Painting as a hobby - how to get started

Caroline Cassidy

It doesn't matter whether you are a budding Van Gogh, an amateur returning to an old hobby or a complete novice, art is for everyone and a passion for painting is all you need to get joy and relaxation from this creative pastime.

painting for beginners
painting for beginners

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If you fancy yourself as a Picasso in the making, here's how to get started.

Choose your weapon
If you are planning on taking a course, it's a good idea to decide which paint you would like to work in first - oils, acrylics, watercolours or pastels. Each has their own very special properties, of course, but the right one for you often comes down to personal choice. For those who have no idea where to start, consider the type of art you enjoy as this will often be the key to your own taste. If you plan on creating glorious English landscapes, watercolours may be the way to go, but for passionate, fiery types, oils or acrylics might appeal more.

The same goes for the material you paint onto. If the thought of a huge canvas makes your mind go blank, it might be better to start small, and for your early attempts it's an idea to start with paper so that you're not wasting money on expensive canvasses.

Whatever you start with, don't be afraid to change tack if you don't get on with it. Finding the material that suits you best might not happen overnight.

Buying the materials
Your nearest art shop should always be your first port of call for supplies. Most employ knowledgeable staff who will happily offer advice on choosing good quality brushes and paints to suit your budget, but buying the best you can afford will give you the best chance of pleasing results, even if you are a complete beginner.

Many art stores will also supply ready-to-paint canvasses according to your specifications.

Take a course
Once you've played with your chosen paint at home, you'll have a good idea what kind of style of painting you feel happiest with. That should make finding the right course simpler. Start by getting a brochure for your local adult education centre or further education college, as both will often offer evening courses for novice artists.

Alternatively, if you are already feeling confident, why not try a weekend course in the UK or even a break abroad to get those creative juices flowing under the watchful eye of the experts.

Handy tips for beginners
Facing a blank canvas or piece of paper might seem daunting at first but as a beginner, you shouldn't be afraid of trying things out. Experiment with colour mixing or brush styles. No doubt you will learn much during your evening classes but trying new techniques and having fun at home is also important - you will quickly learn what works and what doesn't.

A sketch pad is a helpful tool for any painter. It allows you not only to make quick sketches if inspiration should strike on a day out, but also to plan your work by trying out the composition, colours and creating small studies to help you when it comes to the real deal.

Above all, don't be disheartened if you don't turn out a masterpiece early on - with time, practice and patience, your paintings will quickly take shape.

What's your top tip for painting newcomers? Leave your comments below...