Step I – Recycle household items and  re-use them for painting containers, thumbnail sketching, masking your art.

Consider the packaging you throw away. A few suggestions :-

  1. Small fish/crab paste jars are plentiful from supermarkets. Use them for fluid containers.  Acrylic – water, retarder fluid.  Oil – White spirits/turpentine, Liquin.  They are ideal for carrying liquids during outside (en plein) use being small with a screwed tight cap.

  2. Cereal boxes can be used for cardboard (thumbnail sketching.  General use such as keeping clean equipment when used as a lining).  

  3. Cleaner spray bottles can be used for the application of oil retouching varnish, Any application where wiping would smudge the image i.e. water colour, and non-fast ink sealant. I use them to occasionally spray water on to my Acrylic palette.  Make sure you wash out the spray bottles thoroughly before recycled use.


Step 2 – Make your own.

Is the area where the largest savings are made, typically 90 to 95% of catalogued brands. They cover mainly different styles of easels.  

Step 3 – use online suppliers for purchased items. 

Paint – Do not purchase cheap paint kits. They are cheap because the manufacturer reduces the amount of pigment and increases the filler. They also include colours that are not needed. Instead purchase graduate or artist quality paints in the colours you need.


The most economical is 38 mm tube size.  To start with, use a colour wheel as guide (or use a free DIY colour chart)

Light Primary colours – Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Cobolt Blue, (this could be substituted with Cerulean Blue)

Dark Primary colours – Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre (this could be substituted with Raw Sienna)

Secondary (Complimentary) colours – Orange – mix red and yellow.  Purple (Mauve) – mix red and blue. Green – mix Blue and Yellow. Brown – mix Red, Yellow and Blue.  You will use a lot of Titanium White, so purchase a larger tube.  Do not purchase Black as it is a dull colour. Instead mix French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber.

Other colours you may like to try and/or add at a later date:-

Lemon Yellow – this is a brighter colour and could be substituted for Cadmium Yellow.

Naples yellow - is not as dominant as the other two yellows’ but makes good colour mixes.

Flesh Tint – I do not use this on its own, but it mixes well to make light pastel colours. Add a small amount to eliminate the ‘Chalky’ look associated with Titanium White.

Burnt Sienna – is a fairly light brown and mixes well with other colours. Can replace a mix of red, yellow and blue when the desired result is not achieved.

Burnt Umber - makes a good shadow colour when mixed with French Ultramarine. It can also be used as a darker colour to the other brown alternatives.

Emerald green - is lighter than Viridian and less domininat. Do not purchase both. 

Violet – Makes a brighter colour than mixes of red and blue. Magenta is another slightly more bluer alternative. Try both to determine the best for your needs.

Make up your own colour chart by mixing bright and dark colours and also by varying the

proportions of colour also add amounts of white.  Try mixing the colours you see on a DIY

colour chart.

General rules to follow are :-

            Red (warm primary colour) is the complimentary colour to Green (cool secondary


Yellow (warm primary colour) is the complimentary colour to Purple (cool secondary colour)

Blue (cool primary colour) is the complimentary colour to Orange (warm secondary colour)


You can alter the mood of a painting (from warm to cool and vice versa)) by adding more

of the appropriate colour, so do not follow reference images religiously. It is your

interpretation that makes a good/bad painting. Mixing a primary with its associated

complimentary colour will produce a brown.

For Acrylic painting you will need a 'Stay Wet' palette . Do not purchase an expensive propriety brand as it can be substituted with a much cheaper 1.75 Litre 'Really Useful Storage Container', externally measuring 240 mm Long x 180 mm Wide x 70 mm High.

from Shelving Plus Ltd, 48-56 Hawks Road, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Greater London, KT1 3EE.  Telephone: 020 8481 0111


The locking seal tight lid keeps acrylic paint moist, for much longer than a proprietary 'Stay Wet' palette.

Line the base with a 1/8" thickness of felt sheet, then overlay this with a sheet of stay wet lining paper ( purchase refill paper packs). The felt and paper are consumable items, that can be periodically replaced. There are many online suppliers for these sheets, so shop around and check out 'Amazon'.

Do not purchase cheap brush sets, as for the most part they are of inferior quality. Source brushes to suit your canvas size (large canvasses require bold loose strokes with large brushes), and your style of painting.       

     Flats also known as Brights will give good covering capability, sharp edges, and can be used for detail work.  If you need brushes above 12          mm wide then use domestic decorating brushes. 

     Filberts are similar in use to flats but with a rounded end shape, reducing the sharp edge. Ideal for foliage.

     Rounds are for more precise work.  Larger brushes come with stiiffer hog hair bristles the smaller ones with sable hair ( better known for use          with water colour painting).


All of these brushes can be substituted with synthetic bristle brushes designed for Acrylic and Oil painting.

For more specialist applications, Rigger brushes have long bristles usually sable hair, designed for thin continuous lines (originally the rigging of ships, hence the name).


My suggestions to get started :-

Number 1 Rigger, Number 2 Round, Number 3 Filbert, Number 4 Flat, Number 6 Flat, 12 mm and 25 mm decorating brushes.

If you would prefer to purchase all of your materials, my suppliers are:-

Society of All Artists (SAA), telephone number 0800 980 1123, website You will need to join as a member and they will send you a catalogue.  Worth an enquiry.

Great Art, telephone number 08433 571 572, website, postal address Normandy House, 1 Nether Street, Alton, Hampshire GU34 1EA. E mail address There is not a fee to open an account and they will send you a catalogue.