Starting with cave paintings some 32,000 years ago up until Rob Hain’s striking images of contemporary Edinburgh, human capacity to paint – apply colour on a surface – had evolved and changed dramatically throughout the ages. Painting is considered one of the most remarkable forms of creative expression and its history is as complex as its various techniques. Whether you’ll be the next Caravaggio or not, taking up painting will certainly open the door to a different universe and change your perception.

We have asked four painters to share their insight and tips with painting beginners.

Julie Arbuckle sketching Torridon

Julie Arbuckle 'Mountain Wandering'

Julie Arbuckle is a Glasgow-based artist and as an experienced tutor, she is used to coming up against ‘painter’s block’: “Very often I see students frozen with fear of getting it ‘wrong’ and of their painting ‘not being good enough’ - this is a very adult response to painting. Put a young child in front of a canvas and let them loose with paint - they get stuck straight in!

I would suggest putting your canvasses and expensive papers aside initially, and letting loose yourself on different, throwaway surfaces - a piece of scrap wood or MDF, the inside of a cereal box, or my personal favourite - a roll of lining paper. You're just making marks, too - you don't have to draw or paint anything specific to start with. Whenever I get a new set of pencils or paints I spend some time getting to know how they work: familiarise yourself with your tools and you'll be able to stretch their (and your) capabilities further than you thought. How many different marks can you make with one paintbrush? Think outside the box and give it a go...

Looking for inspiration on what to paint, once you've warmed up? Sifting through your holiday snaps may give you some clues, but ask yourself this: what excites me? What is it that gets me fired up and wanting to paint? Is it colour? Shapes? Why do I want to paint?

Inspiration can be found anywhere, you just have to shift your perspective a little - and when you start seeing inspiration, you'll see more and more the more you look.”

David Bellamy 'Moorland Cottage'

David Bellamy is a painter and author of several books on painting, including Learn to Paint Watercolour Landscapes. While he mainly prefers working in the mountains, deserts and the Arctic, his practical painting publications are aimed at the less adventurous. Get inspired by his blog which is a great way to start your watercolour journey.

David also emphasises the need to encourage people suffering from illnesses as well as the elderly to take up painting: “It is an extremely powerful antidote to illness and takes people's minds off pain and stresses in their lives.”

Paula Oakley - Naps, Tatts and Doughnuts
Paula Oakley 'Naps, Tatts and Doughnuts'

Paula Oakley - Cupcake Temptation
Paula Oakley 'Cupcake Temptation'

Paula Oakley is a contemporary realist painter working with acrylics on canvas, she also blogs about her work. Paula’s main area of study is traditional subjects depicted in a modern style. Her inspiration comes from the scenery and textures of her environment resulting in the creation of a diverse variety of subjects including still life and landscapes.

Paula starts: “I’m not very good with words - that’s why I paint! - but if I were to give advice it would be: play, experiment! Try out different mediums, tools and techniques. Everyone is an individual and will create and express themselves differently. There is no right or wrong way in art, it’s about creating a visual idea.

It’s taken me several years to find the style that I feel is most natural to me. My compositions are created from my own photographs that I have taken on various explorations of Sussex where I live. It is a wonderful feeling to paint a scene where I have breathed in the atmosphere, touched the earth beneath my feet and embraced a view that takes my breath away! To be able to share this by putting it onto canvas is a real bonus! Never get downhearted if the results are not what you hoped for, it’s a never-ending learning curve.”

Jackie Morris - The Space between the Fox and the Hare
Jackie Morris, “The Space between the Fox and the Hare”, inspired by the line in The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Unquiet Dreams of Swift Running Longdogs

Jackie Morris is an author and artist living in a house by the sea, half of which has become her studio. She remembers: “I have always painted. It's not a hobby for me, it's like breathing. And people say to me 'you are so talented', but art isn't about talent, it's about taking time to look, to learn.

It took me years to pick up the idea of painting. Learning to paint is like picking up a foreign language. You wouldn't expect to learn French in a day.

I learnt the knack of not mixing colours but layering them, building up texture, colour through layer after layer. My way of using watercolour isn't the 'right' way, but that's the thing about art. There is no right or wrong way.

Jackie Morris - Nine white mice happy as can be with tiny china teacups and a big pot of tea
Jackie Morris 'Nine White Mice Happy As Can Be With Tiny China Teacups and a Big Pot of Tea'

At the seat of everything is drawing. And all drawing is about is taking the time to really look at something. When you draw it helps to try and see things for the first time. See the space it occupies. Get rid of visual cliché and look. And draw all the time.

The only way to get better is to work at it. The only and best way to learn is by making mistakes. And now and again it will sing.

I realised years ago that I am never 'happy' with what I make. But I am only really happy when I am trying to make.

Find the medium that works best for you. Play. Don't worry about what it looks like. Learn. I am still learning all the time.”

We’d love to see your painting beginnings! Tweet us @LoveToHQ using #lovetoPAINT or share on Facebook using @LoveTo / #lovetoPAINT and inspire others! |