American Flag Painting

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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!

This painting tutorial is for the absolute beginner and even kids. I did one painting on an 8 x 10 canvas and the other on an 11 x 14 size.

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!



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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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Yield: Any Size Acrylic Canvas Painting

How To Paint American Flag Sky

American Flag Sky Painting

This VERY easy canvas painting tutorial will guide you through all the steps of how to paint an American Flag in a sky with silhouette trees.

Active Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy

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Color Palette:


Directions At A Glance:




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


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44 thoughts on “American Flag Painting”

  1. I love this!!!❤️❤️ I have ordered all of the paints. I will let you know how it turns out. Thank you so much for this tutorial

    • Hi Ciera! I don’t have a #8 on hand to measure but I’d imagine it’s relatively close in size. I have a #4 flat that is 3/8” wide and usually the larger number means a larger brush so a #8 might be 5/8” or a little wider.

      • Ok thank you. I was at Michaels today and could not find a flat anywhere there that was a 5/8. I was frustrated a bit hah!! Does the royal brush pack have one in it that you know of?

        • Oh no! I’m so sorry Ciera! If it’s the exact width of the flag stripe you are going for, a 1/2” flat or even a 3/4” flat will work just fine! I’ve changed and standardized my brush sizes since this tutorial was made so if I were to redo it, I’d go for that 3/4” flat! Michael’s does sell them individually and in the packs.

      • Love this painting!We are doing this for a birthday party! How many 11×14 pics would ypu get from 4oz paint tubes? Thnx so much!

  2. This is the most precious painting!! I have a dear cousin who was raised up in a military family and he also served and retired from the military!! I am going to try my hand at this beautiful painting! I pray it turns out as good as yours!! I want to gift it to him and his family! His father (my uncle) was forced into retirement after his 3rd heart attack from the Army. He fought a good fight but he passed away after only a year of retirement.. My uncle lived and breathed military, and all his kids serve so I know this painting will be so precious to my cousin!! I want to thank you for sharing your special gift!!! You have made my day!!! GOD BLESS You!!! ?

    • Renee, what a beautiful and touching story you have shared about your armed service family! Thank you for commenting. I know your painting will turn out beautiful!!

  3. Hi Tracie! I’m just learning to paint. Do you have to let the layer dry before adding another layer of color? For example, does the sky need to be dry before I paint the stripes and trees? I love this painting and I’d like to give it a try.

  4. My husband and I want to do this together. As a really REALLY big time newbie to painting… I am getting my supplies together based on what you have listed. I had looked at your resources and was planning on getting this set of brushes.., can you let me know if that will have the brushes we will need to do your tutorial?
    Thank you so very much!!

    • Hi Frances! I looked at that link and I think it will have all the brushes you need! Looks like it comes with a fan (if you choose to do the trees with the fan) and a few different size flat brushes. Also there are several small round brushes.

    • Looked at it again. And yep with those flat brushes you’ll be able to do that sky and the dry brush effect for the stripes! Also you can do the trees with those small rounds or the fan.

  5. I made the flag today!!! OMG! Can I just say how AWESOME it turned out?!? I had not gotten my order of supplies… so I kinda fudged and just used what I had on hand. Talk about FUN for doing the stars!! THANK YOU for having this site!!!!!! I cant wait to try more of your beginners!!! I’m still going to do the flag with the hubs tomorrow night, on the REAL canvas <3 I'll see if I can share on your Facebook our creations <3 Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    • Wonderful to hear Frances! I love when that happens – you get the urge for creativity and just use what you have on hand!Yes you can try sharing on the Facebook page, try publishing a post. If you have Instagram you can tag me @tracie_kiernan_art or email me ?

  6. I painted this on July 4, 2019. This is such a SUPER good tutorial. A perfect introduction to a number of techniques!


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