Painting is one of the most fundamental and versatile forms of artistic expression. For millennia, humans have applied pigments to surfaces ranging from cave walls to modern computer screens. The practice has evolved into a myriad of styles and techniques, and today’s painter may be as likely to create a sculpture or assemblage as he or she is to paint a landscape.
Whether you are an experienced artist or just starting out, you need to know the basics. Read on to find out what supplies you need, the different types of paints, and the fundamental techniques used in painting. Then, when you are ready to get started, check out our tips for creating a successful painting.
Before you even pick up a brush, it’s important to identify the big reason why you want to paint. This is the “big why,” and it can help guide your choices in technique, color, composition and other aspects of the finished work. If you are not sure what your “big why” is, take a few minutes to think about it. You might be surprised at how it can influence your approach and the final result.
If you are an absolute beginner, you can start by purchasing a basic set of art supplies. This will allow you to experiment with the medium without having to spend a lot of money on specialized brushes, canvas or paints. If you are serious about becoming a painter, it’s worth investing in higher-quality materials as you get more experience.
You can buy oil-based or water-based paints at your local art store. Typically, water-based paints are made from emulsion resins that contain trillions of tiny particles of resin and pigment that fuse together when dry to form a tough elastic solid. Oil-based paints are made from linseed oil or other vegetable oils, which are mixed with pigment to produce the colored paint. Some oil-based paints also include diluents such as turpentine or linseed oil to facilitate spreading and leveling the paint.
A very popular technique in contemporary abstract paintings is stippling. This is a technique where you use a small, soft brush to apply small dots of varying shades or colors in the painting. The resulting texture creates an impression of shape and depth that can be quite striking.
Some painters combine traditional painting with other media, such as metal, cement or sand, to achieve the desired effect. This type of artwork is known as a mixed-media work and has become a staple in the works of artists such as Jean Dubuffet or Anselm Kiefer. Modern technology has also enabled painters to manipulate color and other factors on the computer screen. The line between painting and other media is becoming increasingly blurry, as it has absorbed influences from high culture as well as pop culture.