The Ultimate Guide for a Beginner Painter

Painting is an enviable skill to master, but it can be intimidating and confusing to learn. This guide is for the beginner painter that is looking to get stuck into the world of creating art but doesn’t know how to begin.

What’s Your Medium?

There are many different ways of painting, but the three most common are oils, watercolors and acrylics. If you are unsure which you prefer, you should go to your closest gallery and take an honest note of which pieces you feel most attracted to. If there is a trend in the media they use, you might have found your starting point. If not, read more about it and try to make your mind up. You must have a clear idea as the equipment, technique and outcome of each medium varies dramatically. Watercolors are notoriously tricky, so oils and acrylics are recommended for absolute beginners.

Get some Supplies

Painting does require an investment in terms of equipment, but the equipment does tend to last a while. Don’t jump into it and buy every brush and color you see, many artists find success comes from some limitation. You’ll need these essentials first:


1. A canvas and easel, or if you’re picking watercolor, just some watercolor paper or card.
2. A palette – this is why you don’t need many colors, you need to teach yourself to mix them
3. Brushes – make sure you check they suit your medium first
4. Palette knives – these help with mixing but can help to create beautiful effects on the canvas
5. Paints – try to pick fewer than 15 to start with. If you’re oil painting, you need some solvent like turpentine.

Decide how you are going to learn

You can either learn with theory or experience. Which path you decide to go down will depend on your personal learning style. If you prefer to learn by experience, you can start with painting by numbers. This can show you the fundamentals of shading, color selection and more. If you want to excel at a specific style, you can always send a picture of a painting to justpaintbynumber.com, who will create a custom paint by number kit for you!

If you are going to learn through the more traditional route, you need to study the core facets of painting: color (including hue and saturation), value (highly essential and good for beginners to learn as it can provide a structure to your piece); technical terms like a focal point, motif, unity etc. and much more. It is highly recommended you purchase a book that covers a bit of art history and explains all these technicalities and why they are essential. However, you still need to get stuck-in to learn how to effectively utilize brushwork and other physical elements of painting.

Explore your own theme

Even if you don’t have a muse, you probably have a good idea of what you want to paint. The best works struggle with a single theme and use a litany of effects to help the artist express this theme. You don’t need to go that heavy right away, though, starting by trying to replicate a simple image that speaks to you is crucial, as is not overcomplicating things immediately.

[All images were downloaded from unsplash]