Going from Drawing to Painting


I often tell aspiring artists, “If you can draw you can paint.” I’ve also shown numerous drawings and how they turn into paintings. (Most recently HERE and HERE.) That said, many artists still feel a great deal of fear when moving from black and white into color. This post is an attempt to help relieve that fear.

Tip # 1 – Make Awesome Drawings

The first thing I cannot stress enough is make sure your drawing is awesome. The better your drawing, the easier it will be to paint. For most artists this means doing lots of thumbnails, sketching, and using reference to get everything just right.

Tip #2 – Transfer the Drawing

I learned this the hard way. Save your original drawings! Scan them in and then have them printed out to transfer onto your board. If you feel you need a more detailed demonstration of transferring the drawing then check out the tips and techniques section of Donato Giancola’s website.

Additionally I HIGHLY recommend Donato’s DVD The Mechanic. It explains this whole process in great detail.

Tip #3 – Start Thin

If you work in Acrylic, use lots of water. If you work in Oil, use lots of OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits). Keep the paint thin, and start blocking in the basic color structure. If you’re really nervous then do a color study either digitally or on a small print out of your drawing. I personally don’t do this. I establish my values in the drawing, and have a general idea of my color and just go for it, but there is no harm in being a little cautious as you build color confidence.

Once you’ve established your color structure you should be able to step back and see the finished painting. Upon close inspection it won’t look done, but from way back you should be able to imagine its finish.

Tip #4 – Get To Work

At this point there’s not a lot more tips; you can keep working thin or start establishing opaques. The main thing is that because there is a base color on everything, you now have something to react to. It’s all about pushing and pulling and reacting warm to cool colors. Mix paint, try it out, and then put it on the painting. If it doesn’t look right, wipe it out, mix again, etc…

Tip #5 – The Best Way to Learn is to Do!

I got this tip from Steven Belledin back when I was first transitioning into oil painting. The best way to learn how to paint is to paint. Your first paintings are probably going to suck. Mine did, so do most artists. Because you’re not painting over the top over your drawings you’ve got nothing to lose. At least you’ll have some sweet drawings!

…And in time some sweet paintings, too. So much of art is learning what you like and what works for you. So get to work!

Odin's Secrets © Sam Flegal 2013

Odin’s Secrets © Sam Flegal 2013

To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project please visit: www.samflegal.com



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