PAINTING TIPS FOR DUMMIES…

from a dummy.

I have zero artistic talent. None, whatsoever. Back at school, my friends would spend hours during art lessons, focusing all their attention on the centre piece. They would squint to focus on the image every time they looked up and they drew with intricate wrist movements, using a variety of tools to imitate the look of the object in the centre of the room. I, on the other hand, would finish in no more than 10 minutes. I would hand in my work to the teacher, who would only just sigh, knowing that the weeks of training me to have the slightest bit of artistic flare had gone down the drain.

Its been many years since then and although my patience for drawing has not changed, I have learned to appreciate the skill and dedication needed to fill a blank canvas. I have also found a new love for geometric drawings and painting block colours. Long gone are the days where I tried to draw streams, forests or skeletons in the centre of art classroom.

I started drawing one line pictures and used blocks of colour to create repetitive patterns. At this point, my godfather (an excellent painter) gifted me some acrylic paint. I immediately YouTubed ‘easy painting tutorials’ and came across one that easy enough for me to try.

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I used a mix of poster and acrylic paint. The reason for this is because poster paint can easily be manipulated due to its soluble nature and acrylic is not water soluble. The advantage of acrylic paint is that it gives the painting a softer finish. Mixing both paints allowed me to create new colours without waste and have a cleaner finish. The brand of poster paint I used was Giotto. It’s amazing; inexpensive and comes in an array of beautiful colours.  

First, I dabbed my paintbrush in orange and topped it off with some white. It was important not to mix the colours as that would have given me a light orange. Instead, I wanted a strong orange tone with white streaks. I painted on a landscape piece of card, starting in the middle of the page and working my way down. 

Next I moved to the top of the page. I painted the entire top half white before adding a bright pink to it. With the pink, I worked my way downwards until it met the orange. At this point, I continued to mix a blend of pinks, whites and oranges until it looked as though both colours ran seamlessly through each other. 

Next, it was time to tackle the mountains. I started by drawing some blue lines 3/4 of the way down the page. I started filling some of the colour, but it wasn’t necessary to complete the entire painting since I was going to add more colours. The point of this was to create a shadowing effect, as if the sun had just slowing started rising.

I repeated the mountain effect 3 more times, using a darker colour each time until the final colour used was black. To create more of a mountain range effect I made sure to layer them over each other. Over the third layer (greyish – black), I decided to dab my paintbrush over the wet paint to add some texture in the painting. Once the entire sheet had dried, I painted a golden circle. After all, what would a sunrise be without the sun?



Now, might I warn you that just because I’m giving a painting tutorial doesn’t NOT mean I’m any good. I purely paint as a form of therapy and relaxation. If you would like to see the actual tutorial, it can be found here.

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Amsterdam: Top 10 highlights

Cobbled streets, narrow canals and an abundance of pancakes. We spent 4 days in Amsterdam and explored the entirety of the city by day and night. Here are my top ten highlights.

10. Van Gogh Museum. The dutch painter has his artwork displayed across the globe but in Amsterdam you can experience all the different versions of the ‘Sunflowers’, the works of Van Gogh’s friends and a deeper understanding of his life. Tickets are absolutely free for under 18s and €19 for adults, but make sure to reserve your places online beforehand as the museum is extremely popular.

9. Albert Cuyp Market. The largest market in Amsterdam that stretches across an entire alleyway. Just a 10 minute walk from the museum quarters, Albert Cuyp consists of hundreds of market stalls selling everything from electronics and jewellery to fresh fish and traditional dutch desserts. We tried everything from raw herring with pickles and onions to freshly made stroopwaffles run by a father and son. The market sells everything you could imagine from as little as 50 cents.

8. Bike rentals. The most obvious thing to in Amsterdam is rent a bicycle and join the locals on the roads, but we were torn between which rental company to use and whether to hire a tandem or not. As we were walking through a market, we saw a sign for bike rentals and discovered that the shop had an option for a four person bicycle. The bike consisted of 4 sets of pedals and one steering wheel. At just a cost of €20 for the hour (€5 per person), we rented it out and rode around the famous Vondelpark. It was the most spontaneous thing we did on the trip and by far the most fun we had. Just a word of warning though; don’t take a sizeable four person bicycle down the middle of a busy market on a Saturday afternoon. We did not please anyone..

7. Anne Frank house. This is a must-do when visiting Amsterdam. Anne Frank house remains as one of the most important buildings in the city, containing a mixture of historical and cultural values. The museum is €10 for adults but hurry, its incredibly popular with tourists so tickets must be bought at least 2 months in advance.

6. Electric ladyland Located just a 10 minute walk from the Anne Frank House, Electric ladyland is essentially a fluroescent museum in the basement of rock collectors. At €5 per person, you can spend an hour in a magnificent display of fluorescent lights as well as a tour of the couples jaw dropping collection of paintings including works from Leon Hendrix.

5. The pancake bakery. It may look small on the outside but the pancake bakery stretches far back into the shop, but not once failing to keep the smell of freshly cooked pancakes out of reach. The menu consists of everything from American pancakes to sweet and savoury Dutch crepes. It’s a little pricey but one of the best ways to discover the Dutch culture.

4. Hortus Botanicus. Spend a nice afternoon away from the busy tourist hot spots and visit the botanical gardens of Amsterdam. Tickets cost just under €10 and with that you can explore 3 different greenhouses, home to 1000s of species of tropical and temperate plants. You can also enjoy the butterfly garden as well as the pond which hosts giant water lilies. We also spent a significant amount of time in the gift shop, admiring the intricate hand crafted wooden sculptures.

3. Boat Tours. Make the most of the open canals with a boat tour around the city. Don’t be fooled to take a cramped, commercial boat tour where you essentially have no space to breathe. We were recommended the friendship boat tour which was about €16 for just over an hour. We were given blankets and there was even a bar, but most importantly it was an open roof.

2. NDSM. Just a 15 minute free ferry ride away from Amsterdam Centraal Station lies an undiscovered hipster territory. We spent an evening exploring the small town and its astonishing graffiti. There was also a large vintage market and a beach but we walked about 10 minutes further from the busy areas into the realms of container homes, where we enjoyed pizzas at a local cafe.

1.The windmills. Take a day trip outside of Amsterdam and visit the countries iconic windmills at Zaanse Schans. The train ticket cost just €7 and we spent an entire morning walking around a picturesque cocoa scented town. The town is home to more than 600 windmills and there are options to tour most of them. There are also many cafes which pride in making the best hot chocolates in the Netherlands.

If you liked this, you will enjoy reading 48 hours in Prague