I recently picked up painting and wanted to share a few tips for getting started. I've always been artistic (mainly into drawing), but had let the hobby dwindle in recent years. After picking it back up again, not only does my house look more fabulous, but I feel more creatively fulfilled and excited to pursue new things. I'm looking at the world through a "could I paint that?" lens. Here are my tips for getting started.
3. It's okay to copy.
Well, sort of. Not if you're selling your work, or trying to pass it off as your own, but as a practicing exercise, copying is great! Start with picking simple pieces and try to see if you can figure out how the artist reached that end point. Here's an example I made of one of my favorite Egon Schiele paintings, Self Portrait with Hands on Chest (1910). I tried to copy it as best I could. It doesn't approach the glory of the original, but was still a really useful exercise for learning about color and shape.
4. Go abstract
Try a few abstract pieces. One technique I've found rewarding is the incorporation of acrylic paste and gel (see list above for links). This substance can add a luscious level of texture to your paintings. Mix the paste with some acrylic gel and the color of your choice (or you can leave it white), spread a very thick layer over a canvas with a large palate knife, and then go to town with a palate knife to manipulate it and shape it how you like. Check out the below examples I created. I like to use the smallest palate knife possible to allow for fine detail. It's kind of like sculptural painting.
5. Make a lot of art
Chances are you're not going to love the first few pieces you make. So work cheap: don't start out working on canvases--instead, use a palate knife to spread a thin but even layer of gesso on a piece of cardboard, let it dry, and paint on that. Or just use paper. Let yourself feel free and easy with taking risks, and with giving up. The key to having a few pieces you like is to make a LOT of them. For example, I've painted the same portrait about ten times now, always using slightly different styles and colors, and have learned something new from each new version of the painting. And it gets better each time I paint it. Before I work on canvas, I always make 3-5 "study" pieces: practice versions of the final work I'm envisioning.
6. Starting a new piece.
Here's my process: