“Have no fear of perfection - you’ll never reach it. - Salvador Dali
In the UK, approximately two million people (three million including the wider creative economy) work in the creative arts sector.
According to government statistics from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the creative industries could be worth £128.4billion to the UK economy by 2025 and help to create up to one million jobs by 2030.
But so many people want to learn to draw or learn how to paint simply as a hobby in their spare time.
Did you know that drawing or painting improves your overall well-being?
It's a great way to:
- Forget all your troubles: your mind is solely focused on your canvas,
- Relax and see the world from a new perspective,
- Learn about the world you live in: French philosopher Henri Bergson said “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend",
- Achieve fulfilment: you have a feeling of pride when we you make a piece of art from scratch.
So, in real terms, how can I get start learning how to paint?
The Painting Essentials
Before throwing yourself into painting classes, some equipment is required. With drawing, you can do wonders with only a pencil and a few sheets of paper, however, painting requires a little more preparation.
Of course, the painting materials you need to buy will depend on the type of painting you want to do: watercolours, oil painting, gouache, canvas painting, etc.
However, there are essential that any self-respecting painter must have in his possession. Deciding which type of painting is right for you comes next.
Brushes: a common misconception is that it’s easy to choose a brush. Well, not as easy as you would think. There are hundreds of options. You have to choose between:
- Short handles: it allows more precision for things like watercolours,
- Long handles: for paintings on canvas, it allows you to take a step back,
- Flat brushes: for flat areas, backgrounds,
- Round brushes: for detail without overpowering your masterpiece,
- Curved worn brushes: for blending and fading,
- Fan brushes: for shading, drawing a tree, foliage, hair, etc.,
- Bevel (only synthetic hair): for a very high precision,
- Natural hair: pig, horse, goat, etc.,
- Synthetic hair.
Tip: brushes with light hair are soft and those with dark hair are sharp (with resilience), allowing you to work the material and the elevation.
To paint an oil portrait, for example, you can also use brushes with sable hair (very soft) or Kevrin/Mongoose hair (sharp). Shaving brushes can also be used for fading effects.
Tip: If you use a brush for acrylics, do not use the same one for oil painting
Ask someone at an art school or your local art shop for information on creative workshops.
Canvas is essential for oil painting, whereas paper is better for watercolour painting. Different thicknesses and paper sizes are available in art shops.
Other tools can come in quite handy when you start taking painting classes:
- A paint palette: to mix primary colours,
- An easel: only for painting on canvas,
- A case: to store your equipment and keep it safe.
When it comes to painting, everything depends on what you want to paint. It’s a good idea to go to an art supply store such as Hobby Craft or Cass Art to be sure of the quality you’re buying.
What Are the Various Painting Techniques?
There are two main painting techniques: oil painting and acrylic painting.
Oil painting has been around for centuries. All the greatest painters, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, etc., used this technique to make the masterpieces you see in museums today. If you are painting a living model or a still life, oil painting is the way to go.
Oil paint is thick and oily. It requires a long drying time between each layer. It has the power to be very high coverage.
The first layer must be diluted with turpentine oil or white spirit and then each subsequent layer must be thicker, therefore less and less diluted.
Over time, you will learn how to apply a glaze, paint wet-on-wet or "alla prima", fade colours, create an impasto or even scrape the paint off.
As you can see, oil painting requires experience and isn’t the best method to start with as you run the risk of putting yourself off painting altogether.
To learn the art of painting, I recommend starting with water-based paints. Rest assured, this is not just a past-time for children. Watercolour painting is a versatile technique that anyone can try.
A more modern painting technique, it developed in the 1930s with artists like Andy Warhol spearheaded the method.
Composed of traditional pigments, acrylic paint is mixed with synthetic resin. It dries much faster than oil paint and can achieve almost similar results depending on how you use it. If it’s very diluted, it will resemble a sketch created with coloured pencils, if very thick, it can look like an oil painting.
As a beginner, it’s better to start by drawing a cow, a face or painting a vase of flowers with watercolours, which are much easier to use.
There will come a time when you can advance to using oil paints. But remember: practice makes perfect.
Find popular painting classes in Chennai here.
Can I Learn to Paint Online?
Nowadays, learning to draw is something that is within everyone's reach.
But can the internet help you learn abstract painting online, sketching, landscape painting or how to draw the human body?
You would be amazed to see the number of online platforms offering drawing classes and free courses to learn the basics of drawing and painting!
Be careful however: you do not become a painter by watching videos online or reading theory on the internet. Drawing a portrait, painting a landscape or an abstract painting requires technique, of course, but most importantly practice!
What are the advantages of the internet?
- You can take lesson in watercolour painting at a time that suits you,
- Choose a subject that interest you,
- Be responsible for your own learning and development,
- Learn how to paint with watercolours wherever you are in the world!
Art is very personal and learning alone, without a teacher, means you can learn to your heart's content with no boundaries. The Internet can provide materials for support, personal development and inspiration.
YouTube tutorials, websites specializing in painting, social media, etc., there are lots of ways to expand your knowledge of art. Going online can be a great way to increase your passion for art and help you find your own personal style.
Did you know that some museums offer online tours of their gallery?
This is the case for the Louvre and the Guggenheim Museum. Now there’s no need to travel all the way to Paris or New York to appreciate fine art! Search Google Art Project to find all the available artwork for free on the net.
Find a Private Art Tutor
To take up painting as a hobby, there are obviously painting classes at schools and associations you can choose from. These are often group classes or if they are one-on-one lessons, the rates are generally quite high.
However, you can take private lessons to learn how to draw and paint without leaving your living room.
Why should I try a private painting class?
- For flexibility: classes can be arranged at your house, at the teacher's house or via webcam. You choose the format!
- For availability: schedules are more flexible and are generally adapted to suit the student’s availability in contrast to painting classes at an art school,
- For lack of schools: you may live in an area that doesn’t have a nearby art school or association,
- For exam preparation: when you want to take an entrance examination to a big art school, you need personalised support to help you put together your portfolio and progress quickly with the help of a professional,
- For tutoring: if you are already studying at an art school and find the fast pace of the course overwhelming, the help of a tutor could be just what you need.
A private painting class gives you the teacher’s undivided attention and helps you improve faster.
Superprof is full of private tutors who specialise in art lessons. Rates vary from £12 to £40 per hour depending on the teacher's experience, location and level of student. Some teachers have a niche specialty of their own.
What is the advantage of Superprof?
The first hour of class is complementary in most cases. This is a great way to see if learning at home with a tutor works for you.
Glossary For Beginners
When you start learning how to paint, you will undoubtedly come across unfamiliar vocabulary. You should make a note of these terms and start to appropriate them while you learn the techniques.
What is Glazing?
Glazing is a layer of transparent colour. It comes into play when you’ve finished your piece to deepen the tones and blend the colours. It's not used for painting on canvas.
What is Knife Painting?
Painting with a knife is another technique that allows you to create an embossed design with thick paint. The tool used is called a knife painting but don’t try it with your bog-standard kitchen knife!