This is how I start a new painting. I’ve tried various methods over the years but similarly to my freestyle painting technique, I really feel it comes down to this: if you’re a good artist, if you can trust your abilities, then go for it. 

For portraits, proportions are much more important so I wouldn’t want to jump straight into a blank canvas. Instead I used the familiar grid technique I’ve used so many times before. You divide your sketch into various sections, halves and then quarters for example, then add the corresponding gridlines to your canvas. Now, in the past I’ve spent a while with a ruler and made it precise, but the fact is that those gridlines are for you alone. It doesn’t have to be exact so save yourself some time and give yourself the minimum guidance you need. I free handed my guidelines and feel satisfied that it’s given me everything I needed. 

Here is my top tip for ditching pencil and ruler when scaling up. 

  1. Choose a pale colour paint which matches your colour scheme. 
  2. Thin it down with a medium, not water! 
  3. Once you’ve drawn a line run your finger over it to avoid leaving a texture on your canvas.
  4. Use the same thinned paint to start adding the details of your painting. Don’t allow your paint to become too thick.
  5. and finally… trust yourself!
New Painting