View Full Version : A total beginner

08-12-2008, 07:01 PM
Hi all, I'm a total beginner at painting, matter of fact I got the idea to try it just the other day after watching a program about an artist on tv, and today I went out and bought a few things at a department store. Would I need anything else than the things seen in the picture (there are five canvases on stretcher frames)? I don't have an easel, is that necessary? How about those "paint knives", do I need one of those, and what are they used for anyway? Anything else I might need?

Are the brushes okay? It's a set of 12 brushes sized 1-12, and they're made out of nylon, but I always thought the widest brush for this kind of painting would be way wider than it actually is? And is nylon a good choice for acrylic painting?

I'm not real good at making "photorealistic" drawings or paintings, but acrylic painting looks like fun and I will probably try and make some abstract and/or expressionism style paintings later on.

08-12-2008, 08:09 PM
I think to start out and see if you like it or not this set is fine. nylon brushes are fine (I use a lot of them)

no you don't need an easel to start.

just a big container of water and you are on your way.

if you can get the book "Acrylic Revolution" by Nancy Reyner from the library, I would suggest reading that . it's a great way to get to know how acrylic works and has lots of fun things to try in it.

08-12-2008, 08:19 PM
:wave: Hi Micke! Welcome to WC and the Acrylics Forum!

You're going to have a lot of fun with your new painting materials. So many things are personal preference, like brushes and types and colors of paint. Better that you experiment for a while with what you have before making any more purchases. The palette you have is the only thing I see that might not work well. It will be hard to see true color mixes on brown. Better on white. Someone else might have a different opinion on that though. As for easels, you can paint with your canvas on a table flat for now and maybe add an easel later. Some artists prefer to work flat anyway and this might be the case for you. I'm sure others will be along with their thoughts shortly.

I hope we get to see your first creations! :D


08-12-2008, 08:21 PM
Looks like you got it covered..Ive personally never owned and easel and probably never will, personal preferance more than anything. The brushes should work out just fine and the paint is good as well. Im betting you'll find yourself wanting more variety of color than the standard ones you have there but you can get those most any time. Not sure I would have bought a paint pallette or not. I use old plates, you can even use styrofoam or paper, everyone has there own preference but if you like it go for it. I can get a half dozen plates or so at Goodwill for a buck or two and just toss them when I cant get anymore on them...or you could peel the paint off and recycle if you choose to do so.
The canvas panels will be a good starting point, practice technique, get your brush strokes down and try to be loose and fluid, dont try to make things perfect when you start or you'll just get frustrated and hate it right from the start. It takes some time but eventually you'll figure it out and the light will go off. Id recommend trying some Canvas's as well, small ones to start out then you can get bigger as you go.
Key..........have fun.

08-12-2008, 09:22 PM
Welcome to Acrylics at WC.

The way I make a simple and effective disposable pallet is to take freezer paper and wrap it around a piece of cardboard and tape it together on the back. The glossy paper makes a perfect pallet surface. When you're done you can simply untape and throw the paper away.

08-12-2008, 09:24 PM
Looks like you got the basics... my best advice? Play, play, play! Don't think about making 'pictures' think about getting a feel for the paint and the brushes and the canvas and the water and all the rest.. And some real cool things come out when you're just playing...

And you've got one of those wooden palettes... jealous! I keep wanting to get one, but I know I won't use it (partially for just the reason Elizabeth mentioned) so.. I don't wanna spend the money... I still want one, though. :p

As far as an easel... don't get one right now... wait and see how you like your canvas positioned while you paint... you can use a box to prop it up against on a table to see if you like it like that... hold it, put it on a table, put it on your lap (yeah, did a lot of painting that way)... see what you like... and, honestly, if you're gonna stay with relatively small canvases and have the table for it, you can save a bunch of money with a table top easel later if you decide you do want one...

Good luck, and don't be afraid to share... we love seeing the whole progress... And ask any questions you've got... this is a very helpful group of folks... :)

08-13-2008, 07:13 AM
Thanks for all the advice! I will probably take some pics of my work whenever I get started (need to be in the mood first you know lol, plus i'm leaving town for a while soon), and for now I won't get an easel. But can I paint on my kitchen table? Does it smell bad so I have to be in a ventilated room or even outside to paint? I heard oil painting can be that way, but not sure about acrylics?

And is it a good idea to spray some mist of water on the paint so it won't dry out too fast on the palette? I read that somewhere and just wanted to get everyone's opinion on that too. And finally (for this time anyway lol), how much paint do I apply for a good result? Are the layers usually thin or thick when people paint with acrylics? Don't want to run out of paint right away lol!

08-13-2008, 07:46 AM
spend some time looking around wetcanvas and many of your questions will be answered. You have a great set of basics but you may want to experiment with other types of brushes (or you may really like what you have) different brushes "feel" different and each apply paint in their own way, personally I like the synthetic type available at the larger craft stores and seldom touch the rest of my collection.

Size is another thing that depends on the artist, if you plan on doing large backgrounds you may want a 2" brush or even larger, a quality housepaint brush works pretty well.

You can spray your paints down with distilled water or even make them thinner if thats what works for you or just spray them when they start to thicken on your palette.

You'll be surprised how far the paint goes so start out sparingly when applying to your palette but go ahead and use it on the canvas, you can always squeeze out more but getting it back in the tube can be a real hassle:lol: Some ppl use very thin laters and others really slather it on so again...its up to you

For the most part acrylics dont have much smell but I did pick up a cheap set that smelled like garlic

Im not a fan of wooden palettes personally, I use either paperplates or a large "clear" plastic tray thats actually more greyish than clear and occasionally even a large ceramic tile. the paperplates of course can be reused and reused or just thrown away, the plastic and ceramic are easily cleaned after the paint drys.

Remember, Its only paint so have fun with it!

Charlie's Mum
08-13-2008, 08:21 AM
Micke - just play and have fun because you need to know how the paints react to being left out, being covered in water, being in heat etc etc ...... and you learn more by 'mistakes' than by success in many ways!

Use cheap paper and canvas at first - cover the kitchen table with newspapaer - and the floor! - if the brushes aren't big enough, use old sponges, old credit cards - anything to spread paint, including your fingers!

IMPORTANT - never let paint dry on your brushes (and that can take only a few minutes!).

Just play, and see what the paint and colours do - how they react ....... then come back :D

Our Information Kiosk has lots of information for learning ;) There's a link in my signature.

Enjoy it!

Antony Burt
08-13-2008, 08:58 AM
Looks like you have a nice little starters kit.

Enough to allow you to have fun and experiment before laying out the big bucks for artist grade materials. Don't worry about the palette colour for now, as your paints likely do not transmit the substrate colour very much if at all.

The brushes will suffice for now too.

You may want to get a few more canvas boards though. Enough that you won't run out while in a creative mood...

And yes, an easel is purely optional. Do not worry about that choice until you know you want to keep going with the paints.

For now, take the starters kit, and have fun. Don't be stingy and think "I'm not good enough yet to try this." Just do it. If it comes out lousy, then fix it, or even just wash it all off and start again. It's a learning process. Continually push yourself.

Go to your library too. Get out some books on acrylics. Read, read, and read. Some books will have workshops or projects to try out. The books will explain lots of stuff about materials and techniques.

Have fun, experiment, and don't be afraid to try something different.

08-13-2008, 09:00 AM
Hi Micke: Welcome to the forum. As you can see everyone here is very helpful and will provide lots of input to help you along your journey to become a painter. Eventually you will start to find your own style that you will be comfortable with. Your starter kit is fine to get you going. Get a few books on acrylics and pick up some books on past masters to look at their works that interest you. As far as knives: These are great tools to apply paint in a variety of ways. Mix a few colors and mix them slightly in a marbled effect, pick up the paint with the knife in a cutting fashion and apply them with a brush like stroke. Knives can also be used to remove paint while still wet, using the tip you can make lines by removing paint with them. Bob Ross used the knives quite well. Experiment, you'll be surprised at the effects achieved. There are painters who use a knife only to paint with dramatic results. Sponges are great also. I use them to get the foam in waves. Also you are painting light and how it looks and affects the subject painted. Like a musician that wants to get better the key is practice, practice and more practice. I look forward to see your first creation. After you post it we can help you with honest critiques and helpful tips. TJ

08-13-2008, 10:01 AM
how exciting....Yep, I first painted on the kitchen "bar" :). I did buy an easel at a garage sale and that is nice to have :). Just paint and enjoy!! You will learn a lot here. You might check out the Marine group here at WC and check out Byron Pickering(I think that is right) as he has a DVD for sale and you might check out Jerry Yarnell as you can learn A LOT from him and he starts BASIC. How to keep your paints wet and how to stretch a canvas, if you need to do that. Just great basic info that I did not know :)
Let us see your first work.

08-13-2008, 10:46 AM
Hello and welcome :) Good starter set...just a jar with water and some paper towel or an old rag...and off you go!!! Have fun and don't forget to share :)

08-13-2008, 01:02 PM
Einion gave me a tip about cleaning your brushes that you might like to use.
It is simple but effective.
I was always a bit worried about leaving paint in the bristles & ferrules of my brushes when just using water to clean them, especially whilst using several on the same painting.
Einion suggested using two water containers, the first one had water with washing up liquid in it & the second just plain water.
It works well.

08-13-2008, 05:19 PM
Hi Micke73, welcome aboard!

Looks like you definately are set to get started! You have recieved a lot of great advice already, but I'm adding my two cents!

Personally I love a palette knife for mixing paint, but not everyone uses them. I used to use a ceramic plate for a palette, still do sometimes, but I've recently invested in a "stay wet palette" and it is well worth it--I got mine at dick blick, but they're everywhere. Misting with water is crucial in my climate, but when I was in San Francisco it was unnecessary.

To me, brushes are a huge deal. With the right brush life is a lot easier. I'd be lost without a size selection of filberts, liners, and flats. Books and "how to" videos will show you what you can do with different brushes--it's good to have a visual before you attempt, but trial and error is the best lesson. I would say that you could definately use at least one large brush to add to your collection. If you want to cover a large area, using even the largest brush you have there is going to be a real pain.


08-13-2008, 05:30 PM
Welcome, good luck and most of all...enjoy the process. You've got alot of great advise here already and please know that we are ready to help out anytime.

Oh, and on the palette issue....I tape waxed paper to my old wooden palette and throw the waxed paper away when I'm done. Works great.

08-13-2008, 06:34 PM
Thanks everybody for all the advice! I will probably get a bigger brush too, to cover larger areas, that's why I was a bit concerned about the size 12 being the biggest brush in my set.

I will be out of town for a few days starting tomorrow and won't be able to get on here then, but I'll come back and check for new messages in a few days. :)