Sometimes a beautiful piece of art behaves like the living expression of an artist’s thoughts. It captures your attention and slowly draws you in to engage in an intimate visual conversation.

Painters use shapes, colours, tones and lines in a unique visual way to express themselves through the language of painting. True art will have the capability to move you emotionally in the same way a piece of music can.

Do you want to master the art of painting?

This blog is about how easy it is to explore different paint mediums. Whether you are new to the journey of painting, planning to study a formal qualification in arts or simply enjoy painting as a hobby, this article will give you some insight into what you’ll learn, the mediums you’ll discover and why you should experiment more as you learn to paint.

Hopefully you’ll fall in love with one of the mediums, become an expert and who knows, you might become the next international art sensation.

Art Supplies
It can take years to build up a proper art studio because art materials can be quite pricey - Image by Mustang Joe

The Value of Art

The history of painting dates as far back as pre-historic cave paintings. People from all cultures and countries have been driven by the need to create visual representations of their experiences and thoughts through painting.

If you have a real interest in art, you’ll either end up studying the history of art through a formal qualification or you might be intrigued enough to investigate it yourself. Either way, to learn about the development of art and how the human race progressed its natural instinct to paint will be invaluable once you start applying the various paint techniques to your canvas.

You’ll be able to identify whether paintings are from the Renaissance era, Baroque era, a Neoclassical or even Impressionist painting by identifying the techniques used. You’ll also notice that what was originally purely a physical representation of artists' lives and beliefs, eventually evolved into the more conceptual and abstract expressions we see today.

But the value of art is way more than its representation of our past and the millions of dollars people are willing to invest in it.

The true value of art is in how it makes us feel.

Last supper painting
Leonardo da Vinci is known as one of the greatest painters of all time. This is his last supper painting - Image by Markus Baumeler on Pixabay

Did you know that the most expensive painting ever sold was the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci (US$ 450.3 million)?

Painting is an expression of who we are as emotive beings and becoming a painter will expose you to aspects of humanity and yourself you might’ve never considered before. You’ll learn to view the world through a different lens and find your voice through the strokes of your brush.

Whether you want to become a famous painter because you want to do what you love for a living, or simply want to escape the rat-race by disappearing in your painting, painting is the ideal way to get rid of stress while you express yourself.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

– Thomas Merton -

Unlocking Your Creativity Through Painting

Most professional painters will experiment for years with all the mediums they can get their hands on before they settle on one specialisation medium. Art is, after all, all about creativity and innovation and this should be expressed in how you approach the creation of your own master pieces.

Students who study fine arts follow this exact approach and even if you choose not to specialise in painting, it will help you to learn important aspects that will attribute to your creation of balanced art, regardless of the matter and medium.

Learning how to paint means you will learn all about colour mixing, discover what the difference between good and bad composition is and how to observe the influence of light and shadows on the object being painted. If you paint landscapes, they’ll teach you how the colours in the sky are reflected in the water or earth.

Your experience level in painting will determine your approach to painting and if you are a beginner at painting you will probably start with the less complex mediums. It is however, important to research and understand the resources available to to assist you in your artistic ambitions.

Do you have enough money and time for a degree at a college or university or will your artistic development require private online tutor classes while you work full-time?

Where you plan to go with your art will also determine the lengths you would and should go to, to develop it. If you just want to paint as a hobby a weekly art class should be sufficient but becoming a professional will mean a lot more time, money and effort needs to be invested into your craft.

One of the most valuable learnings that painting can give you, above and beyond patience and discipline, is the understanding around how various elements come together in art to create a beautiful and complex balance.

You’ll learn which colours are complimentary to each other, what monochromatic colours and hues are, and how to do proper colour mixing. A good art teacher will introduce you to a variety of art techniques to help you practice composition, spatial position, light usage or the skill of observation.

Composition in Painting
Composition is how you order and structure the various elements in your painting. This is important, even if you plan to create abstract pieces as it balances your painting - Image by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Subject Matter, Form and Medium

What you decide to paint or the subject matter you specialise in will become more and more evident as you gain more experience. You might fall in love with portraits or decide that landscape painting is your passion. Maybe the idea of a portrait sounds like something that might bore you, but what if you start to invert colours, play with different textures and enhance features in a caricature way?

Learning and exploring various subject matters will open up a whole new world for you as an artist.

The form and medium of your work go hand-in-hand. Form in artistic circles refers to the way in which your paint is presented while medium denotes to the actual paint you choose to do so.

Your form can take on a mural painting, manuscript, panoramic painting or panel while the medium you choose usually to consist of oil paints, watercolours, acrylics or pastel painting.

You will learn to paint on canvas as it's one of the most popular forms we paint on nowadays - Image by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

Oil Painting Remains A Classic

Oil painting is probably the most classical form of painting. It was developed around the 15th century and Jan van Eyck became known as one of the first artists to suspend colour pigments in linseed oil. The usage of oil in creating colour paints however, dates much further back and even the romans used oils to paint their shields.

The rich history of oil painting informed a lot of the teachings and techniques we know and use today. When you learn to paint with oils you'll touch on the same techniques that famous names like Michelangelo and Rembrandt van Rijn developed.

The underpainting technique is one of those techniques where artists would first sketch outlines in charcoal before laying their ground layer of paint on their primer.

Glazing, layering and impastos are all methodologies you can explore once you start to paint with oils.

Finding a professional class near me on google will give you options of classes to join in your area and hopefully you’ll experience exactly why oils are associated with the following distinguishing features:

  • Oils can be layered to create a textured feel and a three-dimensional perception
  • Oil painting is ideal for creating realistic tones which can be achieved by nuanced colour-blending
  • Oil paints allow you to exhibit your brush work and strokes, an additional way to create texture
Classic Oil painting
Most of the famous paintings we know were painted in oils - Image by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Painting with Acrylics Is Easy

Acrylic paint is known as the easy-going cousin of oil paints. It’s a medium that is incredibly easy to use, cost effective and with acrylics you can create the same impastos and layering techniques that oil painting introduced us to.

Acrylic paints also lend itself to opaque techniques and because it’s water soluble it can be used by beginners and professionals alike.

Acrylic paints dry quickly which means you can create texture and colour intensity through applying it in a similar fashion to oils in far less time. You also don’t have to deal with the hassle of inhaling harsh chemicals and solvents as is normally associated with oil paints.

Acrylics were originally developed to paint walls and commercial objects. It is probably the most versatile medium of all and will allow you to paint on steel, wood or even use it for decorative painting as long as your primer is done properly to anchor the paint.

Acrylic paints are easy to remove with soap and water, are generally cheaper and the perfect medium for any beginner who’s learning to paint.

Acrylic paints
Acrylics are easy to use and also the medium they use for children's art projects - Image by Park Bialowieski on Pixabay

Transparent Magic with Watercolours

Watercolours are pigments of colour suspended in Gum Arabic and are generally sold in tubes or as hardened blocks of colour. Famous artists used watercolours to plan their paintings by quickly creating watercolour drafts and sketches on site before moving over to oils in their art studios to finish it off.

Nowadays however, watercolours are certainly a medium on its own and are enjoyed and applied in creative ways by professional and student artists alike. It’s the best medium for painting while travelling and artists can create interesting opaque, transparent qualities or tonal washes in their work through the application of various layers of watercolour.

Watercolour painting comes with its own set of techniques and an experienced art tutor will get you to explore and practice these techniques. You can also learn about some of the watercolour techniques to discover here on Superprof by reading our other blog post.

Affordable, easy to use and ideal for mixed-media work, watercolours are an absolute must if you want to learn techniques like creating gradients through applying wet-on-wet paints.

Watercolour paints
It's not expensive to start painting in watercolours. All you need is paint, a couple of brushes and some watercolour paper - Image by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

Pairing Drawing and Painting with Pastels

Pastels were originally developed for creating draft drawings and in a similar fashion to watercolours, they were used to assist professional artists in planning their oil paintings. Today pastels are however, a medium that allows artists to explore up to 500 colours in their application of drawing, painting or mixed-media artworks.

Pastels have the unique ability to allow an artist to draw something before adding a solvent to the mix to spread the colour for painting and blending techniques. You can choose between the bright oil or wax pastels, or the very familiar chalk type pastels that come in a soft and hard consistency. All types of pastels come with their own benefits and usages and we encourage you to try them out at your nearest art studio.

You'll soon learn that pastel painting techniques are very similar to watercolour techniques. Painting with dry pastels however, requires a fair amount of skill and there are hundreds of paint tutorials online that can show you how complex it can be to paint the dark layers first before laying on the light colours.

Like most mediums, it’s imperative to not only learn how to use the medium, but also how it behaves and the type of art you can create using them.

Pastels are perfect for creating mixed-media paintings due to the blending nature of soft pastels, hard pastels, pastel pencils or pan pastels. They blend easily with watercolours and you can even try and use oil pastels to block out water soluble paints on your painting or graphite pencils to create interesting lines.

If you are looking for a versatile painting medium, pastel painting should most certainly be on your agenda.

Mixed Media
Oil pastels can be painted to create a similar feel to oil painting. Dry pastels on the other hand are the best for mixed media work as they are water soluble - Image by Fiona Art on Pexels

Practice Painting Makes Perfect

It’s impossible to cover all the painting techniques and reasons why we need more painters in our lives in this single article. Hopefully we’ve covered enough to inspire you to learn more about the different types of painting or to contact an expert tutor in your area to work out a development plan to suit your ambitions.

The more you paint the more you’ll learn what works best for you, which techniques and mediums complement each other and where your personal strengths or weaknesses are as an artist.

Painting will teach you invaluable skills and artistry, which could also be surprisingly useful in some everyday tasks like redecorating your house.

If you plan to pursue an artistic career like fashion or graphic design, painting will most certainly give you a leading edge in the competitive commercial world.

You certainly don’t need a tertiary qualification to become a famous painter. Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo are two internationally known painters who both had no formal training, yet they’re known across the globe.

So, are you ready to start your journey into the magical world of painting?

Search for the most suitable art tutor here on Superprof.

“Every artist was first an amateur”

– Ralph Walso Emerson -

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.