For the beginner, we suggest these first steps to ease the way.
- Start with acrylic paint (only because it is probably the most forgiving and easiest to work with).
- Think of purchasing either acrylic painting pads (blocks of paper sealed ready for acrylic paint) or canvas pads (sheets of canvas you can tack onto a timber support). These are just exercises remember. Alternatively if you prefer to work on stretched canvas, the Mont Marte brand offers excellent value.
- Buy the best paints you can comfortably afford but student grade paints are fine at first; maybe with one or two transparent colours from a professional range so as to play with washes.
- Get copies of paintings that you like. Simple ones at first. Try to copy these paintings or parts of the paintings as exercises. Remember that if you pull off a good one and wish to display it, you should acknowledge it as a copy by labelling it "Joe or Jane Bloggs after Picasso"
- When mixing paints on your palette, always mix only two colours together at one time Mix two… see the result, add another to it… see the result etc. Too many people take a dab of each of four or five colours and hope they arrive at the desired hue. A colour wheel is invaluable at calculating colours but nothing replaces “brush mileage” i.e. practice, practice, practice.
- Before applying a dab of paint to a surface ask yourself these three questions (a) is it the right colour? (b) is it the right tone and (c) am I about to put it in the right place (the drawing). Many books can help you understand colour and tone but again practice makes perfect.
- Different artists use different implements with which to apply paint to its support. Most use brushes, but many use palette knives, fingers, rags, sponges, airguns. Don’t be afraid to play and experiment!
- With acrylic painting remember that it will dry to a slightly darker colour.
- If you have made a mistake and cannot rub or scrape it off, don’t worry; half an hour later it will be dry and you can paint over it.
- Keep to your basic set of colours until you know them and their capabilities well. Purchase new colours a few at a time since it takes a while to become acquainted with each new pigment. This will minimize wastage.
- Try to watch others more advanced than you in a particular medium. This may assist you with handy tips and techniques and shorten your need for experimentation. Just be wary of those high on theory and lacking in practice.
- Remember that if you are beginning to not enjoy painting, then stop for a while and try a different approach. Playing with paint again is probably what you will need to start enjoying it again (e.g. put aside your attempt at a masterpiece, and do a small, quick and playful sketch of anything [for example your cat] in only two or three colours).