Artist and art educator Barry Stebbing has created a fairly comprehensive Beginning Painting kit with DVD instruction, paints, brushes, and paper. Stebbing teaches watercolor painting with both marker and watercolor sets as well as painting with acrylics and oils. The publisher recommends the watercolor and acrylic lessons for ages six through adult, although some six-year-olds might not yet have the small motor skills required. Oil painting is recommended for students at least age ten or older. All of the instruction is equally suitable for adults. Be ready to pause the DVD lessons frequently since Stebbing works more quickly than most beginners, especially younger children, will be able to do.
The DVDs provide all of the instruction. There are actually three sets of DVDs (six total) with two DVDs for each course: Watercolors, Acrylics, and Oils. There are a number of lessons in each set, and each lesson often has multiple parts.
For example, Watercolors DVDs have four lessons. The first lesson walks students through many small projects to teach basic techniques with a brush, water, markers, and watercolor cakes. The rest of the lessons work through many small projects, focusing on teaching techniques rather than the projects themselves. Stebbing’s choice to teach with small projects makes the entire process less intimidating, and he works on each project in such a way that students can clearly see what he is doing at each step of the lesson.
Acrylics has eight lessons and Oils has six. It is unlikely that students will complete each lesson in a single sitting, although that might occasionally be the case.
The kit contains the essentials for watercolor and acrylics, but none of the resources for oil painting. Included in the kit are a set of five brushes, a set of eight Prang Art Markers, a set of eight watercolors (with larger cakes than you usually find in children’s watercolor sets), four bottles of acrylic paint, eight paint cards for specific assignments, and ten sheets of watercolor paper. I appreciate Stebbing's choice to include better quality art supplies than those typically supplied to children.
Oil paints and appropriate brushes are not included since oil paints will not keep over a long period of time, and beginning painters should tackle oils after developing proficiency with the other types of painting. Omitting these supplies keeps the cost of the kit to a very affordable price. In fact, the kit with all of the supplies is only $10 more than the cost of the DVDs alone. (Stebbing’s company, How Great Thou ART Publications, sells a carefully selected assortment of most of the other supplies you might want for oil painting as well as the Beginning Painting DVDs without the kit.)
I mentioned previously that Stebbing teaches watercolor techniques rather than just walking students through projects for their own sake. This is true for all instruction. Students learn how to mix colors, how to hold and use brushes, how to set up their workspace, how to apply color using different methods, how to fix mistakes, and much more. Oil painting lessons, in addition to actual painting techniques, teach how to stretch a canvas, about different types of palettes and painting surfaces, how to store and clean brushes, and how a French easel functions.
Beginning Painting offers serious instruction rather than an arts and crafts approach. I highly recommend starting this instruction as soon as children are at a stage where they have good small motor skills for handling brushes, and they can understand techniques for mixing paints and selecting colors. They will learn proper techniques, such as having two jars of water for their watercolors (for cleaning and for painting, respectively) so their watercolor cakes do not end up with mixed colors as is so common for children. Learning proper techniques from the beginning is likely to help students be more successful with their painting projects.