How To Paint “American Flag Sky” – American Flag Painting
Learn how to do this very simple yet stunning American Flag Painting with acrylic paint on canvas. You’ll learn how to do a forest skyline silhouette backed by a twilight or dawn sky and a dry brushed US flag illusion!
The design itself can work on any size canvas or any object! I’ve had users do this on wood boards, T-Shirts with Fabric Paint, murals, rocks…you name it!
Download This Tutorial!
Now available as a FREE download! You can download this as a PDF tutorial, download the video and a picture of the painting. Find out more here!
A little background…
I originally did this painting on Memorial day 2018 as a tribute to that day! My husband is a US Navy Veteran and we have multiple extended family members serving in the armed forces.
All the patriotic holidays are very meaningful for us! This painting is great for all US Patriotic Holidays and year round.
There’s a lot of “skill building” with this painting. You will learn how to do simple blending techniques, dry brush technique, splatter and tree silhouettes. I think it’s a great painting if you wanted to learn how to do those skill or incorporate them into a painting somehow!
*Oh and one more thing…an important correction: yes, the first stripe on the top is supposed to be red! Some of the photos in this post show “white” but it should be red. You can also do the exact number of stripes (7 red & 6 white).
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Basic Supplies Needed
Step By Step Pictures:
1. Get your supplies ready!
You’ll need a palette with: mars black. phthalo blue, cerulean blue and titanium white. You’ll also need a 3/4″ flat (or similar size), a toothbrush, and two very small round brushes (I’m using a #1 & #0). The size canvas I’m using for this demo is an 11″ x 14″, however, this design can work on any size.
2. Paint a little black at the very top.
We will be painting a sky that starts out very dark on top and then eventually gets very light on the bottom. First paint a black line about a quarter of an inch down the canvas. All these strokes must be going left and right. Oh and I’m using that 3/4″ large flat brush for the entire sky!
3. Don’t rinse brush. Add phthalo blue.
Paint phthalo blue about 4 inches down. Let it blend in with the black. The blue will gradually get lighter as we go down, kind of like an ombre sky. If you find that the black is not blending out, you can always rinse your brush to get that black off.
4. Don’t Rinse Brush. Add Cerulean Blue.
Now add cerulean blue to the brush and continue to paint left and right strokes down the canvas. Stop when you get a little more than half way down. We will need to define where this horizon line will be next!
5. Define the horizon line.
Use a ruler and a pencil to draw 2-3″ from the bottom, a horizon line. Mine is approximately 2″. This line will be where the sky will end. If you’re using a larger canvas, do it at 3″ but if you’re using a smaller canvas, then place it less than 2″.
6. Add white in the cerulean blue and paint all the way down to the horizon line.
Next add white and cerulean to the brush. Paint the rest of the way down. The lightest part of the sky should be along the horizon line. Don’t worry about having a crisp horizon line because the trees will be placed on top.
7. Paint the bottom portion black.
Basically fill in the entire bottom black. Keep your strokes left and right.
8. On the left and right sides, curve the black up a little.
Use your flat brush to curve the sides up a bit. This step is optional! I did it to help with the varying heights of the trees.
9. Flick stars on the upper left corner and a few here and there throughout.
Use a toothbrush, dip it in white paint and flick stars in the upper left corner. Really saturate the stars in this area. Then add a few star flicks throughout the canvas.
10. Use a tiny #0 brush to paint little white dots in the upper left corner.
Next I added some more very evident stars in this area (and only in this area). I spaced them out kind of clustered like real stars. You can also use the back of the handle of the brush to stamp on these dots.
11. Use a 3/4″ Flat Dry Brush to paint white stripes across the sky.
This next step requires using the dry brush technique. Dry brushing is super easy but if you don’t feel confident about it yet, test it out on a separate paper first. Basically get a very clean and very dry brush. Wipe the brush on a paper towel to ensure it is dry. Dip it in white and paint one stroke across the sky (but leave a gap at the top for a red stripe). You can go over the stroke if necessary but the blue below must still be showing through. I did three lines down and then did two lines all the way across.
12. Repeat the dry brush with cadmium red medium and paint red stripes.
I did NOT rinse the white off my brush. Why? Because I wanted that white to be bright against the dark blue and so the red mixed with the white a bit. If you find there is too much white on the brush, you can wipe it off with a paper towel. Do another dry brush technique with the red. I painted two stripes down and then three more stripes all the way across as pictured below. ALSO don’t forget the red stripe at the top like I forgot!
13. Paint the tree line silhouette.
I used a very small round brush (#0) that had kind of a longer tip. To paint the trees, I painted a vertical line first. And then I painted sort of downward strokes to form the shape of a pine tree. You can also do left and right zig-zags to form the pine tree branches. I actually wrote a post about how to paint these kinds of trees with a fan brush and you can check it out here. To make it look more natural, vary the heights of the trees. Also overlap some trees.
And that’s it! Simple and easy! What a fun Patriotic Painting!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I am so delighted to see all of your paintings shared on the SBSP Facebook page and on Pinterest pins!
You can share yours too by uploading a picture next to the Pinterst pin or….if you want me to see it faster, head on over to the FB page!
You can also tag me on IG @tracie_kiernan_art