Artistic expression has taken on many forms through the modernization of the digital age. Everything from content creation through video to publishing online magazines – art can be found everywhere on the internet.
If you’d like to learn to paint, guides like this one and inspiration elsewhere on the web can help you get started on your journey. Painters, instructors, as well as seasoned experts all have to begin by understanding the basics of a painting course.
Getting an arts education can be fun and easy!
Whether you’re looking for an art class for beginners or are already in your last leg of a painting course, it’s always good to start by understanding what the different genres of painting are. If you can think back to your childhood art projects – which most likely involved dry pasta, glitter and hopefully very little glue-eating – you might only recall some very strange looking and crude pieces. This, however, marked the start of your art education.
While it may seem contre-intuitive to what happens to be a very technique-heavy subject, art begins when you are able to simply let go. In less vague terms, many of arts greatest movements happened because of rule bending and as a response to methods people viewed as perhaps too traditional. From Van Gogh’s experimental oil painting, to Cubism’s mixed media – if you want to learn to paint, learn how to paint with the same creative energy as when you were a child.
Okay, enough pep talk and down to business. Art is typically broken down into three categories: literature, performing arts, and the visual arts. While there tends to be a lot of crossover between the three, as a beginner you can differentiate the three by the subjects that constitute them.
Painting, as you can see above, is classified under the umbrella of the visual arts. Within painting itself, there are a countless number of genres and mediums. Here, we will break it down into the ones you are most likely to encounter in any painting class.
I’m going to be frank, becoming adept at oil painting is not an easy feat. This medium is something you’re more likely to encounter after a couple of beginners painting classes. Oil paint essentially involves pigment that is kept from drying by the addition of oil.
Basic chemistry will tell you that clearly, mixing water to thin your oil based paint up will simply result in a mess. To remedy this, turpentine is normally used (and yes, it does smell horrible).
Oil painting is best for everything. From Van Gogh’s portrait painting to Klimt’s symbolism paintings, some of the world’s masterpieces have been made in oil paint.
Watercolor is a medium you are more likely to encounter at the beginning stages of your painting career. The reason does not have to do with its level of difficulty and more because of its accessibility. Essentially, it involves pigment mixed in water based solutions and is used to refer to the artwork as well as the medium.
Watercolor was traditionally used best for landscape painting and figure painting. Today, however, painters using watercolor are continually pushing the boundaries. If you’re interested in taking art lessons in water color, check out Cheng-Khee Chee’s koi and Mary Whyte for some inspiration!
A favorite amongst many hobbyists, acrylic painting is faster drying than oil and involves water soluble pigment that has a bit more body than watercolor. While acrylic tends to be better for styles like the pop art of Lichtenstein and David Hockney, it also goes incredibly well with photographic, life drawing styles. If you’re interested, check out Sedona by Bob Petillo or Fleeting Beauty by Henry Bosak.
Lastly, it is important to mention that painting requires a great deal of basic drawing skills. While many painters sketch their preliminary painting in their medium of choice, taking drawing courses will enhance this skill. Whether you get involved in figure drawing or simply practice sketching on your own, painting and drawing are indelibly linked.
The traditional forms of art can all be used to paint masterpieces
If you’re worried about arriving to your art class and being the only one unfamiliar with the lingo, no need to worry. Here are some of the more common techniques you’re likely to encounter when being introduced with the artists’ lexicon.
Whether you’re taking painting lessons, or want to move on to other mediums like pastel or digital media, there are a couple of basics you need to master.
While it may sound obvious, understanding how color works is vital to any successful painting. Color theory argues that there are three base color groups – primary, secondary and tertiary – that can be arranged on a color wheel. Whether you’re dealing with watercolors or trying to execute a still life, color theory can tremendously improve the composition of your painting.
This technique is typically used on canvases destined for oil and acrylic painting. Before you get started on sketching and shading in your initial ideas, it is important to create a base color to paint over your white canvas. This will not only create an added texture to your painting, but also provide you with richer color values.
Finishing up your artwork:
This step can apply to paint as well as drawing genres such as cartooning and sketching. If you’ve ever looked at some school notes written in graphite, you’ll understand the importance of protecting your artwork from smudging and other, general wear and tear.
Whether you’re painting a portrait, a simple human figure, landscapes or still lives – the glazing process for painting is the same. It involves painting a transparent coat of paint over your finished, dry painting. This protects the painting as well as intensifies the colors.
Now that you’ve gotten acquainted with all the basics, it’s important to understand the types of painting materials you will need. While art knows no bounds when it comes to creativity, buying new materials can be a financial strain.
If you’re a beginner, however, don’t worry. While art classes will typically require you to bring your own materials, your teachers should generally have some extra brushes and a palette or two you can borrow. Brushes range from the synthetic to the real with a wide variation in price. Keeping your budget in mind, you should also make sure to buy an array of brushes (small tipped to flat and wide).
Art material can be thought of as an investment
Caring for your brushes are equally as important as buying them, as not washing them in the proper solution or not washing them at all can lead to irreparable damage.
Don’t walk into your art supply store without knowing which class you will be taking or what kind of medium you’ll be working with. This will make it easier to decide what type of acrylic paint or watercolors you will need to buy.
It is imperative that you ask your teacher which colors they recommend for you to purchase so that you don’t have either stare at the massive color selection, dumbfound, for too long a time or end up wasting money on colors you don’t necessarily need. A general rule of thumb when it comes to buying colors is to stick with the ones you’ll be using the most for color mixing.
If you’re in it for the long haul, it will be worth investing in more expensive items like quality oil paint and even an easel.
Luckily, you happen to live in a country where finding an art school or art instruction is just a quick google search away.
If you’re looking to take adult classes in painting, there are plenty of art workshops and courses you can take. Start by taking a look at some of the studio art in your town and see if some artists provide an open studio, where you can view painters in their element for free.
Next, if you don’t have any past experience with drawing, it might be a good idea to start by improving your drawing skills through self-practice or through some drawing classes. This will form the basic foundation to not just painting, but also other mediums such as illustration and design.
Next, enroll in a course either at your local art center, art studio, or college. These courses typically go from a couple of days to a couple of months. Some art centers even give some workshops across the UK, like Craft Courses or Class Art.
If your looking for classes that involve kids art for your child, start by asking your school’s administration. Elementary schools across the UK typically either house art workshops themselves every couple of months, or advertise for them. This is a great way for your child to express themselves and can even be a creative solution to after-school care.
Another great way to get started is becoming an instructor yourself. If you’d like to self-teach yourself, plein air painting is a great way to get started, as it doesn’t require you to utilize paints and other materials in your home as well while allowing you to have an outlet.