“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:
So, in real terms, how can I get start learning how to paint?
Brushes are the most important part of an artist’s tool kit. Source: Pixabay
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:
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 painting lessons:
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.
The largest paintings are made with oil. Source: Visual Hunt
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.
The Internet is a great tool for enriching your knowledge of the world of art. Source: Visual Hunt
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?
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.
A home tutor will be fully invested in your progress. Source: Visual Hunt
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!