First time painting with traditional medium, need advice.

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  1. #1
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    Red face First time painting with traditional medium, need advice.

    I don't really know where to start
    I wanna go for Acrylic or Watercolor but I don't really know which brand of paint I should be avoiding and the brushes I should get.
    My budget is 80$
    I'm hoping this isn't too tight
    As for my experience I have been drawing for the majority of my life and I've been painting digitally for a few months...not very well either.

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  3. #2
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    What type of painting you like will determine the type of brushes. Softer brushes are better for more detailed paintings and smoother transitions and smoother surface quality. Bristle brushes are better for the way I paint which is an impressionist looser style.
    Good brushes are expensive Winsor Newton series 7 sables or Rosemary and Co., or Robert Simmons signets for bristles. Any paint you buy should be artist grade if you can afford it. Stay away from things that say hue, like cadmium yellow hue. Artists grade paints like Winsor Newton, Blockx, Holbien, Sennelier, Rembrandt, Old Holland, are better made paint than Grumbacher or Liquitex which even thought hey claim to be artist grade they are still inferior paint with much higher binder to pigment ratios than the other paint I mentioned.

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  5. #3
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    Acrylic and watercolor are vastly different media. They need different tool sets, as well. You should decide which one you want to try first.

    With acrylics, some nylon brushes and three tubes of paint (white, black, red ochre) are all you need to begin. You might add phthalo blue and light yellow ochre to that to get a full-color palette. Support can be canvas or board.

    With watercolor, you'll need sable brushes and good quality watercolors of several hues. Support must be special watercolor paper.

    Overall, acrylics are easier to work with. Watercolor is a difficult medium, comparatively.

    The easiest of all would be oils, since they dry slowly - but you'll need more stuff, i.e. a painting medium and something to wash the brushes with. Support must be primered and sized canvas or board. Use hog bristle brushes. Same color set as acrylics.

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  7. #4
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    If you are talking about acrylics then the list might be a little different than dpaint's. Golden is the brand I prefer, because of the variety and their fluid colors, and the tube colors of Graham are a great smooth consistency. Liquitex is OK to start with and some prefer it. The thing is the learning curve of acrylic is different from watercolor is different from oils. Make a decision which you want to start with and maybe we can be more specific.

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    I used to be a total brush snob. Eventually, I wised up and realized that the way I handle watercolor (or oil, for that matter) the cheaper synthetics are as good as or better than sable.

    I'm still a pigment snob. But it should be mentioned that expensive paints can be harder to work with, at least in oil and watercolor. Cheaper paints have lots of filler, as dpaint said, and they're mechanically processed harder, so they're all a nice, consistent, buttery texture. Expensive paints have a higher percentage of pigment and so take their texture more from the nature of the material they're made from. May not be as true in acrylic...not a medium I've used much.

    Back in the day, the most expensive paint Winsor and Newton sold was Rose Madder Genuine. I forked out something stupid like $80 for a tube and it was weak and stringy and the consistency of snot. I don't think I ever used it. Oh, the price I've paid for snobbery.

    Anyhow, if it were me, I'd be tempted to go for a cheaper range at first. I don't know about anybody else, but in the end, I rely on five or six colors for 90% of what I do, so every other tube or cake in the set is a waste. Play for a while, figure out which paints you'll use the most, and buy just those in a good quality.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    I've decided to go with Watercolors since I'd imagine I would be able to mix all the colors I wanted
    So how do watercolor brushes differ from any other brushes?
    And whats the best bang for my buck when it comes to watercolor paints?

    EDIT: Nevermind, Well thanks guys
    I can do the research on my own from here now.
    I will watch the thread in case anyone else has more insight.

    Last edited by CyBear_Punk; December 23rd, 2012 at 04:05 PM.
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    Scott Burdick has a great little Walter Foster book about painting in watercolor you might consider it, recommends palette choices and equipment and materials options.

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    A small half-pan travel set won't run you too much, spend your real coin on brushes.


    Tristan Elwell
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  16. #9
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    Depends on the medium, and with watercolour the thing not to scrimp on is the paper first, then brushes. You dont want to use the worst paint but using cheap paper with watercolours will really hurt you. Hurt as in self mutilation etc. I used to paint in watercolours and regard them as the media for experienced people, and oils for beginners.

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    You know, I don't know if I've ever done a good painting on a $10 sheet of watercolor paper. Like paints, expensive paper can be harder to work with, too.

    Cheap paper is heavily sized -- that's a glue coating that prevents paper from sucking up paint like a Kleenex. That means it's more correctible. You can use a little water and lift some color, if you're careful. Heavily sized paper also tends to dry a little darker at the edges of a wash, if you let a blob of paint dry without messing with it. I kind of like that effect.

    Expensive paper absorbs paint and holds it. So you mostly get one chance to get it right. Now, the way most people use watercolor, that's how they paint anyway. Big, bold washes. But you can also handle watercolor in a cramped, finicky, anal-retentive way, which is me.

    I don't mean to be contrarian for the sake of it, recommending you try the cheap stuff. But all materials have characteristics and you should be open to how those characteristics affect your work without making assumptions.

    Sorry, I'm starting to babble now, but one more point. Way back when, as I said, I used to be snooty about materials. But that's before computers, when that piece of paper was the product; it was going to be sold to a customer and it would have to live forever. These days, everything I do is in the computer, even when it starts on paper (which it doesn't very often). The product is a bunch of pixels, so it doesn't matter so much if the physical original is done with archival materials. It's quite liberating

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  19. #11
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    I heard you can soak the synthetic brushes in cold water over night before you paint to give them the softer feel of a more expensive brush..anyone know if that is true or a bit of a old wives tale like using hairspray for fixative ?.......

    Sorry I don't have any examples of my work,
    I'll try to get some up when I feel ready and more confident,
    I hope you can appreciate my honesty and be a little patient with my lack of contribution.
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  20. #12
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    Why can't you use hairspray for fixitive? Have they changed the formula?

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  21. #13
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    Never heard that about soaking brushes, but since one of the characteristics of synthetic fibers (and one of their drawbacks when using water-based media) is that they don't absorb water the same way, I don't see how that would work.
    Fixing with hairspray is fine, although I would only do it with sketches, since the resins used may yellow more than artists' fixative, and the other ingredients (perfumes, conditioners, etc) may have unwanted long term effects as well.


    Tristan Elwell
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  23. #14
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    Make sure it's aerosol hairspray. I would never recommend sable brushes for acrylic work. They wear out just as fast as synthetic and cost a lot more. Really nice sable brushes are best reserved for watercolors in my opinion. And I'm going to side with the better paper people for watercolors. makes all the difference in the world. The thing is you need to develop a feel for watercolors and even if you suck bad paper will make you suck more and you will never get a real feel for what watercolor can do on a good surface. Surfaces are sacred for me.

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  25. #15
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    "Good paper" for watercolor is anything that can stand up to repeated soaking and brushwork without pilling and/or disintegrating. It doesn't have to specifically be watercolor paper, but it has to be well sized and have a decent fiber length (cotton is best, recycled is worst), and the heavier the better.


    Tristan Elwell
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  27. #16
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    Four ply cotton bristol board is my favorite. The smooth surface is great for high detail.

    I surely take your point, Bill. But two of the sexiest drawing papers in the world are kraft paper and rough newsprint, so lush surface isn't all about cost.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  28. #17
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    If you're going to go with watercolor, I'd recommend buying "blocks" of watercolor paper-- whatever you can buy on sale.

    Blocks are pads glued together around the edges which keep the top working sheet rigid and prevent it from buckling from water application. The water will buckle the top sheet lightly, and there is an exposed portion of the edges where you can insert a dull knife (butter knife will do) and skin the top sheet off the pile when you're done with it.

    The watercolor books almost always go into an elaborate description of how to stretch wet w/c paper on a board. Then, they go on to tell you just to use heavy gauge paper so you don't have to worry about that stretching crap!

    Blocks are a good compromise. But, with w/c you're going to have to make a lotta crappy studies and color charts/wheels to figure out how to make the paint work. So, don't be afraid to use cheaper light gauge paper (non-blocked) and just let it buckle for some of this stuff.

    And, for "sacrifice sheets" to test colors before application, just go ahead and used some folded up printer paper for that.

    For colors, don't be afraid to buy a set of some sort. Most of these are based on a "split primary" scheme and will spare you the aggravation of figuring out what colors to put in your palette. Like many things in life, defaults exist for a reason and aren't a bad starting point.

    Price and quality wise, the W&N "Cotmann Colors" are a pretty good cheap starting point. But, once you start using the good stuff, you'll find them a bit weak in the amount of them you need to get the same results with stuff with less filler junk in them.

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  30. #18
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    Newsprint for watercolor? Not on board.

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