Because it can be somewhat intimidating buying your first art supplies when you begin to paint (not to mention overwhelming, confusing and expensive), I offer here a list of materials to get you started (this is for acrylic, although most of these colors are available in oils and watercolor as well).
I recommend the following brands for various reasons: Golden, Windsor Newton Finity, Liquitex and Liquitex Basics (for “wash” colors only). If one brand is preferable for a specific color, I’ve noted that on the list.
You can begin with the “basic pallet”. These are the colors I started with in college and many colors can be mixed from these.
Basic Pallet (paints)
Cadmium Red MEDIUM
Cadmium Yellow MEDIUM
Burnt Sienna (Finity)
You should have no reason to invest in more colors than these when you first begin. There are some colors you won’t be able to mix from these such as hot pink, turquoise and a true purple, but you can buy those when you choose to expand your pallet.
You’ll notice there is no black on this list. As my color theory college professor said, “Black from the tube is a dead color. Always mix your blacks”. I agree with him.
Here are two black formulas to try:
Cobalt Blue and Raw Umber
Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber
Play with different mixes of these using varying amounts of the blues and browns. You’ll be able to create warm blacks (more brown than blue) and cool blacks (more blue than brown) as well as a neutral black.
Other Materials You Will Need:
A few brushes. Don’t start with too many. It is the act of painting that will help you know what type of brush you prefer; bristle, hair, dense, soft, bright, filbert, square, long handled, short handled, large, small. Do buy the highest quality brushes you can afford. I, personally, like man-made fibers so no animal has to sacrifice for my art. But hold the brushes in your hands to get an idea of feel. Brushes are very personal and only you will know what you like.
A pallet knife. These are used for mixing paints. I like those with a small triangular head because I find them easiest to use, but look them all over and decide for yourself.
A pallet. It should have a flat surface, not a divided pallet as used for watercolor. I use a simple masonite pallet with a white surface.
Whatever you want to paint on, i.e. stretched canvas, canvas boards, gessoed masonite or a canvas tablet. For those just beginning I recommend a canvas tablet.
Expanded Pallet (paints):
As noted previously, there will be some colors you won’t be able to mix well from the Basic Pallet. Consider buying some of these, even a tube at a time, as you expand your painting skill.
Deep Violet (Liquitex Basics)
Quinacridone Nickle Azo Gold (Golden)
Cadmium Red LIGHT
Cadmium Yellow LIGHT
Van Dyke Red
Light Blue Permanent (Liquitex)
Medium Magenta (Liquitex)
Cadmium Red DARK
Cadmium Yellow DARK
Mars Violet DEEP
Cadmium Green DEEP
And any other colors that draw your eye.
Then, get beyond the buying of materials and HAVE SOME FUN!