How To Get Started With Painting

A few months back, someone reached out to me via e-mail and enquired about painting lessons. Because I’m not formerly qualified,  I shared the whole process of how I started painting! Figured that it would make a great addition to the blog, so this is the e-mail:

Generally, I opt to paint landscapes because of how harmonious the colours are. It’s also easy for beginners because if a mistake is made (ie. an extra brushstroke or wrong shade of colour), one can simply mix up new paint to cover it up, or add a new element to the painting such as an extra mountain or trees.

Art Movement

Firstly, find an art movement that you’re drawn too. I recommend starting off by exploring more about Impressionism. One very famous artist from that movement is Claude Monet. Naturally, the whole movement has the focus on landscapes.

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Water Lilies by Claude Monet
These are just few of his paintings. If you ever have the chance to visit a gallery of Impressionist paintings, it’ll be a great chance to look up close and study the brushstrokes made. Impressionism doesn’t focus on details. Instead, it focuses on encapsulating the mood of the landscape. It’s also extremely useful when it comes to learning how light and shadows are casted on a subject.

Referencing other paintings and studying the techniques used will be of immense help in your painting journey.

Paint Mediums

Secondly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different mediums. What works for others, may not work for you. It also depends on the painting style you’re going for. There’s MANY mediums when it comes to paints, but the general few are:

1) Watercolour

You’ve probably been exposed to watercolour before! It’s a nice medium and colours come out very soft. Gentle to the eyes. However, it’s not really beginner friendly.

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Konkan House by Sanjay Dhawale

2) Gouache

Otherwise known as ‘opaque watercolour’. The way it behaves is kinda like a hybrid between water colour and acrylic paints.

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Summer Street Life, Provincetown by Charles Sovek

3) Acrylic

Personally, I opt for acrylic paints (Highly recommend: Winsor & Newton) It’s relatively cheaper than other mediums and is also the most convenient. It dries super fast.
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Mountains by Myself!
4) Oil

Oil is one of the highest regarded mediums for painting. The paintings hung from museums usually are painted using oil paints. However, these are very expensive and takes long to dry. The results are extremely worth it though.

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Painting by Graham Gercken

Preparing Materials

Thirdly, it’s about preparing materials. This part was probably the most confusing for me when I started out. What kind of canvas is needed? What kind of brushes do I buy? Do I need a big easel? Do I need to invest a lot into my materials?

What I’ve learnt is that materials don’t matter. It’s about how they’re used. I used to spend hundreds on really expensive paints, but they were wasted in the end! Start off by purchasing cheaper paint sets of your preferred medium.

For brushes/tools

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I recommend purchasing (one of each first):
1) Flat brush
Flat brushes are a great go-to to start covering the canvas with paint.
2) Fan brush
Fan brushes are great for painting leaves! Don’t use too much strength with this brush. Glazing a bit of yellow over some trees help to give the illusion of sunlight shining through them.

3) Fine detail brush
Any brushes that are thin with small bristles are good. These brushes really work wonders, and adding a bit of detail can help to add dimensions and depth to your painting.

4) Filbert brush
Filbert brushes are my favourite. They’re great when it comes to clouds, and also anything that requires smooth edges like rocks or pebbles.

5) Palette knife
I have palette knives like these. They’re extremely, extremely handy. You can use them to mix colours on a palette and create a lot of textures. One painting technique you can explore is Impasto.
For canvases or surfaces to practise on, anything is fine as long as it’s thick enough to hold your paint. Canvas panels (basically the canvas stretched over a thin piece of cardboard) are much cheaper and are good for practise. Normal canvases are slightly more expensive.

You can also paint in a sketchbook! It’s much cheaper. However, there’s a certain way of prepping a sketchbook. Pages are usually too thin to hold a lot of paint. You’d need to purchase Gesso for that though.

Here’s some videos that helped me out:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKvooutAClE&w=560&h=315]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li8DNRuzp3Y&w=560&h=315]

Practise, Tutorials and Reference Images

Without practise, it’ll be near impossible to progress. I’ve went through many canvases and sets of paint before I reached a painting I was happy with! It can be really discouraging sometimes. One tip I have is to practise with purpose. Don’t simply paint a picture over and over again, without first spotting mistakes you made (whether it’s with the landscape’s depth, or colours being off), then fixing them on your next try.

Also, unlike what many may say, it’s totally OK to use reference images. It’s the fastest way to teach yourself how to layer landscapes. Eventually, with more practise, you can paint landscapes from your imagination.

Certain things like clouds and trees were hard for me to paint at first. These are several tutorials I’ve referenced before:

Clouds:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4B586nKvgY&w=560&h=315]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1J47FcNH8&w=560&h=315]

Trees:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsoie-S9IYs&w=560&h=315]

Ocean:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT18w1XrPnk&w=560&h=315]

I hope that this has helped you out in some way to kickstart your painting journey. If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer from experience. There’s lots of information and tutorials out there to get started with too 🙂

Best of luck!

At first glance, painting appears to be quite an intimidating thing to jump into. It’s a process that’s filled with frustration and difficulty, and that’s OK. It’s OK to feel lost and uncertain because it takes a lot of time and practise. It’s something that you’d always have to work on! Never stop learning 🙂
Let me know if this post has helped you!
Yours,
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