Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone can paint! Seems hard to believe but absolutely true. Decorative painting as we know it today is all about applying systematic methods and ordinary people like you and me with no artistic background have been able to learn how to paint.

Decorative painting is an easily learnt art form and if you can hold a pen, you can learn to paint and create beautiful pieces of decorative art.

What is the best way to learn decorative painting?

The best way to start learning is to attend classes. Taking lessons has the following advantages:

  • Structured learning - teachers usually structure lessons to build in the different skills involved in decorative painting. You will be sure to learn new skills every time you attend a class.
  • Discipline - attending regular classes means you make time for yourself to become a good artist! You learn at your own pace but you paint on a consistent basis.
  • Relaxing atmosphere - in a weekly painting class for example, no one is under pressure to finish their work in a hurry! You paint in a relaxing atmosphere. If you are fast, of course you accomplish more during a class. If you are industrious, you can do homework after the class...otherwise you just continue at the next class.
  • Learning environment - you are with others who are trying to accomplish the same thing - learning to do something they were not able to do before. Being in a group helps you to learn from each other and keeps you motivated.

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Do I need an art background?

No, you don't! Any decorative painter you meet will probably tell you that she (or he) never had an art background or artistic experience and probably never picked up a brush before!

In decorative painting, you will be taught all the necessary skills and techniques step-by-step. You'll be amazed to see, as you go along, how you yourself are turning unfinished, plain wood, even ordinary household items into heirloom quality functional and decorative pieces and unique gifts. Like many others, the stunning masterpieces you are creating will not only surprise family and friends, but also impress them.

They'll actually find it hard to believe that you actually painted those pieces yourself when you did not have any artistic experience or background!

What do I need to have to start painting?

Basic supplies for beginning decorative painters usually include the following:

  • A wet palette to keep your paints from drying (saves a lot of paint!)
  • A stylus, transfer paper and tracing paper for tracing patterns
  • A 1" flat brush for basecoating and varnishing
  • A 2" sponge roller for basecoating and varnishing large surfaces
  • A round brush for strokework
  • A flat brush or shader
  • A liner brush for linework
  • A palette knife for mixing colours
  • A small bottle of brush-cleaner to clean your brushes
  • Water-based varnish to protect your finish pieces
  • Sampler kit of acrylic paints and mediums or a starter kit of basic initial colours if you intend to do any painting on your own outside classes

It IS possible to begin painting without buying all the above items but you'll probably have them all by your second or third class. Other things you will eventually need to buy will include various types of mediums which decorative painters use for various purposes - glazing, blending, crackling and marbling, to name a few, and of course various other brushes to perform specific types of brushwork.

Are supplies easily available?

Supplies for the decorative painter are generally quite readily available in art supply shops wherever you are. Brands may differ but they ARE available. Brushes and paints are available in a number of brands and tools like the wet palette and other supplies are also obtainable.

If you 're not able to find them in your regular art supply shop, you should ask your teacher as she will probably stock most of these items.

Books on decorative painting may usually be found in the arts and crafts section of some book shops. If you know of folk artists and decorative artists in your area, get in touch with them as they usually stock some books. Even if they don't, they should be able to order them for you or help you order them yourself.

There are, of course, a wide selection of suppIies and books available on the internet - its quite safe to purchase through secure sites so you always have this alternative if you don't find what you need locally.

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Is Decorative Painting expensive?

Decorative painting is a hobby - something you choose to do for pleasure. At least that's the reason why most of us start painting!

Of course, you may find it costs a bit initially but that's because you need to invest in basic equipment and supplies to get started. You could start with the minimum, get the hang of it and invest in additional brushes, paints and mediums as you go along.

To start on the right footing, you should begin by purchasing good brushes, but who says they have to be the best? When you start seeing results, when you know you're really serious about painting and you're absolutely hooked, trust me, you will want to get the best.

Classes...you'll need to attend at least a few of them. Fees for decorative painting may vary from place to place but they're not expensive when you consider that you're learning to do something you couldn't do before.

The truth is, how much you spend on decorative painting (or any other hobby for that matter) really depends on how deep your pocket is. Buy what you need and spend what you can afford is the best advise I can give.

What am I paying for when I take classes?

When you go to a studio to paint with a teacher, the teacher is sharing her knowledge and experience with you and you get personal attention and guidance. You'll get advise too, for sure. You'll know if you're doing it right or you're doing it wrong. Its not quite the same as learning completely on your own or from videos, CDs and books.

Whatever you are painting in class, you basically get a pattern packet from your teacher - something that she or he has painted before, designed, or researched and created.

Your teacher has also probably invested in a lot of books and taken lessons from other artists. Believe me - she's done this so she can learn from them and teach you..so that's back to sharing knowledge and experience. Later you'll want to buy those books yourself because by then you will have learnt how to interpret the instructions.

Whatever it is, you're gaining a lot...until you're ready to go it alone. In a nutshell - you're paying not only for expertise, but more importantly, guidance, coaching and feedback.

How do I keep learning?

Its really up to you. I know people who attend five or six initial classes to learn the basics and then carry on painting and learning on their own. Some find they really enjoy painting in a group and continue to attend classes whenever they can.

Different people learn in different ways. There are many ways to continue after your initial classes:

  • you may start buying books and try painting on your own using designs available in various American and Australian magazines (among others), books by various artists or pattern packets which you can purchase in your area or on the internet.
  • you can tell your teacher what else you would like to learn to paint - she would gladly find a suitable project
  • you can learn by attending classes with other teachers in your area after you have learned the basics - expand your horizons: different teachers have different specialties!
  • you can register for decorative painting workshops which may be organised from time to time by different teachers or studios in your area
  • you can register for seminars with international artists which are organised in your area
  • you can even register for seminars, workshops and conventions which are usually organised in the US, UK, Canada or Australia!

The most important thing is - don't stop learning!


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