you want to begin painting, but you need some answers

Have you found yourself wondering how to begin painting? The art world is awesome!

You may have some questions about how to start painting. This page will walk you through 20 frequently asked questions about painting art. The questions are divided into five sections.

  1. You may be wondering what should we paint?
  2. What materials do we need to start?
  3. What colors do we use? Is it expensive to start painting art?
  4. How do we paint good art? Do we have to draw and more?
  5. What about lighting and ventilation? How do we get started painting?
Before you begin painting, get answers to frequently asked questions about painting art.Enter the exciting world of painting art.

what should we paint?

The best place to start 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, our pets or the Japanese Koi in our fish pond.

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.

Why do we want to paint? This is a clue of what we should paint. Paintings are personal. They are like a part of ourselves.

We should start painting simple things.Paint what we know.

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

After painting for a while, we may start composing paintings. We don't often see a perfect scene to paint.

Do we begin painting from life or photos?

Experienced artists enjoy painting from life. But the birds and bees don't stay still long enough for us to paint them. So, we can paint 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.

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

What materials do we need to Begin painting?

What paint should we use?

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

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

Acrylic paints are often preferred by beginners. But oil paints and watercolors are the classic painting mediums.

One type of paint is not better than the other.

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.

We can learn to paint with any medium, all it takes is practice.

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

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

Good light and ventilation are a must for painting art with any type of paint.

Classic oil paints

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 the finished painting will last for years and years. 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 do we paint oils on?

Oils are painted 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.

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

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

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. Alkyds dry overnight or within 24 hours.

Alkyds are my answer to acrylics. Acrylic dries too quickly for the fine painting techniques. Alkyds dry fairly fast, handle like oil paint and look just like the rich beauty of oil paintings.

supplies to Begin painting oils, alkyds or acrylics

  • Paint: red, yellow, blue and white
  • Oil brushes #8 and #12 flats / Acrylic; synthetic #6 round and a 3/4" flat
  • Oils: Odorless mineral spirits / Acrylics: A water container
  • A Styrofoam plate for a palette
  • A support to paint on

Daily painting puts our painting into overdrive!

choosing watercolors

Watercolors have their color pigments mixed with gum arabic and sometimes glycerin. As the name implies, they are diluted and painted and cleaned up with water.

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 "ad" 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

we can paint watercolor on canvas!

Today there is "ad" canvas specifically made for watercolors.

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 "ad" protective UV resistant spray.

The painting may then be framed without a glass covering.

Watercolor painting of a Broadbilled Hummingbird on canvas by Carol MayWatercolor on canvas

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.

The "ad" 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.

Why do I paint on Aquabord?

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

supplies to Begin painting watercolor

  • Paint: yellow, red and blue
  • A #8 round and a 1" flat, labeled watercolor brushes
  • Container of clean water
  • A plate for a palette
  • Watercolor paper or canvas labeled for watercolor

Is it expensive to start painting art?

Painting is inexpensive compared to many other ventures, like a horse. Yikes!

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's easy to learn to paint with just a few supplies. Start out small and don't be concerned about any more supplies without some experience.

It's easy to begin painting with:

  • Brushes: #8 and #12 flats for oil or acrylics / #8 round and a 1" flat, labeled 'watercolor' brushes
  • Paint: Red, yellow and blue paint (see below)
  • A plate for a palette
  • Painting support: Canvas or paper labeled for your paint type
  • Cleaning: Water for acrylic and watercolor / "ad" Gamsol mineral spirits for oils and alkyds

It may be a good idea to go with a list to help us resist the temptations.

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 artists 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)
  • Phthalocyanine Blue (Phthalo Blue, a cool blue) and Ultramarine Blue (warm blue)

How do we paint good art?

Colors, composition, values and a strong focal point are the fundamental principles 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's the use the fundamental principles that create a strong painting.

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

Learn more about how to paint good art.

do we have to draw?

Drawing is a part of painting. 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.

The book classic by Betty Edwards "ad" Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is inspiring. Many artists consider this an essential book on drawing.

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

how do we start painting?

  • First, get the basic supplies for either watercolor, oil or alkyd painting.
  • Then do a practice painting of a step-by-step tutorial, then paint another tutorial and another. The more we paint, the faster we learn.

Check out the PRACTICE PAINTING tutorials on the navigation menu. Choose either oils or watercolor tutorials.

These practice paintings are good for starting out. We learn the steps of how to paint and then we can paint our individual creations using the same steps.

what the best light for painting?

Good lighting is so important when we 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 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 light bulbs 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 set up our painting area, we can find daylight bulbs at building supply stores.

Learn more about setting up your painting space.

How do we 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.

Oil and alkyd paints will keep for days in a "ad" Masterson palette.

My unused alkyds are stored in the Masterson palette box. Alkyds dry overnight, so my 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.

Tube watercolors may be kept in a "ad" Quiller covered palette.

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.

begin painting and enjoy!

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