Painting for Beginners – A 7 Step Guide to Get You Started

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This is a comprehensive guide for absolute beginners looking to get started in painting. In writing this, I considered what I would do if I had to go back and learn painting all over again.

I have broken the guide into 7 simple steps you can follow:

John Singer Sargent, Simplon. Pass, 1911
John Singer Sargent, Simplon. Pass, 1911

Step 1. Consider Why You Want to Take up Painting and What You Want to Get out of It

Before you go out and buy all your new art supplies and start throwing paint onto the canvas, you should consider why exactly you want to take up painting and what you want to get out of it.

Your answers will determine how you proceed and what you should focus on learning. I don’t believe that there is a static learning path that everyone must follow to master painting. Everyone has different tendencies, interests, and natural skills which determine the optimal learning path they should take.

For example, some people do not have the patience to sit down and accurately render every tone and detail of a subject. Therefore, they may be better suited to learn color and brushwork from the Impressionists, rather than the rigorous practices of the Russian academic painters.

Or maybe you have no interest in breaking into the commercial art world and just want a fulfilling hobby. In that case, you may want to take a more relaxed approach to how you learn.

Or maybe you want to become a master realist painter like John Singer Sargent or Joaquín Sorolla. To get anywhere near this goal, you would need to follow a dedicated and rigorous training regime that focuses on drawing and the other fundamentals of painting (color, value, composition, etc).

Joaquín Sorolla, Sewing the Sail, 1896
Joaquín Sorolla, Sewing the Sail, 1896

Whatever the case, it is important that you have self-awareness of why you are doing this in the first place and what you want to get out of it.

If you have not already, take a second to think about it. You may even want to share your answer in the comment section at the end of this post.

Step 2. Pick Your Medium (Acrylics, Oils or Watercolors)

Next, you should decide on a medium to focus on, at least for the short term. This will allow you to really get a feel for how the medium works, so that you can then pay more attention to the big-picture aspects of painting, like color, composition, value, etc.

The major choices are oils, acrylics, and watercolors. There are some other options, like gouache and water-mixable oils, but I won’t touch on these in this guide.

But there is no right answer here. Every medium has pros and cons. Here is a crash course on the different mediums to help you decide which suits you:

Acrylics – The Beginner’s Choice

Acrylics are widely favored by those just starting out with painting as they are easy to use and do not require any special supplies. The downside is they dry very fast.

Acrylics may suit you if:

  • You are a complete beginner and do not want to worry about the complexities of oil and watercolor painting.
  • You want an easy cleanup time.
  • You are painting on a limited budget.
  • You enjoy experimenting with mixed media.
  • You are sensitive to the harsh chemicals involved with oil painting.

The downsides of acrylics are:

  • The paint dries very fast. This means you only have a limited amount of time whilst your paint is responsive on the canvas.
  • Some colors darken as they dry (the colors which are lighter tend to have a greater change).

I personally started with acrylics many years ago. Below is one of my childhood paintings in acrylics.

I eventually moved to oils after getting frustrated by the quick drying time of the paints. But acrylics were great for developing a broad understanding of painting whilst I was a beginner.

Dan Scott, Early Painting - Mountain Reflection
Dan Scott, Early Painting – Mountain Reflection

Oils – The Master’s Choice

Oil paints are the most widely used medium among professional artists for a number of reasons:

  • They are versatile. You can vary the drying time and consistency of your paint dramatically using paint thinners and additional oil. This allows you to work with a wide range of painting techniques, including blending, glazing, and scumbling.
  • They were favored by the all-time greats of painting.
  • Oil paintings seem to be held in higher regard by art collectors compared to acrylic paintings (there are of course some exceptions to this).

You really cannot go wrong with oil paints. If you are not sure where to start, I suggest either jumping straight into oils or starting with acrylics with a view of jumping over to oils once you are more developed. There are some fantastic acrylic painters, but many of them paint in a very contemporary style. The traditional painting techniques which were used by the old masters are much better suited to oil painting.

If you think oil painting is too complex for you, then I urge you to reconsider. There are really only a few ‘rules’ that you need to understand in oil painting and the rest is very similar to acrylic painting.

Tip: For those of you who are concerned about the harsh solvents used in oil painting, like turpentine, then check out odorless solvent. It makes oil painting much more pleasant in my opinion. I use the artist quality solvent by Gamblin.

Dan Scott, Secrets On The Lake
Dan Scott, Secrets on the Lake, 2017

Watercolors – The Untamed Beauty

Watercolors are generally considered to be the most difficult to pick up due to the untamed nature of water and the fact you are not able to do much re-working of errors (as the paper can only absorb so much water). However, if mastered, watercolors can produce stunningly elegant paintings.

For this reason, I recommend you start out with either acrylics or oils before venturing into watercolors. However, watercolors are a fantastic complement to your acrylic or oil painting as they train a different skill set.

For example, John Singer Sargent was famous for his meticulous portraits using oils, but he used watercolors to paint impressionist and relaxed landscapes and portraits. These watercolor paintings probably felt very refreshing for Sargent who would have been accustomed to the lengthy and tedious portrait painting sessions.

John Singer Sargent, Carrara, Working, 1911
John Singer Sargent, Carrara, Working, 1911

Which Should You Go With?

There is no right answer here, but if you are just starting out in painting then I recommend you start with acrylics or oils. But feel free to start with watercolors if you are up for the challenge.

Also, this is not to say you must choose a medium and ignore the rest. I encourage you to try all different kinds of mediums, but have one which you really focus on and get familiar with. It is better to be a master of one medium, than be average at all mediums.

Step 3. Get Your Supplies

It’s time to stock up on art supplies. But make sure you read all of this section first before you start buying every type of brush or every color of paint – you do not actually need that much stuff!

The supplies you get will vary depending on the medium you decide to go with. In a broad sense, all you need is:

That is it really. Painting can be as simple as you want to make it.

You will be able to find all this at your local art store. If you are an absolute beginner, it may be worth starting with a beginner package that includes most of the basic supplies you would need. You can then upgrade later on.

My main suggestion is to keep it simple and purchase quality where it matters, like your brushes, canvas, and paint (a premium quality easel will not make you a better painter).

As Richard Schmid wrote in his book Alla Prima:

“If Michelangelo had possessed only a broom and a bucket of mud, he could still have painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and it would have been just as much of a masterpiece!”

(Every artist should have a copy of Alla Prima. It’s a fantastic book written by a master painter.)

As for the colors, I suggest you start with a limited palette that has red, blue, yellow (the primary colors), white, and an earth tone like raw umber. Here is a good starter palette:

  • Cadmium red
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Cadmium yellow
  • Titanium white
  • Raw umber

I go into more detail on painting supplies in this guide. You can also see what I use and recommend on the supplies page.

Step 4. Get Familiar with the Fundamentals of Art

I am a big believer in learning efficiently rather than just putting in time for the sake of it. You could practice for years and hardly improve if you don’t know what you are doing. This is where the fundamentals of art come into play – color, value, composition, edges, brushwork and technique.

These are what I consider to be the core pillars of painting. It is important that you get familiar with them early, as they will help you understand what exactly is going on when your brush hits the canvas. Learning these fundamental areas will benefit every stroke you make.

Here is a summary of the fundamentals:

Color: We are all familiar with color, so much so that we take it for granted. Few people fully understand and appreciate what color actually is.

I find it easier to comprehend color in terms of hue, saturation, and value. These are the three elements that make up a color.

Hue refers to where a color is located on the color wheel. Red, blue, yellow, green—these are all different hues. Saturation refers to how rich, intense, or vibrant a color is. Value refers to how light or dark a color is.

Learn these three terms and learn them well, as you will encounter them with every artwork you create.

Childe Hassam, The Aquarium with Gold Fish, 1912
Childe Hassam, The Aquarium with Gold Fish, 1912

Value: Value is an element of color, but it is generally considered as a separate fundamental area due to its importance to painting. Every color has an underlying value somewhere between white and black. For example, take the following painting by Claude Monet.

Claude Monet, Fishing Boats, 1886
Claude Monet, Fishing Boats, 1886

If I take color out of the equation, we are left with nothing but the different values ranging from light gray to almost black. This painting has a strong value structure, as you can clearly make sense of it without color. A strong value structure is not essential by any means (just look at many of the great Impressionist paintings) but it certainly helps in giving your painting a solid foundation. If you paint with accurate values, then you have more leeway with your use of brushwork, color, and detail.

Claude Monet, Fishing Boats, 1886 - Grayscale

Composition: You will hear all kinds of complex terms, “rules” and theories
used to explain composition in painting. Things like…

Focal point

Rule of thirds

Golden mean

Horizon line

Leading lines

Harmony

Rhythm

Movement

Balance

…. and so on. But really, there are only two questions that are important for
creating great compositions.

What do you want to say?

How are you going to say it?

That is it. None of the other stuff matters all that much.

Let’s dive into those questions a bit deeper…What do you want to say? In other words, if your painting could speak, what would it say? If you don’t know, then you are working blind. Also, this does not need to be some deep and philosophical statement. It could be as simple as…. “I want to capture the way light is bouncing off the river surface.”

But it is important that you know what you want to say – a big idea you want to communicate. How are you going to say it? Or, how are you going to arrange all the elements in your painting to work in harmony and communicate what you want to say? Think of all your individual strokes, shapes, lines, colors, and textures as tools at your disposal.

Claude Monet, Etretat the Aval Door Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbour, 1885 - Implied Lines
Claude Monet, Etretat the Aval Door Fishing Boats Leaving the Harbour, 1885

Edges: An edge is what separates two shapes. It can be either hard, soft, or lost. Hard edges have a clean transition between the two shapes; soft edges have a smooth transition; and lost edges are so smooth you can barely see them.

Dan Scott, Three Boats at Kingfisher Bay, 2016, Lost, Soft, Hard Edges
Dan Scott, Three Boats at Kingfisher Bay, 2016

Brushwork: The physical marks left by your brush (or your palette knife, finger, or anything else you use to paint with). This is an overlooked aspect of painting, which is odd because it is what makes a painting look like a painting. If not for brushwork, we may as well just take a photograph or practice digital art rather than traditional art.

Honeymoon Bay Painting - Detail (3)
Dan Scott, Honeymoon Bay, Tasmania, 2019 – Close-Up

Technique: How well you are able to perform certain actions. Good technique will develop over time as you gain experience and become more comfortable with your brush and paints. But you need to be careful of any bad habits which you may pick up along the way. This could be the way you hold your brush, or the types of strokes you make. Bad habits can be incredibly difficult to fix after you have been practicing them for a number of years.

To develop good painting technique, I suggest you carefully watch masters paint. Observe how they hold their brush, how they apply paint to canvas, how they mix colors, and so on.

Step 5. Decide What You Want to Paint First

One of the most challenging aspects of painting happens before you pick up your brush – selecting a subject to paint.

The perfect subject should be inspiring and challenging. You should feel the need to paint it.

Here are some questions to help you determine if a subject is worth painting:

  • Is there a “big why”? A single idea that makes you want to paint it.
  • Is there a clear and identifiable color harmony?
  • Does the subject have an interesting design (think about the arrangement of shapes, forms, lines and colors)?
  • Is there anything you can do to improve on the subject?
  • Are you capable of painting it?
  • Do you have the supplies required to paint it?
  • What problems will you encounter painting it?
  • Does the subject provide you with opportunities to challenge yourself and demonstrate your abilities?
  • Does the subject inspire you?
  • Can you see a finished painting at the end of it all? If so, do you like what you see?

Ask yourself these questions next time you are not sure if a subject is worth painting.

Note: These questions are not necessarily there to be answered, but rather to make you question and explore the subject before you commit to something more.

As an example, the following photo is something I would like to paint. Here is why:

  • I love the contrast between the light greens getting hit by light and the foreground in shadow. This is what I would focus on capturing if I were to paint it – my big idea.
  • The composition is interesting.
  • There is a pleasing balance between active and quiet places.
  • I can see myself painting this.
Queensland, New Farm Park

Step 6. Create Your First Painting

You are now ready to create your first painting. Just a word of warning though, it will be harder than it looks!

The master artists make it look effortless, but don’t forget they have been painting for many years, even decades in some cases.

My main suggestion for your first painting is to start general; try to capture your initial impression of the subject. Think about the subject in terms of shapes and colors. You can then refine the painting and add more detail.

As an example, I will run you through one of my paintings. Below is the reference photo I painted from.

Fraser Island, Reference Photo

I started by loosely painting in the major colors and shapes with a light wash.

Fraser Island, Painting Step by Step Part 1

I then started to build up the form and structure.

Fraser Island, Painting Step by Step Part 2

The finished painting is below. This should give you an idea of how rough and general I start a painting. Of course, some subjects require more delicate attention, but that is something you need to consider on a case-by-case basis.

Sunset Study, Kingfisher Bay, Oil, 10x12 Inches, 2017
Dan Scott, Sunset Study, Kingfisher Bay, 2017

You can see more step-by-step paintings on the video page. Here is an example of a simple landscape painting:

Tip: Be proud of your first artworks, even if they do not turn out as planned. One day, you will look back and see how far you have come. Below is one of my early paintings from when I was a child. Not perfect by any means (I even forgot to paint the right side of the ocean…) but it reminds me of how I started.

Also, don’t compare your first few paintings to the works of other artists. Most people do not share their early or failed works; you only see their best.

Dan Scott, Early Painting - Impressionist Wave
Dan Scott, Early Painting – Impressionist Wave

Step 7. Review and Improve

Once you have created your first painting, it is time to take a step back and review what went right, what went wrong, and where you can improve. Unless you are some kind of prodigy, your first painting probably won’t be a masterpiece but that is ok. Everyone starts as amateurs, even the masters.

Look at your painting like an art critic. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What aspects of the painting do I like?
  • What aspects would I change?
  • What is the mood of the painting?
  • What is my first impression of the painting? I suggest you take a break from looking at the painting for a day or two, then come back to it.
  • Do the colors work or do they appear muddy?
  • Is the composition pleasing?
  • Is there any visible brushwork that adds to the painting?
  • Have I captured the overall likeness of the subject?
  • Is there anything in particular that irritates me about the painting?
  • Have I captured the perspective accurately?
  • Does the painting appear cohesive?
Fisherman in Valle d'Aosta, John Singer Sargent, 1907
Fisherman in Valle d’Aosta, John Singer Sargent, 1907

Bonus Tips

  • Don’t worry about what other people think. Accept criticism but do not let it be the main driver of what you do.
  • Engage in the community. Enter competitions, visit galleries, talk to other artists, read artist blogs, subscribe to artist newsletters, etc. The more engaged you are, the more inspired you will be.
  • Try not to be intimidated by artists who are more skilled. There will always be someone more skilled, experienced, knowledgeable, or technical than you. Look to them for inspiration rather than be intimidated by them.
  • Don’t worry that much about developing a memorable or unique style if you are just starting out. It will develop over time with experience.
  • Focus on the fundamentals—color, value, composition, edges, brushwork, and technique. These areas will benefit every stroke you make and will compound your level of improvement over time.
  • Research the masters who came before us. Learn about how they lived, studied, and worked. This will provide you with a constant source of inspiration and knowledge.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.
  • Be careful of gimmicky techniques, secrets, rules, or methods.
  • Be open-minded and flexible with how you learn.
  • The only secret to becoming a great painter is to learn, practice, review, and improve.
Dan Scott, Honeymoon Bay, Tasmania, 2019
Dan Scott, Honeymoon Bay, Tasmania, 2019

Want to Learn More?

You might be interested in my Painting Academy course. I’ll walk you through the time-tested fundamentals of painting. It’s perfect for absolute beginner to intermediate painters.

Thanks for Reading!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and I hope you found it helpful. Feel free to share it with friends.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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87 comments on “Painting for Beginners – A 7 Step Guide to Get You Started”

  1. I may as well start.

    I can’t remember exactly why I started painting as I was very young. I believe I just fell into it. I do remember liking the idea of being able to capture something on the canvas. I would look at some of the great Australian landscape paintings my parents had hanging around the house and think to myself that one day I would like to paint with the same level of skill.

    What do I want to get out of painting? Simply the satisfaction of painting beautiful things and sharing my inspiration. That is all. I’m a simple man.

    Now over to you! Just respond in “Leave a Reply” below.

    Dan

    Reply
    • The world around us is full of life and color. Color brings joy. I like the jewel toned colors the best, but am learning to love even the browns and greens, which i used to despise because i thought them dull. They actually help the bright colors be even more noticable. There is beauty in everything. I want to share, and bless others through cards and paintings. Eventually would like income.

      Reply
    • I’ve always felt that I could communicate more easily through image than words. I fall in love with certain art pieces because they convey an underlying truth that is complex and beyond words…… like your feeling when your first child is born,

      Reply
      • I really enjoyed spontaneously painting the first thing I saw when my 9 year old granddaughter asked me to paint with her. It was a great stress reliever and I was actually pleased with my work. Especially when my 14 year old granddaughter asked if she could have it.

        Reply
      • I’ve seen great artworks and fallen in love with them. I like how artists can conceal/reveal emotions or meanings in their paintings. The ability to express really is why I want to do this.

        Thanks for this great article Dan, this is my first article on getting started with painting.

        Reply
    • Thank you for all that you give…and it’s a lot. I too, am a simple woman, desiring to bring forth beauty. The ‘sharing’ and being part of a community of like minds remains my challenge. You always inspire me. happy creativity to you Frances Pizzino in NM, uSA

      Reply
    • Hi Dan , thank you for explaining so well the different medium and techniques. I have been drawing for a while, but was fasinated by the way you can capture the light and the glimmer on water with paints in contrast to say charcoal. My aim is to learn to put life into my work and not just look flat. I’m sure it will be a journey that will both inspire me but also improve the way I look at other paintings and appreciate their interpretation of a subject, as I am fasinated how we all see something different even yhough we are looking at the same thing.

      Reply
    • Hi, I m inspired by my dad he use to paint abstract & as a little girl father’s favorite I use to take a brush n paint with him . My dad was not a painter he was a sailor But his hobby was painting with oils n I also wanna paint as hobby to refresh my memories
      Regards

      Reply
    • I love to draw , and love art so much that I always want to capture beauty , and love the act of creating , it is most satisfying , and pleasant feeling when I accomplish something that I sought out to do. I have always been intimidated by color and very timid to plunge into it , and I need to get over that fear . This is why I want to paint . I am a watercolor Ist but haven’t been painting for a while . My strokes are very thought out and timid .

      Reply
    • Hello Dan, I have painted off and on for years, and now I’m retired, able to paint every day. I see steady improvement in my art (unusual for me as I tend to be critical of my own efforts) and am seeing how much more I need/want to learn. Composition has been a weak area for me. I think I actually get it now. Love that you included classic artists as examples. Thank You!

      Reply
    • I received paints, brushes and everything else to get started as a gift. I’m 74 years old and I’ve never been artistic. Maybe my family wanted a memoir. I live in a mountain community with lots of wildlife, lakes and beautiful trees, so, there’s plenty to paint from.
      I wanted to thank you for such encouragement because now I’m very excited to start.
      Thanks again…..

      Reply
  2. I enjoy reading your information. I do a lot of painting and also thought but never knew where to start when teaching. Thanks Emma

    Reply
  3. I have always wanted to paint. I am know opening up a whole new world of colours textures etc. To sit with a blank canvas and then create what you have seen or imagine incredible stuffs. Thank you Dan, for making about painting easier to understand.

    Reply
  4. Thank you – loved your explanation. I am compleat begginer. I love English counteyside and would like to learn one day to paint early morning sunrise in summer – i have to feel painting. But why i decided to take up painting – my love to animals. When i lost my dog i decided to paint his potrait myself because nobody else could see his soul… But i still dont know so many things and have like million questions! I am enjoying acrylics at the moment but dreaming to learn oils one day. It was very interesting read for me – thank you again.

    Reply
  5. Thank you Dan!! This was very helpful! I need to be on a more of a path than continuing to meander around, forgetting, restarting, making no real progress. I can see that path in music – …learn your instrument, chords, Notes, keys, practice songs…progressive practice…practice, practice, practice. I don’t see this path as clearly in painting. Willing to put in the work though.

    Reply
  6. Hi Dan, Thank you so much for the teachings and your knowledge of painting. I am beginning to learn how colors work together. My 1st experience with art was in 1969 when I discovered an artist named “Peter Max”. I loved his style and his bold use of colors. I personally like abstract art along with pop art. I do many different types of art. I do yard art, mosaics, wood burning, to name a few. Thank you again Dan for your knowledge in painting. I will be sure to “pay it forward” when I meet someone who is less experienced than myself. Have a great week. ?

    Reply
  7. I love reading what you have to say! I just feel a great passion to create paintings and when I finish one I can hardly wait to start another one! I have always used acrylic paint and have been painting continually for about five years now that I am retired and have more time. I think based on what you have said I might try using oils next to see how that works. Thanks for your inspiring words of wisdom.

    Reply
  8. My main hobby was gardening and I took up painting initially with a thought to capture my garden as a painting not a photo both in individual flowers and as a landscape. I now find I want to paint more than garden and have recently expanded to portraits and still life. I started with watercolour but now I am in to oils am finding it much easier to achieve my ambitions.

    Reply
  9. Aloha, Dan! I consider you as a personal mentor who inspires me with a common sense approach to creating art work.

    I am a hobbyist at heart and professional student of art who is interested in portraying nature and life. While I paint mostly for myself, it is the creative PROCESS that motivates me most of all and elements of art that intrigue me, e.g. color mixing and value contrasts, etc. I love the magic of creating, not so much the end results of the seascapes, landscapes and portraits that I paint. I sometimes work at a snail’s pace painting in layers until the final end result, thinking all the time about what I’m doing and often who I’m painting for, e.g. the pet portraits that will be gifted to family members. Art is only one of my hobbies as I have other interests and am a musician also and play regularly with a group. Thank you so much for all that you do to encourage me in art! You’re my man, Dan! God bless you!

    (BTW I am 78 and never drew or painted anything at all until 2012 when my youngest granddaughter and I began to learn to draw from You Tube).

    Reply
  10. Dave Smith, I wish I knew why I love art and painting. I used to draw and paint 50 years ago, then I had to move and run a family business. I lived close to Andrew Wyeth and drove by his home at least once a week. There is a museum nearby that features his paintings as well as other family members. It also has the works of other artists. When I am depressed, I go there for a pick me up. Art is private for me. There are so many old buildings in this area and each time I pass one I wish I was able to put it on canvas and create a develop a certain mood for it.

    Reply
  11. Thank you Dan I have found all of your emails and comments very inspiring. I started painting at the beginning of this year. I have watched and painted alongside many videos. But now I am letting go and finding my own things to paint which I find really wonderful. I love painting alot and get lost in my art. Thank you again

    Reply
  12. I started my journey in watercolor last November and am slowly learning the principles as you have talked about in this article. I find this information very helpful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge in painting. I find it very useful.

    Reply
  13. Thank you Dan, I really like your painting. I am only a beginner and really wish to pick up some of your wonderful hints. Thanks again.

    Reply
  14. Thanks Dan for your clear, always helpful instruction
    Been painting from childhood on and off but able to devote more time now to Art which has always given me much joy and which I like to share with others
    Have to avoid oils because of allergies
    Did water colours first but wanted more vibrant colours and changed to acrylics which I now enjoy
    Yes it dries quick but there are ways to deal with this and once you learn to blend it is easier to work with. I love its forgiving nature for I can always grey out mistakes and start again?
    For me Art is a hobby now but would not mind getting some of my work sold and see the joy it brings others
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.
    Find it very beneficial.

    Reply
  15. Dan , the reason I love painting is the whole learning process. There is sooo much to learn and you’re a gifted teacher. I have tried every medium but mostly use acrylics. The oil painting I did, took too much time to dry. I love watercolors and have done pastels as well. Pastels are great but pricey if you want a good set. I always thought painting was only for the very talented but now realize it is about technique and shading and really seeing the world around you. You are teaching me how to get the effects I want in my art. Thank you!

    Reply
  16. Hi Dan,
    As usual a top post.
    Could you tell me what you think of water soluble oils.
    Oils don’t appeal to me because of toxicity, smell etc.
    When I was made aware of these new oils it peaked my interest.
    Thanks, Dave M ???

    Reply
    • Hi Dave. I have not used them yet but I did recently purchase a set. I will do up a tutorial when I get around to giving them a try (hopefully soon). But I have heard good things about them, especially for people who do not like the toxic nature of oils.

      Thanks!

      Dan

      Reply
  17. Hi Dan,
    Writing this is like starting your first painting! Where to start. I have recently retired and have decided to try painting again. I say again as the last time I painted was for my O levels in 1969! Believe it or not I got a grade 1 along with a grade 1 for technical drawing, unfortunately my other grades were somewhat below these standards and I didn’t take up my chosen career as an architect. My other achievement was to win a local as it was in those days a Brooke Bond painting competition when I was at infant school. This may seem ordinary but the reason for writing is to say that I still find it strange and baffling that I achieved these things because I am profoundly colourblind. I struggle a great deal with recognising colours and it has been the pain of my life as you can imagine. My wife bought me some paints etc for Christmas this year as an encouragement to paint again. Whether or not it was the innocence of youth and not being bothered about being colourblind or not I don’t know but I am in some sort of panic mode as to know how to start now knowing I will most likely be using the wrong colours when painting! Where do I start!!!

    Reply
    • Paints canvas easel You will find that when your brush and canvas meet they almost have a mind of their own. I keep many clippings that speak to me as well when I start a landscape from somewhere a wheel I like an old barn etc They just start coming together a rock etc get your creative juices flowing.

      Reply
  18. Hi Dan,
    For as long as I can recall, I’ve admired art and artistry but did not find myself to be very capable in that department. Fast forward to early twenties when I took up cross stitching. Therein I discovered the concept of light/shading and perspectives. So around age 40. I took up charcoals and taught myself thru books along with a great deal of trial and error but I managed to become pretty darn good with a charcoal pencil.

    Now in my 60’s I started oils last year and found that I am pretty good with that too. So now I’ve moved on to learning acrylics (first attempts came out pretty good so today bought more supplies for this endeavor). After I get to the point of being comfortable with acrylics, I will move on to watercolors.

    It may sound like I’m just jumping from one thing to another but truly am not; I continue to practice with those things which I feel I have mastered and/or find to be comfortable in doing. Thanks to the internet and people like you the speed with which I am able to learn has just accelerated in comparison to years of the past.

    I am grateful that I am finally able to do those things which at one time I could only admire in others. Thank you for your time in doing things like this article you have gifted to us all.

    Pepper

    Reply
  19. I’m 73 and at last have time for myself. Lived in regional isolated areas. With children to rear and properties to help run there was little time to follow my dreams. Always wanted to paint but didn’t know where to start. Maybe this is it!!

    Reply
  20. Actually, it’s a question. If I can’t do this right now, would I be able to save the emails and instructions for a time when I am able to follow through, or would it all disappear after a time?

    Reply
    • Hi Terri

      Yes definitely, that is fine to do. Any issues or questions just email us at admin@drawpaintacademy and we can help you out.

      Thanks

      Reply
  21. Yes, so many beautiful landscapes that I want to capture on canvas. I am not an artistic person, but, oh how I just love to watch beautiful paintings in galleries. I love photography too, and I wish to make amazing pictures of my shots on canvas.

    Reply
  22. I always wanted to draw and paint as a child but struggled with perspective and colour. I later discovered that a serious astigmatism in one eye and a bit of colour blindness doesn’t help. I have a cupboard full of various media and papers/canvas which I haul out during the summer when the light is better. I want to be able to capture some of the beauty of nature that photography doesn’t get especially in landscape. I also like to experiment with sploggy marks on paper and try to make it into something, you know like when you see a face in tree bark or wallpaper. I did go to a professional art teacher a few years ago he was expensive, he asked me to bring along anything I had painted previously and he laughed at my paintings. After 3 lessons I stopped going as he continued to laugh at my work and I have never shown anyone my work since. All I wanted was to find out how to put marks on paper and learn about perspective. I’ve been reluctant to go to lesson ever since but have learned a lot on line.

    Reply
    • Well.firstly.I abstract paint.not many get the idea.but this idiot who laughed at your work can’t paint and never will.he can carry on taking a picture in his mind of some humdrum landscape or some other artists work and just put a minor tweak to it and call it his.pick up a brush.or a stick.or a sponge use all three. Anything that it is in your mind put down a line or dash of paint.build on that.any color you see in you eye use it.move accross your canvas.in any direction.paint with feeling.don’t try to copy.don’t try to just use acrylic or oil.or water color.use all three together if you want.go slow go fast.have a break.don’t have a break.it’s your work how you do it is your decision.he was a lesson on how not to paint.

      Reply
  23. Interesting comprehensive read, very informative for someone who is considering starting the art journey. I have put off doing this all my life and now I find I have both the time and inclination to really make a start. ……. Thanks for any help along the way. …… Regards Brian.

    Reply
  24. I started painting on my own, then with you tube. I very much enjoy it. It seems that my early paintings were better. Reading what you shared in this article seems to explain why. Thank you for the chance to get a better understanding and improve. I have been painting since January 2021 and hope to have a large painting to put on the wall that I can be proud to leave hanging.

    Reply
  25. I went to a Catholic school that didn’t have art as part of their program.When I went to a public high school I feared taking art because I thought I’d be to far behind.Ive always wanted art as part of my life.There is so much beauty in our world and I’d like to express that on paper.Ive taken some art classes at the local community continuing education program.I seem to be floundering..not sure about what medium to use.

    Reply
  26. Dude: You Rock. Your straight-up simple comprehensive explanations of what can go into a painting provide a kind of secret insight into what masters and fine critics are talking about when they check stuff out. Personally, your guidance is getting me unstuck from drawing/painting exactly as I did 30 years ago, and moving me into some seriously fun territory. Thought you must be an old Yoda dude and now I see I could probably be your dad – hilarious. Yes, law for me (as Nina also did, I believe, and accounting for you), but always kept a toe in the art world. I am a contrarian by nature/nurture, but knew I needed some grounding and stumbled right onto this blog and got some excellent enlightenment. Values, color wheel, leading lines, and overall introspection, especially. Happy Easter, and you are what they call “A Giver,” which is the only way to roll. All the best from the South Side of Chicago. Don’t you go changin.’ Craig

    Reply
  27. I would say that paint by numbers is actually a great way to learn painting for amateurs. For instance paint by numbers actually helps in teaching that colors are not just individual things but they all work together. A colour on its own would look quite different when it is painted alongside another colour. Furthermore, paint by number helps in developing self-confidence, and once the confidence is up you can actually start to take creative control; experimenting with different types of brush strokes or trying new colors as well.

    Reply
  28. I have always been frustrated with my lack of being able to draw, its like I have all these things in my head I want to be able to express. Recently I had a piece of paper, and a pen, and so I threw out anything I tried to learn in my drawing course (don’t worry I still use them lol this was just one time), and I was surprised to find that I was making things, like they looked how they should. I was taking a relaxed approach and experimenting with how things might look at certain angles. While doing this my right hand was rubbing again the paper, and by accident it was smudging the ink. I was kind of, amazed at how it flowed, and I started to try to recreate it with my finger and bleeding the ink from the pen more and more. I started another “drawing”, in which it was supposed to be a person sitting up in a tree, angled from the back, holding a guitar. But the neck of the guitar ended up looking like a paintbrush I guess, and so I began to bleed the ink and smudge and smooth it into this swirls and dips and dives of bright blue all across the page. After that I was sitting there and thought that maybe I wanted to paint, and not to draw. After all I was finding much more enjoyment in basically finger painting over terrible sketches I drew and I was finding little techniques using my palm and fingers. I just want to paint, to be able to discover, something I can’t do with drawing and I want something physical unlike my poetry or music. Everything I have worked on (I am still very young and new to art) has so far been about the journey in every piece, and I find something about myself in it. I would like to do the same with the vibrant colors and strokes of painting.

    Reply
  29. I have always suffered from a mild depression, which gets worse with stress. I decided to try painting. It eases my stress, makes me happy, and sometimes wonderful artwork is born!

    I’ve drawn all of my life, but started painting less than 2 weeks ago. I want to learn it all and you offer education!

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • I also suffer depression and am going to start painting. I always also drew as a child. I am looking forward to it. Good luck.

      Pete Cox

      Reply
  30. Sorry people.I have no idea why my previous comment came up again. Just enjoy your painting.be of a happy heart.I may have a stage 4 liver but I will paint 4 works this year 2 of wich are complete. Just love every moment.never give up do not criticise an never self criticise.

    Reply
  31. I appreciate your ideas and i will follow it properly. I just love to do painting and want to become a professional painter. I think these tips will be very helpful to me. Good job!

    Reply
  32. Thanks for the tip to start with acrylics or oils. My wife and I are looking for a new hobby we can enjoy together. We’ll go look at some different acrylic and oils paints and see if it is worth starting.

    Reply
  33. newly retired. i have always wanted to paint and draw portraits. Now I have started, I love it. My obsession is with nature, God’s creation. I have drawn some pencil art, and now am practicing with acrylic. What I want, is to be able to draw realistic landscapes and portraits.

    Reply
  34. Like u said, I was working blind with acrylic painting over few months. I didn’t have any ideas for my canvas though. All I was doing is just watching some tuto-videos on YouTube & paint those things down on the canvas. So that, my results always come up with mass amount muddy colors in 2D plane. Can’t even decide which one is object or shape ! That really sucks… But, after reading this guide, I could find out the systematic approach to acrylic painting.
    Besides, I finally realized why I’ve failed, what things I’ve missed out & how to fix my mistakes. Thanks for your sharing, I really appreciate on you…

    PS: I’m also looking for the suitable online painting class that you’d recommend me.

    Reply
  35. hi, dan! I am from India, Jaipur I actually am interested in painting, I am 12 years old and I have actually made a few paintings know by referring to Pinterest to do them and I thought that your course might be better than these tips you have I would like to join this academy but you know I am an Indian so I am not sure if I qualify but I wrote this comment. so I hope you read this and stay safe, bye!

    Reply
  36. I like the idea of using titanium white as a new color. Our new house has a color scheme we hate so we need new painters. We’ll have to have neutral colors applied to to the nursery.

    Reply
  37. Hi Sir,
    I just want to divert my mind into good things, So why shouldn’t I give a try on painting and I have zero knowledge on it.. Don’t really know where to start and what to start with.. Your suggestion would help me to start my journey over here.. Please do guide me where to start with and involve myself here..
    Thanks in advance 😊

    Reply
  38. I’ve never thought I could paint but I’ve recently been inspired to paint portraits of our wonderful Jack Russell terrier, Jack. My husband and I lost him a week ago and we feel the loss greatly. I wanted to hire someone to paint a portrait, but then I thought why don’t I just try to do it? This may be too ambitious but I’m willing to give it a try.
    Thank you for the informative guide!

    Reply
  39. I read out and understand all the techniques as you mentioned in details. I am a beginner. In my childhood I loved to paint but my father was not able to afford. Now I am doing job and I can fulfill to my dreams. Might be I fail but trying more and more.

    Thanks

    Reply
  40. I used to paint a lot when I was little. But now I have not painted anything for years. I liked to paint landscapes. I wanted to capture natural beauty in my paintings. Now I am 18 years old and I want to start again but don’t know how can I start again

    Reply
  41. I started with drawing and sketching in my teens and later got into painting. The joy I got out of art was so relaxing. Growing older, raising a family, career, I just stopped painting. Now being retired, I’ve learned to pick up the brush again, but forgot some of the very basics and almost nervous to try. After reading your guide, i’m relearning the techniques and building my confidence back. Thank you

    Reply
  42. i did some painting way back at school and used to scetch a little at home trying keep the grandkids happy ? i am 78 and started scetching and painting again trying to keep the brain working i am not the best painter but i love the quiet and calm in the spare room away from tv stories and all the jaz just waiting for some thing to spring up and scetch or paint what ever it may be my last progect was to paint a seahorse for one of my grandkids enjoyed every miniute you gave me some things to look at prepair for al your next projects reading all the information you gave me thank you i was told to start painting again as i am at the first stage of the dreaded alzheimers thank you again

    Reply
  43. On retiring from work, I began painting after trying a local ” Painting with Acrylics” art course. It is something I have always wanted to do but never had enough time. The course closed due to Covid and I have been pootling along trying to find my “own style” by reading books and watching on-line tutorials. I was feeling rather despondent at being unable to find it. Reading your article has given me the help, the push and the confidence to continue and not to give up. Many thanks.

    Reply
  44. I’m noticing many saying that they “now” have the time. I’m hoping for that same revelation. I recently retired and have an overwhelming appreciation for God’s colors in our world. Many times contrasting and many times colors that we would not normally put together. In nature it all seems to make sense and I would love to be able to display it on canvas. I lost much of the feeling in my hands so details will be difficult but I believe that I’ll enjoy the process all the same. I will be checking out more of your information and tips. Thanks for all of this.

    Reply
  45. We just finished building a new home and I want to decorate with my own paintings. I have never painted before, but I want to let the paintings flow from my feelings and just see where they go. As anyone who has ever built a home with attest to, there are definite ups and downs. I want to see if these ups and downs will be expressed in my paintings. I’m hoping to create a lasting impression that I can reflect upon once we are actually living in the home. As a side note, when we were installing all of the window trim, we left messages behind the trim about how COVID was affecting us….all the thoughts, fears and disbelief. Not the ‘facts’, but the ‘feelings’. We wanted to capture what it is really like to experience the pandemic. A little treasure that a future renovation will reveal. I’m hoping my paintings will also capture a ‘message’ that only I will know the true meaning, but hopefully will be felt by others as well.

    Reply
  46. At start I just wanted to start a new hobby. But as I continued to paint, I realised, I want to be good at it. Thank you for the guide and tips. I now have some direction.

    Reply
  47. At start I just wanted to start a new hobby. But as I continued to paint, I realised, I want to be good at it. Thank you for the guide and tips. I now have some direction.

    Reply
  48. I became a painter because I wanted to see the way my soul views the universe. It’s very exciting to put my imagination down on paper or canvas. I am an impressionist artist with acrylic paint and I have been experimenting with watercolor as well. It is very fun. It is a serious practice in patience as well. Thank you for your inspiration and insight on the subject.

    Reply
  49. I was captivated when you shared that it is crucial to choose a certain medium to concentrate on. My friend uses acrylics on her paintings though she’s still practicing. It’s her birthday soon, so I’m planning to buy her a modern painting as a gift.

    Reply
  50. my first painting was of a giant stingray i saw in an aquaworld, as i visited it for the first time with my mom. i remember being fascinated by it and the whole place, that i decided to capture it as soon as possible – so i did it right there. wanna dive back into painting, cause it’s just so calming and u can be on ur own with urself.

    Reply
  51. I thank you from the core of my heart. I always wanted to paint and draw. But, life has never allowed me to pursue my wish. Or, may be I was not ready inside.
    I’m fortunate that I found this. And I so appreciate your suggestions. Especially, “why you want to paint, what do you want to convey and how you want to say it.”
    Thanks again.
    Golap from India. 🙏

    Reply

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