You’re excited to start painting with acrylics. You’ve got your canvas, brushes and paints. But what on earth should you paint? We have plenty of easy painting ideas to get you started!
Choosing a subject matter can be difficult, especially for new acrylic painters who are looking to build skills. That’s why we’re sharing our favorite easy painting ideas that are inspiring but not so difficult that they’re discouraging.
Grab your acrylics and start with one of these easy painting ideas!
Flowers are a wonderful subject matter for the new acrylic painter. For one thing, they’re a forgiving subject matter — it’s easy to “get” that a painted object is a flower, even if it is not quite realistic.
Plus, painting flowers can help you grow as a painter. Perhaps you’ll start by making simple flower shapes; then, you might progress to mixing variations of color and creating faceted hues in your blossoms. Before you know it, you may be creating beautiful, realistic flower paintings.
Silhouettes, especially nature-inspired ones, can be an inspiring way to develop your acrylic painting skills. In the above painting, artistic splattering gives the backdrop some interest, and then a stark silhouette of a cat takes up the foreground.
You can make your silhouette painting as simple or complex as you like. You could, for example, create a colorful or atmospheric background. Or, you could choose a more detailed subject for the silhouette. This way, you can choose your level of difficulty.
3. Still life
It might seem like still life paintings are something best left to the master painters of the 18th century, but it’s a style accessible to even beginners — really!
When it comes down to it, creating a still life relies on painting basic shapes in different colors and perspectives. If you can draw simple shapes and understand shading, you’re well on your way to painting a successful still life.
4. Three-dimensional shapes
If tackling real objects in a still life seems too lofty a goal, you can start by painting shapes. This easy painting idea can be a gateway to painting more involved still life compositions.
In the above painting, the painter explored shape, tone and depth by using a monochromatic palette. This is a wonderful way to begin learning the language of shape and form and how to create it with different variations of a color.
Stencils work so well with acrylics, and they can help you build confidence as you try easy acrylic paintings. And with so many types and designs available, even beginners can experiment with all kinds of compositions.
But don’t feel like a stencil has to be a big addition to your painting toolkit. You can easily make a DIY painting template with painter’s tape! Apply the tape all over your canvas in a geometric configuration, and then paint on top of it in abstract bursts of color. Once the paint dries, you can remove the tape, and the areas the tape covered will remain white, making for a striking, modern painting.
The best way to get better at painting is by painting. Simple! That’s true whether you explore realistic, painterly renditions of objects or you create abstract, non-representational art.
Abstract art can be an easy way to just start painting and have fun. How do you do it? You simply put paint on paper and experiment. Pretend you’re Jackson Pollock and fling paint at the canvas, if you wish.
Abstract art is an easy way to get started with acrylic because it’s a stress-free, experimental way of creating. Anything goes! Maybe you put a line of paint on the canvas and smear it with your finger or a dry brush to create a fascinating gradient. Your first try might not look as refined as the dreamy landscape above, but you’ll definitely have fun.
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Editor’s note: This post was published in September 2015 and was updated in January 2018.