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My First Piece Of Real Artwork

Last Updated on May 30, 2013 by Kristi Linauer

Remember last week I said that I wanted to try my hand at painting an actual piece of artwork?  Well, yesterday I did it.  I painted an actual piece of artwork.

It’s not perfect by any means.  And if I decide to take up painting as a hobby, I definitely have a great deal to learn.  But we have to start somewhere, and I actually like my little painting.  Want to see it?  Here it is…

painting finished

Okay, I added the borders in my photo editing program.  But the painting I actually did myself.

If you’ll remember, I shared two different inspiration paintings with you.  I decided that I liked this one better, and wanted to base my own painting on it.

I used slightly different colors (more greenish blues) and I put my own touch on mine (more clouds, and a darker sky that looks like a scary storm is rolling in…and a bird).

Now let me warn you.  If you’re an actual, real artist, and you haven’t already averted your eyes, you’ll definitely want to right now.  What I’m about to show you could send you into a frenzy.

I bought a 16” x 20” canvas for this painting (at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon so it came to around $12.50…yay!), but I certainly didn’t want to spend money on tubes of acrylic paint, paint brushes, etc.  So I decided to use what I had.

This is the scary part.  Here’s what I had…

painting supplies before

Yep.  I used sample pots of Martha Stewart and Behr latex paint (with a bit of Rustoleum mixed in there for good measure), some leftover concrete epoxy paint, two Purdy brushes that I use to paint furniture, trim, and do the cutting in on walls, and three very pathetic smaller brushes that I’m sure were intended for five-year-olds using watercolor paints.

What a sight, right?  Even worse, several of the sample pots were very old, thick, and had a layer of dried paint over the top that had to be peeled away.  This is what they looked like after I cleaned them up a bit.

painting small paint pots

I know.  Pathetic.

So with all of my supplies ready, and a picture of my inspiration artwork printed out and in hand, I got to work.  After about 20 minutes of painting, I put my brushes down and thought to myself, “Hmmm…I think it’s finished!”  At that point it looked like this…

painting stage 1

I did have a question about the horizon, though, so of course I called my mom.  (Remember, she’s a very talented artist, and she taught oil-painting classes for many years when I was growing up.)  I asked my question, and of course she asked what I was doing.  I told her I was painting a picture.  There was a slight pause, then, “Yeah, Kristi, I’m definitely going to need to see that before you go hang it on a wall somewhere.”

Open-mouthed smile

Classic.  I was cracking up.  I was okay with her wanting to inspect my work.  After all, we couldn’t have a repeat of my “artwork” keeping her awake at night, tossing and turning at the thought of swollen and diseased tree branches, now could we?!

So I took a picture and e-mailed it to her.

She was actually pleasantly surprised.  She thought it was a good start, but definitely needed some work.

“Kristi, clouds generally puff UP.  Yours seem to be swirling down.  And also, the land needs to be reflected in the water.”

lol…Hmmm…for some reason, those basic things that we learn when we’re three seem to slip my mind when I’m creating “art”.  I tried again (with my 2.5-inch Purdy paint brush).

painting stage 2

There.  The land now has reflection in the water.  But those clouds!  They were better…maybe.  At least there seemed to be some upward puffery.  But it was still “off”.  So she e-mailed me a YouTube video of a guy painting clouds with acrylic paint.

The video was fantastic.  I got it.  I understood the technique…with acrylics and the correct brush.  The problem is that I wasn’t using acrylic paint, and I didn’t have his perfect little paint brushes.  Nope.  I was using latex paint intended for walls and furniture, and using a 2.5” Purdy paint brush.

So I switched to the art brush intended for five-year-olds and their water color projects.

painting stage 3

That definitely worked better.  But now there was a harsh line where the dark background sky met the clouds.  “You just need to do some more blending,” said my mom.  “It needs to be more gradual,” said my mom.

Yeah.  Easier said than done.  This paint was drying within seconds of hitting the canvas.  Adding water didn’t make it “blendable”.  It just made it puddle and streak.  But, I tried again.

“And another thing, your horizon shouldn’t meet the tip of that land in the background,” she instructed.

Duh.  I knew that, too.

painting stage 4

Alrighty, the land and horizon looked better.  But I had a serious case of cloud fail.  Somehow my attempt to blend ended with clouds that were really bright and defined on bottom.  And is that rain pouring from the clouds?!

So I tried again.

painting stage 5

Better.  Definitely better.  Perhaps just a bit more blending.  Oh, and a bird!

painting stage final

And here’s where I finally said “GOOD ENOUGH!!!”  After working on those clouds for well over a hour-and-a-half, with my teacher trying to instruct me over the phone, and then having to paint the bird on with the tip of a sharpened pencil dipped in paint (because I don’t have any detail brushes), I was done.  I had had quite enough.

No, it’s not perfect.  I definitely have a ton to learn if I plan to do more paintings in the future.  (Lesson #1:  Purchase appropriate paint and brushes.)

But this was certainly a fun learning experience for me, as is evidenced by the mess I left behind.

painting supplies after

The bigger the mess, the more the fun, right?  And heck, considering I’m just a beginner (using latex paint and Purdy paint brushes), I think my painting is pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.


painting finished

I shall call it The Calm Before The Storm.  (Because aren’t serious artists supposed to name their pieces?)

So have you tried your hand at painting a piece of artwork?  How did it go?  Did you create a masterpiece on your first try?  Or are you like me…in need of some lessons from a very patient teacher?

Either way, it sure is fun to try!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Wow….Im impressed!  That is gorgeous…I love the colors.  Im not an artist, but I can appreciate good art.  This is freakin really good!   

    Lucky 7 Design

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      glynn blomquist
      September 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      I just love your seascape! For your first piece, it is quite remarkable and I would love to buy a print if you make any. You are your worst critic as most artists are and you need to lighten up. As far as I’m concerned you are already past doing this for a hobby. You already have fans that sincerely love your work.So your teacher helped and the video helped. But YOU painted this seascape and I would celebrate and treat myself for an awesome job. Well done!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    That is SO GOOD! Are you kidding me?!!? Wow!!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Wow – absolutely beautiful.  I can't believe you are not an artist already.   This is really amazing.  Keep going!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Christina Leach
    June 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I think you did wonderfully!  I couldn't have done it, that's for sure!  I'd hang that up in my house.  🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    June 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Kristi-
    OMGosh – This is better than good enough – you should be so proud that you created something from a blank canvas. It looks like your inspiration picture.   I am so impressed! Mine would look like a first grader did it.  Your mom is a talented artist -I think the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
    My best- Diane 

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Wow!!!  That's pretty darn amazing for your first try!  My first try would be an "abstract" that looks like a kindergartener painted it…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Leigh Ann Healy
    June 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Kristi, I think you did a FANTASTIC job.  It's just beautiful and I'd definitely be proud to hang this in my home!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alicia Smith-Turley
    June 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    GO YOU! Those clouds are gorg!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Angela N
    June 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Way to go!!!  Your painting technique would be the same that I use…figure it out as you go. lol  You did an amazing job!!  Much better than I could ever do.  I can paint walls and furniture but can.not do this type of painting for the life of me.  And I love that you youtubed how to paint clouds.  I alway look there for instructional videos.  I was just there last week looking for some slipcovering techniques.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi's mom
    June 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Diane, it's funny that you mentioned apple.  The only other painting she ever did was when she was four years old.  It was an apple.  And for a four-year-old it was pretty amazing.  I wish she had shown it, too.  Maybe I can get her to post it on Facebook. 

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ashley @
    June 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    NICE job!  I LOVE how it turned out!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim Kern
    June 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Wow, I can't believe that is the first thing you have painted!  It looks great, in my eyes anyways.  🙂  Having no artistic talent at all I am not sure that it means much, but I am impressed. ~ Kim

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I like it. Kudos for going for it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anne Sullivan
    June 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    …. Okay, your first painting is supposed to look something like this:

    Not like that. Especially given the paints and tools you were using. You obviously have an artistic eye (given your line of work and the things you've done before), but that is still an incredible first piece of work.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Matthew Linauer
    June 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    You know I married into one of those relationships that I had no clue as to the mad skillz level.  She fell out of the skill tree and hit EVERY branch on the way down, and there are a lot more branches left to hit!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Shut up!!!!!  That is amazing!!!!!  You have some serious talent my friend!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 14, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    You did an amazing job! I love it! And with all the wrong supplies to boot? Skills girl. You have mad ones!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 15, 2011 at 1:00 am

    You are so talented!  Your painting is great!! 

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 15, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Wow!  Are you freakin' kidding me?  That is amazing.  Just think what you could do with proper paint and brushes… LOL

    Speaking of that…. if you ever watch David Bromstad on Color Splash… you'll notice that he paints an original piece of art for every room he designs.  He frequently uses regular paint brushes and latex paint… usually stuff left from the room he's doing.  He thins it out and blends with a spray bottle of water. 

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

    The first thing I noticed was the clouds and I was so impressed because they look wonderful!  I've done various forms of art for years and I've never, ever gotten clouds to look as good as yours!  I just discovered your blog and I love it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    the cape on the corner
    June 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    wow, that's awesome.  i love that you showed us the process, and your mom's comments.  hysterical!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Home Accessories
    June 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Great article and the painting is lovely, Well done

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim Perdew
    June 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    You definitely have your mom's talent for painting. I could do some abstract stuff…..collage stuff, but not the waterscape, landscape or ANY scape. :o) Great job…. are you going to hang it in your condo?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    June 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Kim, I actually did this for John & Alice's mantel.  I'm going for a layered look, so it'll sit in front of the wood shim mirror that I made.  Matt was so sad when he found out this wasn't for us.  🙂  He's already requested that I purchase actual painting supplies, and do some paintings for the condo.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Wow! and its only your first attempt. Its a really wonderful painting. Well done. Hope to see more.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I'm really impressed that you would even try on your own.  I would love to paint but I'm pretty sure mine would look like it was done by a second grader.  Yours look beautiful.  I'm going to "Painting With A Twist" pretty soon and hope to learn a few things there.  Thank you hosting your party.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Vickie White
    June 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Incredible! I think your painting is GORGEOUS!! I think your mom's art gene's are being exposed in you! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Well done!  Don't stop now, paint something else.  I love painting my own art, so I get exactly what I want.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    wow! that is amazing.  i am really impressed.  It is soooo good!!!!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ruth Emond
    June 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    It turned out beautifully. I don't think I could create something this good even if I had all the correct supplies. I live how it turned out.


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Wow this is really nice! I'm an artist myself, although I've never had the courage to deal with paint. You did a really great job.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Melissa Riker
    June 22, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I think it looks great!  I'm a hobby oil painter and am VERY impressed-especially given the supplies you were working with.  You should be very proud!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Hani @ Craftionary
    June 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I have to say that you did a very good job on that painting.. I am also a beginner and I love to paint landscapes and abstract… It's so much fun.. I'll be sharing them on my blog Soon…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lindsey Vis
    June 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Hey, just came over here from Thrifty Decor Chick, and you crack me up!!  This is exactly how I paint too, so I can totally relate.  As a total-not-real-artist-at-all, I think your painting ended up looking fantastic!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Love it!! Found you from thrifty decor chic's site, I'm a new follower!  Can't wait to see what else you've got on your blog! : )

    Aimee @

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tiffany Price
    June 24, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    saw this on TT&J–I love the roiling storm clouds, i feel caught in the storm.  The colors are perfect for my home–I would definately buy this!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 26, 2011 at 4:25 am

    That is an AMAZING piece of art work – I'd pay for it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Beautiful, Kristi. You did an awesome job! Let me know when you want to turn loos of it! LOL

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Pixel Artwork
    February 3, 2012 at 8:43 am

    […] colors and getting them just right kind of intimidates me. But perhaps I could do it. After all, my first attempt at real artwork last year turned out pretty good, even if I do say so myself! /* Filed Under: 2012 wk 5, […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 31, 2012 at 9:33 am

    real actual artist here chiming in- great job! 😀 love the bird. if you want some fancy compliments, the bird falls right on the golden triangle corner spot area. haha that was not fancy, but it is true. check this out: is how you want to divide up your composition, and you nailed it with the bird and the horizon 🙂

    fwiw, wall paint and acrylic paint are close enough to use together. one of my painting professors said they were the same/interchangeable. i don’t really know my paint chemical composition (painting majors in the house?), but no dramatic faux paus were made.
    and if they were? proclaim yourself UN ARTEEST and do not listen to ze peons!

    lol how did i get to this page? it’s over a year old. anyway great job XD

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 31, 2012 at 9:39 am

    ps the only actual pitfall you face using a selection of odd materials is how to keep it well in the future, which is why so many artists are bonkers about archival-safe materials. rothko, he used some awful chemical as a paint thinner that is dissolving all of his paintings now; de kooning went a little too bananas with his painting and too much paint thinner, they’re now all sliding off the canvases from the weight of the paint (these are total anecdotes from profs that i am too lazy to research). the one true story i have: you know the phantom tollbooth, the delightful children’s novel? the artist did the illustrations with cheap ballpoint pen on cheap typing paper back in whatever year they were done. over the years, they all disintegrated, none are left for him to show/sell.
    ARCHIVAL SAFE! you want it.

    lol i should get back to work now and stop blabbing on this old blog post 😉 but dont worry about the range of materials for your painting unless you’re planning to keep it colorfast and perfect for generations.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    That is soooo much better than your inspiration painting
    Wow girl you did good !!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    September 23, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Wow, you are super talented