Painting Supplies For The Beginning Painter

Creating a realistic painting is a very expressive and enjoyable process. There are many preparations to produce a successful realistic painting. Here are some of the supplies and procedures you can use when creating a realistic painting: 


  • Stretched canvas, canvas board, watercolor paper, or another painting surface in a texture and size appropriate to your medium and subject.
  • Graphite pencils in different grades from soft to hard.
  • Kneaded erasers and gum erasers. 
  • Paint and painting medium of your choice: oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, encaustic, or tempera.
  • Finish medium: varnish for oils, gel for acrylics, and other sealants for other media.  

Preparation - Plan your composition and prepare your surface. If you will be painting on canvas or canvas board, apply gesso to your surface as an underpainting. 

Composition - Plan your composition by dividing it into vertical and horizontal thirds with a light graphite pencil grid. Make a simple preliminary drawing of your composition. Place major compositional elements on your vertical and horizontal grid lines. Place your main focus of interest near the intersection of a vertical and horizontal grid line. Lead the viewer's eye into the painting by the perspective and design of your composition. 

Underpainting - To create depth and realism, begin painting textural layers in complementary colors to the colors that you will use for your final layers. For whatever subject you choose to paint, apply dark colors underneath areas that will be painted light, and apply light colors under areas that will be painted dark.  

Painting - Realistic paintings have depth and look luminous when painted in layers of complementary colors. Examine your subject carefully to discern the actual colors to use for all underpainting and final painting layers.

  • Landscape  - Apply transparent washes of complementary color under compositional features of the earth, water, sky and all other landscape elements. Paint landscape objects emphasizing light sources, shadows, and reflections.  
  • Portrait - Look at your subject and paint transparent complementary tints of skin tones. Emphasize light and shadow to create the illusion of 3-dimensional form.  
  • Still Life - Paint still life objects with natural and artificial light sources and cast shadows. Apply paint layers thickly in the areas in full light and thinly in the areas turned away from the light. Paint cast shadows thinly with transparent colors. 

Finish - After you have completed your painting, apply an appropriate finish medium to seal and protect your painting. 

This is one approach to creating a realistic painting. Once you finish your painting, you might find that you want to paint another version in a different way. There are many lessons you can learn whenever you paint. Experiment with differ approaches in different paintings of your chosen subject. The real beauty of painting is that it is a learning experience and a chance to create a unique expression of your view of the world. If you're looking to purchase painting supplies, visit Koontz Hardware.