can discuss things like this with fellow artists - regardless of their status as student or "professional" - you have all you could EVER need. Except more paint!


Chestnut Tree Cafe
07-20-2008, 10:28 AM
I started using student grade paint, but have switched to artist grade because I find it more inspiring. Obviously how much you use, how you use it and what colours you use will all be factors in whether it is worth switching.
When I tried the artist (real) versions of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cobalt blue and cerulean blue they completely outclassed the student substitutions I had (also the artist white was much more opaque), but of course, I was paying for it. However if you use alot of the pigments which happen to be cheaper to manufacture - most earth colours, many of the modern synthetic transparent pigments (of which I think Liquitex Basics carries a large number), I think there is much less difference between the artist and student grades (a little more pigment and less filler perhaps).
The key to getting the best value is to do some research - find out about pigments so you know what to look for on labels etc (to help you buy the best stuff). I picked up an artist's handbook from a local shop that gives details of pigments - there are several around.
If you want to test out artist's colours I would recommend buying a six colour mixing set plus white (not a pre-packaged one but cadmium red, cool red [permanent rose or permanent alizarin crimson or similar], cadmium yellow[pale/medium but not deep], cadmium lemon, ultramarine, cobalt or cerulean blue). These will seem quite expensive but will enable you to do lots and should really show the difference the artist's colours can make. [N.B. most of these colours are opaque].

07-20-2008, 02:36 PM
Interesting thread. Since I just started painting this year, I questioned this also.

I have tried three different brands, and both student and professional grade. There is to me a huge difference in the "feel" of all of these paints.

I love the liquitex fluids and being able to add them to a medium to get transclucent layers like Renoir used. If I could, health wise, I have been told these are also the nicest for airbrushing. That would be fun to try. ( I haven't tried the golden fluids yet.)

I really like the heavy body paints to get the lovely thicknesses of some of the masters.

I can see and feel the difference in all the paints.

I just purchased my first batch of Golden's to try on my Van Gogh. We'll see how I like that. I really wanted the Open's but they didn't have them, or at least not yet. I am lucky enough to live near a Jerry's Artarama so go there for a lot of stuff. Also shop at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joanns, and one no one mentioned is Aaron Brothers Framing.

I am meandering, but to answer the original post...I think trying the different paints is as much a part of learning as anything, if you can afford to. I don't know that it has anything to do with whether you are good enough. I think it is more about how much you want to experiment. Also, since the paints are compatible for the most part, one thing you could do is try a few different colors in each brand if money is an issue. That would let you feel and see the difference for yourself. And you may come up with a few you like for different reasons or purposes. I think experimenting is half the fun.

my humble input and opinion. :)

07-20-2008, 09:33 PM
Whoa, I was gone for the weekend and sure didn't expect such a response/discussion from my thread! I just wanted help with my shopping!! Thanks for all the tips and knowledge to help me find what I'm looking for, an opportunity to explore other products. All this pigment discussion swirls my mind, but I'm trying to learn! My first paintings were craft acrylics on masonite board and they are still hanging outside on the covered porches at our cabin. They are ten years old and still look great. I did clean them up and revarnished them 2 years ago. (And we take them in for the winter) So I totally agree with the quote, "the artist makes the art" regardless of what they are using. However, I can't wait to try something else and see the difference. Thanks All! Ruthie

Oh, we leave tomorrow morning for a week in Minneapolis! Taking painting supplies so I can try my new stuff!

07-20-2008, 10:05 PM
:)Happy Shopping Ruthie!

07-20-2008, 10:27 PM
OK, I'll put in my 2 cents... (great thread, btw :D )

I pretty much agree with everything already said. I started out with craft paints too, and they have held up very well over the years (one of my first murals is over 12 yrs old and looks the same as the day I painted it). Even then, I experimented with different craft brands, and Delta Ceramcoat was my fave. That was back when I liked painting opaquely.

Since then I have learned a LOT, and now prefer using transparents to make much cleaner mixed colors, and glazes. I think my work has benefited greatly from my numerous experiments. It's called LEARNING and it can be fun... and expensive! :lol: But I think someone made the point that using mediums could stretch your paint dollar far and wide... artist grade paints are generally cheaper when pigment load is considered. Meaning, you get more paint for the dollar, less filler. So if you used a (cheaper) medium to extend your artist grade paint, it would be cheaper than buying student grade of the same pigment load. Does that make sense?

Personally, I think it all boils down to personal preference and the results you're trying to achieve. A paint I LOVE, you might hate. I have at least 5 different brands of paint in my inventory right now... Rembrandt (love them), a couple Golden (like them but personally feel they get more acclaim than I would give them), Liquitex (not a fan, sorry), Blick's own brand (thought I liked them but that was before Rembrandt), and my most favorite-est, Nova color. Now, would I recommend you go out and order them (they're in CA)? No. But I personally LOVE them.

I buy most of my supplies from Blick, online, because my closest store is in Allentown Pa (I have family up north so I do stop in when I'm up there, was just there last week actually, but the stores have a much smaller inventory than the online catalog), and I work in a local art store! Even with my employee discount, Blick's usually cheaper... and you can even get free shipping if you order enough... ;) (no, I don't get paid to say that :lol: )

I once took a workshop with a big name artist who used student grade paints, always had, and his work was incredible. No one would ever be able to look at one of his paintings and guess he used student grades. But he had gotten used to using them and mixing with them... and I bought all artist grade of the colors he recommended, which made the workshop a challenge for me, because I couldn't get the same mixes he did. The pigments of my paints were much too strong for what he was teaching! :eek:

I guess my point is that each person has characteristics in paint that they love and others would hate. It's like asking what the best bread is, you know? That's what's so great... we all have different tastes ;) Have fun experimenting, and soon you'll be giving out the advice about paints!! :D


07-21-2008, 08:58 PM
You know, paint brand loyalties and discussion aside, this entire discussion comes down to artistic style and personal opinion. Of course, it seems we're all in general agreement, with only minor differences.

So what if I use Liquitex and someone else uses Golden, while still others use another brand? Isn't the art, after all is said and done, more important that the brand of materials we use?

No, I use Liquitex artist quality because I want to, and I (personally) like them. I also want to try some other brands. Therefore, I WON'T dictate that someone needs to use a certain brand or line. Of course, If I'm asked about a color mix, I'm going to answer in Liquitex. Does that mean I'm automaticly right or wrong? No, but neither does it mean that YOU are.

So, in closing, and for the record, we all have our own style, our own paint choices, and our own idea of what art is about. None of us is wrong, but we all are making art, and that is what makes us a community. One that I am proud of being a part of.

I feel like I'm trying to take over the thread, so I'll just watch for now. I am enjoying the discussion, and hope it continues.


07-22-2008, 08:13 PM
I have to admit that if you work it well anything works. And I know I couldn't tell by looking necessarily what brand someone used. Personally I think it's a matter of it's out there, if there were only one brand being sold and you had no choice you'd still see magnificent work, in my opinion only. Some stick with what they began with, others like myself want to try it all, but eventually we end up using what is like comfort food. Some of the more expensive paint offers me no comfort whatsoever so there ya go, pigmented out the kazoo and it's like painting with glue..:lol:


07-27-2008, 06:50 PM
After reading so many opinions on student grade acrylic paint versus artist grade, I have a question. If any of you started out with oil paint, have you found a brand of acrylic that "feels" much the same when you are painting, that gives as good a coverage? This is a bit astray from the original question but there is such a difference in the way different brands of acrylic respond that I am curious. I like Liquitex, if for no other reason than the large caps that are easily removed without becoming stuck, and that they have such a large selection of colors. But I am not sold on the texture, probably because I started with oils. Anybody had experience with which acrylics respond the most like oil paint?:confused: