5 Ways to Find the Painter in You

When I sat down with a friend during a painting date, I had no idea what to do with my white canvas. I’m crafty, but I wouldn’t call myself a painter. But by the end of the night, hot dog!, I’d created my favorite painting! Who doesn’t love power lines with birds on them?

Maybe you don’t rock the still lifes and landscapes (me), but I promise, you can paint. Here are some ideas to bring out the artiste in you, based on techniques I used in this painting and techniques I have tucked away for my next painting date.

So you think you can’t paint: 5 Ways to Find the Painter in You

Dig up some inspiration. Pay attention to things that catch your eye. Maybe it’s a pillow or a fabric or a mug. Recreate the look on a canvas. For this painting, I drew from a rug and plate I liked, and layered the ideas together.

Start with a pencil sketch. Before you begin, sketch the layout of where you want things to be. It’s much easier to reposition pencil lines than paint! (I prefer acrylic, by the way. It’s easy to mix and easy to water down if you want paint to go on easier, or even create a water-color effect.)

Dump the paintbrush. Try using something unconventional to apply paint. Maybe dip a string in paint and lay it on your canvas in an interesting, or even tangled, pattern. Or maybe you have some interesting wheels and cogs around the house you can use as stamps. For this piece, I created an interesting pattern by laying a paper towel flat on the green section to mop up some paint, and I created the power lines by painting thin sticks of bamboo and pressing them down on the canvas.

Repeat a pattern. A canvas filled with a repeating pattern (like this one) can be lots of fun. Plus, you can make a stencil to draw your pattern on before you start painting. Fabric is a great place to find inspiration for art like this. I like Tonic Living.

Go geometric. I absolutely love the paintings in this room (by Leora Armstrong, featured in House Beautiful). Play with shapes and colors you love. Don’t fully mix your paint and see what kind of interesting streaks you can create.

And just two more words of advice for beginners: table cloth. If you work on your beautiful wooden kitchen table like I do, you’ll wind up with paint streaks and splatters no matter how careful you think you’re being. I use a plastic table cloth that I can wipe (mostly) clean.

Happy painting. Let me know what you come up with!

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  1. Amy! You are so crafty. I freakin love it. I am posting the link to your blog on my blog so all of my peeps can come and enjoy your craftiness.

  2. Finally catching up on your blog. I am impressed! I still don’t think I could do it, though!

  3. Alissa says:

    Also, try ditching the paintbrushes and go old school fingerpainting! You can get really great, Money-esque effects by mixing the colors and texture with your fingers. Bonus: no brushes to wash – which is, in my opinion, the only bad thing about painting.