Tagged learn to paint

Paint Happy by Cristina Acosta

Paint Happy! Learn to Paint Art Book by Cristina Acosta

Learn to paint with acrylics and draw with the ease of a child, regardless of your age and experience with my book, Paint Happy! It’s been years since North Light Books published it in 2002 and again in 2004. You can still find copies on Amazon. Painting is an old craft, therefore despite changes in materials available, many of the techniques used today are similar to painting and drawing techniques human-kind has used for thousands of years. So — Paint Happy! is  still relevant. Yea! It’s also makes learning to paint fun and easy to start. Making art is a spiritual practice as well as a physical activity, so it won’t always be easy. I’m not going to lie. It can be a schlep. It’s been both for me – easy and flowing as well as tedious, scary and frustrating. Overall, it’s the joy of my life.

Are you encouraged to paint?  Here’s the introduction from my book, Paint Happy! My daughter is now in college and we are both making art. Life has been good.


Paint Happy! Introduction by Cristina Acosta:

I painted for many years before I realized that I was chasing a myth. Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that to become a good artist, I needed to acquire an ever increasing knowledge of methods and techniques. My attention to technique garnered me a job as the production artist for a billboard company.

After a couple of years painting billboards, I could copy any image given to me in any style, from simple cartoons to photo-realism. By that time, the holy grail of technique seemed disappointingly empty. I had given nearly all of my attention to developing the skill to paint whatever I wanted and very little attention to discovering what I really wanted to paint.

For a few years, I taught college drawing and painting classes. While the students gained “the basics” I noticed that for most of them, consistent academic study didn’t seem to encourage innate joy and enthusiasm for painting. I knew that if I didn’t teach any basics my students would be adrift, eventually becoming frustrated by their lack of ability to correctly mix the colors they needed or to understand what they saw in a painting. I thought that there must be some way to teach artistic skills without getting in the way of a student’s unique vision of the world.

Surprisingly, my epiphany came with the experience of motherhood. By the time my daughter, Isabella, was eighteen months old, she was painting every day with me. Watching her, I couldn’t help but notice that her experience of painting was entirely different form mine. She painted with complete abandon. She was never hard on herself. In fact, when she finished a painting that she really liked, she’d put her brush down and clap and cheer! If she didn’t like, it, she quickly pushed it aside and moved on! She never tried to paint like anyone else (especially her mother!).
Whenever Isabella finished a painting, she would show it to me. I’d look at the piece and very clearly tell her what I admired about it. Her natural style of learning augmented with my minimal positive insights enabled her to learn quickly and define her won style.
During Isabella’s toddler years, I was so inspired by her obvious happiness while creating that I decided to take an hour or so each day and paint in the same fashion. The more I opened my mind to painting with the attitude of a child–albeit a very “experienced” child! – the more my work evolved. Within a few months, my style of painting had completely changed. My work flowed so naturally that the images seemed to paint themselves. I became passionately excited to rediscover that creating could be so simple. My images reflected my joy, and “paint happy” was born! Learning to paint happy was the key that opened my creative soul.
Whether you’re a new painter or an experienced artist looking for new energy in your work, you will enjoy learning to paint happy. My book guides you to connect with your playful inner spirit while you learn the basics needed to become technically proficient.
I don’t intend for you to permanently paint images in my style. My style is the result of my particular life experiences. You may wish to copy my exercises as closely as possible, then taking what you’ve learned, immediately create an image of your own. With practice, your innate sense of design and personal style will develop.

So open this book and enter a world of color. Follow along with your paintbrush in hand, and chapter by chapter the beauty of the world around you and within you will be revealed through your painting.
Enjoy and Happy Creating,


Paint Happy is out of print. Used copies of Paint Happy by Cristina Acosta are available on Amazon

  • Paperback: 110 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books; 2 editions (August 2002) (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581801181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581801187
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches

Learn to Paint and Make Art at Any Age

Have you ever wondered if you are too old to be an artist? Or, if you are learning to paint or learning to make art, do you wonder when you’ll be “good enough” to create art that really pleases you? Do you ever find yourself artistically stuck – jumping between different styles or techniques unable to figure out what and how you really want to paint?  Do you find yourself wanting to be like every good artist you’ve seen, and then realize that you have no real idea of who you are as an artist?

As artists we can become so caught up in consuming knowledge, accumulating more and more in the way of skills and techniques that we can forget what we are truly about.  We are creators. At a time when citizens are regularly referred to as “consumers” and “retail therapy” has become the norm, we stand apart as creators.  Before you pick up another brush think about this. Your images may be decorative, transcendent, naïve, poetic, strong, weak, ugly, beautiful, mundane, unforgettable, good, bad or somewhere in between. Regardless of your own and others judgment of your work, remember that out of paint and paper and through the movements of your body you create something material from thought and sensation.  Nurturing your process of painting ensures your creativity will continue to evolve and that the art you create will be true to you.

You’re reading this magazine because you intend to improve your painting. Attention to craft is noble, but beware of holding yourself to standards that may have nothing to do with your life and skills.  Many times adult art students despair of ever living long enough to get “good enough”. The thing to remember is that every time you pick up your brush your palette is not limited to the colors in front of you and the techniques you’ve mastered. Your palette includes your lifetime of experience.
We’ve all seen amazing drawings and paintings by young children. Beautiful colors and design flow easily from a child unencumbered with limitations.  Even if your Goddess with Cats.jpgchildhood ended decades ago, you can still rediscover the open mind that comes naturally to a young child. Think like a child, (albeit a very experienced child) and disconnect your limitations. You’ll naturally reconnect your creativity, resulting in art that emanates from the palette within you – the unique combination of life experiences and art skills only you have.

Here’s a few tips to get you started and then keep you connected to your palette within:

•    Watch your thoughts.
Replace any negative or limiting thoughts with something positive or nothing at all. Do whatever it takes for you to develop a quiet and open mind.
•    Practice your process.
Every day take five to fifteen minutes and draw or paint something.  This can be a new piece every day or a continuation of prior work.
•    Remember that technique follows your creativity.
Learning new techniques can trigger a fresh surge of enthusiasm and creativity within you.  Use this energy as a way to reach new creative heights. After you learn a new technique “forget” it.  Trust that your mind will remember the techniques you’ve learned when you need them.  This will ensure that you don’t get so caught up in the mechanical aspects of painting that you neglect the creative process.
•    Smile when you paint!
You’ll look better, you’ll probably feel better, and you may even paint better!

It’s Never Too Late to Begin

The artist Elizabeth Layton didn’t began painting and drawing until she was 68 years old. From that time until her death in 1993 at age 84, she produced a body of art that continues to be displayed and collected in public and private collections nationwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Research her work online and you’ll see how she combined the simple technique of contour drawing with a life palette of rich experiences to create powerfully moving art.

Originally published in The Palette Magazine April 2005