Knowing where to begin your painting journey can be tough – there’s so much to learn and so many different ways of learning it. This list of easy things to paint will give you some guidance for your first few steps into the wonderful world of painting.
Do you work on your proportion or your brushwork? Your portraits or your landscapes? The truth is, there’s no right answer; it really boils down to what you want to paint, and how you want to paint it. This being said, there are some tips and tricks that’ll help you get started and develop skills that you’ll use throughout your artistic career.
So, what makes a painting ‘easy’? Well, it can be a question of shape (a worm is a far simpler shape than a dragon) or of detail (more realistic paintings require a different set of skills than cartoons or abstract paintings).
Technique can often be a barrier for beginners too – a set of acrylic paints and a jar of water is a lot less intimidating than having to navigate turpentine, Liquin and the various other chemicals required to get into oil painting.
This list is all acrylic paintings for this very reason – it’s the perfect medium for beginners. Combine this with simple shapes or the blueprint of a paint-by-numbers and you might find that this painting lark isn’t quite so insurmountable after all.
What are some simple things to paint?
Let's start our list with some canvases offering really easy things to paint.
This is a lovely example of how easy doesn’t have to mean dull – the paint-by-numbers kit provides an excellent guide so you can experience the medium and develop your brush skills without the frustration of having to master the art of drawing landscapes. The large areas of color and simple shapes make this perfect for beginners, and if you follow the instructions, you’re guaranteed a beautiful result.
The colors are what draws me to this painting. If you’re looking to eventually create your own scenic art, understanding the way sunlight affects its surroundings is essential, and this piece will show you the sheer amount of color variations a single scene can contain. The details make it a little trickier than the previous painting, but it’s worth the extra time for this stunning result.
The Beauty of Dance
Those of you who are drawn more to impressionistic art might want to give this painting a go – it’s a great lesson in how fluid lines can portray dynamic movement in your work. The human form is one that’s fascinated artists for centuries, and this paint-by-numbers enables you to approach a complex subject in a more straightforward way.
Cactus Silhouette Sunset
Blending is a vital technique to learn and is extra tricky with acrylic because the paint dries so fast and a smooth gradient is difficult to achieve.
This tutorial gives you an opportunity to practice the blending of acrylic to create that lovely sunset gradient, is easy to follow and great for complete beginners. It's also a great idea if you're looking to paint another thing than animals.
This tutorial is brilliant for learning about different brushes and brush strokes – you’ll learn the merits of different types of brush and also a technique called ‘scalloping’ to create that lovely pattern for the wings. Perfect it, and you’ll be able to fill a whole canvas with these beautiful butterflies.
This is a great idea to practice your attention to detail. The shape is a bit tricky but if you use a pair of compasses or draw around something to get the outer and inner circles (or freehand it if you’re feeling brave) you can’t go too wrong with the petals. Painting the seeds requires a steady hand, but all that concentration is worth the intricate and realistic sunflower you’ll end up with.
How about some cute things to paint?
This adorable paint-by-numbers is another great way to learn how to paint a tricky subject – there are lots of different textures for you to explore here, from the woven basket to the little girl’s hair to the froth of the waves.
The direct sunlight creates a unique pastel-esque palette and deep shadows, too, so you’ll be able to practice painting with a full spectrum of colors.
The Hungry Pug
If you’d like to bring a bit of humor to your painting, painting such a thing is a great place to start. Pet portraits are popular but notoriously difficult and having a go at this paint-by-numbers will give you some practice painting fur, eyes, noses, and the all-important personality without having to worry about proportion or a complex background.
Afternoon Nap for Ronron the Cat
If you’re looking for a more traditional approach to painting animals, this paint-by-numbers might be the one for you. Fur and leaves are some of the hardest textures to master and this kit will guide you through them color by color.
Colour is often what draws people to a certain painting – and this one has nearly all of them. If you wanted to make the painting pop, even more, you could paint the background black, though be careful to avoid painting over the whiskers!
Sunflower painting for beginners
This adorable scene uses the scalloping technique again, this time to create the gradient on the leaves of the sunflower (although it doesn’t provide as detailed instructions as the butterfly, so it’s a good idea to have a read of that tutorial first). I especially like the use of off-white paper here – it gives the painting a certain gravitas that a white background wouldn’t achieve.
Cute Painted Ladybird Rocks
These double as ornaments as well as painting projects – they’re easy, eye-catching and perfect for the acrylic newbie. If you don’t have any googly eyes lying around the house, you can always just use white acrylic – it’s surprisingly opaque if you apply it thickly (don’t dilute it!) and if you master the ladybirds, you can play around with colors and create all kinds of creepy crawlies.
Even though it says ‘Easter’ in the title, this painting is simple and fun all year round. The tutorial is very detailed and perfect if you’d like to move away from realism and into a more cartoonish style.
Fun things to paint with acrylics
Abstract and Modern Cat
This eye-catching paint-by-numbers combines simplistic shapes and large areas of color to create a bold and vibrant piece that’s ideal for beginners.
There’s no intricate fur in this painting, making it easier than some of the other animal portraits on this list, and it’s a great lesson in the use of basic shapes to create impressions of more detailed textures.
If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, this painting combines vivid colors with a two-dimensional appearance, both features associated with the Cubist movement.
Cubism is commonly associated with European artists like Matisse and Picasso, but its roots are in African sculpture, and both artists were heavily influenced by African themes, so this painting is a vibrant homage to the movement’s origins.
Abstract Colourful Lion
This easy paint by numbers is perhaps a little trickier than the abstract housecat – the areas of color are more intricate and the texture of the fur is less defined, but that doesn’t mean it’s not suitable for beginners.
It’s a great lesson in using hue to denote lightness – the use of pure white is sparing and the illusion of light comes from the use of vastly different but similarly bright colors in the left half of the painting.
Intense Look of a Young Native Warrior
Portraits are one of the biggest artistic challenges you can take on, but this paint-by-numbers will help you approach painting the human face in a more guided way. The fine detail of the headdress (or warbonnet) is perhaps the trickiest part of this painting, and the variety of textures mean there’s a lot to learn from this piece.
Squishy the Jelly
It’s hard to go wrong with a painting like this – you can make the jellyfish as cartoonish or as realistic as you like, and the tentacles are great fun to paint, especially in the variety of colors showcased by the tutorial. If you twist the brush as you paint them, you’ll get that lovely marbled effect shown in the second image.
Dragon and Castle Silhouette
If fantasy is more your style, this detailed tutorial showcases a variety of different painting things and techniques. You can even download the templates for the dragons if you’re not feeling so confident in your sketching. The use of silhouettes means no fiddly textures so you can focus on the blend of the background and the detail of the castle and the dragons’ horns.
This tutorial is a great example of how to use simple shapes to get a beautiful result – it’s important to have confidence when drawing your lines, otherwise, you won’t get that smooth, flowing effect.
More painting ideas
If you didn't find what you were looking for in the previous list of easy things to paint, here are some more ideas to inspire you:
- A flower from your garden
- A piece of fruit
- Your favorite mug
- A candle
- A houseplant
- A snail
- The view from your window
- A mouse
- A ghost
- A cloud
- An owl
- Your own hand
- A piece of jewelry
- A marble
- Your favorite cartoon character
- A hat
- A scene from a fairy tale
- A tree
- A castle
- A balloon
- A pair of glasses
- A fish
- A landmark
- A loved one’s eye
- An ornament
- A vegetable
- A shoe
- A mythical creature
- A vintage car
- Your childhood home