How to painting

get ready to paint

How to painting

get ready to paint

start your art painting with 5 easy steps

  • Use these steps for the how to painting lessons.
  • Confidently use them for your own creations.
How to start a painting - Your how to painting checklist by artist Carol MayYou are "Going Places" with your paintings!

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5 easy steps for painting a picture

Things to do before you start painting......

#1 pick a time and a place

  • Have a special place to paint.

If it's possible, have an area where you can leave your paintings things out. You are more likely to paint, if you don't have to put them away between sessions.

  • Set aside time to paint.

Painters make the most rapid progress, when they paint regularly. There is a new trend of Daily Painting.

Actually dedicated artists have painted daily for generations. It's just like learning to play the piano. The more we practice the better we get.


#2 choose your subject

  • A good place to start painting is to choose something around you.

We are familiar with our surroundings. We we can do a better job of painting the things we know.

You may have photos you took on your vacation, a photo of your pets or flowers, etc.

  • A Word of Caution - Photos from a postcard, calendar or a magazine are covered under copyright laws.

Do not copy them directly without giving credit to the photographer.

  • Artist's paintings are also covered by copyright.

Alternately use copyright Free Images

Cedar Key Canal an oil painting by artist Carol May"Cedar Key Canal" from my photo

#3 get your supplies ready

what paint will you use?

Choose your painting media (watercolor, oils or acrylics) and the brushes suited to your media.

Professional artist grade paints have more pigment and cover better than student grade paints.

what will you paint on?

Choose a painting support suitable for your media - paper, canvas or panels.

what size will your painting be?

Small things like hummingbirds or butterflies normally go into small sizes.

Landscapes and seascapes are usually painted larger.



#4 draw your subject

  • Do some thumbnail sketches about the size of a postcard.

Sketch the large portions of the painting to lay out the composition.

Pay close attention to the values of the painting. Contrasting values create stunning paintings.

  • If the subject has a lot of intricate detail, do a drawing to scale.

When you are satisfied with your composition transfer it to your painting surface.


watercolor drawings

Do your drawing on a separate piece of paper.

Transfer the drawing to your selected painting surface with graphite paper.

Alternately, if you are good at drawing, you may lightly sketch the drawing on the watercolor painting surface.

Use a graphite pencil and do it without erasures, so you don't damage the surface of watercolor paper.

Erasures on your watercolor support may damage the painting surface.

watercolor painting of Leafy Sea Dragons by Carol MayThis drawing was done on paper first.

oil paint drawings

If there is a lot of detail, do the drawing on paper first.

If there is not much detail, sketch directly on the canvas.

Do an outline sketch with thinned yellow paint like yellow ochre or raw sienna.

If you don't like a line, rub it out with a rag or a paper towel.

Pale yellow lines are easy to paint over. They will not show in the final painting.

God's Lighthouse oil painting by artist Carol MayThis drawing was done on the canvas.

#5 select your colors

A painting with too many colors is disconcerting. The viewer's eye doesn't know where to go.

Don't use all the palette colors in each painting.

Select a color scheme to give cohesiveness and punch to your paintings.

Three to five colors will give you a harmonious painting.

Mix any additional colors from your selected 3-5 colors.

That's how to painting commonsense.

Select your painting colorsChoose Your Painting Color Schemes



now comes the joy of painting a picture!

how to painting landscapes

  • Paint the landscape background first. This would include such things as the sky, distant hills or water.

Then come forward in the painting and paint the middle ground.

Lastly paint the foreground and the details.

how to painting portraits

  • Paint the main subject first. Do this when you are painting anything close up like birds, flowers or people.

Then paint the background around the main subject.



learning how to paint is a journey

  • Painting is not a one-time adventure.

The more you paint, the better you will be. And the more you will enjoy it.

How long did it take me to learn to paint?

Actually it has taken a lifetime and I am still learning.

Follow these how to painting steps to start all of your paintings.

I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with you with the paintings on the How-to Tutorial pages.

You can paint everything from flowers, to butterflies and giraffes and even ocean waves.

your how to painting checklist

  • Your subject
  • Drawing paper, pencil, eraser and graphite paper
  • Paint and brushes for your media
  • Something to paint on
  • Clean-up materials for your media, including a rag or paper towels
  • Good light and ventilation in your painting area


have lots of fun and enjoy your painting journey!



visit these popular pages

  • Artists Mix Paint Colors

    Artists mix paint colors and make your paintings sing with color. Painting is fun and you’ll save money by mixing your own greens, blacks, warm and cool colors…

  • Daisy Painting with Oils

    Confidently do an easy daisy painting of white daisies with an oil painting tutorial. Speed up your art journey while learning how to paint daisies.

  • How to Paint Watercolor - Preserving Whites

    Paint a lovely butterfly while you learn how to paint watercolor and preserve the white paper because white watercolor paint does not exist.

  • Nature Paintings

    Beautiful nature paintings of my favorite things like butterflies, flowers, dragonflies, birds, animals and interesting sea life.


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