Last Updated on February 21, 2023
If you are just starting off learning how to paint, as a rookie artist, whether for fun or for something more serious, you no doubt will have some questions.
In the post below I have tried to answer the ten most common questions that we get asked by those of you new to painting and who are just getting started. Please leave us a comment at the bottom of this post if you have any questions too and we will be pleased to try and answer them.
1. What Kind of Paint Do I Need? I Am Confused About Acrylic and Watercolour
One of the most confusing things at the very beginning as someone completely new to painting, as a complete and utter beginner, is what type of paint to use.
So let me explain from the very beginning.
The term ‘medium’ is used to describe the different types of paint you can use.
There are five mediums that are most often used, although, as a beginner, I would suggest one of these three to start with:
Two other popular mediums that can also be used if you choose to are gouache, and ink.
Acrylic tends to be the most popular for painting as a beginner because it is one of the easiest for new artists.
In addition to being quite good for use on most surfaces (canvas, paper, etc.), acrylic also dries fairly quickly and the paints are fairly easy to manage in that you can more easily fix any mistakes with acrylic paints.
Watercolor, as the name suggests, is still relatively straightforward and involves mixing water with the paints.
Painting with oils is something some artists love because the oils can really provide a lovely depth to the colors.
My personal recommendation (or at least personal favorite) for beginners learning to paint is to use acrylic.
Then, if you wish to, move on to watercolors, oils, or gouache or ink after you have improved your skills using acrylic paints.
The choice though is yours!
2. Do I Need To Be Able to Draw to Start Learning Painting?
If you are able to draw or decide to learn drawing techniques first, before learning to paint, then it will certainly help.
Having said that though, if you have no interest in learning to draw and want to get started straight away as a beginner painter, then you should do so.
In essence, you can learn as you go whilst starting off as a painter.
You will likely make basic mistakes compared to if you had good drawing skills, but the more you paint, the more experienced, and hopefully the better you will become.
You will need to learn some techniques but there are so many great free resources such as on YouTube that you can paint and learn.
You will make a lot of mistakes but why not start having fun and just start painting!
It is all a creative process and there is no time like the present to get started!
3. What Equipment Do I Need to Start Painting?
This is of course a completely practical and natural question to ask.
As a beginner, I am sure you want to get enough supplies but not buy more than you really need to start off with.
We have covered this question in more detail on the Absolute Beginners Guide to Painting but we briefly give you an answer here too.
The following are what I would recommend buying if, for example, starting off with acrylic painting:
- Set of acrylic paints (get a beginners pack with 12 paints)
- Brushes – a couple of round and flat brushes
- Board to paint on – canvas can be good to start with
- Palette knife
- Sketching pencil – so that you can draw and sketch shapes which you then paint over
- Palette – to put your paints on
- Easel – to stand your canvas on
4. What Colors Should I Use?
As a beginner, it can be confusing to understand what colors you need. This is what I suggest though:
- You will definitely want the prime colors red, blue, and yellow
- White (I like Titanium white which is a nice bright white)
- Also black, brown, green, orange, and purple
One of the easiest ways to get your colors to start with is to buy a set of acrylic paints that you can buy in most art and crafts shops.
5. What Surface Should I Paint on?
What material you paint on does depend a little according to which medium you choose (i.e. acrylic, oil, watercolor, etc.).
Generally though, as a beginner painter, you might want to start off with canvas.
You can usually buy a set of 5 or 10 canvas pages in a pack from an art and crafts store and it is relatively inexpensive.
If you are using paint such as acrylic though, you literally can paint on cardboard, paper, canvas, and even metal if you wish to.
6. Is There a Specific Brand of Paint I Should Buy?
The general rule with paint is that the more expensive it is, the better quality it is.
There are two main types and these are called:
- Student grade (the pigmentation level can vary within student grade but stick with the you get what you pay for philosophy)
- Artist quality (will say artist quality or professional on the paint tube)
As a complete beginner, I personally think that the sets of paints you can buy in the arts & crafts stores are plenty good enough to get started.
7. What Type of Paint Brush Do I Need?
Even though there are eight main types of brush, you will need only a couple of paintbrushes to get started as a complete novice.
You will need a flat brush and a round brush.
Flat brush – A flat brush can hold lots of paint and it is ideal for long strokes and perfect for painting large sections and for blending. The thin edge of a flat brush though can also be used for adding delicate touches to the painting as needed.
Round brush – The end of the brush tapers at the end to create a pointed end to the brush. This brush is good for painting finer details and edges, and for bold strokes.
8. What About Mixing Colors?
Having a grasp on how to mix colors is important because it is not practical to have every single color paint available to you.
So for this reason, to get some colors, you will need to mix other colors and this is sometimes called color mixing.
- Take a look at this Free PDF on color mixing.
There are also a number of color mixing charts and posters you can buy such as from Amazon that will provide you with a quick way to learn color mixing.
9. How Should I Get Started if Painting as a Complete Beginner?
What should I paint to start with and how should I get started?
These are two very common questions that we continually get asked.
These are difficult questions to answer because it really depends on what your motives are and what it is you are looking to achieve and what you would like to paint.
It can be very overwhelming, at the very beginning, so I personally loved doing free paint-alongs that you can easily find on YouTube.
These paint-alongs give you the feeling that you are accomplishing something from the very start and you might feel good having a mentor as it were.
One I started with and that is taught by Ashley Kreiger is in the video directly below:
I am also a great fan of Angela Anderson’s and love her very friendly and personable manner on video.
So this cow paint-along was also one I enjoyed and that you might too.
Alternatively, if you are taking art really seriously because you want to get to a professional level, then a foundation course in art might be a good idea too.
Just Google “Art Foundation Courses near me” and in the search results, you will see local classes and workshops that you can attend.
The key is to get started and not delay!
There is always an excuse to wait and time doesn’t stop for you!
Get painting Now!
10. How Do I Stop My Painting from Fading Over Time?
Even if you have yet to start your very first painting, you might be asking yourself the same question that I did when I first started.
The question was how to protect a painting once you have finished it so that the painting still keeps its colors long-term.
If you are going to put a lot of time into painting a picture, you don’t then want it to fade over time right?
Sealing is the term normally used for protecting your painting.
The easiest way to protect the painting is to spray the painting with a varnish. Or alternatively, you can use a brush to varnish it.
Do make sure that your painting is fully dry first and any dust etc. is clear from the surface of the painting.
You can learn more about sealing a painting here.
Hi. I’m Dr Valeria Lo Iacono, a lady in her 50s living in the UK. I write about the over-50s and 60s lifestyle including on travel, health, food, and fashion.