Recommended Supplies and Resources

Because I like to share as much information as I can about my process with other artists, I thought I'd put together a resource list, outlining many of my must-haves and favorites. I've found these to be the best for my purposes (painting realism using lots of acrylic glazes). But I always encourage new artists to try a variety of painting surfaces, paint types and other supplies until they find the right ones for them.

I'm also including the books I consider to be essential in my art library, all of which really continue to help me build my painting skills.

You can shop for all of these items directly through my Amazon Affiliate store, which helps to support my work.

Be sure to also visit my other blog, acrylicrealism.blogspot.com, for instructional articles and tips on painting realistically in acrylic.

Thanks for visiting!

Painting Supplies

M. Graham Acrylic Paints - I have found these acrylics to be the richest in color and the most workable in texture. In general, I use a fairly limited palette, with each painting rarely using more than ten colors, in various mixes.

M. Graham Acrylic Gloss Medium

M. Graham Acrylic Matte Medium

Golden Acrylic Paints - I still find that Golden paints are better for certain colors than M. Graham, so I often use both in my paintings. I've also recently started using some of the Golden Matte Colors, which aid in giving me a low-sheen finish. 

Ampersand Gessobord

Ampersand Aquabord

Princeton Synthetic Sable Brushes
 - I use some pretty small brushes for most of my work, down to 5/0. These synthetic watercolor brushes are my personal favorite. I've tried other more expensive and less expensive, but these are best for my work and my budget.

Masterson Sta-Wet Palette
 - This is a great rectangular palette with a lid. I line my paints up on a folded wet paper towel on the left side and use the rest of the space as a palette. I don't use palette paper; I just mix my paints and mediums right on the palette, let it dry overnight and scrape it off every morning.

Tool Box Shop Towels - This is a fairly recent addition to my supplies, but because I paint in a really small format most of the time and am constantly paranoid about the tiniest speck of dust or hair showing, I was finding that wiping my brush with regular paper towels was transferring tiny specks of white fuzz onto my paintings. These shop towels are fuzz-less, so I leave a clean one on my easel to wipe my brush with after dipping it in my water.

Bounty Paper Towels - Although I don't use these paper towels in the same way I used to, the do still use them to keep my paint wet all day and then some on my paper. Fold over two paper towels (or three of the select-a-size) to make a long strip, wet it, wring out the extra paper, and put your dabs of acrylic paint directly on it in your palette to keep the paints from drying out.

Diamond Daily Mini Cups - I use these cups for a variety of purposes that are perfect for my style of painting. I love them because they are small, disposable and have lids. They are great for little water cups that sit on my easel, for holding my acrylic medium and for mixing colors. Mixing acrylic colors can be a real challenge because it's tough to mix the same color twice due to the color shift of wet acrylic paint versus dry. It is not like oil painting. So I mix what I need in these little cups and store them with their lids on in a ziplock bag, and the paint will still be wet for a few days to a week.

Sandpaper - 400 grit and 1500 grit. I use sandpaper a lot, to gently remove little specks of hair or dust from my pieces, or occasionally to get a super-slick finish from many layers of medium or varnish that I wet-sand between layers.

Richeson Lyptus Easel - Richeson easels are the best. I've actually met the artist whose easel designs were purchased by the Richeson company years ago and used on their easels. It's about the ease of use.

Liquitex Satin Permanent Varnish

Liquitex Matte Permanent Varnish

Golden Acrylic UV Satin Spray Varnish

Golden Acrylic UV Gloss Spray Varnish

Other Supplies

Digital Photo Frame and Memory Drive - When I'm not working directly from life (as I do when I paint trompe l'oeil), I use a digital photo frame loaded with all of my reference photos, broken down into exactly a 1:1 scale. The photo frame sits right on my easel next to my painting surface, and I simply pause the image I am referencing. The screen provides a sharp, clear and colorful picture that far surpasses anything I'd be able to print. I can turn it on its side or top, as I do to continually check my more complex pieces for accuracy. It keeps me organized and saves me tons of money on ink. I highly recommend this for anyone working in photorealism. 

DSLR Camera

Computer with Adobe Photoshop Installed

Recommended Books

You'll notice that with the exception the Charles Harrington book, all of my recommended books are targeted at oil painters, even though I paint in acrylics. But I have found that most acrylic technique books teach a direct painting style, rather than glazing, and they don't focus a lot on the classical structure and critical eye that I wanted. So I had to adapt what these books taught to my acrylic methods. In the end, my only goal is to create art that is beautiful and compelling, and these authors continue to provide me with the best insights.  

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney

Classic Still Life Painting by Jane Jones

Acrylics The Watercolor Alternative by Charles Harrington

Problem Solving for Oil Painters by Gregg Kreutz

Painting Sharp Focus Still Lifes by Ken Davis and Ellye Bloom

Happy Painting!

Kim Testone is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.kimtestone.blogspot.com.