In Acrylic for beginners
I got so inspired by the beautiful colours Nathan Head uses in his photographs, I decided to make a painting tutorial out of one of his works for you guys. We will be using his Magic Moon as a painting reference.
I have added the link to his Instagram page here. Feel free to go check it out, because I’m sure you’ll love it!
For this tutorial you will need:
- Paint: Teal, blues, purples, white and yellow and pink.
- A Palette
- Paint brushes: I always prefer flat brushes for applying the paint. And then a medium soft brush for blending.
- A cloth: You need this to clean your blending brush in between while you are blending.
- Canvas – Any size you’d like. I used a 30×30 CM
I started off by painting my entire canvas a pastel pink. The reason why I did this was so that the general feel of the painting would be warm. In order to achieve this, you can use any warm color you prefer, just as long as it’s not too dark.
Another reason why this is helpful, especially for beginner painters, is that it takes away that fear of the blank canvas, and the fear of making a mistake.
If you’d also like to prime your canvas, make sure that you set it aside to dry before you start with the next step.
Start off by drawing your horizon line with yellow. When drawing your horizon line, make sure that you don’t put it right in the center of the canvas, because this makes the painting very static. You want to put it slightly off center. If you were to put the horizon line a little higher in this painting, there would be more sea visible and the focus would, therefore, be on the sea. And the reverse is also true with the sky. I decided to focus a bit more on the sky.
Start by adding your first two colours in the sky. Add quite a bit of paint for each colour, so that the paint doesn’t dry too fast. I decided to use two separate brushes to apply the paint for this step in order to have more time to blend the colours before the paint dries.
There are also plenty of mediums available that you can mix with acrylic paint to let them dry a little slower. You can make use of this if you’d like.
You can then use a third brush to blend the two colours together. I find that the fluffier the brush, the better. If you’d like to see the exact steps on making a smooth gradient, have a look at my you tube video: How to paint a Gradient.
I usually recommend that you use a dry brush for this, because as soon as you wet your brush and try to blend, it can become patchy very easily.
You can then repeat the process by adding the third and fourth colour. If you find that some of your paint is drying already, just add some more paint and continue blending.
Next we can get started with the sea. If at this point you are not completely happy with your sky and there are still places which you feel are a bit too blotchy, don’t worry about it too much. Instead of trying to fix it now, rather let it dry and add a second layer in the areas you want to change later.
Add the spots where the moon is reflecting on the sea.
Next you can add the base of the water. In order to do this, have a look at two or three medium tones you see in the water and add them. For this I used teal, blue and purple. You can also add some greens in there if you’d like.
I don’t know about you, but once this step is done, I’m usually pretty relieved because I feel like I took a big step forward in my painting. This step is very helpful, since you now have all the medium tones down, you can easily distinguish the darker and lightest tones. You’ll be able to tell when your dark tones are a bit too dark and when your light tones are a bit too light by using your medium tone as a reference.
Next you can get started with the darkest tones. For this step I used ultramarine blue and dark purple. Since this sea is painted in an impressionistic way, you don’t have to worry too much about blending the sea. I decided to paint this in a different technique since I felt that it contrasts nicely with the smoothly blended sky.
It also introduces you to two different painting styles at once.
Next you can go back and brighten up the medium tones. You can use the same medium tones you used earlier.
You can then go back with some light tones. These will be all the colours you used mixed with a lot of white. You can add this in the lightest areas you see. I added a very light yellow in the middle of the yellow spots in the water.
Also remember that in order to create the illusion of depth in your painting, you want to make sure that the farthest part of the sea is lighter and less bright than the front. This is called aerial perspective and it really helps to give that feeling of where you can actually walk into the painting.
While you add the light spots, you can also add your moon once you are sure that your sky is dry. Start off by using a light yellow to draw a circle.
You can then add the details on the moon with a darker colour yellow. If you deel like your sky needs a bit more colour, you can add it now.
In case you find that your first layer is coming off easily, which often happens with entry level quality paint, just leave it to dry for a full day and continue the next day. This will ensure that the paint thats already on the canvas has enough time to dry properly and bond to the canvas.
Thanks for following this tutorial! I hope you enjoyed it and I would love to see your work! Please feel free to tag me on instagram with the handle @jetheadedgypsy.
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I am looking forward to seeing your work!
Talk to you soon,
Jet Headed Gypsy