4 Painting Techniques for Beginners

First of all you might be wondering what is a painting technique?  I  thought I would explain as many of my learners get confused about what they are and what media they can be used in.

A painting technique means a way of using the paint – applying it or removing it, to create a desired visual effect.  There are lots of painting techniques you can use, some are general techniques that you might use with any paint media (watercolour, acrylics or oils) and some are designed to be used with one type of media (or are more effective with this type of media).

It can be really confusing when you hear names of techniques and have no idea that they are.  With this in mind I will go through the most basic ones that you might try as a beginner:

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Should We Just Draw What We Want?

I was hoping that the the title might interest some of you, I have mixed thoughts on this topic.  I mainly think that of course we should draw what we are interested in and want to draw but as a beginner you might want to draw a range of subjects to see what interests you.  You also won’t know what you like drawing or painting until you try some different subjects like plants, landscapes, people, still life.

Breaking Out of Comfort Zones 

Naturally many students and learners want to avoid risk and will naturally gravitate to their well know way of working.  I meet learners on my beginners course who frequently only want to draw or paint in a particular type of way for example copying greeting cards of landscapes.  Not there is any thing really wrong with this as many skills can be gained but when we have unlimited choice on what and how we draw or paint we will draw and paint what we want in our preferred ways which can sometimes lack risk.  Sometimes when we are given a subject to draw or paint that we wouldn’t have necessarily chosen ourselves we can learn more because it makes us look at new subjects.

Different subject matter will give different learning lessons.
Different subject matter will give different learning lessons.

Limiting is Learning

What do I mean by this?  As a Tutor I feel that lessons without any limitations are less effective.  When we suddenly can’t do something (like use all the colours we want) it will hone our skills into what we can do.

Therefore by doing activities that limit us we learn more, examples might be drawing in anything but line, colour mixing with only the primary colours, painting in greyscale, drawing in cross-hatching etc. Often having limits makes us rise to the challenge.

Trying new ways of doing things means learning new things.
Trying new ways of doing things means learning new things.

Letting Go of Results

In my experience of teaching adult learners I have found that they like results! They have taken the time and the money to do a course and they want to see an improvement in their skills.  Some of these learners can get frustrated when they are not working on a ‘final piece’ and doing exactly what they want.  Children and teenagers on the other hand generally are happy to experiment without working  on getting a result sometimes.

I can fully understand the attitude of some of these adult learners, but it can be limiting if you always expect a result in the way you had in mind.  When we draw and paint exactly what we want we sometimes have this fixed idea of what the piece will need to look like to be a ‘result’.  I think that artwork should be planned so I don’t mean you shouldn’t have an idea of what it will turn out like.  I am just suggesting letting go of having exact ideas of how it needs to look.

Being told we can’t draw and paint exactly what we want can be a healthy thing. Then when you have learn these new lessons you can apply them to exactly what you do want to draw and  paint and usually a richer result is the outcome.