Build Confidence in Painting

For the beginner, the idea of picking up a paintbrush and making marks can be daunting. A fear of failure may stem from an overbearing inner critic that can create a mental block for creativity. How does the beginner make progress?

Painting Advice for the Beginner

Self-castigating thoughts on aspects such as the angles, the colours and whether it looks amateurish must never taint the beginner’s experience with paint, for this may sap all self-confidence from the would-be artist. Some solace might be sought from the fact that this is a common affliction. The following thoughts might help the beginner get to grips with the idea of using paint.
Learning to Paint

One must be lenient during the learning, and to view the creative process of painting rather like a child. Enjoying and to experimenting with paint is important if one is to continue to develop. Mistakes will happen, and sometimes this may be in the form of "happy accidents," resultant effects that were unintended but interesting, and one to note for a future painting.

Oil Painting Inspiration

Part of the battle is finding interesting subject matter to paint. Nothing must be ruled out. An interesting still life or subject matter in the garden can be used, or inspiration from an abstract work. The following pointers might help the beginner gain confidence.
  • Set small, manageable goals. One must experience success whilst painting.
  • Use cheap materials whilst experimenting with the paint. Primed thick card makes an ideal surface for oil painting, and an old china plate is perfect as a palette. Some artist use a mere three colours and white to complete a painting.
  • Experiment in private, so if the painting does not work out, it does not matter.
  • Venturing into painting is a big step for one who has never done so before. Knocking down this inhibition will make experimentation easier. The following exercises might also help the reluctant artist within.  




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Exercises in Oil Painting Techniques

Experimenting with how any two colours mix together (this will sometimes yield unexpected results).

Experimenting with how the same two colours look when one is applied over the other as in thin glazes.

The behaviour of paint when applied with different implements other than brushes, such as palette knives, sponges, toothbrushes or even combs.

Experimenting with how colours look when mixed neat and when thinned.

Experimenting with how a colour looks against different coloured backgrounds.

  • Learning how to lighten colours by gradually introducing white into the mix
  • Learning how to darken colours by gradually introducing its complimentary colour (the opposing colour on the colour wheel). Simply covering the painting surface with exploratory marks is a great way of familiarising oneself with painting.

Oil Painting Beginner's Guide

Making marks and exploring paint is what painting is all about. Emulating the great Expressionist and Abstract artists is a good way of completing a very first painting without worrying too much about vanishing points and accuracy. The following great artists might provide the beginner with some inspiration from which to work from.

  • Pablo Picasso
  • Robert Delaunay
  • Jean Miro
  • Arshille Gorky
  • Willem De Kooning
  • Kasimir Malevich
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Paul Klee
  • Geargia O’Keefe
Using bright colours, interesting shapes, animated lines and brush marks will more often than not produce interesting results in painting. More questions might present themselves for the artist and create a starting point for a series of paintings.
Read about how colours recede and advance in art on my other site.

This site comprise of pictures and excerpts taken from my two art instruction books. Oil Paintings from Your Garden can be purchased direct from the author via this site, or through Amazon.


My other book, Oil Paintings from the Landscape can be purchased direct from Amazon.