Painting is the most enduring and versatile of the visual arts. Its origins are lost in the mists of time but the results are still there for us to see today, in the many examples of primitive art on remote rock faces and in secret caves. Who knows what compelled ancient people to depict their lives with such attention to detail, but we can surmise that the urge to paint is intrinsic in our nature.
Painting is, of course, just one form of artistic expression but its vast range and endless re-invention makes it one that has touched most lives. Whether indirectly as a spectator, or through our own efforts, painting enriches and describes every facet of human life. You do not have to be expert or accomplished to appreciate and enjoy painting, there is something for everyone in this art form.
What is painting?
In its simplest form, simply applying colour to a surface. In artistic terms, this is usually painted on paper or canvas, but there are so many permutations. You may have your chosen medium already, or maybe you're just thinking about doing some painting and need a few ideas. Whatever your style or level, you are the artist and what you create is your art.
Pay a visit to an art shop if you can and have good look around. It will be inspiring and you will have the chance to ask questions and learn a few things. Go to see an opening or exhibition, find out what you respond to and what excites you. Get out some big glossy art books from the library, have a look on the internet, and talk to other people. It's a subject close to many people's hearts so you need not look far. Of course, enrolling in an art class or course is a fantastic way to begin or extend your artistic journey, and there are levels to suit everyone.
Let's have a look at some of the materials you can choose from. Acrylic paints are a relatively new option and have the advantages of being easy to apply and available in a huge range of colours and finishes. The lush hues and pliability of oil paints make this medium particularly suitable for combining colours and creating glazes, and the ages-old tradition of oil painting offers plenty of inspiration. Watercolours are available both in tubes and pans, offering versatility and subtlety according to the amounts and techniques employed in their use. From here the art of painting stretches to include myriad offshoots; think painting on glass or ceramics and pottery, on silk or other fabric, creating stencils, calligraphy and so many more. Your journey is to experiment and discover what your passions are.
Your chosen subjects and style are up to you. If you are painting under a teacher, you will be directed to try a variety of projects and this is a good way to find out what you like. You will want to go on with your work at home and inevitably your painting will evolve into your own unique style. Perhaps you are attracted to depict natural scenes or objects. Or you may prefer the freedom of abstract, or be intrigued by symbolism. Your work may express your politics or spiritual beliefs. Painting can be done on a computer and applied to a surface later. The fun is in the journey.
Anyone, at almost any age can enjoy painting. It's something that sometimes gets left behind after school, but it's never too late to pick up that paintbrush and rediscover your love of painting.