Looking to experiment with impasto palette knife painting? Here is a quick cheat sheet of my favorite supplies to get you started. While I strongly prefer using oils to achieve texture, heavy body acrylics paired with a good medium can almost mimic the textural qualities of oils. (**This is not sponsored by any of the following companies, it is simply my list of favs)
Oil Painting Supplies
1. Gamblin White Oil. This will help you achieve a nice buttery consistency and is about $50 for a 16oz can from Dick Blick. I tend to use at least three to four times the amount of white as I do other colors combined, so it's more cost efficient to buy the white in bulk. Titanium white tends to turn yellow more often than zinc white, so keep that in mind.
2. Mediums. You may want a medium to beef up and thicken your oil so you can get more use out of your oil paints, thus saving some money. Liquin Impasto Medium is a semi-gloss, quick-drying, non-yellowing medium perfect for palette knives and will retain crisp textures. Another medium I enjoy that creates a softer texture is Gamblin cold wax. It is made of beeswax and will dry no harder than a candle, so it's important to only mix in about 1/4 wax to 1 part oil paint for a nice smooth, matte finish.
3. Colored Oil Paints. In terms of selecting which brand of colored oil paints to purchase, I use a range from Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, Gamblin, Utrecht, and Dick Blick. Utrecht seems to be the most affordable, but often doesn't have the bold coloration and pigmentation as some of the higher-end brands. I suggest buying small tubes of the colors and experimenting until you find which colors you like. You'll be surprised at the differences in prices, heaviness of texture, and brilliance of colors across brands. I always buy exclusively through Dick Blick since they almost always offer discounts and free shipping for larger orders. If you want to experiment with the higher-end paints, I highly suggest Williamsburg, the oil paint line from Golden Paints.
Acrylic Painting Supplies
1. Dick Blick Titanium White. For acrylic painting I generally stock up on large jars of Dick Blick Titanium White. Similar to my oil painting process, I generally go through at least one jar of white per painting while using small amounts of color from other tubes.
2. Colored Tubes. For bright beautiful colors that maintain their peaks I like to use a range of tubes including Liquitex Heavy Body and Golden Heavy Body. It is important to only buy the "Heavy Body" variety because the "Soft Body" will flatten out while drying. Some of my favorites include manganese blue, cadmium red, pthalo blue, cadmium or naphthol red, and sap green (all by Liquitex). Golden also has a range of beautiful heavy body acrylics, with some of my favorites being their hansa yellow medium and florescent pink. These tend to be a little pricier than other brands so you may just want to sample one or two to see if you can tell the difference. Try to avoid house paints. These are not archival and will not retain color like the artist quality paints.
3. Heavy Gloss Gel Medium. I also always use the super heavy gloss gel medium by Liquitex, which can create sculptural effects that maintain their high peaks. I prefer the gloss for a nice shine, but they also have matte if you prefer.
I suggest purchasing at least five different knives in a range of sizes and shapes and playing around until you find your go-to favorites. There are many brands on the market but you should always get stainless steel if possible to prevent rusting and in my opinion they tend to bend less easily than other types. You can find knives for around $8.
Any questions?? Let me know, I'm always happy to offer suggestions or answer questions. Have fun!!