how-to start painting a picture
#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 things away between sessions.
Painters progress rapidly when they paint regularly.
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 you see around you.
We are familiar with our surroundings. We 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.
"Cedar Key Canal" from my photo
Alternately use Free Images that have no copyright restrictions.
#3 get your supplies ready
what paint will you use?
Choose your painting media (watercolor, oils or acrylics) and the brushes suitable for the media.
Professional artist grade
paints have more pigment and cover better than student grade
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
Sketch the large portions of the painting to lay out the composition.
- Do some thumbnail sketches about the size of a postcard.
- 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.
Pay close attention to the values of the painting. Contrasting values create stunning paintings.
drawings for watercolor
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.
This drawing was done on paper first.
drawings for oil paintings
If there is a lot of detail, do the drawing on paper first.
When there is not much detail, do an outline sketch with thinned yellow paint directly on the canvas.
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.
This drawing was done on the canvas.
#5 select your colors
- Don't use all your colors in each painting.
A painting with too many colors is disconcerting. The viewer's eye doesn't know where to go.
Select a color scheme to give cohesiveness and punch to your paintings.
Three to five colors will give you a harmonious painting.
Mix additional colors from your selected colors.
This is how to painting commonsense.
Choose Your Painting Color Schemes
now comes the joy of painting a picture!
- Paint the background first. This would include things like the sky, distant hills or water.
Then come forward in the painting and paint the middle ground.
Lastly paint the foreground and the details.
- Paint the subject first, when you are painting anything close up like birds, flowers or people.
Then paint the background around the main subject.
the how to painting steps
- Pick a time and place to paint
- Select your subject
- Get the materials for your media
- Draw your subject
- Select your color scheme
Enjoy painting with good light and ventilation in your painting area.
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 to learn to paint?
Actually it has taken me a lifetime and I am still learning.
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with you with the step-by-step paintings on the How-to Tutorial pages.
You can paint everything from flowers, to butterflies and giraffes and even ocean waves.
have lots of fun and enjoy your painting journey!
Get Ready to Paint