Artistic expression has been evolving ever since the earliest cave paintings were drawn and continues to do so today. Thanks to social media, we can have even more access to artwork and galleries we do not, or would never be able to, access otherwise. These outlets have also given way to artistic expression itself in the form of videos, photography and more.
If you’re interested in learning how to paint, you’ve probably already subscribed various art Instagram accounts or have found a couple of blogs that post content for aspiring painters. What most of these outlets don’t really mention, however, is how exactly you can start painting in your city – specifically, Glasgow.
Whether you’re looking for art instruction for beginners, or looking for some basic drawing and painting workshops, it can be useful to start by understanding the kinds of mediums you are likely to encounter in painting class.
Choosing the Painting Class that's Right for You
If you know a bit about the development of painting, you’ll know that oil paints have, since the Renaissance, been one of the most dominant forms of painting. The reasons can be various and argued, but one of the most important ones is because of what its made of.
Oil paint consists of pigment mixed with oil, which not only gives oil paintings their vibrancy but also allows artists to pile layer on top of layer, sometimes without even letting the bottom layers dry fully – a technique discussed later.
While using oil paints can be extremely rewarding, the medium is taught normally in more advanced courses. Because it tends to be more expensive than its counterparts, and because it uses turpentine as a solvent, it can be a bit more difficult to use or less accessible. If you’d like to start to learn to paint with oil paints, however, just make sure that you keep these factors in mind.
Acrylic is a relatively new type of paint, having only been created in the mid-1900s. Since its introduction to the mass market, however, acrylic paint has become a popular medium amongst both beginners and professional painters. The reason why can be found both in its affordability as well as its fast learning curve.
While this type of paint might not sound familiar to you, some of the most famous contemporary works have been painted in acrylic. In the UK alone, it has been used by the likes of David Hockney and Eduardo Paolozzi in the notorious pop art movement. Because of its popularity, if you’re looking for some art education involving acrylic around Glasgow, you’re in luck.
Painting with watercolors can, at first, seem to be a pastime of only beginner artists or older folks. However, watercolor is not only the world’s oldest medium, but it has also evolved into one of the most dynamic mediums in the field of art.
The best thing about watercolor, besides is portability, is the fact that the materials geared towards beginners are normally cheaper than most alternatives. If you’re looking for some inspiration in contemporary watercolor artists, check out paintings by Mary Whyte or Jose Apaza.
The Most Common Painting Techniques
Once you’re done understanding the different mediums you are likely to encounter in painting classes around Glasgow, you might be left wondering: but how do you actually paint?
It can be overwhelming to try an navigate through the slew of terms, techniques and methods associated with painting, color theory and basic shading and sketching. Complicating this further is the fact that sometimes, the same techniques can be called something completely different in different mediums. Here’s some of the most common techniques you’ll find yourself utilizing in every class and how, exactly, they’re performed.
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Whether you’re painting a still life or working on depicting a human figure, knowing a variety of methods to employ while painting can go a long way. One method that can also be found in both watercolor and oil painting is known as wet on dry.
This technique involves thinning the paint with water and applying it to a dry canvas. This is one of the most common ways of using acrylic and will probably a technique you utilize often. Taking this a step further is a technique known as washing.
Washing involves thinning acrylic paint out to the point where its application resembles that of watercolor. Painting in this manner can be extremely useful if you’re looking for a watercolor effect with fast drying paint.
Speaking of watercolor, this highly versatile paint can be applied in a variety of different ways. One of the most important, besides the wet on dry already mentioned, is a technique called wet on wet. While the names of these techniques seem a bit uninspired, the process itself is actually quite amazing.
Wet on wet involves mixing your watercolor paint with water and applying it to a canvas that is already wet. In order to prepare the canvas, simply apply a layer of water over the sections onto which you would like to paint. The effects of utilizing this method can often lead to some of the more intense color mixing apparent in portraits and scenes like those of Cheng Kee-Chee’s.
The wet on wet version of oil painting, other than having a different name, is also slightly different than its watercolor counterpart. Known as alla prima, this technique involves painting on top of layers that have not completely dried. Doing this doesn’t just allow color to mix in interesting ways, as with watercolor, but it also allows for textures to build up.
Underpainting and glazing are equally as important techniques to get familiar with that happen at the beginning and the end of the painting process, respectively. Underpainting is the process of painting a layer of a neutral color onto the entirety of the canvas before painting your subject on it. In some instances, you can also sketch your initial painting in a monochrome of that same base color before applying the colors you will eventually use.
Glazing, on the other hand, is utilized at the end of the painting process and can be seen as a sealing layer on top of the finished product. The technique involves nothing more than applying a coat of transparent paint on top of your painting as both a protective measure and to enhance the effect of the colors.
What Art Supplies Do You Need?
Deciding what painting materials you will be needing for self-practice, art school or workshops can sometimes be more difficult than finding the creativity and inspiration to paint a subject. This can be exacerbated if you’re dealing with a tighter budget – however, there’s no need to stress. Anyone involved in artistic endeavors is no stranger to financial difficulty.
The best way to start is first by picking the medium you would like to work with. This will enable you to not only pick amongst the vast variety of watercolor, oil and acrylic paint, but it will also help you arrive to the art supply store with an estimate of what you’ll be spending.
When buying paint, its always good to ask the instructor for advice on which paints are necessary and which are optional. However, as a general rule of thumb, a variety of five different colors, including white and black, is a good place for a beginner to start.
Canvases and brushes are a bit more difficult to shop for, as this will also depend on what your medium will be and what exactly you’ll be painting. We recommend getting a variety of three or four brushes all of different widths. Start with a small tipped detailing brush and make sure to include a flat, wide headed brush for the times you’ll want to paint on large swaths of paint.
Canvas will be different if you’re painting with watercolor, acrylic or oil paint. The three most common canvases you’ll likely encounter are either sketchbooks, watercolor paper, or linen and cotton canvases. The canvas you’ll be using for practicing and sketching in paint will likely take the form of a sketchbook while producing bigger, more detailed pieces will necessitate larger canvases. Make sure to get whatever you think you’ll need in your class or workshop.
Art Classes and Workshops in Glasgow
Studying art in Glasgow can be a rich, and sometimes interactive experience. If you're on of the many young artists interested in pursuing an art degree, some of the top art universities in the world can be found in the UK.
If you're simply looking for kids art workshops or adult art lessons, starting by looking online can facilitate finding an experienced instructor. Signing up for courses online with the Botanics Glasgow art center or sites like Superprof can help you find the right class or setting.
Whether you're learning studio art or life drawing, plein air painting can be an option for people who can't pay for painting classes or simply prefer to self-learn at their own pace. While this usually requires a stroke of good weather, it can be a great way to learn to paint.