What supplies do you need for abstract art? To be honest, not a whole lot. I started my painting journey with a mixed-media sketchbook and very cheap acrylic paints (like, the kind you can buy at a drugstore… these would be a better option for beginners I think). Using inexpensive art supplies when I started did help me loosen up and get over the fear of “wasting” the good stuff while I was playing around with new techniques and developing a regular creative practice.
But I soon learned that if I wanted to make the most of *layering*—which has become the key ingredient in my paintings and was absolutely instrumental to unleashing my creative confidence and personal style—I needed to bite the bullet and buy the best supplies I could afford. You never know if your next piece is going to be one that sparks a new collection or shifts your personal style, so while it’s totally not necessary to get the most expensive art supplies at the store, I do recommend using materials that will last. Because your art is important, and deserves to stand the test of time (even if you don’t 100% believe that right now, your future self will thank you).
These have become my most-used supplies in my painting process:
Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics This paint is my go-to because of its delicious, buttery texture, heavy pigmentation, opacity, and range of colors. The thickness allows me to build up texture by retaining brush strokes or palette knife marks, but it can also be thinned out with various mediums to achieve different results. (Curious about which colors I use most? Stay tuned for a follow up blog post!)
Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics – Titanium White, 8 oz Jar Oh, this paint. I simply wouldn’t know what to do without it! In fact, I have a whole blog post about it over here.
GOLDEN Fluid Acrylics I use this thinner version of the Golden acrylics when I want a consistent line—if you look at my work you’ll see areas that I’ve “carved out” with a line of paint. This is the paint I use to do that!
Blick Premier Traditional Profile Cotton Canvas – 30” x 30′‘ Splined I created the entire Reminders Collection on this exact canvas. Sizing up from painting small to this larger size was a major step in developing my personal style. I had more room to experiment and block out larger shapes, and the splined stretcher bars keep the canvas nice and taught. I 100% recommend ordering these online from Blick instead of buying them in stores, because the web store ALWAYS has better pricing, especially if you buy in “bulk” which is typically 6+ at a time.
Brushes, Palette Knives, and Applicators
Utrecht Tuscan Synthetic Brushes These are my go-to brushes for most uses. They’re springy and semi-firm, holding their shape well while giving me flexibility for more fluid strokes.
Princeton Redline Series 6700 Synthetic Brushes This is my new favorite brush for first layers or for painting larger areas of the canvas. I like how stubby it is, and how it lets my hands get up close and personal with the painting. It makes very smooth, blended marks and feels so good in my fingers.
Fineline Precision Applicators These little dudes are excellent for making very thin lines. I’ve seen a few artists use them to sign their paintings, but I like to use them to draw a line that I then go over with a brush for a smooth line without redipping my brush.
Blick Studio Light-Duty H-Frame Easel This was my first “real” easel and it’s been a workhorse in my studio ever since. It has followed me across the country from Portland to Minneapolis, took up a whole corner in the living room of our first Minnesota apartment, and now has pride of place in my sunroom. I’ll need to size up to a larger H-Frame if I want to paint any larger (which I do!) but it’s been excellent for painting my 30”x30” pieces.
Blick Studio Vine Charcoal I use this affordable artist’s charcoal to set the first lines of a painting (intuitively, of course—sometimes with my eyes closed) or to add details that will be painted over later. I like that I can wipe it off with a damp cloth if I don’t end up liking the marks I made. The charcoal is rarely, if ever, visible in the finished painting, but the lightweight, natural shape makes it a fun intermediate step.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens I love these pens for sketching ideas or making small painting studies. They have two ends—one like a regular marker, and the other with a brush tip for filling large areas. I also really like using these pens for bullet journaling since they don’t bleed through the journal paper I use.
Martin Universal Design Palette This is the palette you’ll often see in my Instagram photos loaded up with WAY TOO MANY LAYERS of dried paint. I’ve used the same palette since 2018, and never wash it, so it’s like a time capsule of my recent artistic life. I love it like a friend.
Have a question about any other supplies/recommendations? Shoot me a message!
P.S. If you buy through one of my affiliate links above, it won’t cost you a penny more, but I do get a tiny commission. That means you get great, vetted supplies AND the satisfaction of knowing you supported an emerging artist today. #win!