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How to Build Confidence in Painting Pictures: The Beginners’ Guide to Becoming a Visual Artist with Paint

Taking up painting for the first time could spur self-doubting thoughts such at “it looks amateurish,” “the angles are all wrong,” and “the colours look muddy.” Self-criticism, when it becomes obtrusive can sap all confidence from the would-be artist.

Building Self-Belief in Painting

Fear of putting paint to paper is not an uncommon affliction and can be very disheartening. In order to develop as an artist, one must try to be lenient during the learning process, to enjoy and explore painting rather like a child. Mistakes, which are sometimes “happy accidents,” are necessary if the practitioner is to develop and grow. This will not be possible if the inner critic is constantly peering over the shoulder.

How to Find Artistic Inspiration

In order to move forward, the artist must try to override the inner critic until they have enough confidence to face it. This means setting small, manageable goals and ensuring the developing artist experiences success in their practice.

Setting Small Goals in Art

The first step is crucial. Using cheap art materials, such as thick paper or card (this must be primed if using oils) and several tubes of paint, including the primary colours, squeeze a little of each colour onto an old china plate. Watch how the colours behave in the following:

  • Mixing and applying different colour combinations
  • How the paint behaves when applied with different brushes and other implements (sponges, toothbrushes, palette knives, sponges, etc.)
  • Exploring how to lighten colours by gradually adding white
  • Exploring how to darken colours by gradually adding its complimentary colour (the opposing colour on the colour wheel, for example blue is the complimentary to red.)

Learn to have no expectations but to learn about paint. Covering the painting surface with exploratory marks is a great first step in getting to know the painting medium.

Creating the Very First Artwork

Experimenting with making marks is what art is all about. Emulating the great Expressionist and Abstract artists is a good step forward for beginners in painting who wish to complete their first artwork. Abstract art is basically any non-representational artwork. Expressionist art strives to render the inner emotional states. Examples of both such artists are:

  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Oskar Kokoschka
  • Jean Miro
  • Jackson Pollock
  • Paul Klee
  • Robert Delaunay
  • Kasimir Malevich
  • Willem De Kooning
  • Arshile Gorky
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Pablo Picasso

The work should not be an exact replica of the artwork selected, but one that emulates it. This means getting a general likeness with the way the paint has been applied and the style of the painting. Using solid, bright colours, basic shapes and expressive use of line, the beginner in painting might experience liberation in painting.

Taking up Painting and Becoming an Artist

Taking up painting for the first time can be daunting. The beginner must try to be lenient during the learning process. Learning through mistakes and exploration is essential. Making simple marks is a big step. Finding an artist inspiration in which to emulate such as the great Abstract and Expressionist artists is a great way of completing a first painting.