Experienced artist, Marcula Stauffer, explains common mistakes made by beginners and how to fix or avoid them.
When starting a new venture like acrylic paint, you’ve got to know that alongside growth and progress also comes trial and error. While there is no right or wrong way to create art, knowing how to overcome common roadblocks can help ease a beginner’s mind. After many years of experience in the studio, Marcula Stauffer shares his expertise to get you past roadblocks and onto success.
#1. Expecting Perfection
A new artist needs to understand that to improve acrylic painting skills, one MUST become comfortable with making mistakes. This process may be frustrating or discouraging, but without experimenting, how would you know what works and what doesn’t? Marcula Stauffer believes that the only way to get a feel for making strokes, using different mediums, and blending is by making mistakes and leaving behind the notion that every work of art is perfect.
#2. Choosing the Wrong Supplies
Think about what you would like the painting texture to look like. Not all paints, brushes, and canvases are created equal. As a beginner, it may make sense to choose some cheaper materials as you learn and get comfortable with the hobby. Marcula Stauffer notes that this can lead to discouragement as it can make your artwork lower quality. A cheap, rough canvas can make it difficult to create fine details, lines, or smooth blending when using acrylic paint. Poor canvases can absorb high amounts of paint and take the joy out of creating art.
This same concept also applies to choose the right acrylic paint. Cheap options can cause streaking or messy, uneven blending. Thin paint may require many coats, which makes for a more tedious painting experience.
#3. Not Using Enough Paint
There’s no need to stick to the dry brushing technique found in many beginners tutorials. Once you get the hang of things, Marcula Stauffer recommends taking it to the next level by using more paint. While having little paint on your brush may make it easier to create shadows and highlights, the more you paint the more you will realize how quickly acrylics dry. With a thicker amount of paint on your brush, it will be easier to blend colors and create texture.
#4. Starting Large
As previously mentioned, acrylic paint dries quickly, meaning it’s more difficult to cover and blend a large canvas. Marcula Stauffer suggests starting on a smaller canvas while learning to save both time and storage space in the long run. This can also help with the cost of supplies by using less paint overall.
Make the most of your valuable time by becoming a more efficient painter, a skill mastered by Marcula Stauffer.
New artists are often surprised at the amount of time they spend painting a scene onto their canvas. For detail oriented people it can take even longer, turning one project into a seemingly never-ending task. An experienced artist can quickly cover a canvas but it’s not because they’re rushing. Each brush stroke should always be made with deliberate intentions. While experience is by far the best teacher, Marcula Stauffer shares four tips to help you meet deadlines and paint faster.
Plan Your Painting
Sometimes, the hardest part of the entire process is planning out what you want to paint and determining how you are going to achieve your desired end goal. This stage allows you to confidently begin your painting and continue moving forward without too much interruption or reflection. Marcula Stauffer suggests breaking down the painting into logical layers to avoid tedious work. Start with the background and work up to the finer details that must be placed last. Having to meticulously work around smaller components in the middle of the canvas will eat up valuable time and make you less efficient.
Use Larger Tools
Using a small brush does not equate to only making small mistakes. Small brushes should be used for fine details only. Pick up a large filbert paint brush to cover the canvas quickly, making every mark with deliberate intention. Marcula Stauffer will sometimes recommend using a palette knife, which can quickly spread out paint across a canvas and make large marks. Palette knives are very commonly used for acrylic and oil paintings.
Use Gestural Strokes
Using the full motion available in your arm, make bold strokes that capture the backbone of your scene. Think about how each component is connected, and put down the general outline of what is about to take place. Learning this skill is very difficult for those who regularly practice realist painting, however, Marcula Stauffer believes it’s useful across a wide variety of popular painting styles.
Choose a simple subject that will require little attention to fine detail. As you gain more experience, it can be easier to take on more complicated concepts. Marcula Stauffer notes that artists can also choose which areas of the scene need the most focus and accuracy, allowing you to simplify the background and remaining areas. Not only will this help you save time and paint with more efficiency, it will draw the viewer’s eye toward the centerpiece of the painting.
Get comfortable with watercolors using simple painting methods by experienced artist, Marcula Stauffer.
When starting out, it’s best to buy a student set of watercolors. Although they’re typically sold with fewer color options, going this route will help you save money while you get the basics down. Many watercolor sets have a palette pan included, but if not, Marcula Stauffer recommends adding one to your supply cabinet right away.
A spiral note pad is great for painting on the go and can help you keep all your ideas in one place. Cold press paper will add a beautiful texture to your painting and should have a paper thickness weight of around 140 lb. With years of experience under his belt, Marcula Stauffer explains some basic watercolor painting techniques for beginners.
This technique is one of the most commonly used in watercolor painting. Many artists begin by drawing an outline very lightly with a pencil. Next, use a rounded paint brush to first cover the area with a layer of water. Next, create a base layer that will be the foundation of your drawing. Marcula Stauffer suggests using a hair dryer to speed up the drying process in between each layer. Finally, you can begin adding fine details to wrap up your masterpiece.
It’s very important for a new watercolor artist to practice blending colors. This will help you expand on the basic colors that come in a student set. Blending is also great for shading and creating softer lines in your painting. To practice, Marcula Stauffer recommends painting a shape with water and then adding paint to the area. Choose a second color and add it to the opposite end of where you put the first color. Now, you can move the paper back and forth to watch the colors mix and blend in the middle.
Try out different watercolor brushes to see how they interact with the paper. Marcula Stauffer believes that experimenting with different types of marks and pressure points will help you know how to achieve various results. Practice painting dashes, circles, lines, and dots. See what happens when you use different amounts of water and have cotton balls on handy to mop the extra moisture up.
White crayons aren’t only useful for decorating Easter eggs. The same wax resistant technique can be used in watercolor painting. Simply draw your design by pressing firmly on the paper with a white crayon before applying a color wash. The white wax will be left uncovered by the watercolor, still visible even after applying paint. This can be used to achieve a wide variety of looks with less time spent on fine detailing.
An Artist’s Guide to Choosing the Right Paintbrush Shape With Marcula Stauffer
All paint brushes might look similar, but Marcula Stauffer breaks down the distinct uses for each type.
Before you begin painting, imagine what type of mark you’d like to make on the canvas. Do you want to add detail to an object with a thin, soft line? Maybe you’re starting with the background and need to cover a large surface area quickly. With so many ways to execute your painting, choosing the right brush shape is critical to acquiring the desired end result. After many years of experience in the studio, Marcula Stauffer explains various uses for common paintbrush shapes.
This brush is recognizable by its wide, square shape while also being flat and thin. Marcula Stauffer recommends this style of a paintbrush for its ability to create both broad, wide brushstrokes and thin brushstrokes. Simply paint it straight on or flip it to the narrow edge. The longer the hairs, the more paint this brush will hold!
This classic shape can be bought with a point or blunt tip. The harder you press down on the canvas, the bigger the stroke you create. For fine detail, Marcula Stauffer suggests the pointed round with light pressure. This is the brush of choice for outlining, small areas, and lines.
Yes, this is a paintbrush, not a person! This style is unique because it will provide a wide variety of marks and wear down slowly with regular use. A worn down Filbert transforms into a brush that’s excellent for dry brushing or smearing. Marcula Stauffer notes that this shape of the brush is one of the most popular among experienced artists for blending and painting plants.
This brush looks exactly like it sounds and has soft bristles in the shape of a fan. This shape is ideal for creating small feathery marks and texture effects. Marcula Stauffer often uses this paintbrush to soften edges, flick paint, or make small strokes for things like grass or hair. It’s also the brush of choice for landscape elements like clouds or trees.
This shape is very similar to the flat brush listed above but has an angled end providing a precise tip. An angular flat paintbrush is perfect for filling in corners or edges while covering a good amount of space. If you’re worried about coloring outside the lines, this style is sure to help you stay precise!
Pursuing a career as an artist can be both fulfilling and challenging. Slaving over a canvas for days, weeks, or even months requires vulnerability and determination. So what can an artist do to get the most profit out of their projects? Marcula Stauffer shares four techniques for increasing the worth of your art.
First things first, people need to know that you are an artist. Marcula Stauffer recommends creating an online presence using social media and an online art gallery. A free platform like Instagram allows you to share your work while showcasing your personality. The audience will start to feel like they know you, and will be more open to purchasing.
Creating a website is also necessity for listing available items with prices. Online shopping is very popular, so why make buying art more difficult than it needs to be? Marcula Stauffer notes that despite online tools, it is still very important for new artists to network, be social, and share their talents with others.
Invest in quality photographs of your finished artwork. This will enhance your chances of selling pieces and also help you develop a catalog. Marcula Stauffer believes that it’s important for artists to look back at what they have done in the past, and reflect on how they have grown over the years. Clients may also be inspired by a previous work of art and pay extra for a commissioned piece that is similar. Plus, if there is ever any question of who created the artwork, having a photograph of it in your studio can really save the day.
One of the most challenging components of selling art is the ability to be flexible with pricing. When choosing an initial price, Marcula Stauffer considers the cost of materials first, the number of hours of work, and the size.
Although you know your time is extremely valuable, customers who purchase multiple items will expect a deal. While knowing your worth is important, it may not be the best idea to shy away from offering flexible pricing packages. As a new artist, this will help you move more pieces and get your name out there.
Help potential customers connect with you and your artwork by including detailed descriptions with each item. Marcula Stauffer explains that when a customer understands the context, emotion, or story behind the creation of your artwork, they will be more likely to resonate with it in their home. Always explain from your perspective, letting others decide what it means to them. A piece of art with text will always be worth more than one without. Don’t forget to title, sign, and date your creations.
Oil Painting Techniques for Beginners with Marcula Stauffer
Oil paints have been used for hundreds of years and are favored for slow drying time, opacity, and durability. This medium has a very thick consistency, often taking multiple days to fully dry before another layer can be added.
Slow drying paint can be an advantage for beginners because it provides the ability to go back and make adjustments or blend colors.
Learning any new skill takes time and practice, so Marcula Stauffer reminds new artists to have fun making mistakes while experimenting in a new medium. As an artist, your work will be unique to you and what you’re feeling.
After gathering your materials and finding a quiet place to work, try these easy oil painting techniques recommended by Marcula Stauffer.
Many artists begin their painting by drawing on the canvas first. This can be done very lightly using a pencil or a piece of charcoal.
A simple sketch provides a general outline which will help with the sizing of objects in the landscape.
Marcula Stauffer reminds new painters not to get carried away with this technique since it’s just a guideline for the real deal.
2. Paint Directly
With this method, artists skip the drawing and put a preliminary background to tone the canvas. This will help the painting stick to the canvas without cracking. It can also help new artists feel less intimidated by removing the large white space. Marcula Stauffer notes that sometimes, getting started is the hardest part.
This step can be done with diluted neutral oil paint, or with a thin layer of acrylic. Always be sure to let the preliminary background dry before directly painting your landscape.
The beauty of oil painting is its ability to be used in layers, which can make it jump off of the canvas. To begin, Marcula Stauffer recommends adding areas of shadow and light before layering on more intense colors. A general oil painting rule of thumb is to always paint the thick on top of the thin.
To achieve this, Marcula Stauffer highly dilutes the first layers of paint with water with each subsequent layer becoming less and less diluted. Again, make sure each layer is adequately dry.
4. Limit the Palette
It’s very easy to get excited and overwhelmed at the number of available color options. Despite all those choices, Marcula Stauffer believes its best for beginners to limit their color palette.
By doing this, new artists can save money and learn how to mix and blend colors. Learning how to properly shade can take your finished piece to the next level.
Museums and galleries hold a vast array of magnificent artwork from different artists around the world. Each professional has a unique perspective and a preferred style of painting.
As a viewer, art can become even more fascinating with a background on some popular painting styles that can help you better understand the landscape. After years of experience, Marcula Stauffer shares four common painting styles found in fine art galleries.
This form of art is also commonly called naturalism. Realism can be identified when the painter tries to create something that realistically depicts natural life. A viewer will typically find this type of artwork without large distortions. This style of painting generally applies to outdoor landscapes, portraits of people, and real-life situations. Marcula Stauffer also notes that realism is a very popular form of sharing history, dating back hundreds of years.
At first, the viewer may not know exactly what they’re looking at. The beauty of abstract art is that it’s a very expressive form of painting for the creator. According to Marcula Stauffer, abstract art does not need to follow any guidelines or depict any real life situation. That means the canvas is truly open to interpretation and embodies a pure form of creativity. Many famous artists like Pablo Picasso are known for this expressive style of painting.
Back in the 1920’s, a French writer named André Brenton started the concept of surrealism. This style of artwork is inspired by fantasy and dreams, or the subconscious, where you can find common things outside of their usual element. Spanish artist, Salvador Dalí, is well known for his unusual artwork, some of which depict melting instruments. Marcula Stauffer best explains surrealism as life that tries to be weird and break out of reality.
4. Pop Art
This style of art dates back to the 1950’s and is inspired by consumerism in American culture. You can find this both inside and outside of the museum in things like advertising, comic books, and food labels. Marcula Stauffer notes that there is really no hidden meaning to this colorful technique, and it is currently one of the most popular styles of modern art. Pop art can be described as quirky and fun, and is one of the most recognizable styles of art due to its unique characteristics. used this style regularly and is very famous for his contributions to the art community.
New artists looking to hone in on their creative skills are usually directed to acrylic painting. Made with plastic, this fast-drying medium offers control over consistency and texture. Acrylic painting is also more affordable compared to other mediums such as oil painting and watercolors.
Beginners only need a handful of simple tools to get started: a canvas, large cup of water, paint brush, and of course acrylic paints in a few standard colors. Paint sets are a great resource for beginners because they take all the guesswork out of choosing colors. After many years of experience, Marcula Stauffer shares four simple tips for beginners.
1. Prepare the Canvas
Cover the white canvas with an opaque, toned ground color. This will help to reduce glare while bringing out desirable undertones that match your landscape. Marcula Stauffer recommends using Yellow Orche, a color found in many acrylic paint sets. This technique is useful for beginners when judging tones, a difficult task to an untrained eye. Against a pure white background, colors can appear much darker than they really are.
2. Use a Large Brush
Beginners usually reach for a small brush believing it will keep mistakes small and create a more detailed painting. Most are very surprised to hear that great artists typically use large brushes to quickly fill their canvas. Marcula Stauffer tells new artists to not be discouraged, as acrylic paints dry quickly and work best in many layers, meaning it’s easy to cover mistakes and build upon your foundation.
3. Practice Blending
This tricky skill takes time and plenty of practice, but the end result can take your painting to the next level. There are many popular blending techniques which range from using a palette to blending right on the painting itself. Marcula Stauffer recommends trying multiple blending techniques before choosing the most comfortable method to practice.
4. Don’t Overthink
For perfectionists, this tip will be the most difficult to master! Clear your mind and set up your station in a relaxing atmosphere. It’s easy to get caught up in small details, but they can hold you back from looking at the big picture. Marcula Stauffer believes in taking breaks to approach the painting with a fresh set of eyes. Most people don’t observe art from mere inches away, so it’s perfectly okay to have inconsistencies. The beauty of artwork is in the eye of the beholder, or more accurately, the eye of its creator.