Thursday, 27 January 2011

Learning to Paint & Draw

Sometimes when I am chatting to other people, they tell me that they have an interest in painting or drawing but, often follow it up with "but I am not very good"! I firmly believe that anyone can express themselves in art at whatever level they may feel that they are at. I am also convinced that there is a painting within all of us.

However, it does requires a little practice and patience. I don’t know many people who actually produce a masterpiece on their first attempt either ;) As many people will see if they look back though my blog, I have some pretty awful examples and attempts at some things. But, it is all a learning curve and any amount of learning is valuable. As time goes on, I think most people who paint or draw find a comfort zone too.

In the past, going to college or night school was probably the easiest option. Nowadays, there are so many resources available for anyone wishing to have a go. There are huge selections of books for almost every conceivable art form. I have a great number but some of the most invaluable for me have been ones which provide small exercises or tips.

Two for watercolours that spring to mind are Collins ~ Need to know - Watercolour and I have also used Collins 30 minute Watercolours by Fiona Peart. I also have quite a number of helpful hints and tips, perhaps the most used one is by Terry Harrison.
For coloured pencil, MY most used resource is probably Coloured Pencil Painting Bible by Alyona Nickelson.
I do have an extensive library to dip into covering flowers, scenery colour, fairies and dragons which I have added to over time. I think you get the idea! These all provide some inspiration when perhaps I am lacking and I do think you learn so much along the way. There is one thing that you can guarantee, you never stop learning.

Other useful resources are the many art forums where it is easy to get feedback from other artists. For some reason I have rarely managed to settle in any of these but they still provide a whole range of resources. Two that I particularly enjoy are

Total Art Soul

Paint my Photo

So far, I have found these to be the friendliest of them all and that is quite important to me.

I love tutorials and do quite a number of them at times. The winter seem to lend itself somehow. I think it is important to find artists that you enjoy, it does help if you like their work to begin with even if it is a little different to what you may normally do. I rarely undertake tutorials of the things that I am comfortable doing, preferring instead to do landscapes which are a little outside my comfort zone.
For example, this first one was by Jeremy Ford who, I admire very much, his paintings are always so beautifully rendered. If you get the chance, do check out his flower paintings on his site (link below), they are just so lovely. On this one I had the added benefit of him providing me with some feedback too, as he is also a friend on facebook. This one is in gouache :)

This next one is also a little different for me, Matthew Palmer is quite angular compared with my style, I think it is the Northern influence. He always manages to capture wonderful skies somehow. I love the atmosphere that is created in his paintings, so it was a great exercise and I really did learn some different techniques.

This last one by Geoff Kersey was probably the most difficult as it was a 20 minute tutorial. I didn’t manage to do it in that time, I think it was closer to an hour but it did push me beyond my boundaries and made me really appreciate his deftness painting trees together with wonderful use of light.

All of the above artists hold workshops around the country, so if you fancy having a go, having listened to some of them in action at the NEC, I think it would be a lot of fun. I am almost sure that a pre-requisite of being an artist is having a sense of humour! Here is a link to their respective websites, it is worth taking a look to view their art too.

If you would like to have a go at a painting tutorial, a great resource is the Painting and Drawing channel which is on TV or can be viewed from the SAA website. There are also some online step by step guides provided on the SAA website. I spied a nice one by Matthew on the Newsletter tab.
Here is a link to both sites:

Finally, if you feel a bit more adventurous, there are a great number of Painting Holidays available. Some of you will have seen my dialogue with Yvonne Ayoub who runs a painting retreat in Skiathos. A number of courses are suitable for experienced artists and beginners alike. I can honestly say that just being in the company of like minded people can be entirely inspirational without the addition of beautiful weather and scenery. I am sure there are a great many others but, having visited Yvonne’s lovely studio, I can vouch for this one, it is like being in an artist sweetie shop ;-)

Whatever you happen to have a go at, you need to have fun. I have seen people stress out because they don’t think this element is right, or that is right. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Treat yourself to a big bundle of paper rather than spiral bound books so that you can practice freely without worrying about the cost. Rome wasn’t built in a day and like any other hobbies, there are periods of stagnation and periods of progression.
Finally, a tip from me. As someone who frequently paints with a beverage or a glass of wine at their side, it helps if you dip your brush in the receptacle with water in it!


Blu said...

Lovely art in your post, I just need to paint all of the time !!

Chrissy said...

Thanks Blu and for reminding me of a place I need to include :-)

Sketching Girl said...

Hi Chrissy, I also like Wetcanvas as an art forum ( ), they are also friendly and offer challenges to improve our art. I think we learn the most in actually doing. I know my art improves with practice, it's not perfect, but I'm enjoying it! :)

Happy Sketching!

Sketching Girl :)

poindextr said...

nice bit of advice there at the end, you are so funny! Really great post and nice list of resources. I wonder if you are considering giving a class or a workshop? Hope your week has been going well. Can you believe it is sunny beautiful here? Not gloating, it will be ridiculously hot by May.

Jennifer Rose said...

"it helps if you dip your brush in the receptacle with water in it! "
lol, yeah that is very important ;p
I am always telling people that everyone can draw, just takes practice. I wish more people would believe that they could draw with only a bit of time and effort.

Carol said...

Great Post! I tell people all the time..if you really want art in your life, it's there for the taking..But as always NOBODY ever listens to me:( You have inspired me to drag out my watercolors and give them a try!! Thanks Bunches for links! Hoping sunny skies are coming your way;)

Sandy said...

Great post and links which I'll check out and beautiful paintings.

Macpurp said...

i am one of these people who never found anything i liked when i tried to paint.
I love the wood land picture.
and grandmothers hat is so sweet!
love & hugs
teen x

Theanne... said...

Tremendous amount of info. that I'll have to come back and read and reread. Thanks for sharing!

CherryPie said...

All the pictures are beautiful :-) I have never been able to paint pictures, but I am able to transform my photos that don't quite work out into art via software programs...

Your last sentence made me smile :-)

kaslkaos said...

Having watched your progress over the years, if these are your sources of info, you are testament of their usefulness. I'm always amazed at what you come up with next.
Of course, you should pat yourself on the back for sheer talent too, but without practice the talent cannot shine.

Cathy Holtom said...

A great post with endless resources.
I love the last watercolour with the blue. I'm glad I'm not the only one who dips their brush in their coffee...of course I never drink wine ;)

Lana Gramlich said...

Great information & works here--kudos!
One book I'd add to your list is Color and Light; a Guide for the Realist Painter. I wish I had this book 20 years ago!