When you have spare time on hand and really are at a loss how to make good use of it, take up art at home! “Art is the one activity that actually brings a certain amount of peace,” says Harini Kumar, a senior Indian artist in Oman 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.
Acquire art supplies
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. There are numerous options for professionals as well as novices who take up art at home as a hobby.
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. Doing art at home at your own convenience and in your own spare time has no specific restrictions.
Look at a lot of art before you take up art at home. 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. There are numerous ways to use mixed media when creating unique art at home. Many materials exist in your own home, you just need to identify them and give them your own creative spin.
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. It will make you realise that art at home is not just a fulfilling pastime, it also unlocks your creativity in many other areas.
Don’t let boredom get the better of you, spend your time creatively at home. Try the following:
How to paint a glass jar
Glass jars have many uses as vases for flowers, pencil holders, or simple decorations. While plain glass jars can look beautiful on their own, painted glass jars can add a touch of colour to your home. You can paint your jars to make them look attractive during your holiday time at home.
Select an empty jam/pickle/cheese jar. Remove any labels, wash and clean it well wit soap and water, and dry it completely.
Apply 2 coats of acrylic craft paint or glass paint. Apply the first coat, let it dry, then apply the second coat. It should take about 20 minutes for the first coat to dry. You can do this with a paintbrush or a foam brush. If you are using regular acrylic craft paint, just let it dry overnight.
Distress the jars with sandpaper for a rustic look, if desired. Lightly buff the threading along the top of the jar with 120-grit sandpaper. Use the same sandpaper on the bottom of the jar.
Seal the jar with 2 coats of acrylic sealer. Use a glossy sealer for a shiny finish. If you distressed the jar, a satin or matte sealer would look better.
Allow the sealer to dry and cure before using the jar. Because you only painted the outside of the jar, you can use it as a vase for fresh flowers.
If the jar gets dirty on the outside, wipe it down with a damp cloth. Never scrub the jar or leave it standing in water, or the paint will come off.
Paint delicate designs by hand using a small paintbrush.
How to decorate your coffee mug
Get a plain white porcelain mug. Clean the mug well and make sure it is free of grease and dust.
Draw a simple design on white paper with a marker or take a printout of a small favourite design. Trace over the lines with a pencil.
Cut out the design as a small rectangle and stick it on the mug, with the design portion inside. Roll a pencil over the design portion so that it imprints lightly on the mug.
Using a porcelain marker, carefully trace over the imprint on the mug to create the basic outline. Hold your mug at an angle to allow the marker ink to flow well as you draw.
If you make a mistake, as long as the ink is still wet, simply wipe it off using a wet wipe. Make sure it’s dry before you proceed.
Be creative and decorate the handle, sides, bottom of the mug, in whatever fancy way you want. You can also make gifts for friends with messages.
Porcelain markers need to dry for 24 hours. Some brands need it to be baked for about 30 minutes in order to fix the paint.
After fixing the ink, the mug is ready to use and it is dishwasher safe. This a superb way of enjoying art at home.
How to decorate your computer mouse
Cover the edges of the mouse with masking tape.
Select a contrasting shade of nail polish and pour out some on a piece of paper.
Using the eraser end of a pencil, dip in the polish and start dotting away on the body of the mouse. You can use dots of different sizes to make your desired design.
Let it dry completely. Then remove the masking tape from the sides.
You can try a variety of designs with dots, stripes or dashes.