How to Paint – A Beginner’s Guide to Painting


Painting is the act of applying paints or pigments to a solid surface for decorative purposes or to create a picture. There are many different kinds of paintings, and a wide range of tools and techniques can be used to apply them. Painting can be naturalistic and representational, photographic or abstract; it can be loaded with symbolism, narrative content or emotion. It can also be used to express political and philosophical ideas, as in the art movements of cubism and abstraction.

Choosing the right canvas and brushes is important, and there are a lot of different options available. Some painters prefer to work with oils, while others prefer water-based media. It’s a good idea to try different mediums, but focus on one that you can really master. Having a solid understanding of your medium can help you pay more attention to the big-picture aspects of painting, like composition and value.

The first step in a painting is to sketch out the basic shapes and lines. Some painters prefer to draw with contour lines, while others use more gestural marks. Whatever approach you take, it’s important to get the drawing as accurate as possible. This will save you a lot of time fixing mistakes later on.

After that, it’s a good idea to start adding color. Many painters will add the lightest shades to begin with, then gradually build up darker tones. This allows you to layer the colors and achieve a more realistic look. If you add too much color too quickly, it can be difficult to fix. It’s always better to work with a smaller palette, so you can mix just enough paint for your current needs.

Another useful tip is to try using your brush to create texture. Varying the length of the strokes can make them look like fur or hair, for example, and using more paint on the brush can thicken it and create density. Changing the kind of pressure you apply can also create different effects. For example, a firm stroke can look like dripping, while a looser stroke can look more feathery.

It’s also a good idea to work from life when possible. This will give you a chance to see how the shadows fall on your subject and to practice rendering different textures. Many painters will also add in small details to their paintings to make them more interesting. This is a great way to add depth and to make the viewer want to explore the painting further.

Having the right supplies is also important. Depending on the kind of painting you are doing, it’s best to choose an absorbent canvas that will extend the drying time for oil and acrylic paints, while a non-absorbent canvas is ideal for watercolors. It’s a good idea to have a variety of brushes that are appropriate for the type of painting you are working on, and it’s also helpful to have a brush cleaning station handy for keeping your paints clean.