how to start a painting: Use five easy steps to start any art painting

  • Learn how to start a painting with a few basic steps that get you ready for the actual process of painting.

Painting is exciting! We are excited about the things we see around us and we're anxious to get them into a painting.

You will use these five steps to start painting any of the how-to tutorials.

Also, you can confidently start your own beautiful creations with these easy steps. The process is the same.

How to start a painting - Your how to painting checklist by artist Carol MayYour art is "Going Places"

how to start a painting

Painting can add a lot of joy and accomplishment to our lives. You can learn how to paint! What things helped me to learn about painting?

Use these easy steps to start your paintings.

#1 pick a time and a place

  • Have a special place to paint.

If it's possible, have an area where you can leave your paintings things out. You will be more likely to paint more often.

  • Set aside time to paint.

Painters progress rapidly when they paint regularly. Dedicated artists have painted daily for generations.

After you learn how to start a painting, practice.

The more we practice the better we paint!

#2 choose your subject

  • A good place to start painting is to choose something you see around you. We are familiar with our surroundings. We do a better job of painting the things we know.

You may have photos you took on your vacation, a photo of your pets or flowers, etc.

  • Please Note: Photos from a postcard, calendar or a magazine are under copyright laws.

Do not copy them directly without giving credit to the photographer.

Artist's paintings are also copyrighted. The boat painting was done from my own photograph.

The best bet is to use your own photos, or use free images that have no copyright restrictions.

#3 get your supplies ready

what paint will you use?

  • Choose your painting media (watercolor, oils or acrylics) and the brushes suitable for the media.

Student paints are less expensive, but professional artist paints contain more pigment.

Artist paints cover better and provide more color than student paints.

what will you paint on?

  • Choose a painting support suitable for your media - paper, canvas or panels.

Watercolors are usually painted on paper. Oil and acrylics are normally painted on canvas or panels.

what size will your painting be?

  • Think about how much time you are going to spend painting.

If your time is limited, smaller paintings may be a better choice. That way can have the satisfaction of completing a painting. Large paintings will often take several sessions before the painting is complete.

Small things like hummingbirds or butterflies normally go into small sizes. Landscapes and seascapes are normally painted larger.

#4 draw your subject

  • Do some sketches the size of a postcard.

Lay out the composition by sketching the large portions of the painting. Pay close attention to the values. Contrasting values create stunning paintings.

  • Draw detailed subject to scale.

When you are satisfied with your composition transfer the drawing to your painting surface.

Learning to draw is a part of learning how to start a painting.

drawings for watercolors

Watercolor painting of Leafy Sea Dragons by Carol MayThis drawing was done on paper first.
  • Do your drawing on a separate piece of paper.

Transfer the drawing to your selected painting surface with graphite paper.

Alternately, if you are good at drawing, you may lightly sketch the drawing on the watercolor painting surface.

Use a graphite pencil and do it without erasures, so you don't damage the painting surface.

drawings for oil paintings

God's Lighthouse oil painting by artist Carol MayThis drawing was done on the canvas.
  • Do an outline sketch with thinned yellow paint directly on the canvas.

Pale yellow lines are easy to paint over. They will not show in the final painting.

If you don't like a line, rub it out with a rag or a paper towel and paint it again.

If there is a lot of detail, do your drawing on paper first and then transfer to the canvas.

#5 select your colors

  • Three to five colors will give you a harmonious painting.

It's good when you learning how to start a painting to not use all your colors.

A painting with too many colors is disconcerting. The viewer's eye doesn't know where to go.

Select a color scheme to give cohesiveness and punch to your paintings.

Mix any additional colors from your selected colors.

there you have it - 5 easy steps to start your paintings

  1. Pick a time and place to paint
  2. Select your subject
  3. Get the materials for your media
  4. Draw your subject
  5. Select your color scheme

Enjoy painting with good light and ventilation in your painting area.

painting is fun!



more about painting

  • How to Paint a Painting

    You will amaze your friends when you learn how to paint a painting! Use the basic steps of painting a picture plus, get tips on painting watercolors and oils.

  • Begin Painting - FAQs

    Begin Painting with answers to frequently asked questions. Find answers about selecting paints, colors, supplies, drawing, what to paint and other questions.

  • How to Oil Paint

    How to oil paint, answers to frequent questions about what you need to oil paint, how to use oils, best paints, brushes, colors, drying time, cleanup and more.

  • How to Watercolor

    Learn how to watercolor with confidence and knowledge. Paint a Rufous Hummingbird with a daisy step-by-step. Watercolor is clean and easy, good for beginners.