5 SIMPLE LAWS of Preparing to Paint

5 Simple Laws on Preparing to Paint

By Aubre' Murphy @warpaintaubre - Founder The WarPaint Project  www.thewarpaintproject.com 


Although I've been painting forever, more than 20 years, and although I give all my artwork away to Warriors in the WarPaint Project, I take my artwork very seriously. I've been asked many times to create tutorials, I answer questions all the time, and I offer to help in any way I can. 

Your painting is pixelated, look at the texture of a canvas; there are thousands of little squares everywhere, and they all matter. As you prepare your sketch, you are preparing for decisions on filling each pixel with color; don’t scramble and panic while your brushes are wet with paint; prepare yourself with these simple steps. Artist ‘meltdown’ happens when you’re not prepared; breathe, learn, practice, be inspired, and follow this guideline for a fun, successful experience. 

Tip #1- Concept ​​​​​ (the story) This is a big one for me; I think the story you're telling is as important as your skill level with painting; a stick figure holding a balloon that's drifted away doesn't require skills but the story makes it beautiful and meaningful. Think about what you want to say, what mood you want to convey, what message you want to send; if you need ideas email me, my info is below. Write a few sentences of a story down before you paint and use the tangible items in your story, in your artwork.  

Tip #2- Sketch it out- Too often artists will run to a canvas, throw down what they think will be easy to paint and then step back to a mess. I've done it so many times, even recently. It wasn't until three months into my Project I figured out that drawing my idea out first made me less likely to 'get lost' while painting. Getting "LOST" in a painting happens when what you originally wanted to paint turns into something totally different or you change color palettes and textures half way through, or the painting becomes really 'tacky' and sticky, and your emotions begin to 'boil over'. 

To avoid this, sit down, back of a napkin with a crayon if that's all you have, and sketch what you want to paint. I have FIVE sketchbooks that have every painting in my entire project with 11 months of sketches; it's a time capsule for my thoughts and it's a scrapbook for future projects. I place a date at the top and start drawing. I use colored pencils, markers, and sit with the kids while they also color. Use coloring book pages as guides for your paintings, in fact, Step 3 might be the hugest help of all! 

Step 3- Use a Reference Photo- I used to tell myself that I can’t draw at all but it makes your artwork better if you do. Sketching isn’t drawing, it’s an outline. When I want to paint something my first step is to go to Pinterest; I look at how other artists and photographers use their creativity in shadows, lighting, and color palettes, on my painting ‘subject’. There are some brilliant people in the world; their concepts are breathtaking, and their color combinations are nothing I would have ever tried. Like the lion whose mane is purple and silver or the angel wings that are neon pink at the tips; these images inspire our creativity and should also push you to get out of your comfort zone.  As you look through images, save them, screenshot them, print them, or just take notes. Use several (or in my case, hundreds) of images to create a one-of-a-kind piece. 

Step #4- Learn through video tutorials- YouTube and Pinterest have unlimited videos of fellow artists that openly teach you how to draw, or paint, just about anything. Before I tackle a painting of any animal especially, or the God forsaken portrait and human body, I watch videos. I bring my sketchbook and sketch along, pressing pause, replaying if I need to, and I watch dozens of videos until I feel confident in my sketch. Search “how to draw (or paint) angel wings” or ‘fur’ or ‘a side profile’ and sit back. I once watched over 100 videos for one painting; the Wizard, my first “portrait” for Rick Fenley, who passed away a week after receiving his painting; oddly I had never seen as much as a photo of him unless in a hospital bed, but his Wizard was an uncanny resemblance of him. 

Step #5- Learn the color wheel- Colors ‘pop’ and they ‘mud’ depending on your decisions to use them correctly; this is so easy, again Pinterest and Google have your answers. I wouldn’t normally paint an elephant pink, yellow, black and metallic gold, but when you look at ‘color palette’ ideas, you’ll learn how colors compliment and ‘help’ each other create a mood. Blue, for example LOVES orange, purple loves yellow, green loves red, and not just in the basic colors; think dark navy blue with a peach-ish light orange; dark violet with metallic gold, mint green with maroon, hot neon pink with black and white. See, they pop, but more importantly, they create vibe, contrast, and work to tell your story. 

Let’s look back on preparing your painting with these 5 steps:   

Concept- Create a STORY, write it down, decide what your painting says to viewers 
Sketch- Create a rough draft of where, what, and how your painting will be structured 
Reference Photos will help you stay focused while you paint 
Video Tutorials will answer questions on proportion, shading, position, lighting, and lines 
Color Palettes bring your painting a mood and aesthetic 

Good Luck with your Painting! Feel free to reach out anytime to show me your work, ask questions, and even schedule a one-on-one video class with me. No matter your skill level just remember these three words, ‘it’s just art’ and take the pressure for perfection off yourself. Most of what makes art beautiful are it’s flaws. 

To Nominate, Sponsor, Donate, and Support the WarPaint Project visit www.thewarpaintproject.com 

To find me on Facebook, Instgram, and TikTok search @warpaintaubre 

Email me at thewarpaintproject@gmail.com 


#guardianangelrickfenley #warriorsneverdie #warpaintaubre #warpaintproject #warpaintarttips

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