How to Start Painting as a Hobby

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So you want to know how to start painting as a hobby? What tools might you need? Where does one begin?!?

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that at the very minimum you will need paints, brushes, and canvas! These are an obvious necessity when one wants to begin to paint.

You may, however, which paints and paint brushes should I buy?

Is there some sort of acrylic paint kit for beginners I can get?

These are great questions to ask and I will be digging deeper into questions like these on other pages soon, for now, I want to present you with a framework.

A particular mindset I think will help you to get started on your artistic journey!

I think really what you are searching for is an approach to take that will motivate you to do it. One that will get you past the initial resistance.

An approach that will help build confidence and propel you forward. One that inspires action!

The hardest part of accomplishing anything is simply getting started.

What you need to do to start painting as a hobby is to start small, start simple and find your inspirations! Through this simplified approach you can break the inertia of inaction.

For a long time, I was interested in trying to learn to paint but I didn’t really know how to start. Hopefully, by sharing my personal experience in how I got started I might be able to provide a bit of that inspiration and direction to guide you down your path.

I will also provide you with a few ideas and tips that I have considered since then that should help color your canvas!

Let’s make it easy to get your brush wet!

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Keep Your First Painting Simple

The first approach you should take is to start small. Keep it simple.

Starting small will help conserve costs and build confidence with quick wins!

When I started, I bought a small starter acrylic paint kit from a local Hobby Lobby and a number of small canvasses to experiment with.

I wanted to see if it would be something I would want to invest more into later. I also wanted something that would be easy to complete.

The good news is there are a variety of small canvasses to choose from. There are 3 x 3’s, 3 x 4’s, 4 x 4’s….and the list goes on and on…I think you get the picture. (measurements in inches)

I personally went with a 5 x 7 canvas to start with. I still like to use these when trying something new. I don’t generally go smaller than this but that’s just me.

By starting small you can gauge your interest in painting and keep your motivation up by getting some quick easy wins on the wall.

I mean your literal wall too! Not your Facebook wall you digital nerd!!

When I started, I didn’t even know what I wanted to paint or even where to begin other than I knew in order to paint I needed some basic materials. Canvas, brushes, paints and maybe a small easel.

This is what was going through my mind as I bought my supplies.

At the time I was pretty tight on funds too so I kept it to about 50 dollars.

I figured if I can spend 60 dollars on a video game to engage myself in a set of challenges that ultimately produces nothing then I can spend 50 dollars and engage in a set of challenges that will actually leave me with something to show for it at the end of the day.

Not just physically in a sense that I have an actual item to showcase but intellectually as well because of the skill development involved.

What do you spend $50 on regularly that you might be able to give up for a month to give painting a try?

The point is if your excuse is it costs too much but you’re spending $50 doing something else, then how great is your desire to learn to paint?

Can you afford to spare $50? If so, Get started now!

Beyond that, I didn’t want to spend too much knowing that it was very possible I buy all these materials, paint once and then never paint again.

So if the cost is a concern for you like it was for me then this is another reason to start small. All that matters is that you stop making excuses and you get started!

Just imagine what it will feel like to hang that painting on your wall. I still have some of my oldest and worst paintings hanging up as looking at them inspires me to keep going.

This brings me to the next crucial step in keeping you going, inspiration!

This can come in many forms and may even be something you get from other artistic hobbies you can try!

Finding Inspiration To Level Up Your Painting Skills

Once I had my supplies the next thing I did was go to YouTube. I was looking for inspiration and hopefully some easy tutorial videos to try.

After a bit of searching, I decided I wanted to try and paint a galaxy. It seemed like a simple place to start.

So I found some good videos on how to paint a galaxy on canvas and started attempting to do what they were showing me.

My first painting actually came out OK. This picture here is, unfortunately, all I have left of it.

Pro Tip! Try not to leave your paintings where they can get rained on while they are drying. Apparently, Colorado likes to rain horizontally. I was lucky the only thing that was ruined was a painting! (And a PlayStation controller)

Since that first one, I have now done a series of galaxy paintings for my personal collection.

If painting a galaxy seems like something you may want to start with I have now outlined a series of 7 steps you can follow to create your own works like these ones. Following the link below will bring you to where you can see some of the other examples in my galaxy series as well!

Click here to learn some easy steps for how to paint a galaxy with acrylic paints!

To complete this painting I had to learn to paint spheres!

The second galaxy painting I did came out worse than the first one did but luckily the third one looks great!

It was only once I started to try to add planets to this painting that I realized I needed to practice making spheres.

Which brings me to my next point on why I feel it is most important to start small and simple. As long as you get started one thing will inevitably lead to another.

You’ll begin to realize what sorts of things you may want to focus your efforts on in order to improve the quality of your paintings.

Just take it as it comes to you. Once you identify something you need to work on try to take some time to focus on just that element.

Since for me it was spheres, I actually stopped working on the planets and did this whole other abstract painting to practice spheres.

Abstract paintings are an awesome way to learn more about color theory and blending. If you’re not interested in starting with galaxies then I have some great abstract art projects for you to try too!

Abstract painting is a fun way to learn about color harmonies and blending! Click the painting for some abstract art ideas to try!

Funnily enough, while I was working on this painting I began to become aware of the need for understanding color theory. So I tried to use a complementary color for the shadows of the spheres. It didn’t work out so great but it did help me refine my sphere making skills to complete the planets.

So as you can see, if you just get started on something it will lead to the next thing.

Every painting will open your eyes to something new. Every attempt to understand and practice that new thing will lead to an even greater understanding and mastery of that element while driving you down the road so you can see what is next on the horizon.

As long as you keep your mind open and aware of this it can keep you moving forward and leveling up your painting skills!

Finding inspiration can be difficult for many. I think learning how to find it and harness it to charge up your batteries will take you a long way towards developing your painting skills.

In fact, I too struggle with summoning the motivation to get started some days. So lately I have been thinking about what we both can do to try and keep things moving forward. What can we do to find and harness our inspirations?

  1.  Find artists that inspire you!
  2.  Keep an open mind.
  3.  Write down painting ideas as they come to you and keep a hit list of targets to paint.
  4.  Watch others paint on YouTube!
  5.  Network with other Artists. This is one great reason why you should have an art Instagram!

Allow me to elaborate a bit on each.

The first thing I would recommend is to find artists or art styles you want to try to emulate. A lot can be learned from copying another artist.

This is basically what I am doing over on the “Abstract Art Projects To Try” page I’m working on.

Whether you are following a tutorial or just observing what another artist does and trying to copy it, you will learn something.

Photo by Robert Du Bois

When you find an art style you like it is even beneficial to learn about the artist’s life and the things that drove them.

I recently had the opportunity to go to the Salvador Dali museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida. It was very inspiring and now I can’t wait to cover Surrealism on this site and produce some surreal works of my own!

This is part of where keeping an open mind comes in as well. While you are painting you might realize something like “doing choppy water is more difficult than I thought” or “those clouds look more cartoon than real”. Pay attention to those thoughts or those challenges then set out to work on just that particular element.

Once you realize that doing choppy water is hard you might consider the many other states of water and work those in as well.

Another aspect of keeping an open mind is to pay attention to what captures your thoughts. What does your mind naturally gravitate to? What do you find your mind effortlessly drifting to and thinking about?

As an example, I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek. I enjoy thinking about potential future developments in science and technology will bring us. Sometimes I read about recent discoveries and new inventions as these things fire up my imagination. These are the things that inspire me.

Pay attention to what does it for you and use it as subject matter for ideas. That’s where our next step comes in.

Write down your ideas as soon as possible after they hit you! Once you find an artist who makes paintings you like, write down their name and see if you can find more of their work. Learn more about them if you can.

When you have an idea for something you want to try and paint write that down too. Keep a list of painting ideas to target so you always have some idea that will inspire you to paint!

Another great technique I like to use is to watch others paint on YouTube! Have you ever watched a karate movie and felt like fighting everyone afterward? Or maybe you saw a musical and felt like singing everything afterward?

This is because when you watch others do things the mirror neurons in your brain fire as if you’re the one doing it. Influencing you to want to do that thing too. Use this to your advantage.

More than that, it is a great way to find things to try that you think would be easy for you. You can find videos like the ones that John Beckley makes where you can just observe the artist paint with some funky background music to enjoy. I personally prefer these myself.

Especially the work of John Beckley!

He does these amazing abstract paintings. Watching him work has helped me learn a bit about color theory and how different colors work together. I’ve done quite a few Beckley inspired paintings.

Check him out!

There are also great tutorials available as well like the ones made by Ryan O’Rourke over on the Stay Creative Painting channel!

There are many random things to learn from as well which I will be doing my best to collect here over time.

Finally, be sure to make friends with other artists. This goes with any goal or ambition really. It is important to surround yourself with like minded people and those who have the expertise you seek to acquire.

By connecting with other artists you will learn a lot from their experiences. In today’s socially interconnected world you probably know a few already.

If you don’t, this is where starting up an art Instagram can help! In fact it is the main reason to have one in my opinion.

I wrote a whole blog post on why you should have an art Instagram. Click here to check it out!

I’m sure you will find more as you begin to talk about your artwork with others as well.

Having artist friends also means that they will point out the flaws they see in your work as well. It is important to be open to those criticisms even when they are difficult to hear. Sometimes though, no matter what the critique might be, if you are happy with the result that is all that matters.

So to sum up how to start painting as a hobby you should start small, start simple and find your inspirations! Now get out there and get started!!!

Marc Spagnuolo

Hey there! Thanks for reading my article! I'm Marc the creator of this website. I'm a growing artist and web creator seeking to share what I'm learning in the hopes that it helps someone out there like you. I hope you found this information useful. If you're interested in learning more about me and my story click on my name or on my picture!

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