3 Steps To Painting Success

3 Steps To Painting Success

As an artist it is easy to over complicate things.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking … ‘If I just had that new tube of green then my painting would improve‘ or ‘If only I could get a new easel‘ etc etc.

We have a tendency to focus on the things that make the least amount of difference to what will improve our painting.

As a beginner just starting out on your painting journey it is even harder. There is so much to learn and think about.

So the more you can simplify things down to just a few things to focus on the easier (and more enjoyable) your painting journey will be.

At Moore Art School we teach what we call the Moore Method Of Painting. This is a simple 3 step process to starting a painting and finishing it.

If you follow the three steps we teach in the Moore Method of Painting through our one day Art Workshops or our Online Art Classes then you will quickly improve and at the same time get more enjoyment out of painting.

So what are these 3 steps?

Glad you asked … lets look at them in more detail.

Step 1 – Establish Drawing

One of the challenges I believe with the wet-on-wet method typically taught by Bob Ross and Bill Alexander is that they do not teach you to draw.

I really believe if you want to be a good painter you need to be able to draw reasonably well. Simply because in order to be able to draw a landscape for instance you also need to be able to see accurately. It is this ability to be able to see that will fast track your painting skills. So the more you learn to draw what you see in front of you the more you develop your ability to see.

Now when I talk about drawing I do not mean drawing a detailed pencil sketch of the subject (although that may not be a bad idea).

What I am really talking about is placing the outlines of big shapes on the canvas.

This is important because first you have to simplify the scene down into a handful of big shapes. You also have to place them on the canvas so you get to see right away if the composition is going to work.

Here is an example of what I mean:


When I draw in my big shapes I either use Burnt Sienna thinned right down with thinner, or a mix of Ultramarine Blue & Alizarin Crimson which are both transparent colours … again with plenty of thinner. You want the paint to be an ink like consistency.

Forget the details at this stage … look for big shapes and if necessary combine elements into big shapes.

Step 2 – Block In Big Shapes

Once you are happy with the composition you have laid out it is now time to start with the block in stage.

This is where start to establish the values pattern of the painting. If you are unsure of values then I recommend the Get Started Painting course.

At this stage I am still using very thin paint and looking to cover the canvas and remove the stark white that puts of many would be artists.

Focus here on getting the relationship with your dark’s and light’s right. First start with the dark’s establishing your darkest dark’s.

Then work on your mid tones and finally the lightest tones.

With a bit of experience the first two steps can happen fairly quickly. You will find the more you paint the faster you will move through steps 1 and 2.

Step 3 – Refine Shapes & Add Details

When you come to step 3 you want to slow down and take your time. The refinement of shapes, colour and values plus the focus on details are what separates good artists from great artists.


Notice in the above photo how the main trees have had midtones and highlights painted over them. In step 2 we just blocked in the shadow value for these trees. In step 3 we bring everything to life.

In the photo above I am working on the details around the cottage, adding in bushes and grasses, fence posts and the like.

Take your time with step 3 and enjoy the process of seeing your painting come to life.

A good rule of thumb is to use bigger brushes and thinner paint in step 2 … then in step 3 use smaller brushes for detail work and thicker paint.

Follow these three steps with each of your paintings and you will progress as a painter faster than you might have thought possible.

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