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Is Acrylic Painting Expensive? Cost Breakdown From An Actual Artist

Painting with cheap hobby paints will affect your paintings a lot and you may face cracking, peeling and fading of colors. But professional acrylic paints can be pricey, and apart from paints we need some more supplies.

So is it worth it? In total, is acrylic painting expensive as a hobby? I started with cheap paints and upgraded along the way, let me do a cost breakdown for you.

Acrylic painting is one of the cheapest and easiest creative hobbies to choose. For a beginner, $30-50 will be an optimal budget to buy all necessary supplies for acrylic painting. With large budgets up to 200$ you can have a fancy list of premium supplies for your hobby.

Acrylic painting can be expensive but if you know where to look for, you can stay frugal!

This article contains affiliate links. It means no extra cost for you but a little commission (2-3%) for me to support my hobby and blog. Thank you!

BUDGET Your Hobby

I will calculate a few options, when you buy only essentials and when you buy all extras too.

Type of budget:

  • Beginner: buy only necessities and start with practicing on paper first, then you can buy a nice canvas to try. Opt for smaller sets of paints and learn mixing and get only the must-have brushes (you don’t need 10 anyway!). For someone who just wants to try acrylics.
  • More confident painter: can work on canvas, upgrade to artist-grade paints, professional varnishes etc. Can upgrade brushes to a better brand. For someone who wants to get better at acrylic painting.
  • Professional: pro painters are a whole different species. They can mix very expensive paint with cheap paint for layering, buy yards of raw canvas to build frames themselves, test different mediums and tools and the budget will never be the same for 2 professional artists.
  • Frugal: art supplies of craft level of lower quality but enough to try and paint. Also an option for kids.
SuppliesBeginner on a budgetMore confident painterFrugal
Acrylic paint
Student-grade paint set of 12 colors
Brands like Amsterdam standard, Winsor Newton Galeria, Arteza
approx $20
Winsor & Newton acrylic paint or Liquitex, Golden

approx $30-50
Craft paint (CraftSmart, FolkArt, AppleBarrel) or cheap acrylics like Reeves
12 colors max
approx $10
Painting surfaceCanson watercolor paper pad (20-30 sheets) A4 – optimal size for practice,
approx $9

approx $5 for Blick 8″ x 8″ canvas
easelNo easelA tabletop easel (under $30) or a standing easel (can be quite expensive)No easel
synthetic brushes1 flat brush, 1 big and 1 small round brushes of a cheaper brand like Mont Marte or even local brand
approx $5
Winsor & Newton, Princeton brushes, good quality brushes

approx $20-30
Cheap brush set

approx $5
palettecheap plastic palette with wells and mixing areaSimple mixing pallete (around $5)
Masterson Sta-Wet Palette for $35
a plastic sheet, a tile, a homemade palette, a disposable plate
palette knife
Can skip
CONDA Palette Knife set of 5 ($8-10)Can skip
thinning paintwateracrylic medium or slow-drying medium (to thin and make acrylic dry slower)
+ can still use water
jarsget a jar or a container for water from homeget a jar at home OR
I bought a foldable one so I can take with me while traveling
jar from home
varnishwhile still learning to paint, you can easily skip varnishing. Especially if you work on paperAcrylic Varnish in spray or liquid
approx $12
no varnish or Mod Podge
TOTALroughly $35-50 for acrylic painting on canvas essential suppliesaround $100-150 for acrylic painting on canvas max suppliesUnder $20
Budgeting acrylic painting hobby
I can speak of prices and budgets because believe I buy a lot of supplies and test them! Don’t judge my mess haha

Essential supplies to start acrylic painting as a hobby

  • Acrylic Paint
  • Acrylic paint brushes
  • Painting surface (paper, canvas pad or canvas)

What factors make the cost of acrylic paint?

  • grade: craft paints are the cheapest, then go student-grade paint and artist-grade paints will be the most expensive.
  • type of paint: there are fluid paints, heavy body paints, and special paints for fabric or ceramics – so they need additives that will increase the price.
  • colors (quality of the pigments used): some colors are always cheaper while rare pigments and metallic colors are always more expensive.
  • quality of the binder: acrylic paint is made of acrylic polymer binder. Some cheaper paints may use fillers, professional paints only use 100% acrylic binder for paints.
  • brand and marketing: if a brand is well known and promoted, if they use different packaging if they are trying to be more sustainable, of course, we always pay for branding.
  • volume (size of the tube or jar): The price per oz is pretty much the same no matter what size but of course, a big jar is a more expensive one-time purchase. It can last longer though.

Choosing brushes

To start you don’t need to buy many brushes, to save money buy only the necessary shapes and sizes.

I recommend 1-2 flat brushes and 1-2 round brushes.

If you are a beginner, you don’t need to buy branded brushes. Most important is to choose synthetic brushes that look clean and sturdy.

Later on, you can switch to a better option by popular brands.

Read more: 24 Best Brushes for Acrylic Paint on Canvas

Paper or canvas?

Beginners don’t have to buy canvases immediately.

There are tons of good alternatives for your practice and learning. I use watercolor paper, mixed media paper, canvas pads, and panels – they are all cheaper than a canvas and you feel less intimidated 🙂

How much do acrylic paints cost?

On average a tube of craft acrylic paint costs under $1 per oz, good quality student acrylics cost around $2-3 per oz and professional paint can cost up to $10 per oz.

Usually, professional paints are more expensive than student or craft acrylic paints due to the quality of pigments and composition.

How much do acrylic paints cost

Sets are usually more cost-efficient, especially for beginners.

Let’s compare the most popular acrylic paint brands’ prices per oz:

GradeAcrylic Paint BrandPrice per oz
Craft paintApple Barrel$0.25-0.5
Folk Art$0.5-1
Student-grade paintLiquitex Basics$2
Winsor & Newton Galeria$3.5-4.5
Pebeo Studio$3-4
Amsterdam Standard$1.5
Arteza Premium$2.3
Daler Rowney System 3$3
Artist-grade paintGolden$4-9.5
Liquitex Professional$4-9
Winsor & Newton Professional $3.7-8.5
Pebeo Extra Fine Artist acrylics$9
Holbein Acrylics$4-14
M Graham Acrylics $6-9
Sennelier Extra Fine Artist acrylics$4-8
Lascaux$9-26 (metallics)
Slow Drying AcrylicsGolden Open acrylics$4.3-7.4
Chroma Atelier$2-7
Acrylic paint cost Table (prices averaged between Blick and Amazon)

Is it worth buying expensive acrylic paints instead of the cheaper ones?

Artist-grade acrylic paints are more expensive but well worth it because they contain more pigments and the colors will be better quality.

You only need a starter palette, you don’t need to buy 20 colors and spend a lot of money.

Cheap paints try to compensate for the lack of quality by the number of colors and add-ons like a brush, a guide, or something else.

Cheap acrylics and craft paints often have low-density pigmentation, it means they have a bit of pigment and all the other volume is filler, thus they have poor coverage and shorter lifespan.

Check out also: Best Acrylic Paint For Beginners [Cheap to Pro]

Tips How to buy acrylic painting supplies on a budget

  • Sets are often cheaper than individual tubes for beginners
  • Subscribe for newsletters on Blick, Jerry Artarama, Michaels or your online art supplies store – they regularly have sales
  • Only buy primary colors and mix your own paint
  • Many times I see that art supplies are cheaper on Blick than the same product on Amazon. So always check multiple stores before buying. Same with offline stores.

How much do you spend on your painting hobby? Share in the comments!