What Are The Best Acrylic Art Paints for Beginners to Intermediates?


What Are The Best Acrylic Art Paints for Beginners to IntermediatesWhy I think That System 3 is the Best Acrylic Paints for Beginners & Beyond. I love that Acrylic paints come in many makes, qualities, and usability. However, this can make deciding on which one is best for you? How do you know that it is time to move on and buy the more expensive paint ranges or if indeed you will ever need to?

This page shares my own experiences with various acrylic paints from very cheap, to student and artist or professional quality paints with the aim that you the painter will be able to make an informed decision for your own painting projects and enjoy them all the more.

How am I Judging These Acrylic Paints?

I use many different types of acrylic paints so have had experience with everything from the cheapest right up to the nearly most expensive! I have also had experience with paints from an on-line club I belong to. Currently, I am using System 3, Golden, Windsor and Newton artist quality and the Traditions ranges. Although they do not recommend that you mix them, they do for the most part mix and sometimes it is necessary.

The comments here take into account all the experience of these different paints and how they differ from one another. I discovered acrylic painting many years ago when I found that painting with oils in a 6 foot by 9-foot bedroom wasn’t the best plan! Initially, I didn’t get on with them as they dry really fast and you have to use many different methods to keep them wet. Over time that has changed and with good instruction and a better quality paint, I have improved. Amazon does a very good range of acrylic art paint for the beginner to the professional and their prices are very good.

What Painting Style and Use?

The techniques you use and the style of painting may determine the type of paints you use. For example System 3 do a range that is great for impasto work (laying paint really thickly) as well that the original range. Golden paints do a range that stays wet longer which is great if you use a lot of blending. Though you can extend any acrylic paint use with a paint retarder as well.

Traditions are also great for blending as it is not as thick which reduces the amount of thinning it needs for initial use allowing you to choose to thin where necessary in your painting techniques. As you can see each has it’s advantages and disadvantages but for student quality System 3 is excellent. If you are looking for a artists quality then I would recommend either Deco Art Traditions or Golden.

Art Advantage Wood Art Box Easel Paint Set I love box sets, probably because I love wood. These are great as gifts for Christmas or birthdays. They are great if you intend to keep all your paints neat and straight. However, when it comes to buying paint if you are starting out this is not the most economical solution as the money being paid for the box could pay towards brushes, paint or some mediums and squashed paint tubes rarely go back neatly into boxes. (At least mine don’t!)

Daler - Rowney System 3 Acrylic Paint Selection Set on Amazon

Art Advantage Wood Art Box Easel Paint Set I love box sets, probably because I love wood. These are great as gifts for Christmas or birthdays. They are great if you intend to keep all your paints neat and straight. However, when it comes to buying paint if you are starting out this is not the most economical solution as the money being paid for the box could pay towards brushes, paint or some mediums and squashed paint tubes rarely go back neatly into boxes. (At least mine don’t!)

The Advantages of These Acrylic Paints for Beginners


The main advantages of these acrylic paints for beginners are the quality that you get for the cost outlay. The makers of System 3 do use high-quality pigments and the overall quality of the paints is very good. “Wet” time or how long you can use the paints before it dries will vary from country to country and season to season but this is much longer than other paint ranges in its class and on a par too many of the artists ranges (except on of the Gold ranges which have an extended usage). When you add and extender or retarder this extends even further. Daler Rowney (see video) say that its coverage is very good too.

I have to admit that I have had no problems with coverage when using this paint. The range of colours is also very good and in truth, there are lots more colours that you can mix if you want to. There are colours that are not included and you have to then buy the artist ranges if you either do not want to or cannot mix. Always check the colours against the other ranges as you may find one that is similar. As often student ranges add padding to bulk out the paints they do not always act the way an artists paint would and may not be so translucent. System 3 is very good with varying degrees of translucency in its paint. You can check the tubes for how transparent or translucent their paints are.

Daler-Rowney System 3 Acrylic Original Jumbo Set This is a great starting out kit with as it says Jumbo size tubes. It can be false economy to buy small tubes as you will use up the main colours very quickly especially when learning to mix colour quantities so a Jumbo tube is a great idea. The thing to remember here is that depending on who you are studying with and what you are painting may alter what colours you need. If in doubt wait until you have discussed with this your tutor.

A video Explaining Daler Rowney Paints

Daler Rowney says that “their System 3 range has high-grade pigment and that the range is the best of its class.” I would tend to agree having used other student grade paints that dry very quickly and do not cover as well. This paint is also great for professionals who want quality at great value.

What are The Disadvantages of Student Grade Paints?

Where the Manufacturer Saves Money In student paints the range isn’t so vast and the pigments will not be as good. Though Daler Rowney does say that their System 3 range has very high-quality pigments (see video). Also, you will not get quite the effects you would when using a higher level paint. One of the things I noticed is that System 3 is not as thick as the artist’s acrylics though this may or may not be a disadvantage depending on how you paint.

At approximately a third of the price of other paints, these minor limitations may be enough to decide that they are well worth the money. Where they become a specific disadvantage to me is that I am currently studying on-line art classes with a great art group who uses paints designed specifically for their own techniques. Their paint seems not to be quite so thick as standard paints and they use a combination of techniques that range from oil thought to watercolour all with acrylics!

Save Money by Getting the Giant Paint Jars


You will only need mostly these if you do super large painting or paint a lot. If you paint normally you may want to use them because they are value for money with one large one of these being the same price as many small artist quality tubes. I recommend you start with white as this is used a lot. Then expand to lemon or cadmium yellow depending on which you use and then perhaps the other main colours, but I repeat white is really beneficial in larger quantities. You have to watch these though as the opening is larger and it is really tempting to use more. I have a really bad habit of squirting out too much paint. Remember it can be stored in an airtight container with a wet membrane bottom if you accidentally do this.

Daler - Rowney System 3 250ml Paint Ink Pot - Cadmium Red Deep Hue on Amazon

Moving On to Better Pigments

There may come a time when you decide to move onto artist quality paints for various reasons or you may decide that you are happy with the ones that you are using. Many artists create their own methods of painting that they then develop specific paints and brushes and mediums for. Bob Ross is a well-known oil painter that did just that. Traditions Acrylics is specifically used for techniques used by a group of professional artists and their students. I recommend that you decide if you really need to change your paint for these methods or not. If you are tending to paint solely using these methods it may be worthwhile changing to their paint designed for them if you can.

These are the paints that I think are the best for beginners to intermediates for most uses based on my experience. There are other paints that I like and would recommend for advanced painters or those using a particular painting style that cost a lot more and other paints that are designed for a particular way of painting.  These will be covered in further reviews.

System 3 one of the best for beginners to intermediates because the quality is unrivalled for the price and they are more easily available than other paints. If I am studying with particular painters it may be then I will use the paints that they have created as they are designed for their particular techniques e.g. Traditions.


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