Do you have dreams of wandering in nature, filling a canvas with everything you see in front of you? Or painting a lifelike portrait of your pet to hang on the wall forever? Even the best artists have to start somewhere when they’re looking for paint ideas, no matter what medium they choose to use. 

We’re here to show you just how simple it can be with some easy things to paint for beginners. With these classes, you’ll quickly progress from an amateur to a confident painter, ready to showcase your first masterpiece!

What Should I Paint as a Beginner?

When you’re thinking about what to paint, especially when you’re new to this type of art, it can be really easy to get swept up in big dreams and visions. You can find so many cool things to paint in everyday life, but your skills might not be quite ready for that yet. 

Instead, think about how you can work with those scenes or objects in their simplest form. Maybe instead of trying to paint the whole fruit bowl, you can start with just an orange or apple. Keep practicing until you feel confident enough to add in new elements, like shading.

It’s also good to remember this when you’re shopping for your first art supplies. You don’t need to buy 20 different paintbrushes to get you going. Start small as you work on easy things to paint and slowly build your supplies as you work on more complex pieces. Trust us, your wallet will thank you!

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18 Easy Things to Paint

1. Watercolor Watermelon

Fruits are great starting points for beginner artists.

Watercolors are a great tool for beginners looking for cool things to paint, and these watermelons are the perfect starting point. The natural color gradient in the fruit gives you plenty of practice in using the fluidity in the paint to give different finishes.

2. Gouache Teacups

Teacups are a good lesson in symmetry and perspective.

Teacups can be as ornate or simple as you’d like them to be, which makes them a good project for beginners when you’re asking yourself “what should I paint today?” Even once you feel comfortable with the basics of painting, you can start to incorporate different skills like perspective or texture into work like this.

3. Coffee Penguin

Coffee is a fun medium to try as both an amateur and experienced painter.

Who would have ever thought that you can paint with coffee? In fact, it works in a similar way to watercolors. Just like your morning brew, you can easily adjust the strength of your “paint” by adding more or less water as you go.

4. Basil Leaves

Leaves and plants should be your first stop as a beginner painter.

You’ll often see that new artists start learning how to paint with botanical work, like flowers or leaves. Since they’re made up of only a few colors, these simple paintings will help you get comfortable with the paints you’re using and build your observational skills when working from either a real plant or a reference picture.

5. Watercolor Fashion Sketches

Fashion sketches are the perfect introduction to painting people.

If drawing people feels a little too complicated, fashion illustrations are the perfect place to start. The focus of these paintings is on the clothes, rather than the physical body, so they can be as detailed (or not) as you feel comfortable with. They’re also a great chance to mix mediums, like adding textured finishing touches with glitter or fabric.

6. Pop Art

snoopy on stripes
Recreate your favorite cartoon characters with pop art painting.

Pop art or cartoons are a great choice when you’re looking for easy things to paint on a canvas. They can be any shape or style that you like, so it’s easy to hide any mistakes that you don’t feel confident in painting over. Try recreating some of your favorite characters, or be bold and invent one of your own.

7. Simple Landscapes

a lighthouse
Landscapes are a chance to test out your new painting skills.

Painting landscapes is a great excuse for grabbing your shiny new sketchbook and heading out into nature. If you’re stuck for paint ideas, there will be a million different things around you that you can choose from—just pick a spot and sketch what you see on the horizon! Or, challenge yourself with a limited color palette, find something outside that matches your hues, and go from there. 

8. The Night Sky

night sea
Experiment with light and dark painting with the night sky as inspiration.

When you’re looking for easy things to paint for beginners, the night sky is one of the simplest that you can find. You’ll usually only need three to five different paint colors so you can really spend time focusing on details and learning to blend light and dark paints together.

9. Digital Eagle

Digital paintings are a fun first step into the art world if tech is more your speed.

Did you know that you can paint on a computer? While we won’t recommend going wild with your brush all over your screen, you can create realistic artwork in programs like Adobe Photoshop that mimic the look and feel of a real painting. If tech is more your thing, this is a great alternative to try!

10. Colorful Desserts

Painting food with watercolors is an easy first choice for beginners.

Sweet treats like ice cream and cupcakes are a good choice when you’re stuck for ideas of easy things to paint on canvas. Pick your favorite dessert and color palette, and get to work! Once you’ve finished, hang your masterpiece in the kitchen or on the windowsill for some personalized decor. 

11. Watercolor Peonies

Create simple and beautiful artwork by painting peonies in a jar.

Peonies are one of the simplest flowers that you can work with when you’re looking for easy things to paint. While you can use any type of paint or ink, this style of painting usually works best with watercolor or gouache paints to keep a light and airy feel.

12. Fantasy Unicorn

Oil paint can be daunting for beginners but it doesn’t have to be!

If you’re looking for easy things to paint on canvas and want to try your hand at oil painting, this fantasy unicorn is a fun introduction to working with the medium. Oil paints may feel a little overwhelming at first, but take your time and remember to work in layers from light to dark.

13. Cats in Ink

Painting in black and white can leave you with expressive final pieces.

Ink is a fun medium to use when you’re learning how to paint, especially if you choose to stick to only black ink. It’s great for line art and simple paintings like these kittens. Ink works in a similar way to watercolor paints, so experiment with different wetness levels on your brush and paper to see what effects you can create.

14. Spring Wildflowers

Wildflowers in watercolor or acrylic paint are a great chance to test your new painting skills.

Once you feel like you’ve mastered individual flowers, a whole meadow is a great next step when you’re trying to decide “what should I paint next?” Wildflowers aren’t meant to be symmetrical—after all, they aren’t in nature! It’s easy to make this type of painting look much more intricate than it actually is, so it’s perfect for showing off your new skills to your friends.

15. Black and White Facial Features

Start your portrait journey by practicing individual elements before moving onto a whole face.

If you’re new to portrait work, sometimes it’s best to start with smaller details rather than trying to create a whole face in one sitting. You’ll learn some of the basic skills, like shading and working out realistic proportions of facial features, so it’s worth spending some time on this if portrait painting is an area of art that you’d like to explore further.

16. Lotus Flower

Chinese lotus flowers are simple and elegant, perfect for beginner artists.

There’s so much we can learn from artists around the world, and painting a lotus flower using Chinese techniques is something that anyone can do when you’re trying to find easy things to paint for beginners. This style is all about large brush strokes and watered-down paint, much like watercolor paintings you may have worked on before.

17. Birch Trees

birch trees
Head into nature and practice your watercolor work by painting birch trees in the forest.

Forests are some of the most magical places on earth, so capturing them in watercolor is a good exercise in learning how to bring the outside indoors. Birch trees have natural flecks along their trunks, which makes them a visually interesting subject when you’re searching for easy things to paint on a canvas or paper.

18. Holiday Cards

christmas cards
Make the holiday season even more special with hand-painted cards.

Still stuck on what to paint? Impress your friends and family with your new painting skills and create unique and personal cards using watercolor paints. After all, nothing beats opening the mail around the holidays and finding a handmade card! Keep things simple with a Christmas tree, or try a more complex design like a wreath and calligraphy text.

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Written by:

Holly Landis