Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Bits Advice for Beginning Painters

I've had a lot of beginning painters come through my studio in the three and a half years that I've been teaching my Painting Soiree workshops. There is much advice that I would like to give newbies based on my observations, and I have compiled some of it here. This advice works whether you're in a class or painting at home. I hope you find it helpful...

1) Don't expect to be a master painter right away.
Yes, I know that we live in an instant gratification society. And I know that the painting studios (including mine) tell you to come to class and paint your masterpiece. What we mean by that is come paint your masterpiece. Not Monet's, not Van Gogh's, not mine, not your neighbor's. When you come to my class I want you to create your own version of my painting. It will not look exactly like mine, nor should it. Painting is a form of expression; your expression.
I want you to love your painting, or at the very least be satisfied with it, and with the experience. One way to do that is to...

2) Keep it Simple
So many people come to my classes with big ideas of what they want to do with their painting, and it turns out that they've never painted before. I love confidence and a sense of adventure, and I really do encourage people to shake things up. But keep in mind that generally speaking, the more complex the idea, the harder it will be to put onto canvas.
If you haven't held a paint brush in your hand since you were six years old, then it might help to get some command over the brush before diving into something an experienced painter might hesitate to approach. Also it's good to...

3) Get out of your left brain and simply enjoy the process.
Painting can be very relaxing and therapeutic. To this day, I still enjoy watching the paint blend on the canvas. Watching yellow and blue turn into green before my eyes is such a soothing thing.
The majority of people who paint in my studio seem to have a similar experience, but every once in awhile someone has a really hard time getting out of that analytical mind. Trying too hard to make the paint look like something you think it should look like can be stressful.
Painting is an exercise in letting go. For those who have a harder time letting go, I recommend - well a myriad of things - but trying out abstract painting is a good start. (I happen to offer a fun abstract class...)
That said...

4) Painting is also about figuring it out.
Whenever I'm having a hard time with a painting, I try to remind myself that as an artist, I like to figure things out. It's one of the reasons I paint. I don't want it all laid out for me. I like to work at it and have the satisfaction of having found my way and figured it out.  And it gets easier to figure it out if you...

5) Practice, practice, practice!
Just like any other skill, the more you paint, the better you'll get. 

So, have fun with it. Forgive yourself. Be patient. Experiment. Explore. Read books, watch videos, but I encourage you to go to a class, take private lessons, or simply paint with people who are more experienced than you.

For a full list of classes and lessons that I offer, please visit

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