“It has been a year since the outbreak of the pandemic and we are still grappling with various means to deal with it. Art is the one activity that actually brings a certain amount of peace,” says Harini Kumar, a senior Indian artist who has created numbers paintings on a variety of themes and held exhibitions in different countries.
Harini points out that art not only provides a creative outlet, it also gives us immense pleasure to see our ideas being represented on paper or canvas, or any other base on which we can use various tools to create our art.
How does one begin with art? Practising drawing is good but how does one go further than that? Here are some tips on how you can get started on painting by yourself at home:
Choose your art medium
Choosing your medium is important. While we may be inclined to try out various mediums we cannot do justice to all of them. Start with one medium that you are comfortable with. The most versatile medium is acrylic and since it dries quickly we don’t have to wait too long for the drying process.
After you decide on your medium, do make sure that you have the right supplies with you. Brushes suitable to the medium you have chosen, paints, a palette etc. Without the right kind of brushes, it will be difficult to proceed with your artwork.
Choose a range of brushes – A large flat brush for bigger strokes and backgrounds is mandatory. A number 9 round brush can be used for blending. A few flat and round brushes ranging from 2 to 6 will help with smaller details.
Brushes are available either in packets or individually. Make sure the bristles are smooth and soft but not brittle.
With regard to paints, choose good quality paints. There are plenty of brands available. It is always better to buy bigger tubes of the colors you prefer to use as you will run out of them pretty soon as your painting progresses. So, buy a box of smaller tubes and individual big tubes of your preferred colors such as white, brown etc.
Prepare your canvas
A decent canvas size would be 40cm x 60 cm. This size is comfortable to start out with. For acrylic mediums, a good idea would be to apply gesso before starting out. This strengthens the canvas and gives a firmer base to start your painting.
Choose your subject
This can be a bit tricky if you are aiming for something original. A good way to start would be to choose a photo clicked by you that has a good composition and try to get something similar on to your paper or canvas. Refer to plenty of good images to make a good composition.
Get a basic drawing done with your pencil on the canvas. Do not draw details as it would get covered with paint anyway.
When working with abstract themes, remember that it has more to do with colours, balance and composition. Line, texture, shape, form, colour, and value are the basic principles upon which we can build up an abstract artwork.
A realistic image can be converted into an abstract picture by only representing the light and dark colors that you see without actually drawing the shapes. Or, shapes can be simplified into simple geometric shapes differentiated only by colour or size. Yayoi Kusama’s or Wassily Kandinsky’s art is an excellent example of how to create dynamic art from geometric shapes.
Brush strokes can be used in dynamic patterns to create effect. If you want to retain the original form that inspired you, you can draw it out and then paint it with short brush strokes or stippling to create texture.
Look at a lot of art. Pick the artists whose work you really like and study their paintings for a bit before you start out. Do not copy their work with regard to each detail, instead take inspiration from their choice of subjects, the way they have depicted them and the colours or lines they have used to make art of your own. Try to keep your own as original as possible to gain credibility.
With acrylic painting or oil painting, the richness of the colour will only come through with a number of layers. Start with a basic coat of each area of the canvas. Once your whole canvas is covered with the basic coat, add a couple of thick layers or build up the image with a number of thin layers to achieve the effect that you want. Start with dark shades first and add lighter colours for highlighting.
Once you have finished with the lower basic coats, the upper coats can be more detailed or if it’s an abstract painting, the upper layers can be of the shapes and colours that you would like to highlight.
To make mixed media artwork, you can use torn pieces of newspaper, tissue paper, wire etc as part of your painting.
Wavering lines or vague images will not get your idea or thought across to the audience. Therefore, be firm in what you aim to represent. Try to make your lines clear and your colors distinct. Your painting should convey your intent very clearly.
An important tip is to keep taking pictures of your work as it progresses. Looking at your painting through the camera will give you a different perspective and you can spot your own errors immediately. A line that is too thick, a shape that is too incongruous, all this will be immediately visible through the lens.
Always walk away from your painting and look at it from a distance before resuming. This will also help in minimising mistakes.
Turn your painting upside down every now and then, and again take a look. The lines which you thought were straight may appear tilted and you can correct them immediately.
If you would like to improve yourself in the field of art, and you are serious about it, practise repeatedly to raise the bar. Make a number of paintings and use a variety of themes to paint. After a point you will discover your own style and you can further evolve.
Best wishes for Eid, stay safe and make more art!