Ways to begin

There are numerous methods of beginning a painting. This is one of the biggest problems people face.

You look at your subject and then stare back at your blank surface and think to yourself “I have to put that subject onto this blank surface? “Oh boy, where do I begin?”

Well, you need some type of foundation or framework so you know where to put your paint. Therefore you begin by making some sort of drawing on your canvas or panel.

But let me first say something important about this “drawing”. Note that I have the word drawing in quotation marks. This is because a drawing for a painting is not the same as a drawing that is a finished piece of artwork. When you make a drawing to be a finished piece of art in itself, you can go into all the detail that you like. The same is not true for the “drawing” stage of painting. The things that you would do with a pencil or piece of charcoal (or whatever tool you would use to draw with) you will now be doing with the oil paint itself.

The image you see on the left is a complete work of art in itself. It is a drawing done with pencil, charcoal, and white chalk. The image on the right is a painting in it’s early stages. The original drawing lines are still visible.

Maybe it would help you to not use the word “drawing” – that’s fine too. Maybe for you, it’s better to say “foundation”, “blueprint”, or “skeleton” for the painting that will follow. Maybe that will get your mind to be thinking how it should be. Whatever works for you.

I will cover numerous ways to do the drawing stage below.