If you've never tried painting before (walls don't count), but would like to try it, there are several things to consider in advance that will make your first painting encounter less intimidating. To begin with, don't assume that you need to possess an inherent talent to learn how to paint. All you really need are a creative spirit, an interest in learning, a willingness to try new things and a few essential art supplies.
Before becoming overwhelmed at the art supply store, decide on your medium of choice. Your options will consist of oil (traditional or water-mixable), acrylic or watercolor. Water-mixable oil paints are an exciting new option as artists can achieve the look of a traditional oil painting without having to expose themselves to the harmful solvents commonly associated with oil painting. Don't feel that you need to purchase every color in the collection; that's what color mixing is for. You can pick up an inexpensive color wheel either online or at the art supplies store to use as a resource when you're mixing colors.
You'll find that there are several grades of paint available, from student grade to professional grade. Artists' paints are rated on properties such as permanence, light-fastness, pigment-load and vehicle used. Professional grades are of a higher quality, but are considerably more costly; therefore, student grades should suffice for your first attempts.
Next, you'll need to purchase a canvas. You'll have a wide variety of sizes and types to choose from as canvas comes stretched, rolled or on boards. Canvas sizes can be as small as 4" x 6" or as large as 4' x 6'. Think about what your subject matter, painting style and medium will be when determining what size and type of canvas would best suit your needs. If you're using watercolor paint, you'll need to get watercolor paper rather than canvas.
Finally, don't forget to purchase a small assortment of brushes. Brush types vary based upon the medium they'll be used with. Oil and acrylic brushes have longer handles than watercolor brushes because they are meant to be used while standing at an easel. Additionally, brushes come in different types of hair, making them tailored for different painting styles. As a rule of thumb, bristle brushes work well for rougher uses, creating texture and large areas, while sable hair brushes work well for smooth blending, small areas of color and detail work.
Once you have your supplies ready, it's time to start painting. You can either sketch your composition on a canvas ahead of time with charcoal (sprayed with a fixative), or brush it on with thinned paint. Next, block in some color and create your first masterpiece. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. They are an integral part of the process. If you would like a critique of your artwork, contact your local art club or society.