How To Paint Like a Professional

– Practical Tips Rrom A Professional Artist

Cheryl Johnson Secret Forest

Start with the right supplies.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or a fortune to get quality tools and paint.


Moderately priced tools will give you the quality and durability you need to complete one room or the whole house without breaking the bank.

This list will ensure you have everything you need at your fingertips to avoid delays and costly mistakes:

Prepare the Surface

  • Painter’s tape

  • Plastic to cover floors and furniture--


I could write an entire book or whole article on selecting paint.

Without even touching on selecting your paint color, there are so many paint options in different types, acrylic, oil, latex, and finishes, with different levels in different brands and price points.

Prepare— PreparePrepare

Any professional artist worth their salt will tell you that proper prep is worth every minute you’ll spend plan what you want to paint.

01. Underpainting

I like to create an underpainting in either grey values or burnt umber or a mix of burnt sienna and phthalo blues to establish shadows and values. If the painting is a subject of light I may use Hansa Yellow. If I am painting in oil I use oil paint.

However, some artists crete underpaintings using Acrylics or Latex. They are often the best medium to use at this stage as they're quick-drying and permanent.

02. Blocking in

Remember Layers. Work paint in layers up from thin to thick, especially when using slow-drying paints like oil. It is almost impossible to work on top of heavy, wet paint. In the same way, add highlights in the final stage, adding the brightest (and usually heavier) paint at the end.

03. Building up texture

You can use a brush or palette knife. Blend your paint and soften edges to create smooth transitions. I tend to use lots of texture and like to see brush marks in my own work. Almost anything can be used to add texture to your paint. I often use plaster. Plaster, is a pasty composition (as of lime or gypsum, water, and sand) that hardens on drying and is used normally in house painting for coating walls, ceilings, and partitions. However, I find it very useful.

04. Dry brushing

I use a soft brush to blend my paints and I partially covers a previously dried layer of paint. Mix a small amount of paint to your brush and apply it with very quick, directional strokes.

05. Sgraffito

I love mark making and often use Sgraffito. Sgraffito is the term used when you scratch away paint while it's wet to expose the underpainting layers. It's especially useful when depicting scratches, hair, or grasses and can add depth and texture.

07. Painting with mediums

Mediums can be purchased from many manufacturers. Artists often get confused about mediums. They simply are additives or fluids that can be added to paint to make it thinner and flow. It will modulate its consistency, drying time and texture. In the case of acrylics, you get different mediums, gel and different surface brightness; matte or Gloss that make the paint dull matte or gloss shiny. However, I often use the matte medium mainly to seal my paper or board, so paint doesn't soak into it. It works almost like a gesso; undercoating.

Remember: The 3 Steps to Becoming a Better Painter, by Painting Less

Take Time And Learn to Build Up Your Paint

This is the part I love the most. The process of building up an oil or acrylic painting is really an individual matter. Many artists cover the canvas as quickly as possible, starting with an underpainting in thin, or even very diluted paint that dries very quickly. Underpainting allow you to establish the main blocks of tone and texture.

You can mix paint right on the surface of the paper or canvas. Painters who paint with oil often prefer the marks of the brush have played as an important part in paint techniques. When you study the Old Masters you will find Titian, then Rembrandt, began to exploit brush marks in contrast to the smooth surfaces and subtle blends preferred by earlier painting artists. Brushwork really can be very helpful for painting texture and adding detail to objects in your painting.