begin painting with answers to frequent questions

Get answers to three important questions before you begin painting.

what should we paint?

  • First, we should ask ourselves, "Why do we want to paint?" This gives us a clue of what we should paint.

Paintings are personal. We paint to express what we feel and what we see. They are like a part of ourselves.

Our feelings will show through in a painting. Whether we are joyful or upset, it will come through into our paintings.

  • The best place to begin painting is with familiar things. Paint the things we see around us. Paint what we know.

Start painting simple things. It may be the bowl of fruit on our table. Maybe it could be the birds that visit our backyard, our car or our pets.

We do a better job of painting, if we can actually see the subject. When we see it often, we have a better idea of its form and colors.

After painting for a while, we may start composing paintings.

Artists don't always see a perfect scene to paint. So we often put things together.

Florida was my home for more than thirty years. The trees and swamp were painted from an area down the road from my house.

A photo of the Great Egret helped me get his shape correct.

The Pickerel Weed in the foreground is common in Florida roadside ditches.

Pretty sunset colors pulled the painting together.

What should we start painting?Cypress Sunset

we may begin painting from photos

  • Paint from our own photos or copyright free images.

Look for free public domain images or creative commons images. Public domain images have expired copyrights or no copyrights.

Creative commons, CCO images have zero copyrights attached. The person who produced the image has given up their copyrights.

Pixabay.com is a good place to find public domain and CCO images.


What materials do we need to Begin painting?

Start out with the minimum amount of art supplies.

It's easy to get sucked in by all the beautiful things at the art supply store. It may be a good idea to go with a list to help us resist the temptations.

what is the best paint?

  • Choose professional quality paint.

Begin painting with good paint. Quality paint makes it easier to produce good paintings.

Artist paints contain more color pigment. These quality paints make it easier to get good colors. Even students should use the artist paints, if possible.

  • The three most common paints used to begin painting are oils, watercolor and acrylic paint.

One type of paint is not better than the other. There are pros and cons for each type of paint.

What we use is a matter of personal preference. A good idea is to try out the different ones and then choose our favorite.

Acrylic paints are often preferred by beginners. But oil paints and watercolors are the classic painting mediums. We can learn to paint with any medium, all it takes is practice.

Do your paintings from your own photos or copy free images.Oil painting from my photo

Daily painting will put your paint journey into overdrive.

Choosing oil paints

All paints are made with the same color pigments. The only difference between different paints is what is used to carry the color pigments.

Oil paints have their colors mixed with linseed oil. So they are called 'oil' paints.

Oil paints make the rich, classic paintings. They are durable and can actually last for centuries. We can pass them down to our grandchildren.

how long do oil paintings take to dry?

  • Thin layers of oil paint can dry to touch in 2-12 days.

Temperature and humidity affect the drying time. We may use various mediums to speed the drying time such as Liquin or Galkyd.

However oil paintings with thick layers of paint may take up to 6 months to dry thoroughly.

What are alkyds?

Alkyd paints are made with the same high quality pigments as oil paint. The color pigments are combined with alkyd resin.

The resin speeds up the drying time. This enables alkyd paint to dry overnight or within 24 hours.

Begin painting with the answers to frequently asked questions about painting art."Springtime" - an alkyd painting

The finished paintings look just like traditional oil paintings. They make high quality paintings.

what supports do we use for oil paintings?

  • Classic oil paintings are done on a canvas support.

The canvas is stretched around a wood frame and stapled on the sides. The finished paintings are displayed in an ornamental frame that covers the staples.

Modern gallery wrap canvases are stapled on the back of the wood.

This innovation makes it possible to display the finished painting without a frame.

Beginning painters often use canvas boards. The canvas is fastened to a cardboard like backing.

They are good for learning and practice, but they are not known for lasting centuries like canvas paintings.

Artists may practice painting on canvas boards.Most oils are painted on canvas.

An often overlooked modern painting support is Gessobord make by Ampersand. It is an ideal panel surface for oil paintings.

supplies to Begin painting oils or alkyds

  • Paint
  • Two brushes #8 and #12 flats
  • Odorless mineral spirits
  • A Styrofoam plate for a palette
  • A support to paint on

watercolors

Watercolors have their color pigments mixed with glycerin.

As the name implies, they are diluted and painted and cleaned up with water.

choosing watercolors to begin painting?

  • Should we use tube watercolors or pan watercolors?

Tube watercolors and pan watercolors are both made with the same paint pigments.

Tube watercolors have glycerin and other additives that keep the paint flexible in the tube. Tube watercolors produce more brilliant colors because we don't have to add so much water to use them.

Pan watercolors are a dry cube placed in a pan. They are portable and are the favored for painting in the field. Use small brushes to get the paint out of the pan. Large brushes will overlap into the adjoining pan colors.

what do we paint watercolor on?

  • Watercolor paintings have been done on paper for centuries.

Beginners normally start out with 140# watercolor paper.

Watercolors on paper must be framed under glass for protection.

They require a mat to keep the painting from touching the back of the glass.

Modern technology has given us some other choices for today's watercolor paintings.

Watercolor painting of a Florida Anhinga on cold-pressed paperAnhinga on WC Paper

can we paint watercolor on canvas?

We can purchase canvas specifically made for watercolors.

Watercolor painting of a Broadbilled Hummingbird on canvas by Carol MayWatercolor on canvas
  • Make sure the label says it can be used for watercolor.

Before painting, brush on a good amount of water to the entire face of the canvas to break the surface tension.

Let the water soak in before you start painting. This will prevent the paint from beading up or sliding around.

After the paint is thoroughly dry spray the painting with a protective UV resistant spray.

The painting may then be framed without a glass covering.

what is aquabord?

Aquabord is a wonderful watercolor support made by Ampersand.

They apply a ph neutral Kaolin clay to one side of Masonite panels.

Aquabord is textured like cold pressed watercolor paper.

The colors are more brilliant than many watercolor paintings done on paper.

It's easier to correct mistakes, than on watercolor paper.

Spray the dried paintings with a fixative to seal the paint.

Then they may be framed without a mat or glass.

Aquabord by Ampersand is a wonderful surface for watercolor paintings!Watercolor on Aquabord

Why do I paint watercolors on Aquabord?

supplies to Begin painting watercolor

  • Paint
  • A #7 round and a 1" flat, 'watercolor' brushes
  • Container of clean water
  • A plate for a palette
  • Something to paint on

What colors do we need?

  • All paint colors are made from the three primary colors.

Painting with a limited palette of the three primary colors will enable an artist to mix most any color. It is easier to learn painting with only the three primary colors.

  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • White for oils, alkyds or acrylics / Watercolor uses the white of the paper.

However, many artist use an extended palette of a warm and cool version of the primary colors. 

  • Permanent Rose (cool red) and Cadmium Red Medium (warm red)
  • Lemon Yellow (cool yellow) and Cadmium Yellow Medium (warm yellow)
  • Pthalocyanine  Blue (Thalo Blue, a cool blue) and Ultramarine Blue (warm blue)

more painting answers

There are more questions people ask when they are learning how to paint.

what the best light for painting?

Good lighting is important when you begin painting.

We need good light to see the colors properly.

  • North light shows true colors. The ultimate studio lighting is to have north facing windows in your painting area. Most artists rely on artificial lights.

Regular incandescent bulbs used in our homes are warm. Paintings done under these bulbs look dull in natural light.

Florescent lights are cool. We tend to over compensate and make the paintings too warm. So what should we use?

  • Daylight bulbs provide a balance of warm and cool light that is perfect for painting. They use about 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

When we are getting our supplies to set up our painting area, we can find daylight bulbs at building supply stores.

Learn more about setting up your painting space.

do we have to draw?

Drawing is a part of painting.

If we don't know how to draw in the beginning, we will pick it up as we paint.

Most painters will sketch the painting before they actually paint it. Other painters do a detail drawing before painting. It's up to the individual.

Our paintings turn out best if we have a good idea of what and why we are doing the painting. That includes drawing.

Some people have a natural gift for drawing. The rest of us learn how to draw with practice.

As an affiliate I earn from Amazon sales with no extra cost to you. Learn More

"Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" is a classic, inspiring book by Betty Edwards.

It is a powerful book for building our artistic confidence and drawing skills.

Many artists consider this an essential book to improve our drawings.


What is a good painting?

The proper use of color, values and a strong focal point all are part of good paintings.

They create paintings that are pleasing to the eyes of the viewers.

A sentimental or emotional attachment to the subject may attract people to a painting. But more often, it is a strong use of the fundamentals of art.

There are numerous things to learn when we begin painting. But it is important that we don't neglect the basic fundamentals of good art.

Learn more about good paintings.

How do store the paint?

Paints keep very well in their original manufactured containers.

Out of the sun and in regular household temperatures, the paints are good for years.

Keep any unused paint in a covered palette box between painting sessions.

My unused alkyds are stored in a Masterson palette box. Alkyds dry fast, so the palette box goes into the freezer between sessions.

It comes out of the freezer about an hour before painting. That gives the box and paints time to thaw. Then the frozen lid won't break while removing it.

When we get ready to start a watercolor painting, decide which colors will be used in the painting. Give the selected colors a spritz of water to freshen them. Then they are ready to use.

how do we start painting?

  1. Get the basic supplies for either a watercolor or oil painting.

  2. Do a practice painting of a tutorial, then do another tutorial and another. The more we paint, the faster we learn.

Check out the Step-by-Step tutorials on the navigation menu.

These Step-by-Step paintings are good ones for starting out, choose either oils or watercolors.

how about an oriole

paint an angelfish

begin painting and enjoy!



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