3 Ways to Paint Like an Expert Without Actual Talent (in which I endeavor to color inside the lines)

31 Days of Lists 400px graphic no subtitle



This month, I’m participating in The Nester’s “31 Days of Change” project. The challenge: to write every day for 31 days! Click here to read more and to see what other listy-things I’ve been up to.




Lately I’ve become an expert on oil painting.

Okay, while that may not be entirely true, I HAVE compiled enough techniques and tips to create a list of ways to create nice, original artwork WITHOUT having a lick of talent. I’m an English major, for goodness sake…I write things. Painting? Well, here are my 3 secrets.

1. Choose an abstract design that doesn’t actually have to look like anything.

I went this route with my first oil painting. You could also choose a design like West Elm did and go to town.

West Elm black and white artwork

Artwork that is “open to interpretation” is a beautiful thing.

2. Choose a super simple thing to paint. Like a circle or someone’s nose or perhaps a beach:

How to paint a super easy beach scene--a step-by-step tutorial! (1)

This is slightly trickier, but you could also say that you were imitating “impressionist” artists. It’s cool.

3. Or you could just paint over an existing painting. This is sort of like using a coloring book but much more adult.

Let me tell you how I did it.

Last week I got this great weird cardboard “painting” from a thrift store for a quarter. I liked it, but, well, it was just cardboard.


So I painted over it.

I started with the trees…


…and just kept going with the brush underneath the trees. You can see the sheen of the cardboard where I hadn’t painted yet and the texture where I was finished painting.


It was basically just coloring in the lines.

I didn’t love the sunset feel that the painting had at first, so when I got to the sky, I went a little crazy and used my own colors.


And the purple-y mountains got a little gray-er.


And now, no one (except for anyone who has access to the internet) can tell that I, um, cheated a little bit when painting this.

Or you could just be naturally talented…that’s the other option. ;)

Please validate me by leaving a comment.