(depositphotos provided)

If you are a beginner artist finding themselves frustrated at the painting projects you set out to try, you’re not alone. Here are a few paint ideas to help you start small and easy.

Paint a Watercolor Cactus

Cacti are relatively easy to paint, as they are a basic, simple shape that does not require much linework. A saguaro cactus is probably the cactus shape you are most familiar with: it looks a lot like a plump stick figure waving uneven arms in the air. Take a pencil and draw this basic shape as your outline. Draw a long, rounded oval shape with similar rounded oval arms protruding from either side. You can add as many arms as you like to your cactus.

Next, you will take some rubber cement and make little dots and patches all over the surface of your cactus. When it dries, these will be your spines, adding some texture to your watercolor cactus.

Once the rubber cement is dry, go in with several shades of green and some yellows, keeping your paint wet so the colors flow together. Get your brush very wet and swirl it in the paint for a high pigment, starting from the top and working your way down.

When your watercolor cactus is completely dry, rub off the rubber cement and there should be clean, white flecks adding a cute texture to the surface of the cactus.

To add some depth to your painting, wet your brush until it is almost free of paint and fill in the shape of another saguaro cactus, as well as prickly pear and a barrel cactus. The faint watercolor will make the additional cacti in the background seem hazy and distant, like a desert mirage. For a barrel cactus, simply paint around a short oval with a yellow flower on top. For the prickly pear cactus, start with a similar short, round oval and paint several more extending from the base, like a snowman with multiple segments. Add some more segments to the side. Accent with a pop of color by sprucing up your cacti with more yellow flowers.

Canvas Typography Art

These beautifully scripted inspirational quotes and phrases over painted canvas are all the rage right now. They are the perfect accent piece for a bedroom or kitchen to add a little personalized flair to a room and showcase your unique personality.

First, paint a canvas with whatever you like, leaving a highlighted, empty space for the quotation. You can frame it with flowers (lavender is particularly easy to paint, just a green stem with little pale purple flecks) or position it over a full moon for over your zodiac sign for a witchy aesthetic. You could also use your favorite song lyrics, a quote your favorite movie, or simply your children’s names.

If you are blessed with pretty handwriting, congratulations, you may be able to freehand your script. If you need a little more help, stencils are available in several styles at your local craft store or online. Simply pencil in the quote and paint over it very carefully. Add any extra texture you might like, such as dried flowers, yarn, or glitter. Allow to dry completely and hang.

An Abstract Mountain Landscape

The gentle slope of a mountain range makes for a beautiful backdrop for any scenery, and they’re very easy to paint as well! As you paint your peaks and valleys, you will feel relaxed in the natural ebb and flow of your brushstrokes, as if you were in the highlands breathing in that crisp mountain air. Your mountain range can be blue and purple, green and lush, or brown and snowcapped. You can dot your valleys with field flowers for a lovely pastoral feel, or add thick trees at the base for a forest.

And Some Clouds, Of Course

After your mountain range is complete, you’ll want to go in and paint your sky in a gradient. If it is daytime in your painting, try a light blue to white gradient and add some puffy clouds. You can do this when the sky paint is wet or dry, but wet on wet will give your clouds the base blue that is needed for dimension. A filbert brush and a round brush will give your clouds a nice, full and curvy appearance. For nighttime, try a blue to black gradient, flecking the paint off your brush in a tiny spray to create your stars.


Here’s a fun one to try with the kids: paint their silhouettes on a canvas for a personalized gift or decoration. The trick is to capture their shadow perfectly. Tape a large piece of white construction paper on the wall and have your child sit with his or her head perfectly still. Dim any overhead lights and place a bright light on the other side of your child until their shadow is perfectly aligned on the paper on the wall. You can move the light closer to your child’s head to make the shadow smaller and sharper, which will be much easier to trace.

Next, take a pencil and very carefully trace your child’s silhouette – paying special attention to the details of their forehead, nose, and lips. You will want to be able to instantly recognize the shape as your child, so be precise as possible. You can paint their entire head, cameo-style, or just their profile.

Now, carefully cut the traced silhouette into the shadow shape of your child’s head, and place it on your canvas. This can be a blank canvas or a painted canvas – whichever you prefer. Get creative! Carefully trace the silhouette shape onto the canvas and paint the shape however you see fit. A basic black is a preferred method as it will make the details in your shadow contrast against the canvas and stand out more.

(guest article)

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