Painting Ideas For Beginners: Here’s What To Paint

  • By: Artistic Bees
  • Time to read: 14 min.
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Every beginner artist out there struggles to find what to paint. Even if you were a maestro with the brush, it would be near useless without any idea to work it on. This begs newbies to wonder what are some good painting ideas for beginners. Well, it is your lucky day because I have tons of ideas for you to choose from!

You can pick your favorite quote to paint on a canvas and bring some colorful life to go with it. Soothing beach and vibrant night sky scenery look great in landscape and are easy to capture too! Beginners try monarch butterflies as it does not need much work to make in the first place. Splashing colors, still life of fruits, and floral designs are also among the easiest of ideas.

But, are there more ideas for you to choose? Indeed, there is! While the number of creative ideas for fresh faces like you is countless, I have made a list of simple options from which you can cherry-pick. To find out which one you can start with, keep on reading and let’s get brushing!

How To Choose What To Paint?

Before you pick up the brush and apply paint to your blank canvas, you must make up your mind on what you want to paint. It will serve as a roadmap for the rest of the creative process.

If you plan your painting ahead of time and decide on the desired outcome before you start brushing, your creative journey will go more smoothly.

Besides, watching your plan get slowly completed only makes things more fun! So, without further ado, let us discuss the vital decisions you have to make when you are ready to start a painting.

Find An Inspiration for A Painting

There are a number of reasons to begin painting. Your painting passion is one of the most important reasons. Now, you may have tons of ideas but nowhere near the time or skill to put on the canvas. You may also be struggling to find inspiration.

Worry not, beginner! Because I’m here to lend a helping hand to assist you out of this mess of ideas and free you from this lack of creativity. Here are some ways how you can find and settle on inspirations to work from.

  • Make a collection: Try making a collection of your favorite photos, reference images, or the works of other artists you like. Besides, with so many social media platforms you can find inspiration with a snap of a finger.
Pinterest logo

Use Pinterest to find countless other ideas and references for beginners and save them in your personal folder. Surfing on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr to follow your favorite artists is another great way to stay inspired all the time.

  • List your Likes and Dislikes: Make up your mind on what style of painting you want to go with, or what kind of genre you want. List what subject you would like to do. For instance, do you want to paint landscapes, figures, abstractions, or something else? Or do you want to use abstracted, realistic, expressionist, or some other style?

How many colors do you want to use, limited or just one dominant color? The massive number of choices will confuse your artistic brain. So, narrow a list down to one or two of your preferred to start with. Also, write the ones you do not want to do.

  • Final product: Do not concern yourself with how the final product will turn out. It does not matter whether it is a masterpiece or somewhat a practice piece. Start with baby steps first. Pick up the brush, and make good use of that creative brain of yours while embracing mistakes and learning from them. Most importantly, take it all in and relax.

Use The Same Idea More Than Once

There is no law that says you can only use an idea once. In fact, you can use a single idea to create an entire series.

A general rule of thumb would be to take an old painting and work on it. Experiment with a different color palette, and change the look from the original. Use different shades of lighting to push them around and think from a deeper angle. A prime example would be the haystack paintings of Claude Monet.

Get Ideas From The Real World

All this time, you may have been blind to all the eye-opening ideas that have been right in front of you.

  • Whenever you are traveling to new places, you can also start gathering ideas from something new in front of you.
  • You can also find still life props in your kitchen and living room.
  • Plants and flowers will change with the seasons in your garden or balcony.
  • Beautiful scenery will show in a changing cityscape or landscape depending on the time of the day.
  • Paint the household dog or furry cat when it is sound asleep.
  • Ask your friends and family members to pose for you or sketch random strangers in a coffee shop.

Take pictures of the potential ideas you want to explore on the canvas.

Subject Of The Painting

The classic themes of still life, wildlife, interiors, portraits, and figure painting are popular among artists when deciding on a creative subject to paint. Try not to put yourself in a position where you are bound to be disappointed. Instead, select a medium and an original subject that is in your league.

For beginners, start with a simple subject. First off, focus on understanding the basics of painting. Experiment with colors, styles, and composition to get familiar with the ropes. Above all, have a good time.

Even if the painting does not turn out how you wanted it to, even if you have to start all over, just know that your efforts were not in vain. All this time, every brushstroke made you better.

Put Your Ideas Down On A Paper

Do not be fooled or intimidated by pictures taken from sketchbooks. A sketchbook is a tool for jotting down ideas and keeping track of them, not for showing them off.

Just like a diary, what you do in it is absolutely personal. So, try keeping a sketchbook or journal nearby.

Whenever an idea pops into your head, try scribbling or making a rough sketch of whatever you might have in mind. Think of it as more of a creativity journal where you save your ideas.

Not much of a drawer? No problem! You can still jot down notes on your notepad on what you see. Written details can be just as effective as doodled drafts. Just go for whichever you are comfortable with.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Try Ideas In Different Mediums

Another thing you can do to get more ideas is changing what you are using to paint instead of searching for fresh ideas. Break free your brain from traditional and jaded painting styles by trying a new medium or a mixture of mediums, such as mixed media.

Rather than reaching for your comfy brush, try going for a new one. Switch it up a little. Bring new colors on the palette and experiment with them to see the changes. Go for water brushes and watercolor pencils, or encaustic painting to make a huge difference.

Work with dry colors in the form of pastels if you are used to working with wet colors. Why not use a different medium to speed up or slow down the drying time of your oil or acrylic paint. Do the one thing artists were born to do, get out of your comfort zone and be creative!

A Lot Of Sizes In A Painting

Before you begin settling on an idea, you must first choose the size of your piece. What size should you choose to highlight what you are attempting to create? Are you painting something for a specific request or purpose, or can you just go with your gut?

It is not enough to have the proper size support. You can make every element of your artwork in different sizes, including the color areas, lines, shapes, texture, and value.

The use of sizes adds drama to a painting. It also underlines the significance of a specific element. For your newbies, keep all sizes varied as a general rule for a successful piece of work. There should never be two identical items of the same size.

15 Easy Painting Ideas For Beginners

Are you stuck with a blank canvas for whatever reason and have no idea what to paint on it? Well, you are not the first one! Not even the masters knew what to do when they held a paintbrush for the first time in their life.

If you have read this far, you must know that you cannot just pick up a brush and paint the next Mona Lisa. You need to start with something humble. So, here are some relatively easy painting ideas for you to start off.

1. Use A Favorite Quote Of Yours On A Painting

Just like all the beginners, you might also be wondering what your first painting should be like. It might take a couple of months for inspiration to grow.

One of the easiest of choices would be to do something that involves a quote. Pick a favorite quote of yours. The more personal the quote is to you, the more creative the painting will be. So, make a colorful painting using some meaningful words and make it your memorable first painting. The best part of it all is that you would not have to come up with an object to draw.

2. Grab A Water Bottle Or A Flask

Did anyone say you should paint only on canvas? Of course, not! You can try painting flowers or something like bright shooting stars to make your bottle look cool.

Not only will this improve your brushing skills, but also give you a groovy-looking water flask. Instead of taking the usual dull plastic water bottle to your school, bring one that is stylish! Who knows? Your friends might be impressed!

3. Easy Beach Scenery With Sand Texture

If you have been passionate about painting for a long time, you have thought about trying to bring your memorable beach experience to life at least once. Artworks with beach sceneries are one of the easiest and fun to start out with.

Plus, if you are more of a landscape art kind of person, then this is as perfect as it gets. Beginners can learn a lot from a sandy beach to ocean waves to a sparkling seafoam pattern. And to top it off, put a cute starfish somewhere near the shoreline.

4. Draw And Paint A Pretty Butterfly


You can draw a butterfly in your sleep! Once you pick up the pencil, you will learn that it is probably the easiest one out there.

Just start with sketching a monarch butterfly, as everyone has seen one every once in a while. You would not even need many options on your color palette.

The detailing on its wings will determine how well you actually took the advantage of this easy drawing. It is pretty hard to mess up a butterfly. In reality, most beginners start with this idea.

5. Baby Big-Eyed Owl

When it comes to acrylic painting, an owl is an excellent choice for fresh artists like you. Use the acrylic painting technique of wet or dry or dry on dry for this idea.

Try going for a baby owl with big sparkly eyes instead of an intimidating adult one. The big sparkly eyes will make it look as cute as a button! Make sure to paint it in a cartoon theme so that it looks natural.

6. A Peaceful Night Sky With Shining Stars

The best time to gaze at the sky is at nighttime! The twinkling stars at the dark, endless sky, as well as the different hues that you can see.

Paint it first with the wash technique, then with the layering technique. Allow the layers to dry before beginning to sketch the trees. You can even go with some blue and purple on the sky to give it a more mystical vibe.

7. Line The Surface With Some Geometrical Shapes

Many fresh-off-the-boat painters cannot even draw a straight line without using a scale. The Geometrical Shapes Painting is great for them!

You can use a variety of geometrical forms and unique patterns wherever you are painting. Not to mention, you can complete it in a matter of minutes! Simply draw a number of shapes on your canvas and use a satisfying color palette on them. It will resemble an aesthetic masterpiece once you have completed it, trust me.

8. Splash Colors On The Canvas

Do you have zero ideas on how to draw anything at all? Well, do not worry! One of the most effortless ideas out there is just what you might be looking for.

Simply take your brush, dab some colors onto it, and splash them all over the canvas. Do not hold yourself back to have fun with a series of different colors from your palette to fill in the blank areas.

You can expect it to lead to a work of art that is nothing short of stunning. What is the best part? You did not even dedicate much of your valuable time!

9. Paint Big Bright Clouds On A Blue Sky

Another idea that is among the easiest of objects to draw is cloud sceneries. Some may even put it at the top of the list for beginners, which explains how easy it is!

They are not only simple, but they also open the door for innovative creativity to rush into your mind. Basically, it is a versatile idea to work with. Throw in a burst of color if that is what your creative mind desires.

Even if you do not include any other content in your painting, the clouds will do the job alone. Furthermore, if you like drawing real-life sceneries, this is an excellent one to kick off your journey.

10. Capture The Sun Setting On A Canvas

Sunsets are a stunning sight to see. So, why not paint one and admire it all the time? Contrary to popular belief, painting a scene of sunset is not a headache at all. In all honesty, it is definitely up there with the easiest of ideas for beginners.

If you have a good understanding of the shades of the sky and know your way around the color palette, working on such a scene will be light work to you.

Find some of the best sunset paintings here to get inspiration.

11. Attractive Floral Designs

Floral designs can freshen up everyone’s thoughts while also being delightful to look at. It does not matter what kind of size, design, or shape you are going for.

The neat part about making a floral canvas is that you may use any shades of color you like. No question! It is included in this list of easy canvas painting ideas for beginners because it does not need the background to make it look appealing.

12. Standard Still Life Painting

The standard still-life painting is when you see works of objects that appear to be surprisingly real-life. Feel free to take a shot at it yourself, but only if you have a good drawing hand.

You can pick any household item that looks simple enough to capture on a canvas. Still-life is nothing to fuss about so long as you have a basic understanding of light and shade.

13. Dazzling Purple Tulips

Think about a couple of lovely tulips in enchanting shades of purple color. Sounds pretty mesmerizing, right? Well, you can bring them to your canvas!

This concept is as simple as you think it is! Just use the acrylic painting technique, and you will effortlessly have a beginner’s masterpiece in your hand in no time. It is also an excellent idea to brush up on your strokes and practice them.

14. Bring A Green Forest To Life

Painting a forest and filling it with trees and lush greenery may sound intimidating. However, it is like one of those scary movies that are not scary at all.

Once you get a swing at it, you will realize you do not need much skill or knowledge about color shades. You would not even need to dig deep into your mind to get creative. Simply create a narrow path between endless green forests.

15. Halloween Orange Pumpkin

If a light shade of colors is not your cup of tea, you might want to look over to a Halloween theme idea. Painting an orange pumpkin might be an incredible idea if you wish to work with something dazzling and bright in a dark setting to brighten up your mood.

It might be by far one of the simplest paintings for beginners because you would not have to worry about the details. Only a couple of colors will do the trick!

Mistakes Beginners Make When Painting

It is only natural for you to make mistakes in this hobby. After all, this is just a part of the journey because errors will help you grow as an artist. However, there are some things beginners do not need to learn practically. Instead, I have gathered a few things for you to avoid from the get-go.

1. Poor Selection Of Subjects

Before you even pick up your brush, you could make a mistake just by choosing the wrong subject. No matter how brilliantly you paint a subject, it may not make a wonderful work of art.

You should paint something that truly inspires you and gives you the chills. Try picturing whether you can see yourself painting a fantastic piece based on the subject. If not, it is better to move on to what you can handle.

2. Not Focusing On Shadows

When beginners first start out, many people concentrate on the highlights rather than the shadows. And besides, highlights appear to be more interesting anyway.

However, the shadows offer a much better chance to enhance the illusion of light rather than the highlights. The shadow features would do most of the heavy lifting, with the highlights acting as accents.

Moreover, shadows express all the intensity, direction, and temperature of light. This can completely change you as an artist, so it is essential for you to understand how shadows work.

3. Incorrect Edging

In painting, an edge shows the change from one element to the next. Edges of objects come in different forms:

And the shapes with soft edges have lesser contrasting features between the two different objects. As a result, the change is somewhat smooth.

A lost edge is the one that is so soft that you can barely notice it or cannot see at all. But, you know it is there due to the setting of the painting. This frequently happens when two shapes of similar color are next to one another. Make sure you do not confuse where to use what type of edge.

4. Stopping Early Or Too Late

One of the most testing things of painting is deciding when to put down the brush. If you quit too soon, your artwork will seem unfinished. On the other hand, stopping too late makes it seem overworked.

When you get to the point where nothing important is missing or needs a bit of tweaking, you can call it a day. At this point, you must be confident that any extra effort would take the attention away from the overall vibe.

Just ask yourself whether the next stroke will make your work better or not. If not, take a step back and let it be. If yes, do not feel shy to make an improvement or two.

5. Applying A Lot Of Colors

Most beginners tend to jam as much color into their painting as possible when they first start out. In most cases, they get inspiration from the brilliant color displays of Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet and aim to create similar results.

When you use too many vibrant colors, the end result will most likely be a painting that is jarring to look at. Rather than going a bit too intense with the saturated colors, select and blend shades that are similar to nature.


It is safe to say that as long as you have a creative brain, the number of ideas will be as infinite as the universe itself. Everyone is different and needs unique ideas to work on. This applies especially to artists. But sometimes your mind might be clogged up and need some inspiration to get all the cogs running again.

So, if you were in search of some painting ideas for beginners, I hope the ideas listed above will help you kick-start your imagination. As always, thanks for reading, and good luck making your next masterpiece.