How to get (back) into art as an adult

by Leta Keens

How to get (back) into art as an adult

You'd be hard pushed to find a kid who doesn't love mucking around with paints and coloured pencils. But for some reason, many of us lose touch with our inner artist, sometimes even before we reach double digits. Perhaps it's when the teacher tells us we have it wrong, and the sky isn't really a blue line at the top of the page. Maybe it doesn't seem like we're 'good enough', or one of those naturally arty people.

Kids are smart, though - painting and drawing is a huge amount of fun. Even if you haven't wielded a paint brush since primary school, it's never too late to start again.


Painting or drawing?

To keep life simple, think about whether it's painting or drawing you're more interested in. Check out art galleries, look in books, trawl through Instagram or Pinterest, and see what appeals. Once you've decided to give one or the other a go, that doesn't mean you're stuck with it forever - this is just a starting point so you don't get overwhelmed with possibilities.


Learn from the experts

Thanks to YouTube, you don't even have to step outside your own home to do an art class. Type in "Learn to draw", "How to paint with acrylics" or anything else you fancy, and you'll find no end of free tutorials. If you prefer face-to-face learning, seek out local amateur art classes - libraries, councils and community Facebook pages should be good sources of info.


Gather your arty supplies

Your teacher (online or IRL) should be able to give you a rundown of the essentials you'll need to get going. And even though you might have lost your will to paint as a kid, we're betting you still get a huge thrill out of new stationery - we definitely do! Buy yourself a nice sketchbook and only use it for your new hobby - no to-do lists or schedules allowed. Choose one that's small enough to keep with you at all times, so you can make art whenever the mood strikes.


Look for inspiration

It's everywhere - and it's completely personal to you. Be open, look around and think about what really holds your interest. You might find things in nature or on the street, in movies or from your own emotions. Record these (in words, sketches or snaps) for future reference. You never know where ideas will pop up - they can come from magazines, museums, social media, shop windows, music or even overheard conversations.


Just do it

As with any other pursuit, make time for your art and keep doing it. Otherwise, it's far too easy to let life get in the way. Sit down in your 'studio space' (your kitchen table or wherever you happen to be), pick up your paintbrush or pencil, let your mind run free and start experimenting. Don't worry too much about the outcome. Just get in there and do it.


Be kind to yourself

Let's be honest: your first artistic attempts are probably not going to be great. Don't let that stop you! As long as you keep at it, you'll see progress, which is exciting in itself. The main thing is not to judge yourself against anyone else, especially adults who've been painting forever - you're really no different from a kid starting out. And don't let anyone tell you this time around that the sky isn't that wonky line at the top of the page. If that's what you want it to be, then that's what it is.


See where it takes you

You may want to keep your art practice to yourself, and that's fine. Or perhaps you'll feel like sharing it with others via a local art group, life drawing class or by entering competitions. You may even be able to turn your pastime into a money-spinner one day! But for starters, aim to please yourself and don't worry too much about what other people think. Express yourself, make something you love, and enjoy the process along the way.

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