Saturday, May 4, 2013

Painting Tutorial - The Coloring Book Method

I call this The Coloring Book Method because basically, you're creating a drawing with dark outlines (like a coloring book page) and then filling it in with color (paint).

This method works great on paper, canvas, or wood (coat wood with a layer of gesso first).

Supplies Needed:

  • A painting surface (paper, canvas, or wood) - for this tutorial I'm using wood but will always refer to it as 'canvas' as whatever you paint on can be referred to as your canvas
  • White gesso
  • Sharpie, paint pen or black paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Watercolor crayons and/or pastels and/or paint
  • Colored pencils, stamps, bubble wrap, carpenter crayon, etc. (optional)
The Basic Steps:

Step 1 - Prime your surface. Here I put down a layer of gesso on 1/2" MDF.
Step 2 - Draw your thumbnail ideas of what you may want to paint. Try some with a vertical orientation and some with a horizontal orientation.
Step 3 - Draw your design on your canvas lightly in pencil. These lines will be erased later so keep them light. (oops forgot to get a picture of this step)

So far we're following pretty typical painting technique. But here's where we veer and go into the Coloring Book Method. I find that this way of painting is GREAT for children and beginning painters. It's much less intimidating than setting a canvas in front of them and telling them to paint a person or flower. These steps break it down and make things MUCH more simple. You will end up with a more Pop Art or Folk Art type painting but even if that's not your end goal, this is a great way to start to feel more comfortable with putting paint to canvas.

Step 4 - Draw your outlines. I usually use a paint pen or black paint on a very fine brush. But when I paint with my art students I have them use a Sharpie. It's a bit easier to handle and an inexpensive tool. I like my lines to be relatively thick and I do have some variation of thickness and that's just fine.

Step 5 - Here is where you can go right in with paint. Which often times I do. But for this tutorial and when I work with my art students, I have them 'make their own paint'. We do this by putting down some watercolor crayon and/or pastels and then going over that with gesso. You can blend either with your finger or a paintbrush. I usually do a combination of both. The gesso blends with the color and creates soft, deep, beautiful color!!

The reason I like this for kids and beginners is, again, control. It's less intimidating to go in with crayon or chalk, rather than a brush loaded with paint. I also love the variation of colors you can get and the shading it allows. And on a truly practical note you don't have to squeeze out a bunch of paint. :)

Still not sure what I mean?? Maybe this will help...(Try it, it's FUN!)
And here's our girl with the color added...
Step 6 - Go back over your outlines, if you'd like. I usually do. I like my lines to be neat and clean.
Step 7 - Embellish with colored pencils, graphite pencils, rubber stamps, paint, etc. I love using a carpenters crayon to add some extra lines here and there. (After this picture I also went back in with a fine tip sharpie and added some scribbles to the background and with gesso I added the dots on her shirt and the highlights on her eyes and lips).
And VOILA...You're done.
To see some of my students working in this method and their finished paintings, click HERE.

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