Acrylic is a fun medium for beginning painters to work with. It is much less messy and complicated to work with than oils, but offers the same opportunity for thick, textured application. It is far more forgiving than watercolor, but can be watered down to produce similar delicate hues.

And there are more advantages of working with acrylics:

  • Inexpensive paints.
  • Vivid colors.
  • Fast drying time.
  • Easy cleanup.

To get started with acrylic, however, you will need to invest in some supplies. The good news is that you probably don’t need nearly as much equipment as you think you do!

The Basic Shopping List

  1. ARTIFY 15-Piece Paintbrush Set
    Yes, this is a budget paintbrush set. However, the quality of this set is so exceptional for the price that we can recommend it hands-down to any acrylic beginner. Chunky, easy-to-hold handles are firmly fixed to nylon bristles. This set includes flat, round, filbert, and fan brushes, plus two sponges and a palette knife for thick applications and bold strokes. A carrying case that doubles as a popup stand is the icing on the cake.
  2. Liquitex BASICS 12-Tube Acrylic Paint Set
    This is nothing fancy, but it is nevertheless a good, solid set of student-grade paints, perfect for your first introduction to acrylic. Twelve may not seem like very many colors to you, but to make a wide range of realistic shades you really don’t need as many colors as you think you do. This assortment includes the most important.
  3. Canvas Panels by Artist’s Loft
    Instead of going to the trouble to stretch and prime a canvas when all you really want to do is learn how to paint, purchase a set of prepared canvas panels. A wide range of sizes is available, perfect for any project.
  4. Paint Color Mixing Tray
    Those flat, oblong, handheld palettes artists use on television look cool, but they’re actually a pain to use because they don’t keep your colors separate. Try this design with wells for holding and mixing paint instead.
  5. Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating
    This is to seal your work when you’re done, protecting it from dust and damage. The “crystal clear” finish adds a nice gloss. A matte finish is also available.

In addition, you will probably want some clean rags and some containers for holding water, such as plastic drinking cups.

What Next?

If you decide that you enjoy working with acrylics, there are a few additional items that you may eventually want to consider.

One of the first things you should add to your collection is a set of natural hog bristle brushes—you really haven’t seen all that acrylic can do until you’ve laid it on thick with a good bristle brush.

While you can work with your canvas panel lying flat on a covered table, you will probably want an easel at some point. Tabletop and tripod designs are available; which you will prefer will likely depend on whether you paint indoors or out.

If you do work outdoors on a regular basis, you may need special equipment due to the rapid-drying properties of acrylic. A palette with a lid is a good idea. Also consider a spray bottle filled with water—use it to mist your palette from time to time to keep your paints fresh. (And don’t forget some type of tote container for carrying your supplies!)

Eventually, you may want to upgrade the quality of your paints. Again, you really don’t need a lot of different colors, so don’t blow your budget on color. However, switching to a higher-grade paint with greater longevity and superior handling properties is a change you may appreciate.

But for now keep it simple. Getting into acrylic painting doesn’t have to break the bank. The shopping list above will provide you with an excellent balance of economy and quality.