Artist blocks · Beginner Art · Resources and Materials

4 Mistakes Beginners Make

I wanted to write a post about some of the common mistakes I see beginner learners make when they take up drawing and painting.  These are not so much mistakes creating the art but more mistakes that are to do with materials.  All these things are very easy to avoid by just knowing about them, so hopefully this post will stop a few of you from making them!

The Wrong Paper

This is a very common problem where learners buy one sketchpad and expect to be able to do everything in it.  Drawing sketchpads have cartridge paper in them which is not suitable for painting especially watercolour.  The result is that the paper buckles and warps as it is not absorbent enough for the water content of the paint.  See my post Which Sketchpad? for more advice.

Which Sketchpad?
Which Sketchpad?

One Brush For Everything! 

Most beginners have a few brushes but sometimes I meet a learner who has only one type of brush.  This will limit the type of strokes you can make and especially if the brush is small it will be slow to create backgrounds.  I recommend at least five brushes.   See my Art Materials  page for more advice and my post The 4 Most Useful Brushes.

You need more than one brush
You need more than one brush!

Wrong Palette For The Paint Type

This is a common mistake because the first type of palette you buy will probably be a plastic palette.  Acrylics dry fast and will stick to the plastic palette and end up very difficult to remove once dry.  Use a ‘Stay Wet’ palette or porcelain palette to solve this problem.

Acrylic paint used on a plastic palette is very difficult to remove once dry!
Acrylic paint used on a plastic palette is very difficult to remove once dry!

Not Experimenting

Learning to draw and paint is about observational skills, but part of it is also getting to know materials.  You can’t learn about materials if you have never tried them. Every term I meet a few learners who are not very keen to try out media.  Although I understand not everyone wants to go out and buy the whole art shop it is important to try things if you want to progress. How do you know if you don’t like charcoal or pastels if you have never tried them?

Give different media a try!
Give different media a try!

Forgetting The Background!

I see a lot of ‘floating’ objects in my beginner art classes.  Try to add a background or at the very least put the surface of the table, windowsill etc. in your drawing.  Adding a background gives the piece context and is an important part of the story.

A shadow where the pot meets the table tells the observer that the light is hitting the object from above for example.  Shadows are important for helping to make the object/subject look three dimensional.  I have written a post all about backgrounds called Why You Shouldn’t Forget the Background! do read this for more useful advice about the background and why it is important.

Also see my Art Materials and Art Problems Solved for more advice.

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