How to start painting for beginners

A 5-step Guide to get you started you are a beginner artist looking to jump-start your creative journey but unsure where to start, then this post on relevant art supplies for beginner painters will help you get started.

Any art medium and associated painting style involves learning techniques which become your alphabets to paint your stories onto canvas. Painting is a visual way to communicate. You will feel much more confident in getting into a creative headspace and start painting if you start looking at painting techniques as alphabets that will enable you to express yourself via paints on canvas. But first you need to gather some basic art supplies.

Let me assure you that you don’t need a big-budget to afford all art materials and tools or an art studio to start painting.

Read this post here if you want to save money or are an artist on a budget!

In fact, you can get started and keep going with a basic kit of art materials, an attitude of curiosity, a little bit of practice and having lots of fun while you learn.



#1 : Claim your creative space.


What that means is you are going to need a space to spend your creative me-time and paint whenever you feel like.  It is much easier to maintain interest and commitment to painting when you have a space that you can leave your artworks drying and return to paint whenever you are able to. Kitchen tables are fine for those who don’t have young ones living with them.  If you do then a spare room, or a niche where you store your art materials safely would be handy.

If you are lucky to have a spare room or shed then go ahead and add items that inspire you and convey positive vibes. Also ensure that you have a storage which is free from dust and protected from extremes of temperature. This is because some art materials such as turpentine can be flammable. Plus moisture can damage canvases and papers by encouraging mold growth.

#2 : Gather a set of basic art supplies and tools


Decide on media you want to start with such as watercolours or oils or mixed-media. Once you have have identified what you want to start experimenting with, you’ll need to create a checklist for art-materials to check what you own and one’s that you need to buy. Get your free checklist here.

But before you go shopping, there are few things you need to know on how/what to choose in regards to art materials.

  • Paints

Most art materials are available in professional grade which are expensive and student grade which are relatively cheaper and used by art students.
Art educators highly recommend that you invest in the professional quality paints as the cheaper grades have lesser pigment and more binders, often resulting in dull paintings.
 While there are few exceptions such as Chromacryl’s student range, most cheap paints set you up for failure.

However, I have found that the high costs of professional grade art products and a low budget may discourage many from making a start. So I suggest investing in the best that you can afford and to slowly build up your stash of art materials as and when your budget allows.

If unable to buy a set of 12, remember that you only need black, white, red, yellow, and blue. With these 5 colors, you can learn to mix a version of every other color that you need: greens, purples, oranges, browns, grays, and blacks. If you need more, you can gradually purchase more once you identify your style and feel confident in your artistic or painting abilities.

Another tip is to purchase a good quality white and black/payne’s gray for your art box if you can buy only a few.

  • Brushes

I suggest buying a few that are relevant to the medium you have chosen.

Just as a thumb rule , stiff brushes such as Hog bristles are used for oils as they are thicker in consistency where as softest ones are used for watercolours.

Synthetic brushes are available for both watercolours and acrylics if you want to avoid animal-based products.

For an idea on sizes to buy, opt for an assortment of flats and round tipped brushes including a very fine tipped for intricate details. You’ll quickly learn which brushes you prefer, and you can stock up on those in the future. For now, focus on experimenting and discovering the marks that each type of brush can make.

  • Surface to paint

Most art stores or hobby shops sell canvases which are either stretched over wooden bars OR Glued to a board or Canvas pad similar to a drawing pad. Canvas sheets from pads are okay if you can mount or secure them on a sealed MDF or masonite board using painters masking tape.
Most commonly available types are cotton 10-12 Oz canvases in assorted shapes (rectangular, square or circular), depth of stretcher bars (single and double thick), thicknesses of canvas(such as 8, 10, 12 Oz.) and materials (such as cotton, linen).
Choose a regular size and type that fits your budget for starters and take it from there.
For painting with watercolours, you’d need to buy thick watercolour paper of about 300 GSM thickness as it’ll allow room for mistakes such as overworking a paper when just learning this medium.

  • Miscellaneous supplies

Then you are going to need some rags to clean your brushes in between different stages of the painting.
You will find that old cotton T-shirts and kitchen towels works best.  

You’re also going to need a plastic container to rinse out your brushes and keep them clean again in different stages of the painting. Remember that keeping your water and brushes clean will ensure paintings are not murky and colours remain vibrant and expressive of your creative voice.

Last, an old melamine plate or a palette will complete your basic art-kit to get started with painting.


#3  : Finding inspiration for your muse.


Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned artist, the process of finding inspiration is something we all engage in time and again. And while it is often said that looking for inspiration is for amateurs that not necessarily true. For some looking for inspiration could be due to difficulties getting into their creative head-spaces and meet the ‘urge’ to dump their anxieties on canvases or could be because they need to try something different from usual painting subjects. It is an activity you could undertake just to warm up your creative juices. Whatever the reason know that finding inspiration is essential part of painting process and not something limited to beginner painters.

Read more on 3 easy ways to get started on your path to finding inspiration to paint.

#4 : Select a subject

Once you’ve had your fill of looking for inspiration decide on a subject that appeals to you. Pick something simple yet meaningful to you. Again it’s much easier to create from a place of comfort and desire than a generic tutorial.


#5 : Create your first painting!

Your first painting is very important as it marks your first foray into a new art form. And no matter how it turns out, be proud of yourself for having taken the first step to many hours of a creative activity proven to aid better well-being.

Getting started as a beginner painter is just that easy. The key is that you have to start. Spend as little time as possible getting ready to paint. Don’t put off creating that first painting. Get started as soon as you can, and then set about improving your skill and art.

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