My Top 6 Art Materials

For the last few months, I’ve jumped back into abstract painting using acrylics and I want to share with you my top 6 favourite materials that I currently use.

1. Palette knife

This is my absolute favourite tool I use for my paintings. I use this to mix up my paints then I can create a lot of different effects, for example I can use the knife to pick up thick juicy paint, like in an impasto way and apply it to the canvas. I can also use the knife to scrape up diluted paint for a different effect, as well as cutting through wet paint areas and layering over dry paint to create that grunge-like texture that I love so much.

The edge of the knife works well too, especially when I want to work wet into wet, for example, I can apply a thick layer of paint onto the canvas then immediately apply more paint over the top, and gently graze the side of the knife and move the paint around.

Palette knives are very cheap, they are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and they come in packs or are sold individually. I purchased a pack of 5(check) but I mostly only use one.

Last but not least, palette knifes are super easy to clean…….you just wipe it when you’re done!


2. Flow Improver

With abstract painting, I always have a spray bottle full of water usually to wet the paint mixes on the palette slightly or to spray onto the canvas to blend and create that drippy effect. It wasn’t until recently I discovered Flow Improver by Winsor & Newton. I add a drop of this to my spray bottle water and I use it in the same fashion; I spray where needed and this basically keeps all of the colour pigment of the paint and makes the paint flow better (hence the name). I’ve found that this makes blending the colours easier on the canvas as well slowing down the drying time of the paints which is great when you need that extra time to work wet into wet.


3. Sponges

I tend to use sponges for the beginning part of the painting just to map out my colours and tones and not to mention, covering that hideous white canvas. In conjunction with the Flow Improver mixed with water, I can add a light spray onto the canvas then apply a paint-soaked sponge onto the surface which is usually a dark tone to begin with, then I can add a lighter tone of paint next to, or even on small areas on top of this paint layer and I can achieve those subtle blends and transitions.


4. Ruler

I enjoy painting in layers and I love creating depth, contrast and intricate details. There are so many different techniques when painting and when it comes to creating abstracts, I never really rely on just one or follow a particular plan.

At some point, whilst painting, I will use a ruler for a beautiful effect, kind of like I’ve left my painting outside in the rain. For example, I can add some thick paint with my palette knife all around the entire canvas, and I’ll do this quite quickly so the paint doesn’t dry, then I can get my large heavy-duty ruler, hold it from side to side whilst applying a bit of pressure and slowly drag the wet paint down so it all blends together.

This gives a really beautiful and interesting effect and I’ll typically wait for that to dry before adding another layer with more small details.


5. Paint Brush

I typically use a big, cheap brush for some blending and mixing the wet paint onto the canvas. I keep it next to me in a basin of water when I’m not using it to stop it from drying out. When I need it, I take it out of the basin, give it a quick wipe and start brushing away areas on the canvas.


6. Palette 

And last of all, we have my palette. A large piece of hardboard. I only use this when creating abstract paintings with acrylic paint, and when I’ve got some paint left over, I just wipe over it with a damp paper towel or cloth. If the area is still wet and I want to add another layer with different colour mixes, then I can simply turn it around and start fresh. This is so convenient for me because it saves on cleaning and washing surfaces and because I use generous quantities of paints, the old mixes from the day before will never lift up.

(I also end up with a unique palette after every paint session which looks awesome!)


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