I get people asking for a “supply list” often – especially from beginners who may have nothing to start with. So, I finally put together this list of the supplies and companies I use.
Much of it depends on your budget and how fast you want to learn. I will include pared down suggestions in case you are on a tighter budget.
For my easel, I use an old porcelain table I have had for more than 30 years. Every once in a while I hear of someone finding one of these babies in a thrift store or garage sale.
My son made a cart for in studio painting, it holds the trash tote and it’s a brush holder. It’s a very simple design that works so well. The bottom is an old wooden creeper, so it rolls around.
This all requires a dedicated space, something that can be hard for an artist just starting out. When we were in our early years of marriage I had to set up my French easel in the living room and do my best for the indoor painting. We had five children within five years of each other (twins helped with that) and there were not a few times I had the “help” of little ones. Getting into my own space was a needed luxury.
I have used my French easel since I was 16, although now I am having a new easel and palette designed for use with a photo tripod – much lighter and faster setup. The French easel has lasted me many, many years!
Many artists use pochade boxes like the Open M but I don’t like my palette that small or that close to my painting.
Here is a photo of my new easel and palette that we will hopefully have available to our community within a month or two. (sorry the shot isn’t better – I was preparing camera mounts for filming)
Something I have found very useful and I think I have talked about it on almost all my Plein Trainings is the PanelPak carriers.
Besides keeping my wet paintings safe, I can use the empty carrier as a visual frame for the scene when I’m deciding what to paint.
I also use Viva paper towels or old sheets or t-shirts for wiping brushes and paint off panels. I looked into the blue Scott Towels, but have not bought any because those suckers are expensive!
A good hat. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone off and forgotten my hat. My head does not appreciate that at all.
I’ve seen some carry chairs with them, I don’t sit to paint, but it might be something to think about .
Necessities for in studio or on location
For brushes I use a couple companies, although I am getting more and more brushes from Rosemary.
I would start with just a brush or two from each suggestion to see if you like them. It’s good to experiment to see what works best for you.
Series 103 size 6
Series 209 sizes 8 & 12 (budget) add sizes 4, 6, and 10 when you can
Utrecht stopped offering their Series 207 in multiple sizes of Flats, so I started looking for replacements. That is why I now use mostly Rosemary. If you want to shop with just one company, I would go with Rosemary. Wind River Arts is a great place to buy Rosemary brushes because you save on shipping from England.
Rosemary & Co:
Series 279. Masters Choice Long Flats. I use sizes 4 and 6 the most, but I have a variety up to size 12.
Series 272. Masters Choice Round. I use sizes 2 – 6 mostly.
Ivory Long Flats – a lot of artists love these. They don’t work as well for me because I tend to push and pull the brush which splays out the bristles. They would be a good experiment brush for you though.
Ultimate Long Flat. This is their best hog bristle – great brush! I use sizes 4- 12, but like the Utrecht series 207, you can start with sizes 8 and 12.
I have been using Utrecht and Gamblin for 30 years because I like the big 150 ml tubes, but most people buy the smaller tubes. The Blue Black I use comes from RGH paints, but it is not a necessity – it is one they sent me to try out for free when I made a large order. They don’t seem to make it now, or they changed the name of it. I recently purchased a couple colors from Michael Harding paints and found them to be excellent! They are more costly, but they also go a lot farther because they have no fillers.
Here is a list I put together of paint prices by company – it may not be spot on since I did this 2 years ago, but it tells you the price difference proportionally by company:
As far as solvent or medium, I use Turpenoid Naturals to clean my brushes:
And I use walnut oil for my initial painting washes and medium – although I mostly use just the straight paint – I normally use walnut oil only in the beginning stages of the painting.
Most artists like to use mineral spirits for the initial paint washes – I did for most of my career. The best one to use is Gamsol.
A good palette knife is very helpful – I have had mine for years and don’t think the newer ones are made as well (some I purchased bent out of shape quickly). These look like they might be good:
For my painting panels I use MDF ¼ inch boards – I would stay away from the 1/8 inch (not as stable).
I prime them with Ecos Passivating primer:
Or a professional grade acrylic gesso like Utrecht:
I’m always on the lookout for good quality products that will make an artist’s life easier. When I hear of something I usually give it a try. My goal is to have the best quality possible without breaking the bank. My paintings have stood the test of time so far, and I feel confident that they will continue to do so.
One of the things I love about our community is that they share what works – and what doesn’t work, it can make the testing of products much more informed and save all of us time – which we can then use for more painting!
What are your favorite painting goods?