How to Get Started in Painting


Painting is a powerful practice that cultivates a mindful, engaged spirituality. Whether you paint abstract or figurative, you can create a visual language of color, line and shape that speaks to your soul and allows you to express yourself in ways you never imagined. It’s an exploration of the unknown that invites your intuition to lead you, a process that requires patience, faith and the courage to trust your gut. It’s a humbling endeavor that yields compassion, forgiveness and awe of the beauty of life.

Choosing a medium

Watercolour, gouache and pastel are all great options for beginner artists because they’re water-soluble. As you become more experienced, you can start working with oil paints like the masters did. Oils take the longest to dry but offer more advanced mixing techniques and layering options. It’s important to use a quality canvas or paper because the way it absorbs and holds the paint will impact how your finished work looks. #DumaDoArtTip: If you’re painting on paper, invest in high-quality watercolor paper rather than expensive cotton rag. This will save you time and money when it comes to washing your paints away!

Sketch out your subject and plan what you want to paint. This is a helpful exercise, especially for beginners, as it can help you avoid the common mistake of overworking a painting. It’s also a great opportunity to practice your composition skills and to try new techniques, such as sgraffito or stippling.

Use the stippling technique to add texture to your paintings by applying dots with a brush, a sponge or your fingernail. This can create a furry or feathered effect, and it’s a fun alternative to using a palette knife. Try varying the size of your strokes to make different textures, or use less paint for a thinner application that’ll age the painting and create a more subtle finish.

When using acrylics, a quick and easy technique to create shadows is underpainting. By starting with a dark color such as burnt umber, burnt sienna or phthalo blue, you can build layers of lighter colors on top to create depth. This method was often used by the impressionists and was a favorite of Monet and Van Gogh.

Using the low contrast of a photograph to guide you can be useful for beginners because it helps you see the shapes that are there and not just what you think they should look like. The mind supplies a symbolic version of the subject you’re trying to paint, so looking at the painting upside down can sometimes help you get past this. It can also help you notice things that may have been hidden by the colors or the light in the image. You can also try putting the painting on a stand and turning it around to examine it from another angle.