Painting tips for the self-taught artist

Painting tips for the self-taught artist

How to get started with a painting: should you use photo references and sketch out your painting before you even stain your canvas?

Or should you be totally spontaneous and creative and just go with the flow?


Learning to paint is mainly about experimenting and finding your niche so you can get specific about what you want to paint - if landscape art is your passion, you are not going to want to spend a lot of time learning about portrait painting, but how do you go about starting a piece of art?

Sometimes the hardest part is staring at a blank canvas and not knowing how to begin. Some teachers will tell you to think about what you are going to paint, to plan it out before you start, to use photo references and plan out the painting in detail. Then, before you even unwrap the canvas draw sketches, do small, quick studies to get a clear idea of what you want the finished painting to look like.  A lot of artists will tell you this will save a lot of time and frustration later on.

If this works for you - then keep going with the process. As a new artist I tried to plan a painting in detail, but felt I lost a lot of spontaneity and creativity in the planning process, so I ditched the photo references and sketch books - it is all about experimenting and finding what works for you as an artist.

Im learnt it is ok to have nothing more than a vague idea of what you want the finished painting to look like. You don't have to plan the details if you prefer not to. That is what can make the process exciting and enjoyable. The painting will evolve and if you are not entirely happy with the finished painting you will have learnt from the experience and enjoyed the process. If you are painting on canvas you can simply paint over it. Most of us have canvases we have painted over many times. Each layer of paint adds a bit of texture which can look good on the finished painting.

We all create art in the way that comes naturally to us, and we will find what works for us only by trial and error - we cannot force ourselves to do it any other way. We learn the best way for ourselves by being creative and making mistakes until one day, you know what you want to create and how to go about it. Then you are on your way.

Happy creating everybody.  

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original and unique Isles of Scilly seascape art oilnpainting


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