Choosing the Right Paint and Paper for Fine Art Paintings

Jude Barton By Jude Barton, 29th May 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Art>Painting

Geared toward beginning painters and hobbyist this helpful Information will guide you in how to choose the right paint and paper for your fine art paintings. Links are provided for more detailed and thorough information on both paint and paper.

The World of Art Supplies

Delving into the world of fine arts can be daunting and a bit intimidating, especially if you meet up with a snooty sales clerk who is working her way through art school by working in the local art supply store.

So you have decided that you want to try to paint those beautiful flowers blooming just outside your window but you're not quite sure what you need to begin your project. You drive down to your local fine art supply store full of creative energy and walk boldly up to the girl with the nose ring and dreadlocks and ask for some paper for your painting.

“Hot press or cold press” she asks, staring at you as if you really should know what she is talking about.

When you tell her you don’t really know she just rolls her eyes and points you in the direction of the paper generally used for water media. After leafing through the sheets of paper stacked neatly in racks you finally choose a nice heavy weight sheet with a slightly rough texture. Choosing the right paper for painting is more complicated than you thought.

Next stop - paint. The shelves are loaded with jars and tubes of bright and subtle hues. Choosing colors is not your problem but what kind of paint to use is. Watercolor, oils, acrylic, casein - they all look interesting. What difference could it possibly make as long as the color is right? You think about asking the clerk but decide that rather than suffer another humiliation you will just choose some paint and hope that it will work out ok. I mean really, how hard could it be to choose the right paint.

Choosing the Right Paper for Fine Art Painting

There are several factors that need to be considered when choosing paper.
Quality - Archival or non-archival
Weight - Paper is referenced by the weight. 140 lb. is a common mid-weight
Surface Texture - Cold press, hot press or rough
Drawing Paper - Vellum, illustration board, textured paper
For a more thorough explanation see Art Supplies: Paper Used in Art for Drawing and Painting

Choosing Paint for Fine Art Painting

There are a variety of paints that you can choose from and they all have different properties and characteristics. Some are easier to use and some require a bit of a learning curve.

Watercolors are very easy to work with but difficult to master for some.
Oils require a steeper learning curve and there are many technical aspects and various formulas to master.
Acrylic is a water based paint but permanent when it is dry. It can be used thinned or thick.
Tempera, although viewed as a paint for children has been used since renaissance times by the masters.
For more information on the characteristics of different paint see
Art Supplies Different Types of Paint Used in Art

Happy Painting

For the most part sales clerks in art stores really are very friendly and willing to help the novice as well as the expert seasoned painter. They should be more than willing to help educate their customers on materials, tools, supplies and technique. Just smile and tell them you are a beginner and tell them you really need their help.

Join Your Local Art Association

Many communities have art associations that meet regularly. Local professional and amateur artists meet together to learn from each other. Classes and demos and critique groups are often offered by the members. These are generally low stress friendly groups of people stretching their creative wings and enjoying the fellowship of other artists and art lovers.


Acrylic, Art, Art Supplies, Artists, Cold Press, Fine Art, Hot Press, Oil, Paint, Painting, Paper, Watercolor

Meet the author

author avatar Jude Barton
I am an artist, mother, grandmother, Christian and traveler on a wonderful journey of life. My interests are art, art history, world culture, literature, film, children, and all the things that make us tick and tick us off.

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author avatar Etc.
31st Jul 2014 (#)

Good points made here. Groups and books and clerks in art-stores; other artists, art guilds, galleries . . . But the best way is simply to get started. No one knows everything and everyone develops their own style, technique, and even materials.

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