10 Things To Paint That Will Make You A Much Better Artist

Michael Daly
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Trace The Steps Of History And Recreate Old Master Paintings

Most painters start off doing what's called 'copying' – recreating the works of others.

There are some obvious reasons for this. Copying is a way for the artist to get used to the feeling of painting, to learn how to manage the paint and develop the confidence to do their own work.

Copying old master paintings is also a great way to study the works of the masters and to challenge yourself as a painter. It develops your perception of forms, shapes, light and colour as you try to copy subtle contours and tones.

Most importantly, copying is fun. Your recreation of an iconic painting can be as close as you like or you can step away from the original and have a playful experiment/

Transform Everyday Objects Into A Still-Life Painting

Air plants are those plants that don’t need soil to grow.

They require very little care, only requiring weekly watering and a change of water every month or so.


The juicer is a really cool prop to have for a still life.

Juicers can be painted from any angle and, if it’s a new one, you can.

Even see those spinning blades.


The Fruit Are

One of the most traditional subjects for still life.

They are bright, colorful and juicy. What more could you ask for in a still life?

A glass bowl with water

Glass Bowls With

Water are a great subject for painting too. Especially if the bowl is bright and colorful.

A vase with flowers

One of the most common themes in art is flowers.

Flowers are a very common subject for artists of any skill level.

A bamboo plant in a glass container

The Bamboo Plant

Looks very nice when painted. Its natural look makes it quite a

Good subject for a still life painting.

Your dog

Speaking of dog or cats, why not paint that one of your pet? They can be really fun to paint.

Fast Moving Objects

We are all taught from a young age that the eye sees an object at the moment it is lit from the side. But light hits anything from all angles.

Painting objects as they move towards you can be an interesting exercise in establishing motion.

  • Paint a sunset from the side. Pause to assess the darkening of the shadows, the bleeding of the washes and the richness of the color.
  • Paint a car leaving the driveway. Paint the driver’s face and hands. Paint the details of the car, lights, windows, etc., as the car expands on the paper.
  • Paint your shepherd’s dog facing right and leaving the frame. Paint the dog with dark fur and part white as it pauses. This is an exciting and dynamic moment.

Unique Ways To Push Your Creativity

One thing that can be said about creativity is that it is not something that can be taught as we all have our own individual talents.

However, there are techniques that can aid a lack of creativity and help put a spark into your work.

Painting is one of the most difficult objects to draw, to paint, to form in your mind and put into reality. Here are ten techniques that can enhance and push your creativity to a more manageable level.

Focus On Texture

When you imagine an abstract painting, you don’t just imagine the color. You also need to imagine the texture. When you look at what you are painting, if you find it bland and lacking depth and texture, include it by creating an image in your mind that imitates what you are painting.

This will help push your skills to a new level and aid your visual perception.

Look At What You’re Reading

If you are writing a story, or painting your form of a character, whether it is written, an actor or an imaginary persona, you have to look at all the elements of the real world. Because art can be a work of imagination or fantasy, you sometimes have to see the world through the eyes of a different person to get a better understanding of how your character sees the world.

Understand The Human Figure On A Deeper Level

You learned to do the human figure years ago, but have you ever spent time to understand it on a deeper level?

Can you draw a convincing hand pose with that relaxed thumb?

How do all the little muscles and tendons come together to form a leg?

For example, are you aware that if you line up a series of toes to match palms-up hand poses, they won’t quite line up with palms-down hand poses?

Take a week to study the human figure using references, books, or YouTube videos. Or just walk around the grocery store and study the faces as you go.

Stop and look at the muscles at work, wonder about the movement of the hands, and imagine how the legs would be positioned.

Think about how the skin moves with the underlying muscles and how textured and wrinkled skin can be used to communicate the texture of skin.

Make it a priority to really learn the body proportions, weight, and anatomy of body movement. This will make you a better artist.

Beginner? Here’s A Few Ideas On Things To Paint

If you are just starting, try one of these things. You can find many old tennis balls you can use and paint all over for more variety.

A hill full of flowers

It doesn’t have to be the most adventurous thing ever, but a very simple landscape will give you a good opportunity to practice keeping your edges soft.


Vegetables are really popular for painting. Turn them upside down and use leaves. This will allow you to practice painting light.

An animal

For your first time, a pet can be helpful. A cute animal will relax you. Don’t forget to practice the round shapes.

A fruit

If you’re not a beginner, try to do something more interesting than a banana.

Painting Is All About Colors – Understand How They Mix

Paint isn’t paint, and color mixing isn’t mixing colors. It’s about understanding how the colors mix.

The majority of our paintings are done in the gray value range, therefore, we need to understand the properties of the colors that best simulate solid, three-dimensional objects.

We do this with the primary colors. Red, yellow and blue. These are colors that are really far apart on the color wheel and mix in a way that makes muted colors. The more colors you add to a primary color mix, the less intense those colors will become.

This spectrum of color choices can be way more useful that pastels, blacks or whites.

This year, try to pick a single brand of oil paint. Use their range of colors, 8 to 10. Try to avoid mixtures, and stay with the gray value range. It’s much easier to get subtle colors out of blacks and whites, and you’ll see some tough paintings begin to appear in front of you.

Understand How Your Brush And Surface Interact Through Texture Practice

Having a good understanding of how your brush and your painting surface interact in terms of texture and smoothness is crucial for being able to predict what type of strokes and marks you will get at any particular point.

There are five primary brush textures: powdery, smooth, broken, textured, and streaky. They describe how the brush feels on the surface and how it is likely to interact with your medium.

So, try to cover at least these five textures by using a variety of brushes. Do be aware that the texture of a brush is, to some extent, the result of the type and amount of medium you are using as well as how you clean the brush; therefore, it makes sense to experiment with using different mediums and slightly different cleaning techniques to get a feel as to how your brushes will be affected.

Also, keep in mind that many brushes feel quite different depending on how you load the brush. Not only do you load paint on the brush, but also the medium. In other words, a brush can feel very different depending on whether the paint is thick/thin or dry/wet, so be sure to compare as you load the brush. Also, pay special attention to the effect that gravity has on the shape of the brush hairs as you load the brush. All of this will help you predict what strokes you will get when you start painting.

Use Social Media In A Completely New Way

I see it on nearly every artist's work. They proudly have their social media links displayed across the bottom, right, or somewhere in the corner of the painting, and they usually have a blue, white, or grey background.

Social media is a very powerful way to promote and sell your art. When I started out, I had this misguided idea that unless I bought expensive software, presented myself as a formally trained artist, and spent a ton of time on fancy websites, social media would not work for me. And guess what? I was wrong!

I do use traditional methods, but social media is the best way to get your art out there. Try posting your art to Instagram. Try to create a museum like layout on Facebook, mixing in some beautiful imagery and a little sense of the meaning.

Just try! I have seen a huge torrent of traffic on my website from just one post on Instagram. There are literally millions of people on Instagram, and your work could be just the ticket that they are looking for this evening.

Stock Photo Aren’t As Boring As They Used To Be

There are several different kinds of stock photographer. The first are people who just want a few nice photos of their family to put on the fridge with captions below.

Have you ever seen that billboard of Samuel L Jackson and his family walking on the beach? that was probably his wife.

The second kind of stock photographer is the guy hawking photos of cheerful families having fun at Disney Land, which is probably an embarrassing photo of him.

The only time you see beautiful, original images of happy kids playing outside are when it’s been taken by a third kind of stock photographer.

Essential Supplies Before You Get Started Painting

This list comprises of items which can prevent you from giving up on painting, should you wish to pursue it at home.

An easel – If you spend a lot of time on your knees, or bent over your canvas, you may find that it can get painful. An easel will allow you to stand up and work straight at the canvas.

A canvas – You can easily find inexpensive canvases at any craft store that will help you get started.

A palette – It’s not necessary to have an elaborate palette that holds about 50 different colors. Keeping things simple here will do just fine at the beginning. A palette would typically have at least four colors, maybe a few more, and a container to hold water.

Palette knife – To mix and apply your paints onto the palette. You can also use a normal butter knife instead.

A painting set – You would need painters tape and a roll of paper to tape along the sides of your painting, in preparation to mount it on your wall.

Paint brushes – If you are just getting started, you can use the cheap brushes that are available or such. However, it’s a good idea to invest in better quality brushes, especially for oils.

Painting Is Fun

Painting is a fun and fulfilling activity. While learning painting techniques and experimenting with different types of paints and colors is fun, there are some basic guidelines that help amateur painters improve their skills and paint better pictures.

The first thing to understand is that art, especially painting, is very subjective. It’s all about personal preferences. There may be a correct way to paint a picture but there is no correct answer to what constitutes a classic painting. Take the “rules” in this article with a little pinch of salt. If they help you with your painting, then, by all means, follow them. But don’t let them limit what you want to paint and how you want to express yourself. Ultimately, remember that it’s all about fun.


We are almost halfway through our 3 month long 75th book and this one was probably the most fun for the writing team. There are a good number of projects and tips you can easily apply to your life, plus a few clever things you probably never thought of.

We are all just as excited as you to continue sharing great advice with you for the rest of the year and we hope to improve as we too grow.

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