Feeling Inspired by Great Works of Art? How to Get Started with Painting

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Nothing beats wandering around an art gallery and admiring some amazing works of art. Many of the world’s greatest art galleries are free to enter: the National Gallery in London and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris are two good examples. Art enriches our lives and makes us feel humbled in the presence of great talent. The good news is that anyone can have a go at painting – and you don’t need to be the next Renoir or Van Gogh to produce some amazing pieces.  If you are itching to get started with painting, here are a few things you need to know.

Decide Which Medium to Try

There are different types of paint, all of which produce different results. The three most common are:

  • Oil paints – oils are a traditional painting medium. Oil paint takes a long time to dry, so it can be worked on for weeks at a time. Many professional artists like working in oil because of the depth of colour you can build. The downside is that oil painting is messy and requires a commitment you may not have at this stage.
  • Acrylics – acrylic paints are cheap and easy to work with. You can pick up sets of acrylic paints from stores such as Raaaft for less than £10. Dilute the paint with water or layer it on in thick daubs. Acrylic paint dries fairly quickly and is safe to use.
  • Watercolours are great for instant painting when you are out and about. Use watercolour paints for quick work or invest in artist’s tubes of watercolour paint if you want to work on a more considered piece at home. The downside of using watercolours is that they are less forgiving. Unlike with acrylics and oils, you can’t paint over mistakes in the same way. The upside is that watercolour paintings are full of light and the medium lends itself to landscape very well.

Get your Supplies

It’s time to buy more art materials. You don’t actually need that much stuff, so make sure you read this entire section before you start buying every kind of brush or every shade of paint! According on the media you choose, the resources you receive will change. In general, all you need is an easel to display your work, canvas (for acrylic or oil painters) or paper (for watercolor painters), a palette to mix colors, brushes appropriate for your chosen media, palette knives, paints, solvent (if oil painting), and paper towels (for wiping your brush between strokes). That’s pretty much it. You can make painting as easy as you like.

All of these may be found at your neighborhood art supply store. If you are a complete newbie, it could be wise to start with a kit designed for beginners that includes the majority of the supplies you will require. Then you can subsequently upgrade. Keep it simple and invest on quality where it counts, such as your brushes, canvas, and paint, because an expensive easel won’t improve your painting skills.

Get Familiar with the Fundamentals of Art

Instead of just putting in time for the sake of it, one must learn effectively. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could practice for years with no improvement. The basic elements of art—color, value, composition, edges, brushwork, and technique—come into play at this point.

These are the fundamental principles of painting. It is crucial that you become familiar with them as soon as possible because they will enable you to comprehend precisely what occurs when your brush touches the canvas. Every stroke you make will benefit from learning these foundational concepts.

Learn the Techniques

Each medium has its own techniques. YouTube is a great source of information and there are many artists who post tutorials on different painting techniques. Try watching some YouTube channels and see which style of painting appeals. Have a go at producing your own piece of art while watching a detailed tutorial – you can pause and rewind the video if you need more time.

Another option is to sign up for a local art class. Join like-minded people in your area who want to paint. Classes are often geared at beginners, so you don’t need to feel intimidated by more experienced painters. Use this as an opportunity to make new friends and learn new skills. Basic materials such as paper are usually provided, but you will probably need to buy your own paints and brushes.

Experiment

Great artists spend a lot of time on their work. The more you paint, the more you will learn. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or producing work you hate. That is all part of the creative process. Enjoy painting for what it is – a relaxing, soothing hobby that allows you to escape real life for a few hours.

Review and improve

After finishing your first painting, it’s time to look back, analyze what went well, what didn’t, and where you can do better. Your first painting definitely won’t be a masterpiece unless you are some sort of prodigy, but that is okay. Even experts have their humble beginnings. Analyze your painting as an art critic would.

More Tips

Do not concern yourself with what others may think. Take criticism, but try not to let it dictate your actions. Participate in local affairs. Participate in contests, visit galleries, speak with other artists, read their blogs, sign up for their emails, etc. You will be more inspired if you are more involved. Don’t let more accomplished artists frighten you. There will always be someone who is more knowledgeable, skillful, experienced, or technically savvy than you. Don’t be afraid of them; look to them for inspiration. If you are just starting out, don’t worry so much about creating a memorable or distinctive style. With time and experience, it will grow. 

The fundamentals—color, value, composition, edges, brushwork, and technique—should be your main priorities. Every stroke you make in these areas will increase your level of improvement in those areas. Investigate the greats who came before us. Find out about the way they learned, lived, and worked. This will serve as a constant source of education and inspiration for you. Try new things and experiment without fear. Be wary of trick or gimmick tactics, procedures, or regulations. Be flexible and open-minded about how you learn. The only way to become a great painter is to study, practice, practice, and get better at it.

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