Cityscape Fireworks

How To Paint A Cityscape with Fireworks

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Learn how to paint fireworks above a city skyline next to reflecting water. This painting makes a both a great Fourth of July Painting and New Years Painting!

I don’t know about you but I have a certain fondness to cityscape art. The lights, the reflections and the glow in the night sky are just soooo pretty! Not to mention, the concept of painting this type of painting is very easy and has a 100% success rate even for the absolute beginner.

In this tutorial, you will be guided step by step with photos and a video. The city is generic but you can customize it with your favorite skyline. Just do a quick google search for different city silhouettes. A few of you have already sent me a picture of your city line with the Space Needle!

But beware, this painting is so much fun you might find yourself doing it more than once!

Enjoy, happy painting and don’t forget to share!


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Tip For Doing this With Kids:

If you’re doing this as an Elementary lesson with students or at home with kids, you can simplify it!

I would do the sky in all magenta with a little black on the top and the water all blue.

Use a straight edge piece of paper or cardboard to help define the area/layer the child is painting on and then pull the piece down as the child paints towards the bottom! -Thanks to one of my users for that tip!

Also, you can try this design as a water color resist lesson. in other words, have the kids draw the fireworks with oil pastels first then go over the pastels with water colors.  


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  • 16″ x 20″ canvas (This design can work on any rectangular size, wood, rock, water color paper, etc.
  • Acrylic Paint (I used Liquitex Basics & Artist’s Loft for this! If you’re using craft paint, this can work too. I’ll list colors in both terms below)
  • Paint colors:
    • Cadmium Red (Red)
    • Cadmium Yellow (Bright Yellow)
    • Primary Blue (Blue)
    • Quinacridone Magenta (Magenta or Fuchsia)
    • Violet (Deep Purple)
    • Mars Black (Black)
    • Titanium White (White
  • Various Size Brushes:
    • 1″ flat
    • 1/4″ flat
    • Tiny (#1 brush
  • Ruler
  • Chalk
  • Pencil

Video Directions:

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Directions At A Glance:

how to paint fireworks with acrylics, how to paint fireworks, Cityscape Painting, City Painting,

Step by step pictures:

Draw The Horizon Line

Draw the horizon line about 5.75″ from the bottom. Using a T-Square ruler is helpful to make sure your line is perpendicular! If you don’t have a ruler, any straight edge will work.

If your canvas is a different size, adjust the horizon line accordingly. Mine was approximately 1/3 of the way up from the bottom and not directly in the middle.

Paint The Sky

Paint mars black about 1″ down and curved. The whole sky will be slightly curved but try not to curve it too much! I used a 1″ flat brush for this. Any size flat brush will work for this effect.



Do not rinse off brush. Paint about 3-4″ of violet next. Try to blend the violet with the black. Yes, I had issues mixing my black with the violet too! Just keep working the paint and getting that Violet to mesh well with the black. You can paint the violet over the black if you need to but try not to let that black “take over”.



I painted 3-4″ of Violet here! Again, keep working it in with the black to get it to blend.




This time, rinse your brush! Paint the magenta almost all the way down to the horizon line. Try to get your magenta to blend with the Violet by painting over the Violet a bit!




The magenta has been painted all the way down! Also note, my sky is still going in an “arc”.




Do not rinse brush. Add white the rest of the way down. Blend white with magenta. It will turn into a nice pink hue.



Draw Your Skyline With Chalk

Use chalk to draw buildings. If you want a more “sharper look”, use a ruler and a pencil. Also here is where you can customize the city you want to paint!


Paint Your Skyline Silhouette Black


Paint buildings in with mars black. I used a small flat brush and a tiny brush for small corners. You don’t have to “cut in” like I did. You can just paint each building one at a time.



Tip: water down the black a bit for it to flow easier!


Paint The Building Details

Use a tiny brush for radio towers and other fine building details.


Paint The Water

Paint the water next! Start with the same brush you used for the sky. Paint Quin Magenta about 1″.

Next paint violet and blend with the magenta. I did rinse my brush between color changes. Also notice the water is curving the opposite way of the sky.


Next paint violet and blend with the magenta. I did rinse my brush between color changes. Also notice the water is curving the opposite way of the sky.



Rinse brush. Next add primary blue. I did not realize the blue would take over that violet! If you want more violet with your water, try not to blend it so much. I went down almost all the way with the blue.



Leave a spot open on the bottom for black.



Don’t rinse brush. Paint the rest black and blend the black up into the blue. I also added some more violet to the water where it got lost in the blue.


Paint The Windows

Paint the windows using a tiny brush and white/yellow. Not all the windows have lights on.


Splatter Paint Stars

Flick stars in the sky with any brush and watered down white.


Paint The Fireworks

Use a small flat brush for the fireworks. “Double load” the brush with blue and white. Double loading means to dip one edge of the brush in one color and the other in the next!



how to paint fireworks acrylic canvas painting for beginnersThis is where the video will come in handy! Paint each firework with white plus the color. I used the tip of a flt brush to get the effect.




fireworks new years eveDouble load with yellow and white for a yellow firework. Basically keep painting as many fireworks as you want! Try out different styles of fireworks too.



Optional: I felt that some of the fireworks should have these tiny white dots. Use a tiny brush and pure white for this. Also, you’ll see in the video that I brightened the center of the fireworks by adding a bit more white.



Paint The Reflection

new years eve party ideasFor the reflection of the buildings I used a 1/4″ flat brush and some watered down black. The strokes are just small condensed zig-zag lines forming a vertical shape. LIGHTLY hold that brush and move your hand fast to do this!



how to paint fireworks with acrylics, how to paint fireworks, Cityscape Painting, City Painting, The reflection of the light is a tiny brush double loaded with yellow and white. The line is a vertical, very fluid squiggle line. Again, hold the brush lightly and move the hand fast.



how to paint fireworks with acrylics, how to paint fireworks, Cityscape Painting, City Painting, I think the painting looks great without the 2018! You can stop here if you want or continue and add the number in the water…


Optional: Paint The “2018” 

Draw out the 2018 with chalk. I used a ruler to help my numbers line up straight.


Use a tiny brush and white to paint horizontal strokes in the water. I tried to make it look like the 2018 is reflected in the water.






Paint Some Firework Reflections

Finally I painted some firework refection in the water. To do this I used a tiny brush double loaded in the color and white. Make a very fluid zig zag line.


Finished! how to paint fireworks with acrylics, how to paint fireworks, Cityscape Painting, City Painting, Sign your masterpiece and show it off! There’s a collection of paintings over on Pinterest right now! Just click on the pin, scroll down and see the “I Tried It” section.

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Snowman Starry Night


Owl On A Christmas Tree

How To Paint An Owl On A Christmas Tree


Learn to paint this cute owl on top of a Christmas tree! I used a black canvas for this acrylic painting (actually I painted a white canvas black and you can too!) Do you have a painting you messed up on and want to reuse the canvas? Just paint it over with one or two coats of black paint!  I love how the colors show on the black background almost like chalkboard art.  For the owl, I provide a pre-drawn template that can easily be traced onto the canvas. You’re welcome to come up with your own owl design as well. Enjoy! I can’t wait to see how yours turns out! 


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Acrylic Paint (I used Liquitex Basics for this painting but craft paint works fine too!)

Paint colors: 

  • Cad Red
  • Cad Orange
  • Primary Yellow
  • Light Green
  • Bright Aqua
  • Violet
  • Mars Black
  • Titanium White
  • Primary Blue

Black Canvas (In all honesty…you can paint a white canvas black! I did for this tutorial and it worked out just fine!)

Various Size Paint Brushes

White Chalk

*Owl Template (Click Here to open PDF. Print the owl on standard size paper 8″ x 11″, rub chalk on back of paper and trace owl onto canvas.)

*Note: I don’t usually do traceable templates but did it for this particular painting. You’re welcome to draw your own owl if you don’t like to trace!

Pencil for Tracing Owl Template

Print Owl Template



 I began with a black canvas. You can get a black canvas or paint a white canvas black! Then I transferred my owl template onto the canvas. To do this, I simply rubbed white chalk on the back of the owl. Then I traced the owl with a pencil.


Your transfer won’t be this dark! I traced over the transfer again so the owl will show up for demo purposes! I also drew the Christmas Tree. 


Next I used a 1/8″ flat brush to paint the eyes. I loaded the brush with light green and a tiny bit of white. The white will help the green to be more opaque on the canvas and give the eyes some color variation! Don’t mix the white, just dip it into the white and let the color do it’s “thing” on the canvas. 


Then I painted white circles around the green circle with pure titanium white. Don’t worry if you need to go outside the circle lines on the chalk drawing!


Next I painted the head and body with bright aqua green and a tiny bit of white. Load your brush with the aqua first and then dip in the white without mixing the colors together. I used the same 1/8″ flat brush. To get this “feathery” texture, I made sure my brush was dry (no dipping in water). If you absolutely need to dip in the water a few times to get the paint to flow, you may do so!   


Pay attention to the direction of the paint on each side of the face…

And the belly – the paint strokes are long curves going opposite directions.


The strokes that meet in the middle of the belly go in an oval shape. Note that you will still see black canvas through the owl. That’s what I wanted! It gives this cool “chalkboard” style to the painting.


For the scarf and hat, I painted titanium white on first and then the color. The red would have a hard time showing up on the black if you did not apply a layer of white first. 


Cad red for the scarf. You can definitely customize this! A Harry Potter scarf would be super adorable!


I painted mars black for the pattern. I was going for the “Buffalo Check” pattern that is super cute and trendy right now!


Then I painted the Santa Hat.


I also painted the beak white first and then cad orange with a bit of white highlight.


The Christmas tree was painted using the dry brush method (not adding water to the brush). I used light green and titanium white. I loaded the brush with light green and a tiny bit of white. I started from the bottom of the tree and painted one row at a time. 


Paint one row at a time from the bottom to the top. Dip your brush in light green and a tiny bit of white. Let the color do it’s own mixing on the canvas.


Then I added some strokes of white/green on the tree. You will see in the video how I did this! They are all just one stroke of my brush tip dipped in equal amounts of white and green. 


I painted the Christmas light strings with mars black. Then the lights and ornaments were painted with a layer of titanium white. Use a tiny brush for this step!



While the lights and ornaments dried, I painted the snowflakes and swirls in the background. 


Finally I painted in the lights and ornaments with my chosen colors! 


Finished! Sign your masterpiece and show it off! 

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How To Paint Elf Legs

How To Paint Elf Legs


Learn how to paint these very easy and fun set of elves! Two versions of elves are in this tutorial. This can also be used as a “couple” painting by connecting the Christmas lights together!



Canvas any size (I used two 11″ x 14″ canvases. Any size or surface would work! I love all my users that are painting these designs on rocks!!!)

Paint brushes various sizes

Acrylic Paint (Any brand is fine. I used craft paint for this, which is fine for beginners and it adheres to canvas well! I also recommend the brand Liquitex if you want a higher quality paint for this project.)


  • Red Flag (Cad Red or Crimson Red)
  • Jack O’ Lantern (Cad Orange)
  • Bright Yellow (Primary Yellow)
  • New Shamrock (Light Green)
  • Bright Blue (Primary Blue)
  • White (Titanium White)
  • Black (Mars Black)
  • Nutmeg Brown (Burnt Sienna)
  • Gray
  • Navy Blue

Chalk for drawing the elf



First I mixed a tiny amount of blue with a lot of white to make a white-blue tint. I mixed this together on my palette but not all the way! I painted the entire canvas in up and down strokes. This paint was also a bit watered down so it looked more like a translucent “wash” than an opaque layer.

White-(Tiny bit of Blue) Tint “Wash”


Then I painted the border black. I let the black dry before I added in the polka dots.

Black border and white polka dots


Then I drew the entire elf with chalk first. After that, I used Navy Blue paint to outline my elf. Outlining is totally optional! You can paint your elf in without having to outline it. Follow the step below for drawing your elf with chalk:

Draw with chalk first! Optional outline with navy blue.


Next I painted the green tunic. I dipped my brush in both yellow and green. This allowed to color to have more “dimension”.

Dip brush in yellow and green


Make sure your strokes go with the shape of the tunic (up and down) and try not to change directions. Your yellow and green will mix together on the canvas and create it’s own “dimension” of color. 


I painted the belt red and yellow. 


Then to add a little more dimension in the belt buckle, I added some brown. 


For the tights, I painted the legs white first and then added the red. You can do the opposite or just paint each stripe individually. The stripes kind of curved a bit! 


For the shoes, I painted them yellow first and then, before it dried, I dipped my brush in brown and added some “dimension” in the shoes. I also used watered down gray for the shadow and painted some yellow circles on the bottom of his tunic. 


Then I painted little “x”s on all the circles. 


For the string of the lights, I mixed green and black together (equal amounts). I used a small brush to draw out the string. Remember you can connect the two strings together if you’re making the girl version of the elf too. 


I painted the lights white first. Then I painted over the white (this allows the color of the lights to be more opaque). 


Connect the lights to the string with black. Then add a white highlight on the left side of each light. 

How To Paint the Girl Elf Version: 

I drew the outline of the elf with pencil, however, I HIGHLY recommend you use chalk. Erasing pencil will take off layers of paint. Outlining it with navy blue paint is optional. Mine shows up outlined in Navy blue here fore demo purposes. 


I used the exact same colors for the girl elf that I did with the boy elf. The only thing I did differently was not outline the girl with navy blue paint. 

Dip brush in green and yellow for the skirt. Paint up and down strokes. Some areas are pure green and some areas have more yellow-green to make the skirt look like it has more dimension. 

I painted all the rest of the skirt and then all the red stripes. 


Then I painted the shoes yellow and added some brown dimension before allowing the yellow to dry. 

Then I painted the string for the lights. And finished the lights the same way I did for the boy elf. 

I added some final touches: the white applique on the skirt and the shadow under the shoes! 


Finally I made it so the lights of each painting connect!

Finished! Like my tutorials? Subscribe to my Facebook Page to be updated when new ones are posted!

See more Winter/ Holiday Theme Paintings.


How To Paint Snowman Starry Night

canvas painting for beginners step by step

How To Paint Snowman Starry Night

There’s a picture book that I’ve always been fond of because of the beautiful and whimsical illustrations of snowmen doing fun things at night like drinking hot cocoa and having snowball fights!

I used this book as a reference to teach my elementary students how to do “shading” on their snowmen drawings and paintings.

The book is titled Snowmen at Night written by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner.

When I was inspired to do a Snowman Starry Night tutorial, I could not help but think of this delightful book!

So, in this tutorial you will be guided through the steps in setting up this simple snow landscape painting.

I think that painting snow and snowmen are easy but we get caught up in how to give light and shadow to something that is supposed to be all white!

I hope that I make it easy for you to learn. Also, if you have kids, they would LOVE to learn how to do this with you as well. Enjoy!



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  • Acrylic Paints For this painting I used these paints
  • Colors (Listed in Apple Barrel Terms):
    • Flag Red (Cadmium Red)
    • Jack O’ Lantern (Cadmium Orange)
    • Bright Yellow (Cadmium Yellow or Yellow Medium)
    • Bright Blue (Cobalt Blue)
    • Too Blue (Prussion Blue)
    • Navy Blue (Any shade of dark blue)
    • White (Titanium White)
    • Black (Mars Black)
    • Nutmeg Brown (Raw Sienna or Raw Umber)
  • Paint brushes of various sizes:
    • 2″ Flat
    • Small Round
    • 1/4″ Flat or 3/4″ Flat
  • Canvas (I used a 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas but you can use any size or any object to paint on – rock, wooden board, paper, wall, window…. Water color paper would work too!)
  • Water, Easel & Protected Workspace

Directions At A Glance:



Step By Step Picture Directions:

1. Paint The Horizon Line

With the canvas in “landscape” position, I painted the horizon line using a tiny brush and the color “bright blue”. Again, I’m using this brand of paint. The horizon line is about 5″ from the bottom of the canvas.



2. Paint A Wash in the Sky

Then, with a base coat brush (large flat brush), I applied water to the canvas. I wanted my sky to be kind of watered down/ translucent. I painted in up and down strokes.

Tip: when adding water & paint to the canvas like this, lay it flat to prevent the water & paint from dripping. If it does drip below the horizon line, don’t panic! We will be painting all that over later.


Then I applied the “bright blue” color paint with the same up & down strokes. The paint will spread fast and kind of thin because of the water.


You can allow the paint to go below that horizon line a little because it will be painted over white on the bottom!


3. Paint Some Circles In The Sky

Next I got my pure white paint and a small flat brush. Ideally, you should wait until that blue dries a bit but I didn’t wait! Paint a large circle in the upper right (or upper left you’d like) for the moon. Then paint some smaller circles in some random areas around the sky. These are the bases of the stars. Also note, I started from the CENTER of the circle and painted out!


4. Paint Dash Lines

Then I painted some “dash” lines right on the horizon line.


And I painted about four rows of those dashed lines. (mind the shadow of my plate palette in this picture!) These dashes really don’t have to be uniform/neat.


5. Paint A Big Swirl Line

Then I painted a large spiral line with my brush. If you want to do this with chalk first, you may! Chalk will erase… This spiral is the main spiral in the sky so make it BIG!


Next I painted dashed lines on the spiral.


6. Paint A Moon & Stars

With bright yellow paint, I painted a moon on that larger circle and I painted small star circles in the other white circles.

7. Paint More Dash Lines

yellow dash lines

Then I painted yellow dash lines around each star, on the horizon line, on the spiral and around the moon!

more yellow dash lines


8. Paint Orange Moon & Stars

orange on moon

Next I got “Jack O’ Lantern” orange and painted over the moon. I also painted a smaller circle in each of the stars.

orange on stars


9. Paint Orange Dashes

orange dashes on horizon line
more orange dashes on moon, stars & spiral

And with that orange, I painted more dash lines on the horizon line, around the moon, around the stars and on that spiral! Note, with these dash lines, some I painted over previously painted dashes, some I made their own row. It’s really up to you! The trick with starry night is to just keep painting layers of the colors with the impressionism “dashed stroke” style.


10. Paint Blue Dashes

blue dashes
more blue dashes

Finally, I painted another set of dash lines with the same “bright” blue. It will show up on the background because this one is not watered down like the background was. If yours is not showing up, you can just find a darker blue to use.

more blue dashes going in random directions

I added some spirals going in their own directions.


11. Paint The Snow

blue line on bottom

Next I painted the snow. Load your palette with bright blue and white. Paint a small bright blue line on the bottom of the painting. I used a medium flat brush (3/4″).

load brush with white (not yellow!)

Then I dipped my brush in white (don’t clean the blue off). I painted from the bottom to the horizon. That white faded from blue to white.


fade the bottom blue to white up to the horizon line

bottom of painting is blue and it fades up to white


12. Paint The Trees


Next I painted trees. This color is Navy Blue.  I used a 1/4″ flat brush for this. First paint a vertical line.

\Then paint the branches forming a triangular shaped tree.



Paint a few more trees of varying sizes.


13. Paint The Tree Shadows & Highlights

To paint the shadows, I used watered down navy blue paint and did some “zigzag” lines  on the snow.

watered down navy blue for shadows


Then with a tiny brush, I painted some white lines on the trees.


14. Paint The Snowman

Next I painted the snowman! Start out with pure white not mixed with anything! Paint each of the circles. It “should” show up because there should be enough blue in that snow to see each circle.



15. Paint The Snowman Shadow

To do the shadow, I started with painting a line on the left side of each circle. I used the color “too blue”. This is a lighter version of navy blue.  If you don’t have that color, a navy blue or dark blue would work.



Then I blended that blue in with the white the same way I did the snow (load your brush with white after painting the blue). Try to make your strokes go in a circle to form the sphere illusion.


Keep blending that blue out until it turns to white. Also, emphasize some dark on the bottom of each circle.



The shadow of the snowman was painted with watered down navy blue (the same color as the trees).



17. Paint The Snowman Face & Accessories 

Finally the easy part! I painted the coal with black using a tiny detail brush. No shading involved with this step!



I painted the carrot nose.


The stick arms were painted with nutmeg brown. Also I did the dark area of the carrot with this same brown (totally optional!).



The hat was painted with white and flag red.


The scarf  was also painted red. Of course you can customize any of this and do your own style and colors!


And, since I’m secretly obsessed with “buffalo check” pattern, I HAD to do his scarf in buffalo check! This was done simply by painting vertical and horizontal black lines.


Finished! Sign your name on your masterpiece and share it on Pinterest or Facebook!


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