Dive in and don't be afraid!
Creative SpaceMake a creative space; leave it set up and ready to use. I know this goes against what some minimalists/clean freaks would want, but it's probably one of the most important things for me personally. When I get a creative urge, I need to act on it right then. If my space isn't ready, the motivation could be lost. Just knowing that I need to clean up or set it up is enough to deter me from that creative moment. In between painting I like to try and keep that area neat and fee of random clutter. When I'm done painting for the day I clean my brushes, palette and replace the water in my jar. That way, I am totally ready for next time. I just need to show up!
I'm a cheapskate. I don't like to spend more than I have to on supplies, but brushes are one of those things that you get what you pay for. I don't buy the most expensive brushes ever, but I don't buy the ones in the bargain bin either. I've slowly bought these through the years, usually during a sale using a 40% off coupon. I'm not saying you have to have 50 brushes before you start painting, just get a few of the basics to start. I especially love Loew-Cornell and Royal paint brushes. A couple brands I really like are Loew-Cornell and Royal.
I've used so many different types of palettes through the years, but my absolute favorite would be a glass palette. They are made of safety glass with beveled sides. These palettes have a vinyl backing that is white. I love these because unlike disposable palettes there is no waste and they don't get soggy from wet paint. When you're done for the day, simply wash it in the sink! If the paint has dried on, I just use utility razor to scrape it off. These are heavier than other palettes, but I usually don't hold it while painting anyway. Sometimes I place it on my lap or on a table to the side of my easel. I got my palette HERE.
EaselI use an adjustable stand up easel. My dad actually made it for me, but you can buy similar models at the store. It's important for me to have a stand up easel. Sometimes when my back is hurting I'll raise the canvas tray so I can stand and paint. Sometimes I'll want to sit, so I just change it to a lower level. Also a little bonus tip: I have an area rug under my easel that is specifically there to save the floor from paint spills and splashes. I'm a really messy painter and have ruined floors in the past. A rug under the easel also keeps the easel in place so it won't slide around.
Good lighting is so important. I always use daylight bulbs in my studio. They don't have the yellow tones of regular light bulbs. I also use an OttLite TrueColor clip on lamp for right over my canvas. It's energy efficient, shows colors accurately, and reduces glare. The picture above shows the floor lamp version.
This is one of those things you just have to try for yourself and see what types you like. With my personal painting technique, I like thinner paints. I paint with lots of translucent layers made with acrylic paints. A lot of people mistake my art for watercolors because of this. But that's how I roll! Since I like thin paints, I love to use the cheap craft paints that come in bottles such as Folk Art and Americana. I also love using Liquitex Professional Acrylic Inks. This is just what I use though. Most acrylic painters like the good old tubes. Since I don't use them very often I can't give a lot of advice in that area. I have used Blick brand and they were really great! Starting out I would reccomend getting a set of Blick Paint. It's affordable and great quality.
CanvasHonestly, I paint on whatever canvas I have. The only thing I don't like are the ones where the staples are on the side. For the most part stores have stopped selling that kind. I love how you don't necessarily have to frame canvas. The canvases with staples on the back are best, allowing you to paint the sides as well. That way the painting is ready to hang without a frame! I have also been known to reuse canvas. If someone gives me a used one, I will gesso over it and make it new! Sometimes using recycled canvases relieves the pressure of doing a perfect job. It's used so there's nothing to lose! Some of my best paintings have been on a recycled canvas
For years I went through brushes so quickly. The bristles would get all separated and crazy, rendering them worthless. I would wash them out, but somehow they weren't getting clean enough. I finally gave in and bought the Pink Soap I kept seeing at the art supply store. For years I thought that it was just an overpriced gimmick, but I've come to find it as an awesome product! When your done painting for the day, just put a little bit in the palm of your hand and work into the bristles. This step may need repeated until the soap remains pink in your hand. Rinse brushes again. Lastly, put a little more soap in your hand and coat the bristles of the clean brush. Reshape the bristles and let dry! They should stay as good as new for a long long time.
Don't be afraid!! So many times I have procrastinated just because of the fear of failure. When you are trying to master anything, you have to practice. Not every single painting you do will be a masterpiece. . . and that's OK! It's valuable practice, so the time is never wasted. Every time you sit down and paint, you are honing your skills and technique, which is so very important. The only failure is simply not trying at all. Just go for it!
Don't compare yourself with others! You are your own artist. You are the only one on the planet like you. . . therefore all the rules of painting are your own. Do what you want. Develop your own method of painting. If it works for you, then do it!