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Grumbacher tube by Coulter. Ink sketch, colored in PhotoShopFollowing are some recommended supplies. If you have questions, please contact me.

Paint Surfaces For Oil or Acrylic Painting

Amended April 2, 2013



Paint Surfaces For Oil or Acrylic Painting
Amended Nov 8, 2013
NOTE: Oil painters purchase only the supplies that are identified as for oil painters or are generally suggested. Acrylic painters, same goes for you.
Several canvases (I recommend at least 16’ x 20’ size). For practice and to save money, you can also use prepared surfaces such as gessoed paper, canvas paper, or primed but unstretched canvas.( You can also get canvas in pads called: “The Real Thing”). If you are painting with acrylic, you can use various kinds of paper, such as watercolor paper or matboard, as well as canvas.
Useful but not mandatory: A drawing pad (I suggest 60 or 70 lb paper and at least 11 x 14 inches), 2B or 4B pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser (artgum or kneaded), masking tape and some kind of board to mount canvas or paper on if not using a pad or stretched canvas.

For Oil Painters: If you don't already have brushes, I recommend natural bristle flats or filberts: #4, #6, and #8 (If you prefer rounds or brights, these are acceptable. ¬†(If you want to get smaller brushes for detail, of course, do so, but have some large brushes.) Utrecht has a good line of brushes, the Utrecht Series 209 Natural Chunking Hog Pure Bristle Brush for Oil & Acrylic Painting, Flat. (These can be used for acrylic but I recommend synthetic, not natural, for acrylic.) There’s a line of synthetic brushes called “Silver Bristlon” which I’ve also found acceptable.
Brush Cleanup for oil: Brushes need to be cleaned -- preferably before you leave at end of class. You can use any soap, but there's a cleanser that I find works very well for removing the paint and restoring the natural oils to the brush called: ArtGel by Windsor Newton. A less expensive alternative that seems to work well for oil brushes is Murphy's Oil Soap which you can buy at the grocery store. There’s also¬† “Masters” soap, and “Pink Soap.”
For Acrylic Painters only: synthetic flats or filberts: 1/8 inch wide, 1/4 inch wide, 1/2 inch wide, long handle I don’t recommend natural bristles for painting with acrylics only because the acrylics are very hard on the natural bristles because they pull the natural oils out. (Note: you don't have to use flats, and if you've been painting for some time, you may have an assortment of shapes and sizes. Flats are just a good brush for a wide variety of uses.)
Brush Cleanup for acrylic: Brushes need to be cleaned and kept wet frequently. No kidding. Acrylic mediums dry fast. When not using a brush that has paint on it, keep it in water. And give brushes a thorough cleaning -- preferably before you leave at end of class. You can use any soap, but there's a cleanser that I find works very well for removing the paint and restoring the natural oils to the brush called:"The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver. There's also Pink Soap which works well. (Or you can use dish washing soap.)

Colors: Recommended minimum colors:
Note: I don't believe that an artist should have to buy "every color and shade off the shelf" and that's why I recommend the following limited palette. You can actually learn to make just about any color or shade or tint with the following colors. The concept is that the primary colors as they exist in paint are not pure, so you need to have both a "warm" and a "cool" variant of each primary color. In other words, You need both a "greenish" or cool yellow, and an "orangish" or warm yellow, a warm and cool red (orangy and rosy) and a warm and cool blue (thalo and ultramarine.)
(NOTE: for beginners, the cost of paint may be the most expensive part of this class. In your case, you might get a set of 18 Reeves oil colors - small tubes - which contains all the colors discussed below. Cost for the set of 18 at DickBlick is only $8.95. Michaels has a similar set -- branded "The Artists Loft" -- but I don't know that I'd recommend it. If you get a small set, you will want to get an extra tube of Titanium white. Reeves also has a set of acrylics, but you'll want to get an extra tube of Ultramarine Blue because for some reason this set of 18 colors omits ultramarine.)

  1. Titanium White (150 ML Tube)
    37 ML Tubes of the following:
  2. Cool Yellow (such as pale yellow, cadmium yellow light, primrose yellow, hanza yellow, lemon yellow, zinc yellow, titanate yellow or any slightly greenish yellow)
  3. Warm yellow (such as cadmium yellow or hanza yellow)
  4. Warm red (such as cadmium red light, pyrrole red light, or napthal red light)
  5. Cool red (such as permanent alizarin crimson, quinacridone crimson, or quinacridone magenta)
  6. Cool blue (such as preferably ultramarine blue -- also called French ultramarine)
  7. Warm blue (such as thalo (phthalocyanine) blue or Prussian blue or windsor blue
  8. Burnt sienna (which is useful for making black when mixed with ultramarine blue.)

You'll notice that I don't include black among the colors. Please omit it from your palette. You can make near blacks with Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.
More advanced students:
add green (Viridian or Thalo) and perhaps brown (Burnt Umber.)


Oil Mediums: Odorless Turpentine (called: "Turpenoid", at least a quart) or other substitute (White spirits). NOTE: DO NOT purchase "Turpenoid Natural". To my best knowledge, this is used only for cleaning brushes and not as a medium for painting.
Also: Liquin or linseed Oil or Stand Oil (or Damar Varnish.) (I prefer Liquin to other mediums and recommend it. There are other brands) and you'll need a container for the turpentine-- 6 oz jar or larger, tight cap.

Acrylic Mediums: Water (and a big jar to give you plenty of room to clean your brush), and either Mat or Gloss Acrylic medium (this improves flow and transparency and gloss of the color. You can work without it but I don't recommend it.


A 12 x 16 coated paper palette will do, or buy some coated freezer paper at the grocery store and make your own palette by taping it to a board. Please note: A coated palette feels shiny, like waxed paper.
Palette carrier (Optional)
A Masterson Sta-Wet Palette Seal is a sort of plastic box that fits around a 12 x 16 paper palette and seals it very well, so that paints stay wet longer. It's also handy if you're having to bring your supplies to each class. It's worth its cost.

metal Palette knife (for cleaning palette. DON'T LET THEM SELL YOU A PLASTIC ONE. THEY"RE WORTHLESS!!!) Paper Towels or rags.
a Jar to hold brushes (optional but useful)
Apron or painting shirt (optional)
A large carrying bag to put this all in. Possibly a luggage cart to schlep everything.
Optional for acrylic painters: spray bottle
More information on Acrylics is on my acrylic class info page. http://www.blehert.com/lessons/acrylic_class_info.htm

Where to get supplies:
Michaels Store in Reston is not particularly good for artist's supplies, unfortunately. I've had more luck with catalogs. Here are some possible sources on the WEB. Plaza Arts in Fairfax has a better selection.
www.utrecht.com --- 1-800-223-9132
www.dickblick.com -- 1-800-447-8192
www.danielsmith.net -- 1-800-426-6740
www.jerrysartarams.com -- 1-800-827-8478

Last updated: November 8, 2013