This post is for anyone who is curious about art but is uncertain how to go about exploring this medium. Whether your heart is set on drawing, painting, digital art or photography, it can be intimidating to see how stunning other people’s work is. You probably have not seriously picked up a paintbrush since school. Nevertheless, you are very intrigued when you see people painting on a big canvas and, in what seems to be a fraction of a minute, turning around and showing off their impressive and colourful result. Maybe, as I used to, you love copying drawings just so you can have fun colouring them in. Maybe you are curious about art and photography because it sounds therapeutic and relaxing and you are not particularly interested in making anything great. Either way, stick around to discover how you can approach art as a hobby from the comfort of your own home.
Get yourself some supplies
Every aspiring artist needs some proper supplies to start their creative journey. Supplies can be cheap at the beginning. It is far better to start without putting pressure on yourself that you have to make the purchase “worth it”. If you want to try photography, a smartphone is more than perfect. If you want to experiment with watercolours, drawing pens or brush pens, you can easily find kits for under £10. Small sketchbooks and sketchpads are also cheap and easy to find in stationery shops. My first watercolour kit cost £1 and yes, I now recognise it was awful, but it was necessary. Especially with drawing and painting, different subjects require different skillsets and supplies. This is why practice is essential to find out what you are good at and what subjects allow you to express yourself fully. For example, to paint a natural landscape, you will need to apply your knowledge of light, colour and shadow. On the other hand, if you are planning to paint a city landscape, you will need great precision and knowledge of perspective and point of views. As you get more comfortable and understand which medium and subjects you prefer, you will decide whether to splurge on canvases and an easel or take the plunge and get a good quality camera.
Here are some links for the supplies that I use:
Watercolour Kit from Mont Marte
A4 Sketch Pad from Clairefontaine
A5 Sketch Pad from Clairefontaine
Brush Pens from WHSmith
Drawing Pens from Uni Ball
In case you have a slightly higher budget or plan to ask for a creative gift for Christmas or your birthday, you can look online for something a bit more guided that sparks your interest. Colouring books are the most budget-friendly and you can find an extensive variety of these online. There are cats colouring books, mandala colouring books, houseplant colouring books, and even monthly colouring books so that you can explore different subjects and themes. Art Journals are slightly more expensive but they can help you find inspiration with prompts and activities. I suggest these if you feel stuck for ideas but still feel that itch to draw something. Lastly, if you want to go all out, you can find create your own kits online too. These cover a variety of subjects and mediums so you can really find anything you are looking for. Following a quick Google search, I found some fascinating pottery kits, a “Create Your Own Neon Sign” kit, as well a book all about botanical painting. I think these are great options if you want to have the experience of an art lesson but lack the confidence to participate in one yet.
Set Yourself a Challenge
In the next section of this post, I will offer some ideas for challenges you can set yourself to practice art and photography without too much pressure.
The first one is a lettering challenge. Hand lettering is a fun activity, which does not require many supplies and skills but can lead to very pretty results. You can set yourself to complete one page a day of hand lettering. This one page can consist of just one word, a quote, or a one-letter logo. As long as you wrote it by hand with some care of the font and technique, you are good to go. If you are feeling fancy, you can decorate around your hand-lettered text with some leaves, stars or anything that you want. This is an assignment given in Graphic Design courses to have students practice and get an idea of what they like. I suggest tracing guides with a ruler first, then your text with a pencil, and lastly going over it with a drawing or brush pen.
If your interest lies in photography, read on for a photography challenge. You will want to practice by playing with composition, light and colour at the beginning of your photography journey. Set yourself a challenge to take each photo in at least three ways. You can decide to play with three different amounts or sources of light, either by physically changing position or by turning on a lamp or by changing the settings or focus on your camera and editing your pictures. You can play with different compositions by experimenting with household objects or flowers. Lastly, you can play with colours by adding cold-toned or warm-toned objects or filters to your picture. This challenge is great to force yourself to be thoughtful when snapping a picture and attentive to small differences in the images.
You can also set similar challenges with drawing, painting and other mediums. The important thing is that they help you practice over time and develop attention to detail. Once you are confident enough with your art, you can make a social media account or a website to keep track of your progress and share your work with your friends and fellow artists. If you ever desire to turn your hobby into your job, it will be great to show these as your portfolio.
I hope this provides some guidance for anyone who wishes to be more creative through art and photography.
Best of luck making art!
Linda Arrighi, Nonfiction/Art Editor & Illustrator