Teach me to paint by Paint with Ray

Teach Me To Paint is the subject of my November Blog….

In this blog I would like to share with you the method I use to paint my pictures so that you can see how easy it is for to create your very own masterpiece – even for those folk without any previous experience of painting or drawing.   I use the unique ‘Bob Ross’ technique, which involves painting wet oil paint on top of wet oil paint, or ‘wet onto wet’ as it is more commonly known.  Painting in this way is an absolute joy –  your painting develops quickly and gives you some wonderful effects.  In this blog I’m going to concentrate on landscapes.

Before you can get started you of course need to decide on what you would like to paint.  What subject will inspire you?  Do you perhaps have a photograph you took that makes you want to have a go and paint it?  Are you interested in wildlife?  In nature, there is so much to choose from; sweeping landscapes, colourful flowers, wild seascapes, etc.

For illustration purposes  for Teach me to Paint I am going to talk you through the basic processes I used in creating a beautiful springtime woodland landscape scene showing a magnificent carpet of bluebells, illustrated by the painting shown below, which I painted from a photograph I took last spring on my own camera.woodland


Once you’ve chosen the photograph or image you’d like to use as your own reference, decide on which part of the photograph you want to use to make a nice composition – or all of it, as you like.  You can take reference material from any source; it doesn’t need to be an actual photograph.  You can see from my example that I only used a portion of my own photograph as reference in this instance.  Think about the overall composition of your painting – it is not necessary to stick rigidly to the photograph you are using, try and judge for yourself what additions might enhance the composition, or what bits you’d like to leave out, use your imagination as you wish.


OK, so let’s get started.  First of all, you need to make sure your painting area is clear of clutter and things that you don’t need when you are painting. Make certain the lighting in your painting area is good enough.  Take your canvas from its wrapping and place it securely on your easel, making sure you place it in the ‘landscape’ format. The next stage is to assemble the paints that you will need; look at your reference photo and choose your colours carefully.  Squeeze a small amount of each colour onto your palette. After the paint has been squeezed out take your palette knife and ‘grab’ part of the pile of paint and it pull outwards, leaving a long tail. This ‘tail’ is from where we will load the paint onto our brushes.

Next, we will select and put out our brushes; it’s a good idea to have at least two of each type of brush because in this way you can use one of each size for the dark colours and one for the light colours. This will save you lots of time by not having to keep stopping to wash brushes during your painting.

Brushes are washed in odourless paint thinners, so have a small jar to hand before you get started (an old clean jam jar is perfect).  If you do wash brushes in thinners then you must make sure they are completely dry before going back to work on your painting.  Painting in the Bob Ross technique I usually have to hand at least two 2 inch brushes, a one inch brush and two Filbert brushes (a brush with bristles forming a flattened oval head) and a Script Liner Brush for detail work (unique to the Bob Ross technique and obtainable from many art material suppliers), a palette knife and of course you will need your liquid white paint.   For the liquid white you can thin down some ‘Titanium White’ paint with a little oil painting medium.

In my Teach me to Paint classes I only use Bob Ross oil based paints because they are really great to use and are excellent value for money. Now that I have my painting area ready, my paints, brushes and thinners to hand, I am ready to start painting my bluebell wood.

A painting which conveys a realistic feeling of objects being in the foreground, mid ground or distance uses perspective.  Perspective is the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface (in this case our canvas) so as to give the right impression of their height, width and depth and position in relation to each other….. in the case of our bluebell wood perspective will make you feel you could almost reach into the distance and pick a handful of bluebell, or sit on a grassy bank in the foreground!

Before we start, consider your composition carefully and where you want to position your horizon etc.  In order to establish good perspective in my own painting I would consider first drawing in the winding path, then use a little artistic license by taking out some of the trees in the mid-ground which will also help make a nicer composition. Then when I paint the mid tone and the foreground I will paint over my path at the edges which will help set the path down into the picture.

Let’s get cracking.  First we will coat our canvas with the thin liquid white paint, but we only need a very thin coat.  All we want to do is make the canvas slick and wet, ready to paint on.  Because we are using the Bob Ross ‘Wet on Wet’ method of painting, putting wet oil paint on top of wet oil paint, it will be fine – there are no mistakes using this method of painting, just happy accidents!


Next we will start on our sky.  Using our 2 inch brush made sweeping cris-cross strokes from side to side of the entire width of the canvas, starting at the top and working down, easing off the pressure on the brush as we work downwards.  This will help create some perspective – the nearer to the horizon you are, the paler the colour needs to be.

Once we done the sky colour we take our second clean and dry 2 inch brush and with horizontal strokes blend the sky until its soft and you are happy with how it looks.  The sky colour will automatically get lighter as it mixes with the liquid white paint we applied at the beginning. If you want to add clouds to your sky, then you can add them in at this point using the oval edged Filbert brush.

Once again taking your Filbert brush (clean and dry) at this point we can add in some trees using clean fresh paint from your pile on the palette. This paint does not want to be really dark but of a mid-tone and quite thick.  We leave the thickest and darkest paint for the trees you decide you want to add into the foreground. Using the different depths of colour and thickness of paint helps to establish the perspective of the scene and make it realistic.

After we have painted the dark shapes to our trees we come back and add the highlights which will bring them really to life.

Now we can start to add in the foreground. The foreground is where we have the most detail and use the darkest colour; I even use black in my foreground because it really does help push everything back and is great at helping establish convincing perspective.  I use the Filbert brush with thicker, darker paint and then add my highlights to create the near trees.

Whilst we are working in the foreground of our painting we can add in any small details that will really bring your painting to life such as flowers, grassy banks, rocks and shrubs, all of which add interest, engage the observer and draw the eye.

And ‘voila’ – you have just finished your very own masterpiece by following my simple Teach Me To Paint steps.  Anyone can paint using the Bob Ross method, and as I said before “there are no mistakes just happy accidents”.  Take a look at what some of my students have said about their own paintings – you don’t have to have had any formal training whatsoever – anyone can do it!

teach me to paint

If you’d like to have a go at a painting in one of my classes in Great Glen and produce a lovely painting of your own to hang at home, or give to a friend for Christmas, come along to my classes and be amazed at how fantastic your painting can be – My classes are a lot of fun, a great way to meet people, and so satisfying to be creating art of your own.


Give me a call on 07468 455303 for a chat or to book a class, or refer to my upcoming class dates here on my website.

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