How To Get Better At Painting: A Complete Guide

how to get better at painting tips for beginners
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Are you in your first year of painting and this newfound hobby has transformed into a full-blown passion? By now, you must be itching to know how to get better at painting and improve your skills.

It all started off for me as a hobby I turned to when I needed to release some stress but I never expected to love painting as much as I do now.

However, I was craving to become really good at it and this meant that I’d need to up my game and commit to learning new things that will only improve my current performance.

Along the way, I found some really useful tips while researching for myself that I feel will definitely help you as well to improve at painting.

If I had to narrow it down to a few, the most useful tips I’ve learned for getting better at painting is:

  • Be consistent
  • Don’t be afraid of trying new things
  • Learn more about composition, color, and light
  • Study the old master’s work

If you’re curious to take a closer look at these concepts, let’s get into it:

Tip For Becoming A Better Painter

Hard Work & Being Consistent

No matter what else you do, the one factor that is sure to help you get better at painting is hard work and consistency.

Have you ever noticed how when you stop painting for a few weeks or months, you tend to feel a little rusty? It happens to all of us.

When you’re painting often, this allows you to keep working on your craft and your skills improve when you try new techniques.

If you put in the work and challenge yourself to keep painting even when you have one too many failures after another, this is a great way to build that art muscle.

Every new painting you do is sure to have something new incorporated into it that you have learned.

Unless you are a genius at painting, no one is good at painting immediately.

It takes time and consistent effort to develop those hand and eye coordination skills that will allow you to create those pieces on canvas that you envisioned in your mind.

Learn To Paint In One Color

Learn To Paint In One Color

You might not hear about this often but painting in one color (monochromes) is fantastic if you want to get accustomed to painting.

This cuts out that pressure that you have to mix or use the right color or feel anxious about starting a painting because you’re unsure of what color to use or how to mix them.

Monochrome paintings encourage you to focus on painting and values rather than stressing about colors.

In fact, colors aren’t as important as you may think. It’s getting the right shade of value or tone that makes a painting.

If you want to understand lights and shadows better, start with painting a few black and white paintings or a painting in any color of your choice.

What I love the most about painting with one color is that it just goes to show how you can create a stunning artwork even without using a wide range of colors.

Here’s a particular monochrome painting that speaks for itself:

Choose A Subject That Excites You

Every object in the world has some interesting characteristic about it but painting a subject that does not interest you in the least bit will feel like a chore.

If you’re not excited about painting something, you’re going to find it difficult to encourage yourself to give it your best shot.

This is why you need to pick a subject that is going to light the fire under you and make you want to work on that particular subject for hours.

It should be something that you are really passionate about.

Tips For Getting Better At Painting

Whether it’s portraits, landscapes, or even a slice of bread, whichever subjects speaks to you, just try it.

And if you want to improve in that specific area, it won’t be difficult to convince yourself to keep painting that thing over and over again until you are happy with the outcome.

Remember, a subject that interests you most is one which you’ll be searching and trying new ways to go about painting it and that’s how you know it’s something that you’re really passionate about painting.

Work Out The Details Of Your Painting Beforehand

Have you ever had a moment where you jump straight into a painting and halfway into it, you realise that something is definitely off?

It could be the composition, color scheme, or a mistake in your sketch, this can largely influence the outcome of your painting and can easily turn a good painting into a bad one.

To prevent this from happening and ensure that you become a better painter, try working out your painting on paper before you get started.

This could mean doing a few rough thumbnail sketches to ensure you have the right values, tweaking your painting to fit the needs of the composition, changing things by adding or leaving out details.

You could also try doing a few color studies to find the one that you think will look best.

All of these small changes will only help you to make better paintings and artworks.

See A Subject As Shapes Rather Than An Object

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever come across is seeing a subject as shapes. So many times, I’d look at a photograph or object and get lost in the details.

This can be frustrating and will often give you a hard time to focus on the overall aspect of things.

But breaking down your subject in terms of shape will make things a hundred times easier when you go to paint it.

However, seeing an object in shapes will take time and practice.

You will have to train your eyes and mind to see it as such but eventually, this will come naturally to you.

Here’s a fantastic tutorial that explains this concept which you can use for drawing and painting:

Learn From The Masters By Studying Their Paintings

To be really good at painting, you’re going to need to learn from the best. Following the old masters or even artists of this day and age is a great place to learn from.

They already have a good grasp of what makes a painting work. You can start by picking an artist that really inspires you and choose a painting that you are familiar with.

Make an attempt to copy a section of that painting rather than trying to paint the entire thing.

You can if you’re up for it but it might make you feel overwhelmed and it’s simply easier to digest the important information when you break something down into chunks.

Focus on one section and try to understand the decisions that were made while painting that.

The aim here is not to make an identical copy of the painting but it’s more so about learning from that painting.

It may not even turn out all that great but there’s definitely something to be learned from a copy of a master’s painting.

Becoming Well Informed About Composition, Values, And Color

What makes a good painting? For some, it might be the feeling of a painting while for others, they look towards the way a painting was made.

There are many factors that go into whether a painting is great or could be better but there are a few fundamentals that one should know if they want to improve at painting.

Every beginner should become accustomed to the subject of composition, values, and color theory.

These 3 things can largely affect an outcome of a painting.

To learn more about the importance of composition, I highly suggest you check out this detailed guide.

How To Improve At Painting

Be Bold Enough To Try New Techniques

You’re going to need to put yourself out there and try new things and techniques.

Confining yourself to one set of techniques will limit your abilities as an artist and there’s no harm in discovering new things that might become your most favorite.

Take the risk and branch out in other mediums as well.

If you’re an acrylic artist, try to experiement with different mediums and gels or even go for a complete new painting medium like oils.

You’ll never know for sure what you truly love to use unless you give each of them a chance.

Take Breaks While Painting

Painting is not a sprint or a race and neither does it have to be completed in one sitting.

With mediums like oils, there’s only a certain amount of time that you keep adding paint before it all becomes a muddy mess unless that particular layer is dried.

Taking breaks from your painting gives you an opportunity to set away and come back with fresh eyes.

When we’re so focused on just one section for hours, it’s easy for our eyes to become fatigues and we start seeing everything as the same.

If you take continuous breaks when necessary, you’ll surprise yourself at the things you keep noticing.

You might even come up with new ideas or things that can be changed for the better.

Practice Your Drawing Skills

Learning to draw is just as important as painting. You might even hear a few artists say that a lot of painting has to do with drawing.

See also: Should I Learn To Draw Before Painting?

If you know how to draw, learning to paint will be less challenging.

As mentioned above, when you work out a painting on paper through drawing, it’s easier to tell if a painting will work or not.

You can change things and improve the artwork before actually painting it.

So, if you want to get better at painting, you’re also going to need to start learning how to draw.

Be Courageous

Painting can be scary at times and facing that blank canvas is a challenge in itself. The only way to overcome your fears or worries is to face it head on.

Don’t create too ambitious goals or expectations for yourself and when learning to paint, go into it with the mindset of learning.

It doesn’t matter how a painting turns out as long as you are learning something and having fun.

So, be courageous and paint to your heart’s desire because one of the reasons why you’re probably started painting and continuing to do so is because of the love for it.

Accept That You Will Have Many ‘Failed’ And ‘Successful’ Paintings

The best mindset that you can have is to know that it’s okay to make bad paintings or bad artwork.

In fact, you’re going to have many ‘failed’ paintings but here’s the thing, paintings that you feel did not live up to your standards may look incredible in someone’s eyes.

If you go into painting with a positive mindset that you are here to learn and create art rather than focusing on whether a painting looks good or not, there’s a lot of joy to be had.

At the end of the, whether it’s a good painting or a bad one, there’s always something to be learnt.

You’ll only get better at painting with the effort that you put into it.

Final Thoughts

Getting better at painting will happen over time but this means that you will have to have patience and the determination to learn from your mistakes and your successful paintings.

You will also need to look at other artists work process and the techniques that they use.

It’s also important to pick one or two artists to learn from at a time and this will make it easier for you to learn from them.

If you follow these ways to improve at painting, you’re sure to see a difference in your artwork.

But it all depends on how much work and effort you’re willing to put into it.

I wish you all the best on your journey and encourage you to trust in the process without being overcritical of yourself.

Somethings that time and it’s all for the best. You will get there!

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