Artist painting on a canvas.

Painting and drawing for beginners: Creative hobbies for adults

Art allows self-reflection, to express your creativity, and to express thoughts and feelings for which words are not enough. Drawing and painting are great hobbies to give you a break from everyday life. In this article, we show you how to get started with these hobbies and what equipment you need as a beginner.

Learning to paint and draw: Good reasons for creative hobbies

You don’t have to be able to draw or paint photo-realistically to enjoy art – if you enjoy the artistic process and create things you enjoy, you are doing everything right. There are many benefits to creating art by drawing and painting:

  • Drawing and painting can improve your mood. Instead of stressing about everyday things, your focus is on your artwork. This can help you relax and find yourself again.
  • They improve your fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. As you have to perfect even the smallest movements to complete the details of your artwork, you can refine your motor skills. This in turn can have a positive effect on other activities that require dexterity and coordination (e.g. sports or model building).
  • Your cognitive skills improve. Even though drawing and painting are relaxing and even meditative for many artists, you also stimulate different areas of the brain that are responsible for creativity, concentration, and logical, analytical thinking, among other things.
Young woman drawing a still life painting in an art class.

AttentionAs any experienced artist will tell you, high-quality tools are essential for growing and creating as you develop. This does not mean, however, that a beginner must immediately buy expensive equipment. First, you should start with entry-level materials to find out whether you will continue with it long term.

AttentionAs any experienced artist will tell you, high-quality tools are essential for growing and creating as you develop. This does not mean, however, that a beginner must immediately buy expensive equipment. First, you should start with entry-level materials to find out whether you will continue with it long term.

Learning to draw: Tips for beginners

If you want to learn to draw, patience and diligence are key traits. It may take some time before you see the progress you want – so it’s important not to get demotivated and to keep enjoying the journey. Perseverance will pay off! Try not to lose the enjoyment by being too critical of your work. We have collected some tips that you can take to heart when beginning to learn to draw:

Close-up of a woman drawing flowers.
  1. Doodling is an important exercise. So don’t put yourself under pressure to produce only perfect works of art on your drawing pad right from the start.
  2. Start off by drawing simple things, e.g. a single object in your room and not a whole still life straight away.
  3. Apply light pressure to your pencil when sketching. Delicate lines are easier to correct and erase.
  4. Don’t set your sights too high: First develop your eye for perspective and proportions before you concentrate on lifelike details, shades, and structures.

Beginners are usually not able to draw from memory without making mistakes. Find templates and, if necessary, use guidelines or simple geometric shapes to base your drawing on. Even tracing or copying can help you practise the fine motor skills you need for drawing.

Drawing equipment: What basic equipment do you need for drawing?

Drawing is a hobby that you can start at any time with just a few basic items. However, the more seriously you get, the more drawing equipment you will need:

  • Quality drawing paper (approx. 120 - 190 g/m²)
  • Pencils in various degrees of hardness (e.g. a beginner’s set from an artist’s supply shop)
  • Eraser (soft)
  • Sharpener

If you do not want to draw exclusively with pencils, you can add some coloured pencils or felt-tip pens to your basic equipment.

Tip: Go to a specialist shop for advice on choosing the right drawing utensils. If you are unsure, you can look for recommendations from other artists online. You may also find recommendations for the products you need in the materials list of art courses and art schools.

Learning to paint: Tips for beginners

Instead of fiddling with pencils and drawing paper, would you rather express your creativity with brushes and bright colours? To master painting, however, you need to familiarise yourself with completely different materials and techniques as drawing. If you want to take the plunge into painting, we have collected some important tips for you:

  1. Good drawing skills make a useful base for painting. This will help you develop your artistic eye and fine motor skills – such skills are indispensable for painting, even if you want to paint in an abstract style rather than a natural one (i.e. true to nature).
  2. Familiarise yourself with the basic theories of painting. As with drawing, shapes, proportions, and perspective are the cornerstones of a successful painting. You should also familiarise yourself with colour theory to achieve the right colour effect (e.g. harmonious, rich in contrast, etc.).
A man paints an abstract painting.
  1. Do not start with difficult paints. Instead of oil paints, which are more difficult to handle and often require special primers and solvents, you can start with acrylic paints, for example. If you are still very inexperienced, a school paint box with watercolours would work for your first try.
  2. Don’t be too self-critical: Especially as a beginner, you will not immediately conjure up masterpieces on canvas. If you set yourself realistic goals and start with simple motifs, you will be more satisfied with your results and will be able to improve more and more. Even a painting that “fails” for you is a valuable exercise from which you can learn.
  3. Start by sketching your painting with light pencil lines. This allows you to make corrections before you pick up the brush. If you want to paint more spontaneously, you can also give free rein to your imagination and start with paint.

Learning to paint: Tips for beginners

Instead of fiddling with pencils and drawing paper, would you rather express your creativity with brushes and bright colours? To master painting, however, you need to familiarise yourself with completely different materials and techniques as drawing. If you want to take the plunge into painting, we have collected some important tips for you:

  1. Good drawing skills make a useful base for painting. This will help you develop your artistic eye and fine motor skills – such skills are indispensable for painting, even if you want to paint in an abstract style rather than a natural one (i.e. true to nature).
  2. Familiarise yourself with the basic theories of painting. As with drawing, shapes, proportions, and perspective are the cornerstones of a successful painting. You should also familiarise yourself with colour theory to achieve the right colour effect (e.g. harmonious, rich in contrast, etc.).
  1. Do not start with difficult paints. Instead of oil paints, which are more difficult to handle and often require special primers and solvents, you can start with acrylic paints, for example. If you are still very inexperienced, a school paint box with watercolours would work for your first try.
  2. Don’t be too self-critical: Especially as a beginner, you will not immediately conjure up masterpieces on canvas. If you set yourself realistic goals and start with simple motifs, you will be more satisfied with your results and will be able to improve more and more. Even a painting that “fails” for you is a valuable exercise from which you can learn.
  3. Start by sketching your painting with light pencil lines. This allows you to make corrections before you pick up the brush. If you want to paint more spontaneously, you can also give free rein to your imagination and start with paint.
A man paints an abstract painting.

Painting equipment: What basic equipment do you need for painting?

Depending on which painting technique you choose, your basic equipment should include the following materials:

  • Colours (e.g. acrylics, watercolours, pastels): Starter sets usually contain yellow, red, blue, green, ochre, brown, white and black.
  • About 5 to 10 flat and round brushes in different sizes: If you work with different colours (e.g. acrylic paints, oil paints, watercolours), you should have a separate set of brushes for each painting method.
  • Palette for mixing the colours
  • Suitable painting surface:g. cartridge paper with sufficient thickness/painting board, canvas (incl. easel), stronger watercolour paper (> 200 g/m²).

If you are unsure about your choice of colours, brushes, and painting surface, it is best to seek advice from a specialist dealer or art school. It’s also a good idea if you are more advanced and want to try out new tools (e.g. painting knives for the impasto technique).

Participants in an art course concentrate on their easels.

Learning to paint and draw: Which learning technique is right for you?

Even if you have never held a paintbrush in your hand, you can still get started with these artistic hobbies. Learning to draw and paint is an ideal way to balance out your everyday working life or as a new hobby in retirement.

How you get started access depends on your experience and how you like to learn.

Art courses: Learning to paint and draw at an art school or adult education centre

You will get direct feedback, valuable tips, and inspiration from other artists in art courses, and they can guide you as you learn. If you attend group classes, you will meet other learners. You can get to know some new perspectives and styles and it might be easier for you to stay motivated.

NoteTo learn to draw or paint, only one thing helps: practice, practice, practice! Although some talent can give you a small head start in learning, ultimately art is a craft that needs constant practice, training, and development. So don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult at first to get started with your new hobby.

NoteTo learn to draw or paint, only one thing helps: practice, practice, practice! Although some talent can give you a small head start in learning, ultimately art is a craft that needs constant practice, training, and development. So don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult at first to get started with your new hobby.

Learning to paint and draw from books

Books mainly teach you the theory of drawing. With the help of illustrative pictures, you can learn more about techniques and methods and often practise them with illustrated step-by-step instructions. Try your local library to test out some books before you buy.

Video tutorials or DVD courses for learning to paint and draw

If you want to refresh your knowledge or learn new techniques, video tutorials are a good option. Of course, with so much to choose from, you should make sure you find a video tutorial that suits your skill level. YouTube videos that only show a quick run-through of the process of creating a painting are more for inspiration, while step-by-step instructions are got studying.

CheckIf you are looking for an exchange with like-minded people, it is a good idea to attend local art courses. Various online communities, e.g. forums, blogs, and social media sites, can also offer you this direct communication and mutual inspiration.

CheckIf you are looking for an exchange with like-minded people, it is a good idea to attend local art courses. Various online communities, e.g. forums, blogs, and social media sites, can also offer you this direct communication and mutual inspiration.

Conclusion

Are you looking for a versatile hobby that allows you to create unique works of art and helps take a break from everyday life? Then just pick up a pen or brush and let yourself be inspired!

References:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-great-health-benefits-painting-drawing-hessam-moussavi
(accessed on 10.12.2021)

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-pencils-papers-erasers-start-drawing
(accessed on 10.12.2021)

https://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-learn-to-draw-stage-one-manual-skills--cms-23304
(accessed on 10.12.2021)

https://www.paintandsiplive.com/blog/top-10-painting-tips-for-beginners-to-make-you-look-like-a-pro
(accessed on 10.12.2021)

https://feelingnifty.com/acrylic-painting-tips-beginners/
(accessed on 10.12.2021)

https://www.pinotspalette.com/blog/creative-life/how-to-paint-for-beginners
(accessed on 10.12.2021)

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