Interested in drawing or painting? Wondering How to Become an Artist? I’m hoping I can help. I’m excited to share my adventures of rediscovering my love of art and sharing my advice on how to be an artist.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

How to Become an Artist:

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you won’t be surprised to see this post. If you’re just following Inspired by Charm here or are new to the blog (welcome, by the way), then this discussion of my artistic journey might be new to you. Either way, if you have an interest in art, drawing, painting, or just curious about my process, then this post is for you.

Part of me feels a little premature in writing a post titled “How to Become an Artist” because I honestly don’t have the answer for you yet nor am I technically an artist. However, a big part of this blog is taking you along with me on my adventures. Every adventure needs a starting point, as rough as it may be, so I thought this would be the perfect place to start.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

I have always had an interest in art, drawing, and painting. I took as many art classes as I could in high school and even a few in college. More recently I’ve taken some local community art courses–one for watercolor and one for oil painting. Am I any good? I suppose that’s subjective, but I’d like to think I have some God-given abilities. You see, my mom and both of my brothers were / still are very talented artists. My brothers don’t practice much anymore, but my Mom has been diving back into the arts.

As I’ve started practicing again, I’ve created some pieces which I like and some that I feel could use some work. I’ve included a few photos from my sketchbook as part of this post so you can have an idea of what I’m creating. None of these are official pieces of artwork. Rather, they are merely studies as I try to determine the direction and style I want to explore in my artwork.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

So you may be asking, “What is the purpose of this post?” Well, as I dove back into my art practice I’ve learned a few lessons along the way that I thought might be helpful for anyone looking to build an art practice. Also, as I’ve been sharing some of my work and studies on Instagram I’ve received dozens of questions about how I got started, if I’m taking classes, etc. I’ve also heard from a lot of you that want to dabble in art, but aren’t sure where to start.

I’m just a novice myself, but I hope what I’ve learned so far will help you on your journey. Let’s get into it.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

How to Be an Artist:

Practice, study, and practice some more.

We’ve all heard the saying “Practice makes perfect,” and that couldn’t be more true.

Even if you “don’t know how to draw/paint,” you can start by just drawing basic shapes like lines, circles, squares, doodles, etc. Just the practice of moving your hand, wrist, arm, and connecting that with your brain will make a huge difference.

When I started back up with my art process and went to draw a circle, it felt really weird. It was almost like I forgot how to do it so I just spent time drawing and doodling. The goal wasn’t to create a piece of art, it was just to get my hand and brain working on movement again.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

If you’re really new to drawing, you can also start by tracing. While you’re obviously copying someone’s work, this technique is done to make the connection between your hand and your brain.

The more you practice, the more these movements and gestures become second nature for your hand and brain. With enough practice, you’ll be able to create lines, shapes, and brushstrokes without even thinking about them.

This might sound like fluff, but it’s really helpful. Once you’re feeling comfortable and ready to dive deeper, I recommend studying and learning from the greats and artists you admire.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

How to Get Started:

I know how overwhelming it can feel when you’re beginning something new. Where do you start?

STUDY:

While I have some basic art knowledge, I also had a lot to learn as I was getting back into my art. Yes, you can certainly just sit down and draw or paint, but if you want to grow, learn, gain new techniques, etc. it helps to learn from someone that has more experience. Below I’ve listed some of my favorite resources that I’ve been using over the past few months.

Skillshare:
If you’re looking for more structured lessons, Skillshare is an amazing resource and one of my personal favorites. There are thousands of classes and it only costs $9.99 a month. Not only can you learn art, but you can take courses on public speaking, photography, building confidence, graphic design, productivity, etc. If you put in the time and effort and take even one class a month, this is an amazing value. To me, this is more valuable than any other subscription you can buy. Plus, they also offer a free 14-day trial. It’s the best.

YouTube:
YouTube might be my favorite resource because it’s absolutely free and there are literally thousands of artists sharing a multitude of techniques and related items about art. Just head on over to YouTube and search for whatever skill, technique, or medium you want to study and I promise there will be dozens of videos. It’s an incredible library of resources and it doesn’t cost you a penny.

Instagram:
Another free resource is social media. Over the past few months, I’ve followed dozens of new artists on Instagram. Since the addition of Instagram stories, Reels, and IGTV, you can find some art tutorials on Instagram, but nothing like you would on YouTube. However, I do consider Instagram a great resource for inspiration and motivation. In addition, artists will share classes they’ve taken, tools they use, etc. I also found a couple of artists that offer classes themselves. I’ve even taken a few.

Local Classes:
Finally, as I mentioned above, I’ve taken some local classes right here in Pittsburgh. No matter where you are located, there are likely some art courses nearby. You can start by doing a quick Google search for your area. I also recommend checking out local colleges, museums, botanical gardens, art education centers, etc. In addition, you may want to find a Facebook group for your local community and ask for recommendations there. You may find individuals in your community that teach out of their home.

My watercolor class was at my area Adult Education Center, my oil painting class was at an independently run art school, and I even took a mosaic glass art class at the local botanical garden.

Books:
While not a go-to for me personally, art books are another great resource. Again, there are books on almost any art subject that you may be curious about. Just a reminder that you can save yourself some expense by going to a local library and borrowing books that you’re interested in. If you love the book and want it as a permanent resource, then you can make the investment and purchase it.

I do have a few art books that I really love and use when I need a quick reference. (I’ll be sure to share these in a future post.) However, my preferred learning method is video tutorials or in-person classes.

As you can see, there is an endless amount of resources available to you. Search out to find which one suits you’re learning style best and give it a go.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

GET SOME BASIC SUPPLIES:

On Instagram, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about paints, palettes, pens, tools, etc. As I’m diving deeper into my “How to Become an Artist” adventures I’m discovering products and tools that I love. As I continue to grow and learn I will be more than happy to share these things with you. In fact, I have a post HERE with all of My Favorite Art Supplies.

However, if you’re new to art, I would focus less on the tools and more on the practice. I say this from experience as I spent months buying “the best” art products and then never did anything with them. Being a person that loves to shop and buy supplies, this brought me joy but didn’t really help my ultimate goal of being an artist.

As I discovered wonderful artists through my studies, I was surprised at how many used somewhat basic art supplies. I’ve seen amazing drawings from ballpoint pens and highlighters. I even saw paintings done with tea and coffee! Get creative and use what you have.

Do “the best” art supplies make a difference? Yes, of course.

Do you need them to get started? Do you need them to be an artist? Absolutely not.

You don’t need a specific pen, pencil, paint, brush, fill-in-the-blank, to get started. Use what you have. A simple ballpoint pen and a notebook are enough for you to start drawing and learning. Start there.

And yes, I get it. Trust me. Buying and amassing art supplies is such a wonderful high. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite art supplies with you and tell you why I love them so much.

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

Becoming an Artist: Final Thoughts:

If I could sum up this post in two words I would say: Just Start.
What is the first step to becoming an artist? Just start.

It really is that simple. And yes, I know how hard starting can seem. As I mentioned above, I waffled for months and stocked up on every art supply thinking that would make me an artist. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. It wasn’t until I put pen to paper (literally and figuratively) that the magic started to unfold.

So grab a piece of paper, and just start. You’ve got this.

Want more follow my art series here on Inspired by Charm!

INSPIRED BY CHARM ART SERIES:

 

If you want to follow along on this journey and learn more about my art process, favorite supplies, recommended courses, etc. Join the IBC Mailing List HERE. You can also find me on Instagram at @inspiredbycharm to see more of my studies and work.

I really hope this was helpful. If there’s more you want to know or have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer whatever I can. Your questions may even spark an idea for a future post in this “How to Be an Artist” series.

 

How to Become an Artist: A Novice's Guide #art #artist #watercolor #oilpainting #gouache #beginner #novice #artclass

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Comments

  • Jeannie at

    I’m looking forward to this series and enjoyed this helpful post! I just last month googled “how to be an illustrator” so trust that people are looking for this type of information. Thank you!

  • Vicki at

    From the sneak peeks of what you have already done you are very good!

  • Carol at

    Take it from a past art instructor you definately have an eye and talent for this passion. Very nice studies

  • Sandi at

    Michael, I love your watercolors! The one with the clouds and trees I especially love. The colors are fabulous! I’m no artist but I know what I like.

  • Penny Thomas at

    Michael, trust me, you’re an artist. My favorite is the queen bee! Is she for sale?

  • Ginger at

    I can’t wait to follow along with you! I love watercolor painting! I took classes years ago and you have inspired me to get back into it! I need to refresh my supplies! Any links that you can share would be great! Pallets, paints, brushes and paper! So excited!

  • Denise at

    I love this little pep talk to not only try new things, but actually put some effort into learning a skill rather than just faking it. I also love your signature and think you should teach us some calligraphy.

  • Michele Pagliei at

    I’ve been following you here and on SM for some time and find you to be so genuine and inspiring. I’ve tried many of your recipes (making the blueberry cake this weekend) and enjoy all things IBC. I recently started dabbling in some watercolor and such. It is daunting getting started but I love the idea of your doing an artist series and look forward to following along. It makes me feel a little braver about “just starting”! Thanks!

    • Mary at

      Your paintings are SO good ! I especially love the painting on canvas of Yosemite. It’s really beautiful ! Thank you for writing about this topic. I’ve been wanting to learn watercolor and have amassed the supplies, but I keep hesitating to start. I think I fear I won’t be any good at it. You’ve inspired me to just start and see where it goes.

  • Moe at

    Wow! You are a true artist with a ton of talent. Your passion is oozing from your pics. I returned to art after 40 yrs of working and raising kids. I am so much at peace now. I express myself through large colorful abstracts and it is so much fun. I say try as many mediums as possible to find your happy place 🎨

  • Jeanr at

    I will LOVE this part of your blog! I used to “do art” when in college but have not touched a brush or pen since. I let life get in the way of something that I’ve loved since childhood. Thank you for always inspiring with new ideas. I can’t wait to follow this.

  • Tracey at

    Those are great! I don’t have any drawing abilities, and I am afraid that if I tried it and it looked terrible, I would feel bad and stop trying. Maybe I can stick to buying other people’s art! I appreciate the talent of so many. Your work is so nice. You should sell it if you are inclined.

  • Rosey at

    Thank you for your tips, Michael. I really love that bee painting!

  • Karen Herpin at

    I have been painting for 40 years. Watercolors are my favorite medium. Many years ago when I was learning watercolors I found that controlling the water & paint on paper very difficult. So our instructor told us to draw circles on our w/c paper using a glass. Each circle would be for a different color. Then we were to put a color into each circle at one edge & put our brushes down. Then we were to move the paper around & let the water & color do the work. It was the greatest lesson on what water & color can do…I have never forgotten that lesson. Keep practicing! If you do it once, you can do it again!

  • Stacy at

    You are already doing wonderful work. Thanks for sharing your insights and ideas.

    Looking for your “style” — I’m working on a project (children’s picture book) and spent a month or so drawing before I decided the style I would use. Once you know “how” you will approach your art, it simplifies everything. You are creating and not hindered by second guessing yourself as you work.

    Looking forward to more beautiful art!

  • Kimberly at

    Michael, your Queen Bee watercolor INCREDIBLE. You should be framing that , using it for pillows, logos, plastering it everywhere you can. Utterly amazing. And the radishes are also pretty spectacular. You are not only an artist, you are a talented one.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      You made my day! Thank you, Kimberly!

      xo Michael

  • Karen at

    Michael, so excited to follow along as grow as an artist. I love the botanical floral. Hope you will share more of them. It is obvious that you have lots of talent!

  • Pam at

    I have just started dabbling in watercolor and have no experience whatsoever. I found Emma Jane Lefebvre on you tube that has some great videos for tru beginners like me. My only art class was in 7th grade, and I am now 72, you have real talent, me not so much, but I am going to try it anyway. In all my searching for information I’ve read over and over that the place to skimp is NOT on paper. arches cold press 100% cotton paper seems to be the overwhelming choice. I discovered Dick Blick is a good source for supplies with good pricing. They are very helpful. My first “painting” was awful, but I could see my mistakes and will learn from them. I am going to practice Emma’s exercises, especially water control, and persevere! Your work is beautiful!

  • Jeanr at

    I cannot wait for every post on this topic! Your ideas are always favorites of mine and each recipe I’ve tried has been a hit. I love that you are so “real”, whatever that means to people. You are down-to-earth and create spaces that are welcoming and yet really classy at the same time. Passing on your expertise is a gift to everyone who follows you.
    THANK YOU!

  • Lynda Hughes at

    You are REALLY good! Don’t let this talent slip away!!!

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