How to Get Started in the Art of Painting


Painting is a powerful visual art that can convey a number of different meanings. It can be emotional, social or political in nature and reflects the human condition. Some painters spend a lifetime perfecting their craft. Others, like painters of the past, are remembered for twisting rules and expectations to create new art forms.

There are many different painting techniques, but it is important to find one that suits your own style. Often, a simple approach can produce the best results. For example, stippling and pointillism use dots to make an image rather than brushstrokes, and they can be very effective for creating effects of light and shadow or adding texture to a picture. Another technique is scratching through layers of paint to reveal the underlying layer. This is known as sgraffito and can be done with any tool that will scratch through the paint, such as a palette knife, comb or even a fingernail.

Having the right painting supplies will also help you to develop your skills. Invest in some good quality brushes, and make sure you have all the other items you need to work with, such as paper, a table or canvas and an easel. Choose materials appropriate for the kind of picture you are working on, such as rounded-tip brushes for water-colors or flat-tip synthetic brushes for acrylic paints.

When it comes to oil paints, the most traditional artist’s medium, you’ll want to have some turpentine or mineral spirits on hand. You’ll also need a support to work on, such as canvas or panel, and primer to protect it from the acid in the oils. Oil paints can be mixed with a variety of oils, such as linseed or safflower, and should always be thinned with turpentine to allow for easy blending. In recent years, there have been more and more options available for those who want to work with oil paints, including a variety of “water-mixable” oil colors.

It’s a good idea to start with light values and then move on to the darker shades, working from top to bottom. This will help you avoid painting yourself into a corner and give the impression of depth to your picture.

When you’re painting faces, try to be aware of the colors in your subject’s skin. For example, lips are usually pink, and teeth tend to be a more bluish color. Also, a person’s five-o’clock shadow will be more of a blue or green tinge than a solid black.

As you progress, it’s a good idea to step back occasionally and view your painting from a distance. This will help you to appreciate the overall effect of your work and see if it needs any adjustments or if you need to add details. Also, it will remind you to keep your brushstrokes loose and not overwork the paint. Overworking can cause the colors to dull and lose their luminosity.