It’s a tongue twister, I know; I thought it was pretty catchy!
Watching a painting tutorial, doing research and planning your project can be overwhelming on an overall-basis. Trust me, as an artist myself, I know; but you have to start somewhere right? Simplifying the process into a step by step guide can really turn being an artist into a fun and even stress relieving process!
The most important thing to remember, is not to over-think it. Let the art flow from you and enjoy it along the way.
Choosing your “subject” to paint:
The first thing to bring into consideration before beginning a project is quite self-explanatory. What are you going to paint? It can be anything you set your mind to and that is truly the beauty of being an artist. Creating something from nothing.
Your “subject” can be created from an object (such as a vase, book, food, a model person, literally anything your heart desires) or you can re-create something by looking at a picture of your subject. Some people even paint from their minds “eye”. Finding what works for you is all in good time; you’ll never know if it works for you if you don’t try it!
I find it works very well for me to always draw out an outline of your subject with a pencil before actually applying any paint to it.
Although for beginners I highly recommend using a subject you can physically see, and just taking a moment before beginning to really study it and pay attention to all the colors, detail, shape and decision of your subject. Try to picture your subject with your eyes closed after studying it; sounds silly but it can really help you in the process of recreating the image.
Do you plan to use primer?
If the answer is “yes” then here is what you need to know!
When applying your primer always do a thin layer and make sure it is completely dry before beginning your painting. Primer really sets your work and prevent it from fading;making your beautiful masterpiece long-lasting and professional looking!
There are spray primer paints and paint on primer paints. I personally recommend using the paint on primer so you can be assured the entire area is covered and evenly distributed.
Picking a canvas:
Choosing your canvas is literally the base of your work and gives it the depiction you want. The 3 primary surface canvas’s I focus on are wood, paper, and stretched canvas. Some people use paper for practice of something they plan to frame, or simply because the extremely smooth surface works best for them
When painting on paper it’s important to remember that painting on too many layers can saturate the paper causing it to wrinkle and bend as your paint dries.
Others prefer canvas for a more professional look, a sturdier platform to paint on or even the “framed canvas” to pop out and give your work dimension. Stretched canvas is typically made of cotton and known to be ideal for acrylic paint use. It is typically laid out over a wooden frame giving it a surface area with framed sides, causing it to pop out from your wall or wherever it is placed.
It has a slight bumpy texture to it, but nothing that shows through your work. This really brings out your art, especially with a nice gloss coat; but we’ll talk about that later.
Some artist even choose to use wood as their painting canvas. This can give your art a more rustic look if you prefer; whether you covered the entire area or to leave some wood showing for that extra “ummph.” If you choose to use wood, you can purchase pre-cut wood from your local arts and crafts supplier of even your local hardware store.
If you purchase wood from a hardware store I suggest sanding it down and using a primer coat before beginning your actual project. I myself successfully painted a wood panel project. It was a 6 by 4 foot headboard (for a “day bed”) and the wood was not sanded down.
It turned out beautifully but during the creation process I found it difficult to paint amongst all the bumps and grooves on the surface: a smooth surface is the easiest to use especially with wood!
Brush sizes- paint stroke technique:
During the painting process it’s quite the necessity to have at least 3 different sized paint brushes, although the more variety you have the easier it will be to create your art piece. Artists use all sorts of different things to paint; some people use paint brushes, some use their fingers and some people use some crazy things to apply their paint.
A lot of people buy fancy paint pallets to mix their paint on but I personally prefer to use a paper plate that I can dispose of after-use. Also, be sure to pick out what colors you need prior to start your painting. Its an organized way to prep for your project!
I’ve even seen an artist use their baseball cap as a “brush” and create a beautiful portrait with it! During the painting process it’s quite the necessity to have at least 3 different sized paint brushes, although the more variety you have the easier it will be to create your art piece.
For example if you were outlining an animal silhouette it would be easier to use a square and flat brush. That way you can make straight lines and easily fill it in all with one brush! If you were painting grass a slim and pointed brush would be easiest in creating to thin lines to give the look of grass.(Example below of a square flat brush and a slim pointed brush)
Another important technique to practice is the amount of force or pressure you are putting into your brush stroke. Like when painting grass you start with some pressure on your brush and slowly release that pressure as you move your brush up and lift it from your canvas creating the look of each individual piece of grass and repeating that process overlapping each individual line you create to give it that natural look.
If you’re ever nervous about messing something up when trying something new, it always helps to try it on a scrap piece of paper or canvas to see how to get that perfect wrist flick or turn of your fingers in making those ” thick to thin lines you need.
The great thing about acrylic is if you do ever so happen to make a mistake (which is bound to happen while panting) you can always just paint over your mistake. Acrylic painting really come to life through layers of paint. Another example is if you were painting clouds; yes of course you could always go to the simple white fluffy cloud doodle and that’s always cute!
However, if you really want those realistic clouds with depth to them. You should add layers over your original cloud repeatedly until achieving the depth it requires to look “realistic.” Also, always to sure to make sure you check how much paint is on your brush when you dip it before applying it to your “subject.” If you’re trying to paint thin lines of grass you most definitely do NOT want a big glob of paint on your brush! So choosing your brush sizes and having variety is very important, yes.
Don’t be afraid to use as many sizes and shapes of brushes as you need; you can even use your fingers if need be for that “smudge” or blend you need for a particular spot, again whatever works for you! Always be sure to thoroughly clean your brushes with warm soap and water as soon as your finished using them to keep them in good shape for later use.
Letting them air dry with the paint still on will turn a soft brush into a dried up lumpy mess and completely ruin it. I wanted to add that an artist should always end their work with a signature. To show it is theirs and give it that individuality.
Top coat options:
With several top coats to choose from it’s keen to know the properties of each one and results they will give you. My focus is primarily on 3 different top coats to use for acrylic paint. You can choose to buy a spray on top coat, or a paint on gloss coat. Just like the primer I suggest using the “paint on top coat” as it assures your surface area is covered and the product is evenly distributed.
If you’re not worried about that and want something that can be applied quickly and efficiently than a “spray on top coat” will work fine for you! There are two primary types of top coat: polymer and Satin.
Satin is toxic so if you choose to use it I would do so in an open and well vented area. If you do choose to use satin an isolation coat may also be required before the actual primer for the best results.
-Glossy coat: Using a simple gloss or clear coat really brings out and brightens the colors of your painting, giving it a nice shine!
-Matte coat: Using a matte coat on your art lightens your dark colors and really brightens up your light colors. It also has less of a glare than the gloss coat when applied.
Painting is a process but it doesn’t have to a difficult one:
I’m sure it can be a lot to take in at once, and it’s always good to have some background knowledge on something before jumping into it, but nothing teaches you how to paint better than practice itself!
Every individual has their own unique way of painting and the more you paint the more you will come to learn yours. So from artist to artist, here are my last few tips to you
– Don’t ever be afraid to try another way if something you’re doing isn’t working for you.
-Mistakes happen! Do not “beat yourself up” if you make a mistake; remember it can be painted over or you can always start fresh. Its all a part of the learning process and happens to literally everyone.
– Patience is keen to a beautiful masterpiece. Try not to ever rush a project no matter how excited you are to see the finished product! ( I have made this mistake myself) If you’re not feeling motivated or start to lose motivation on an art piece simply put it aside in a safe place to dry and come back to it whenever you’re feeling refreshed and ready to “go back at it.” Beauty takes time!
-Start with choosing your subject and canvas, apply primer if desired and let it dry completely. Lay out your brush variety/color pallet and pick accordingly to what your subject needs. Its good to match your brush size and shape to that of what you want to create. Take your time and work on your project whenever you have the time and motivation. Don’t forget to give your finished product a signature before adding your top coat, and make sure it’s completely dry before doing so!
I hope this has helped make your hobby or potential career easier and simplified it for you.
Please feel free to comment down below and let me know if this article helped you with your painting and improving your skills or simply motivated you! Also let me know if there is anything I need to work on to improve the quality of my content or to help others better understand my directions.
Happy painting and best of luck to you,