watercolor painting of a back yard in new england with a bulkhead under a window on a clapboard house

5 Article Roundup for Beginner Artists

Beginning an art adventure that requires some skill-building is a lot easier with instruction.

Practical, step by step painting tips can be found in library texts, blogs, youtube videos and online courses. Many of them focus on methods, techniques and broad-stroke approaches to making finished art that appears the way the artist imagined it would.

Here are some tips on basic tools for beginner artists, and some mindset reminders and practice suggestions for more fun, and less angst with your art supplies.

a watercolor painting in process showing the beg8innings of a house and yard with a bulkhead and shrubbery
Work in Process – Bulkhead in New England (Titled before I learned how to create art titles beyond the [obvious] subject of the painting)

Over-Studying How to be an Artist

dark field monotype ghost
Five More Minutes – 4 x 6 Dark Field Monotype Ghost Print with Watercolor (sold)

11 Reasons to Make Small Art

portrait of a young girl in watercolor
Independence Day 5 x 9 watercolor (Sold)

Tools for Beginner Artists

fixing a failed watercolor with colored pencil - a day lily and a paper weight
Tiger Lily and Polka Dot 7 x 5 Watercolor and Colored Pencil (sold)

Finish Your Art

  • Many paintings go through an ugly stage before they’re finished. It’s easy to feel discouraged and quit before you get over that hill towards something beautiful. But don’t quit. We need to keep going and see the art through to a finish, so let’s all cheer each other on. Read this.
Back Yard, New England – 6 x 9 Watercolor on Paper (sold)

Charting the Course to Become an Artist

a watercolor of a woman napping on a couch with a cat sleeping on her hip
Intermission 12×16 Watercolor (sold)

Shine a Light on a Broader Perspective

I hope the beginner artist posts gathered here work as a bit of grout to bridge tiles in your creative adventures. Being an artist – especially a beginner artist – doesn’t have the risks associated with learning to perform heart surgery, but it can be daunting if we fall down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and How-to-Start.

We have the good luck to be alive in an era of instant communication, global research abilities at our fingertips, and worldwide community with other artists on social media and blogs. There’s no reason (anymore) to agonize over how to become an artist all alone.

Dismantle your naysayer with a bit of research on ways to tape its mouth shut, build your community, and make haste to your art supplies to get some work done. Use what you have, and do what you can.

I’m rooting for you.

Thanks for your visit, and I’ll see you in the next post –

Belinda

P.S. American Watercolor published an inspiring essay on painter-explorer Tony Foster’s approach to coping with Lockdown during the Covid19 pandemic. Read his inspiring exploration into nature with watercolors.

watercolor of a cat
One of my favorite furries, rendered in watercolor – Jack.

Art Quote

Be patient and persistent, and don’t make the mistake of thinking good paintings always lead to sales. Money is only one measure of achievement.
 
There are many great artists who do not sell, and conversely, many who sell, who aren’t great artists.
 
Until the collecting public responds, be encouraged by feedback from friends, relatives and fellow artists.
It takes time to market artwork.
 
Ask yourself; What can a gallery do for me that I can’t do for myself?

Frank Webb
a greyhound dog resting on a carpet with a leopard skin collar and a speech bubble asking if you wish you had more time for art
Watch a free video tutorial with Six Tips to Paint More Often
a monotype ghost print with colored pencil added to enhance details of a woman floating in water with her eyes closed

Seven Questions to Help You Roll Past Creative Block

Yield: Progress
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Stagnant creativity feels like a heavy fog pill slipped into your coffee when you weren’t looking. How do you get past Creative Block?

You want to make things. But there’s an invisible sludge haze blocking creative idea generation, inspiration and motivation to get something started. <---Started is the key word.

If you feel like your creativity is blocked, and inspiration eludes you, try this exercise. Sometimes, you just need a hand to hold on the Start part of making art....

Instructions

  1. Secure 30 minutes, a pen, a note pad, and some quiet time. Sit in a favorite chair, in a sunny spot in a quiet corner. If home is too chaotic, go to a coffee shop and sit in a sunshiny spot. In either case, if it helps, use earbuds or headphones, and listen to instrumental (no words) music. Fill in the blanks below…
  2. If I were the King/Queen of the world, and I could sweep a magic wand to clear time and space to create a beautiful piece of art, I’d work in (fill in your medium: oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil, graphite)._____________________________.tin watercolor palette
  3. I could make something abstract, or impressionistic, or representational – and since I have a magic skill wand, I think I’ll choose _________________________________.watercolor-sketching-landscape
  4. Since I’m in charge, when I think about size and format, I’d like to make something (small, medium large, huge)__________________________, and in a (horizontal, vertical, square)___________________________ format.using a magnifier light to paint tiny details of a face in profile
  5. I’ve got a hankering to work on (paper, yupo, aquabord, canvas, panel, gesso’d paper)_____________________________________.three hahnemuhle paper blocks
  6. I’m imagining colors that appeal to me right now, in this season of my life, so I’ll focus on a prominence of these three colors, with supporting hues around them: ______________________________________________________.watercolor test swatches for wet in wet painting experiments
  7. I know I can choose any subject that appeals to me, like figurative, portrait, still life, landscape, city scene, interiors, sky/cloudscapes, animals, ocean/shorelines and genre scenes. So, right this second, I feel like painting a __________________________________, with elements of __________________ and ____________________ included.shading a graphite drawing of roses and a bowl of apples
  8. Now, flip open to a fresh page on your notepad, and stomp on that creative block by doodling some layouts, angles, and compositions (no details, see below) that might fill the format of your paper or canvas.9 tiny pencil sketches of still life flowers and fruit arranged in different compositions

Notes

Feel free to print this, and alter the questions or add new ones that fit your style. Think about times when your art-making was more active, and jot down elements from that time (positive, encouraging) that you can visualize and pre-plan to help you get past the hump of stuckness.

You aren't alone in this. Every artist in history has felt creative block at one time or another, so we are all rooting for you. Set some time aside, and slay it. You've got this.

Have you made one of these?

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6 thoughts on “5 Tips for Beginner Artists”

  1. Mickey Nolan

    Hi Belinda,

    A couple of weeks ago you recommended a great book, “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair. I immediately ordered it and was so happy (in retrospect) that it arrived in two days. Then the ice storm hit and we lost power for five days. Thankfully our generator allowed us to have a bit of light and a small heater, plus keeping freezers working. It was a nice distraction to sit in front of the fireplace, all bundled up, and read this fascinating book. It not only gives a person new appreciation for what goes into making the colors we use in our artwork, but places the creation of colors in an historical context as well. I’ll never look at color the same. I was sorry to see it end. It is a must read for anyone who loves color. Who knew that colors had such interesting lives.
    Thanks for recommending it.

    1. Hi Mickey, I’m so sorry to hear about your storm-experience! I know it’s hard to imagine the magnitude of an ice storm’s affects unless you’ve experienced one. (I grew up in Connecticut.) I’m glad you had a generator, and THAT BOOK! Isn’t it so great!? I ADORE the way it’s laid out, and the details of each color are just fascinating! My husband is an IT engineer, and not one to pause and reflect on color, but even he picked it up and started to get pulled into the descriptions! It’s a fantastic book, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it too! High five and a hip bump on our shared book-love! And best wishes on recovery from the ice storm. I hope your trees and shrubs weren’t snapped. XO

  2. Belinda, I’m so grateful to you for sharing your ideas and your art. Thank you. You are an inspiration.

    1. Hi Candy, Thanks so much for your kind note, and I’m grateful that our tastes in ideas and art are aligned. I wish you many hours of getting lost in your art-making! 🙂

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