Painting Tips From A Real Artist

Painting can be a challenging and daunting hobby to get into. Maybe you just received some painting supplies as a birthday or mother’s day present from a relative who wasn’t sure what else to get you; now you’ll feel bad to let the supplies go to waste, but you’ve never painted before in your life! Or perhaps you’ve made it your goal to improve upon your own skills and achieve Bob Ross like enlightenment. Either way, we all have to start somewhere, and it’s a good idea to pick up proper habits from the get go to make your painting journey flow more smoothly. In this post, we’ll give you 10 tips from real artists to help you become a better painter too!

Plan your painting

As a beginner, you might feel a little intimidated by a blank white canvas (trust us, every painter no matter their skill level usually gets a little unnerved by the emptiness) so why not start by adding a little structure to it. Whether that be placing down a background colour to replace the white, or starting with light pencil sketching, it’s a great way to start! As an added bonus, by starting this way, you can always erase or rework the image before you start painting so you’re less likely to make mistakes. 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

While this might sound rather contradictory to what was said in the previous tip, at the end of the day, you're bound to make a few mistakes along the way. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from starting or continuing! Sometimes, it’s the mistakes we make that create a more stunning picture- and as the legend himself Bob Ross once said “Mistakes are just happy little accidents”. You can usually find a way to work them into the picture, and even if you can’t it’s still a great learning experience!

Observe from real life

If you’ve ever taken any form of art class in your life, you will definitely have heard this one before. It doesn’t matter if you plan on painting abstract images or fantasy pieces, it’s still a good idea to take inspiration from real life first! Don’t believe us? Well think about it this way, why do you like certain paintings or pictures? What makes a forest so enchanting and a sunset so beautiful? It’s the composition and colour schemes! The world around us is already so beautiful, nature itself provides us with many of the colour schemes and patterns that our brain perceives as pleasing. So why give yourself extra work when you can just take inspiration from the world around you?


Unfortunately, there’s no cheat code or quick hack to rapidly boost your skills in a single night. A lot of what makes you a better painter is the experiences you gain along the way! So even if you can’t practice everyday, try to make some time every week or even every other week to just play around with your paints. Don’t make it a chore, make it something you do to relax or just destress after a long day of work. Maybe you just want to paint messy lines all over a canvas, or maybe you want to do a fruit study. Anything you do counts towards practice so don’t think it has to be a perfect complete composition to qualify in this category.

Find Inspiration in other artists

Referencing real life is a great start, but unless your life goal is to become a printer; you’ll probably want to paint with a style. That’s where referencing other artists comes in. Find someone who you look up to, maybe you like the way they use colours, or you like the technique they’re using to paint with. Study what they’re doing and try to break down the steps; if you’re in luck, maybe that artist has even posted a tutorial video or two about how they paint in their style! By referencing other artists, you can figure out what works and adopt some of their techniques as well. However, it’s a good idea to pick a few different artists rather than just one as then it can help you develop your own style; rather than become a copycat.

Make paintings that interest you

One of the biggest mistakes young or new artists make is that they tend to think they have to paint a bowl of fruits or landscape to get better. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Yes, painting from real life will usually give you better or more references; but if you aren’t connecting with what you’re painting, if it bores you, obviously you won’t enjoy doing it! Find something you want to do and keep practicing that. Sure it may take longer, but you’ll find that you may actually look forward to painting it and you’ll be prouder of the results when it starts coming together.

Paint with friends

Many artists get into the mindset that they have to paint alone, that they work best in silence… but that tends to get lonely really quickly. You might even start feeling like painting is taking time away from your social life! Well, why not make friends who like to paint too? Or better yet, get your current friends to paint with you so you can all enjoy a pleasant painting session together. While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to ask their opinions of your work too! While you are probably making paintings for yourself, a second pair of eyes never hurts and they might be able to make suggestions that surprise you! Of course, you don’t have to take everything they say to heart, but oftentimes it’s the feedback we get from others that help us become better artists and continue to strive towards improvement.

Learn new techniques

Everyone tends to have certain comfort zones when it comes to art, and we’re usually pretty stubborn about staying within them. However, learning new techniques can help you not only expand your skill set, but sometimes it even improves how you're currently working! Maybe you’ll find a new technique which creates the same effect as the one you’ve been working with, but it does so in a much simpler method and cuts down your work time. Either way, even if you don’t end up adopting any of the new techniques you learn, at least you know how to use them for the just in case instances.

Take breaks

This is a tip that is beneficial to both beginner and experienced artists. Sometimes when you’re really invested in your painting, you can easily lose track of time or get fixated on finishing it all in one sitting. This tip is just a reminder that not all paintings need to be completed all at once. Taking breaks and stretching not only helps prevent you from developing any strain injuries such as carpal tunnel; it also helps remove your from instances of tunnel vision. If you’ve ever worked on a piece of art before, you’ll understand the morning after syndrome. Maybe the piece you were working on looked perfect at the time, but then you go to sleep, and when you get back it seems like your art managed to just grow imperfections overnight! That’s because you often don’t see the mistakes while you’re making it. Giving yourself a break and letting your mind wander away from your work can help give you that fresh pair of eyes you need to improve your work.

Teach others

Last but not least, you might find it helpful to share your experiences with others. Just like teaching others a problem set before an upcoming test may help you perform better on it; teaching others the techniques you’ve learned by painting can help solidify it in your brain. Not only that, but often when we teach others, they tend to ask the why question. Why do we do it this way? Why did you use those colours? By trying to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing, it forces you to understand why you did it yourself! Plus, it’s just fun to paint with others and have more people to share your hobby with.