What is the best way to take up painting as a hobby?

Taking up painting/drawing as hobbies is one way to unleash the Picasso, the Da Vinci or the Rembrandt in you. Apart from discovering your talent, painting and drawing are a wonderful way to relax. By enrolling in an art course you will be amazed at how rapidly you can polish your talent with a teacher’s guidance.

You would be surprised to know that each one of us is blessed with some degree of artistic talent. Some world-famous people who were also great artists were Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Football star David James, singer Tony Bennet, actors Anthony Quinn and Dennis Hopper are all recognized for their painting talents.

painting large

Abstract Art in Multicolored, Blue and Red | BLOSSOMING

What you need to do to start painting as a hobby is to start small, start simple and find your inspirations! Through this simplified approach you can break the inertia of inaction.

Here are some suggestions as to what materials to use and how to get started. What you choose depends primarily on your own preferences, or maybe what you already have on hand. 


Acrylic is a very versatile, durable, and forgiving medium. Acrylics can be used thinly, like watercolor, or more thickly, like oil paint. They dry fast and can be painted over easily. They are water-soluble, requiring only water to thin the paint and, along with soap, to clean the brushes. 

There is a wide range of acrylic mediums for different effects. For example, if you want a slower drying time you can add a retarding medium to the paint, for thicker paint, add a gel. 

There are different grades of paint for students or for professional artists. Professional grade paints contain more pigment, but student grade is fine to start out with and easier on your budget.


Watercolor is also a good place to start if you are new to painting and perhaps less of an investment. Buy a set of watercolor pans, or some tubes of color to get started. You can choose whether or not to use white with watercolor. Traditionally the white of the watercolor paper serves as the lightest light in your composition when you use transparent watercolor and you work from light to dark.


Gouache paint is an opaque watercolor and allows you to work from dark to light on a light surface as you would with acrylic paint. You can also mix Chinese White with watercolors to make the colors opaque. 


Acrylic: Start with just a few colors in order to learn how to paint values and get the feel of the paint before adding the complexity of color. Begin with a monochrome painting of Mars or Ivory Black, Titanium White, and one other color. 

Black and White Painting

Abstract Art in Black and White | LIGHT & SHADOW

acrylic  paint

Abstract Painting in Black, White and Red | HIDDEN INSIDE MOSAIC

Alternatively, start with a limited palette of Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, and Titanium White. This gives you warm and cool tones while also allowing you to create a full range of values.

You could also buy a starter set which generally includes a limited palette of the three primary colors plus  Titanium White, green, and an earth color such as Yellow Ochre. From a few colors, you can make an endless array of hues. You can add to this basic color palette in time as you progress and want to try different colors. 

Watercolor or Gouache: As with acrylic, start with a limited palette. Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, and white (whether Chinese White or the white of the paper) will give you the ability to focus on capturing the values in your composition. Once you conquer that you can expand your color palette. 

Painting Surface

One of the nice things about acrylics is that you can paint on many different surfaces. Primed canvas panels are great because they are already primed, they are rigid and therefore easy to rest on an easel or your lap if need be, they are light-weight, and not too expensive. For an acid-free archival board try Ampersand Claybord. Other inexpensive options are paper on a board or pad, cardboard, wood, or masonite. And of course, there is always the traditional stretched canvas. The paint goes on more smoothly if you also prime these with gesso first, but it is not necessary with acrylic. 

For watercolor or gouache, there are different weights and textures of watercolor paper. Buy individual sheets or get a pad, or block, which is easy to carry around. You can also try Ampersand Claybord or Watercolor Board.


Brushes come in different sizes and shapes. Brushes are sized by number but vary by manufacturer. Buy a brush with synthetic bristles about an inch wide. Often this is a #12. Then choose two smaller sizes. You could also buy a less expensive starter pack to see what sizes and shapes of brushes you like. Ultimately, though, money spent on good brushes is well worth it since they tend to keep their shape better and not to shed as you're using them, leaving unwanted hairs in your painting. 

Generally, you want to start out with your  bigger brushes and save your smaller brushes for detail. 

Brushes for watercolor are softer for a more fluid paint. Try a starter set to experiment with different brushes. A good #8 round red sable watercolor brush is very useful. Otherwise, buy the best synthetic brushes you can afford. A #4 round for detail, a flat 2" brush for washes, and an angled flat should get you off to a good start.

Other Materials

You just need a few more things: containers for water (i.e., large yogurt containers), rags, and paper towel for wiping and drying your brushes, a spray bottle to keep your acrylic paints from drying out, paper plates or disposable palette paper on which to lay out and mix your colors, a plastic palette knife to mix acrylic colors, tape or bulldog clips to secure your paper to a board, and an easel or table for support. 

You're ready to start painting!

It is a good idea to look for a teacher in your area and enroll for a course in painting and drawing. Art is something that is possible to learn and you will have the chance to explore different media to use, like a pencil, ink and charcoal. Once you get a feel of this, you can decide to use the one you are comfortable with.

In your art class you will probably begin to draw or sketch objects or live models. Some people prefer painting classes where the importance of color, texture, line and form is emphasized. Most people tend to come up with their own special style of drawing and painting while some stick to the traditional landscapes.

It is okay to stumble during the learning process and end up using the eraser a lot. But as you practice and become better, you will be proud to produce that masterpiece that will take up a pride of place in your living room. 

Living Room Painting

Large Original Abstract Painting Lots Texture Abstract | EMOTIONAL OUTBURST

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Updated on Sep 18, 2020 by Alex Vlasenko