you want to begin painting: find answers to frequently asked questions

When you begin painting the most frequently asked questions are about choosing supplies and how to get started painting.

Asking questions is a great way to learn.

Paintings come from the heart of the artist. We want to express what we see and feel.

We paint what we like or what we don’t like. If it amazes us or it is something we enjoy, then we want to paint it!

Our paintings are totally ours because we created them. They are personal. No one can create a painting like we do.

Let's get some questions answered before we begin painting.

Answers to frequently asked questions when you begin painting, Springtime a landscape painting by artist Carol May"Springtime" - An Alkyd Painting

answers to frequent painting questions

what will you paint?

Start painting the things you are familiar to you. Paint the things you see around you.

It may be the bowl of fruit on your table. It may be the tree in the backyard, your car or your pets.

You will do a better job or painting if you can actually see the subject. And if you see it often you will have a better idea of its form and colors.

Learn more about how to start a painting.

what is the best paint to begin painting?

  • Always choose professional quality paint. Professional artist paints contain more color pigment.

Good quality paint makes it easier to produce high quality paintings. Even students should use professional paints, if possible.

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

Daily painting will put your paint journey into overdrive.

how long do oil paints take to dry?

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

Temperature and humidity can affect the drying time. You 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 alkyd paints?

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

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

The finished paintings look just like traditional oil paintings.

what watercolor paint should you use to begin painting?

  • Should you use tube watercolors or pan watercolors?

Tube watercolors and pan watercolors both contain 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 you don't have to add so much water before you use them.

Pan watercolors are in 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 colors should i use?

  • All 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 start painting with only the three primary colors.

  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Permanent Rose or Cadmium Red Medium
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • White for oils, alkyds or acrylic paints

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)

what do we paint on?

what do you paint watercolor on?

Watercolor painting of a Florida Anhinga on cold-pressed paperWatercolor on Paper
  • Watercolor paintings have been done on paper for centuries.

Watercolor paintings 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.

you can you paint watercolor on canvas

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

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 glass.

what is aquabord, claybord or gessobord?

God's Promise watercolor lighthouse with a rainbow by artist Carol MayWatercolor on Claybord
  • Aquabord, Claybord and Gessobord are made by Ampersand. They apply ph neutral Kaolin clay to one side of Masonite panels.

Aquabord is textured like cold pressed watercolor paper. Claybord is smooth.

Either one may be used for watercolor paintings.

Spray the dried paintings with a fixative to seal the paint. Then they may be framed without a mat or glass.

An often overlooked painting surface is Gessobord. It is an ideal surface for traditional and water-based oils, alkyds, acrylics, collage, and mixed media.

Why do I paint watercolors on Aquabord?

do i have to know how 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.

  • "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" is a classic, inspiring book by Betty Edwards that helped me to learn drawing.

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

what makes a good painting?

What attracts people to a painting? What will make you or other people like your paintings?

Often it may be a sentimental or emotional attachment to the subject. But more often than not, 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 basics of good art.

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.

Learn more about the basics of successful paintings.

begin painting with more answers

what light is best for painting?

Good lighting is important when you begin painting. You 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. Many of us don't have that luxury.

Regular incandescent bulbs we use in our homes are warm. Paintings done under regular bulbs look dull in natural light.

Florescent tube 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 you are getting your supplies to begin painting, you can find daylight bulbs at building supply stores.

how do i begin painting watercolor?

A step-be-step tutorial to begin painting watercolorHow to Watercolor Tutorial

Learn about how to use watercolor while painting a Rufous hummingbird visiting a yellow flower.

Follow the easy steps and learn while you paint.

You will learn what colors to use, suggested brushes, what you can paint watercolor on, how to keep your colors clean and more.

Watercolor is a good place to begin painting.

i want to start oil painting

Step-by-step Tutorial to begin oil painting by the artist Carol MayBegin Oil Painting Tutorial

You can paint a colorful Baltimore Oriole with the beginning oil painting tutorial.

  • Included are the color scheme, what brushes, colors and materials to use.
  • Photographs and explanations of the painting steps.

How to Oil Paint gives detailed answers to more frequently asked questions about painting with oils.

how do you keep your paint?

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

where do you get reference images?

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

Paint from your own photos or copy free images.

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

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

Pixabay.com has public domain and CCO images.

if you have more question when you begin painting, contact me


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