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a beginners guide to painting

Painting is an age old technique that has developed into many forms over the years. Today there are a number of different styles of painting. Depending on the style of painting you choose, depends on the tips and techniques to master that art. But there are a number of items that are needed, regardless of the style, and here we have a helpful guide to help you find everything you will need to begin your painting journey!

Brushes

Every painter needs a set of brushes, but with so many styles and types out there, the cost can quickly add up. We would recommend keeping it simple when first starting out, stick to synthetic brushes, as they can be used for a number of different paint mediums and are easy to care for.

You also don’t need a full set of brushes, we would recommend starting with three main brushes: Small Round Brush, Angled Flat Brush, and a Large Flat Brush. From there you can easily start building your collection to suit your needs. We also recommend you don’t throw your old brushes away once they have stiffened, they can be very handy for painting small details or lifting paint if you’ve made a mistake.

Paints

There are a number of different paints that you can experiment with, each achieves different styles and effects. We would recommend experimenting with the various mediums until you find the one you are happiest with. In the meantime here’s some useful information to help you understand the capabilities of different painting mediums.

Watercolours

These come either in tubes or pans. They can be easily transported and work by adding water to dilute the paint. Depending on the strength of pigment and dilution, you can create a range of effects from completely washed out to solid colours.

Pros: Quick drying, versatile, easy to use, portable.

Cons: Take a while to experiment and find your style with. Can be tricky to utilise the paints at the start.

finished images watercolour paintings

Acrylics

Acrylics are a water-based paint that comes in tubes. They are extremely versatile and can be used to create a range of styles from watercolour through to gouache. You can dilute these paints as much as you like using water and can easily build up the layers of pigment. Due to their water base, they dry extremely quickly- alternatively you can use a heat gun or hair-dryer to speed up the drying process. They are extremely easy to correct when mistakes are made- simply allow the paint to dry fully and cover in a fresh layer of paint to start again.

Pros: Extremely versatile, easy to use, easy to fix mistakes.

Cons: Not portable, dry quickly.

acrylic finishes samples

Oil Paint

Oil paints are similar to acrylic paints in that they are a binder mixed with a pigment, the main difference being the binder is a type of oil- usually linseed- rather than water. Due to this, they do not dry out quickly at all- sometimes taking up to a week to dry depending on the thickness of the layer. This can cause the paint to be highly manipulative for longer periods of time- which can often be a benefit to new painters. The downside to oil paints- as mentioned- is their drying times. If mistakes are made you often have to wait to paint over a layer to fix the mistake.

Pros: Don’t dry quickly, easily manipulated, easy to paint with.

Cons: Drying time, difficult to clean off brushes.

finished images oils

Colour Palette

Now we have outlined some basic types of paint, we will look at the colours we recommend you buy when starting out. There is no need to go out and buy a full set of paints, instead of starting with a few basic primary colours will not only save you money but will also develop your skills as you will learn to colour mix.

We recommend starting out with a basic set of white, black, red, yellow and blue. From here it is possible to mix a wide variety of different colours to suit all of your painting needs. Depending on the type of paints you choose will affect your ability to buy these colours, for example, if you buy a pan of watercolours, they will often come with a predetermined set of colours. If buying tubes of paint, you can often buy sets of colours, or individual tubes.

Painting Surfaces

Choosing your surface can have a major effect on your masterpieces, it is imperative you pick the right material to suit your mediums. Here is a quick overview to help you find the right surface to use.

Canvases

Canvases have been used for centuries to create masterpieces. They are light and easy to transport, while also being robust and easy to paint on. They are generally made from a stretched cloth over a board or wooden frame. Canvases are excellent for use with acrylic or oil paints.

Paper

There are many different types of paper specifically made to suit different paints. You can buy paper in single sheets or books and in varying sizes, depending on your needs. If using watercolour it is especially important to use watercolour specific paper as this can avoid curling of the page or saturation causing the paper to disintegrate.

Other Surfaces

There are a number of other surfaces you could experiment with painting on. MDF board, cardboard, wooden panels, glass, etc.. Again, certain paints are required for these surfaces. When starting out it is best to start simple- with paper or canvas- and then develop to experimenting with these different surfaces.

Palettes and Extra Tools

When painting there are some common extra tools you will need, regardless of the paint. A pot to wash your brushes in is essential, this will help prevent unwanted colour mixing- especially if you have a small brush collection. You can either buy a pot or simply use a clean cup, yoghurt pot or jar.

Kitchen paper is also another essential, this will help clean up any spillages and can be used to add interesting textures within your paintings.

Masking Tape is another essential for painting, it can be used to create straight lines and a clean frame for your designs.

Depending on the paint you choose, a palette may also be required. If using tubed paints a palette is necessary to place your paints on and to be used for colour mixing. These can be purchased easily.

A set of palette knives and tools can also be very helpful. They can be used for colour mixing and they can also be used to create different textures, details and effects within your paintings.

We also recommend some books to help you master your chosen painting method! They are filled with invaluable lessons, hints and tips that can help you become a painting master in no time!

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