I got pretty lucky in the creativity department, but I still have this unwavering desire to be a better painter. I mean, I’m really great at painting walls (ask Kelly about the Manayunk bedroom if you don’t believe me) but I’m talking more along the lines of abstract art.
Thank goodness for straight lines and the grown up version of the “paint by numbers” technique. My cousin and her boyfriend recently moved into a new apartment, and I wanted to create something for them to hang above their couch. They both love Philly as much as I do, so a skyline painting became my goal. And trust me – if I can do it, you probably can too.
Step 1: Find a photo for inspiration. Of course, I used a Philadelphia skyline for my canvases, but you can absolutely tailor this to your own hometown. Once you’ve got a photo you like, it’s time to imagine it as 3 separate images.
Take a blank piece of paper and divide it into 3 even columns, keeping in mind how tall and wide your actual canvases are. Then (and I swear this is the “hardest” part) it’s time to draw the skyline. Keep it simple! No details are necessary for a silhouette.
Once you’ve got a rough sketch done, grab a few different sized brushes and some paint. I chose black for the true silhouette look, and because I wanted the end result to be able to match with any room in their house.
Step 2: The scariest step, for me at least, is to make that first brushstroke. Make like Nike and just do it, or else you’ll be sitting in front of blank canvases for 3 weeks, wondering if you need therapy for your art anxiety.
Start by painting a straight line across the first canvas. You’ll replicate this step with the other two eventually, but this way you can concentrate on one area at a time. Begin to add buildings based on your sketch – if you aren’t good at straight-ish lines, you can always try using painter’s tape! But honestly, I recommended freehand – I think the end result is more authentic.
Step 3: Once you’ve followed along and painted a first coat of your skyline across all 3 canvases, it’s time to add a second coat. Even if you used a really dark color, I think another coat is necessary unless you want your piece to look like a grade-school art project.
Optional Step 4: I decided to clean up my bottom edge a little bit by putting painter’s tape onto all 3 canvases and adding two more coats of paint. This is all about preference – you might like a completely “textured” edge better and choose to keep it the way it was!
What do you think? It’s obviously not a 100% accurate rendition of my city, but I love the way it turned out. The canvases should be hung with a tiny bit of space between them for a more dramatic effect, and I can’t wait to see how they look in the new place!
Would you try this with your city’s skyline? Tag me at @drinktheday on Instagram if you do!