Artist and Student Grade Paints

You are wandering into an art supply store like Curry’s or Deserres and are confronted with the wide and wild varieties of paints available. So you ask for the watercolours, acrylics, or oils. These are what most people start with when they start painting. Then, when you get to the right aisle, there are numerous brands, a wide range of price points and some mystery bottles labeled mediums. Where do you start? What do you buy? Why not start with the artist grade paints, I’m not in grade school. But then ypu notice the prices and the huge variety and it becomes even mpre overwhelming.

My advice is to start with a small ready made set of student quality paints and maybe get a bottle of gesso and some gel gloss medium. The student grade paints are still good paints and will give you a chance to see how the paint performs. Gesso will be good for prepping paper or adding an extra layer to canvas to make the surface less porous. Gel medium (gloss or matte) can be used to thin out paints or as a glue for collaging papers. These will help you decide what to come back for next time.

Having trouble making purple with your set? My guess is that you got cadmium red which is actually a warm red. The best red to make purples is not a red but magenta. Your greens are too vibrant? Try adding the complimentary red to tone them down. Or you can make a great army green with black and cad yellow. Maybe I should compose a post on colour mixing too.

Before I get too far off track, let me get back to artist grade paints.

You might be wondering when to switch to these. Once you have been immersed in the process of arting with the wide variety of student grade paints, you might find yourself on YouTube or in workshops gaining knowledge about pigment loads, chroma, tinting and staining strengths, and pigment types. Do you yearn for an opaque white? Do you understand that some pigments dry faster than others? Are you confident in being able to pick out a warm set of primaries from a cool set? If you have answered yes to thw majority of these, then it might be time to dip your toe in and get a few tubes of colours that you use often. Be forewarned that these become highly addictive and your tolerance for the price difference will grow, especially for desired pigments.

Now to begin exploring naturally occurring pigments vs man-made. One will call to you, maybe all will call to you. I do believe however, that this is where you will start to choose a colour palette that reflects your style. I have noticed that I am drawn to the quinacridones and the pthalos.