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


How To Paint An Owl On A Christmas Tree

canvas painting for beginners step by step

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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Traceable: PDF Print Owl Template


Directions At A Glance:


Step By Step Directions:

1. Transfer the Owl onto the black canvas towards the top middle.

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. You can ALSO use white graphite paper for the transfer. 


2. Trace over the owl drawing with chalk and draw a Christmas Tree underneath.

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. 


3. Paint the Eyes

Next I used a #4 bright flat brush to paint the eyes. I double loaded the brush with light green permanent and a tiny bit of titanium 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! I also added a bit of white highlight on the green and then two little dots on the black area of the eyes as shown below. 


4. Paint the head, wings and body

Next I painted the head and body with bright aqua green and a tiny bit of titanium white. Load your brush with the aqua first and then dip in the white without mixing the colors together. I used the same #4 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… The direction of the strokes go in the same direction of the shape/ contours the shape you are filling in. 

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.


5. Paint the scarf

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


You can definitely customize this! A Harry Potter scarf would be super adorable!


Wait for that red to dry a bit and then add the pattern on top of the scarf. I painted mars black for the pattern and used a #0 round brush to create the “Buffalo Check”. 


6. Paint the Santa Hat & Beak

Then I painted the Santa Hat. I first “whited” the area out with a #4 bright brush and titanium white. 

While waiting for that to dry, I pained the beak white too. 


Then I painted the red part of the Santa Hat in with cadmium red medium and I painted the beak cadmium orange hue. There is a bit of highlight on the beak with titanium white on the left and a little bit of whit on the front part of the hat that provides contrast against the back side of the hat towards to tip. 


7. Paint The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree was painted using the dry brush method (not adding water to the brush). I used light green permanent and titanium white. I loaded the brush with light green and a tiny bit of white (double load). I started from the bottom of the tree and painted one row at a time. Also, I used the #4 Bright Brush for this. 

Basically drag each stroke bottom up on the bottom row of the Christmas Tree. Let the color do it’s own mixing on the canvas. Continue painting the next row up and overlap the strokes slightly as you paint each row. 

Then I added some more 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 and painted from top down instead of bottom up. 


8. Paint the Christmas Lights & Snowflakes in the Background

I painted the Christmas light strings with mars black and used a #0 Round Brush. Then the lights and ornaments were painted with a layer of titanium white.  

While the lights and ornaments dried, I painted the snowflakes and swirls in the background. Again, use that #0 round brush. 

Finally I painted in the lights and ornaments with my chosen colors! I used cadmium red medium, cobalt blue, primary yellow and the ornaments were deep violet. 

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)
  • Paint brushes 
    • 3/4″ Wash
    • #4 Bright
    • #0 Round
  • Acrylic Paint 
    • Cadmium Red Medium
    • Cadmium Orange Hue
    • Primary Yellow
    • Deep Green Permanent
    • Light Blue Permanent
    • Titanium White
    • Mars Black
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Neutral Gray Value 5
    • Phthalo Blue
    • Cobalt Blue
  • Chalk for drawing the elf

Directions At A Glance:

Traceables (NEW!!)

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Step By Step Directions:

1. Paint the background

First I double loaded my 3/4″ Wash Brush with light blue permanent and titanium white. I painted the entire canvas in up and down strokes. 


2. Paint A Decorative Border

Then I painted the border black. I let the black dry before I added in the titanium white polka dots. Use a #4 Bright or a #5 Round (medium round) for this step. I waited until the black was dry and then painted white polka dots on the border using a #0 round brush. 


3. Draw the elf with chalk and then outline with phthalo blue.

Then I drew the entire elf with chalk first. After that, I used Phthalo 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. Start out by drawing the tunic. 

Then draw the elf legs.

Then zig-zag lines for the top of the elf shoe. 

Then curve the shoe up. 

Draw two symmetrical shoes on both side. 


4. Paint the tunic in. 

Next I painted the green tunic. I dipped my brush in both primary yellow and deep green permanent. Also, I used a 3/4″ wash brush for this step. 

When you double load your brush, the two colors will blend on the canvas to form a green that is not solid but varied yellow-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. 


5. Paint the belt.

I painted the belt cadmium red medium and primary yellow. You may need to “white out” the space of the belt where the yellow is by painting it white first and then adding the yellow. 


Then to add a little more dimension in the belt buckle, I added some burnt sienna. Do this with a #0 round brush. 

6. Paint the tights

For the tights, I painted the legs white first and then added the red stripes. You can do the opposite or just paint each stripe individually. The stripes kind of curved a bit! Use a #4 bright brush for this step. 


7. Paint the shoes, shadow and yellow circles on the tips of the tunic.

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. Use a #0 round brush and mars black for this. 


8. Paint the lights

For the string of the lights, I mixed green and black together (equal amounts). I used a small #0 Round 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). Also use a #0 round brush for the lights. Use cobalt blue. cadmium red medium, cadmium orange hue and deep green permanent. 

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


How To Paint the Girl Elf Version: 

1. Repeat the steps for painting the background and border and then Draw the Girl Elf 

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 phthalo blue paint is optional. Mine shows up outlined in phthalo blue here fore demo purposes. 

2. Paint the skirt

I used the exact same colors for the girl elf that I did with the boy elf. Dip brush in deep green permanent and primary 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 cadmium red stripes. Note: the skirt had a bit of “dimension” by adding neutral gray double loaded with cadmium red medium. 


3. Paint the Shoes

Then I painted the shoes yellow and added some brown dimension before allowing the yellow to dry. Use a #0 Round brush or a #4 bright brush for this step. 

4. Paint the lights

Then I painted the string for the lights. And finished the lights the same way I did for the boy elf. The string was done with deep green permanent mixed with mars black and a #0 round brush. The lights were done with cadmium red medium, cobalt blue, deep green permanent and primary yellow. I also added a back part of the skirt. 

5. Paint an applique on the skirt and shadow under the shoes

I added some final touches: the white applique on the skirt and the shadow under the shoes! The white applique was done with pure titanium white. The Shadow was watered down neutral gray. 



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


How To Paint Snowman Starry Night

canvas painting for beginners step by step

How To Paint Snowman Starry Night

Learn how to paint a super easy snowman painting in the style of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night! This acrylic tutorial for beginners will guide you through the steps. This painting was done on a 16″ x 20″ canvas with Apple Barrel Craft Paints. Perfect for a family holiday paint night! This design is also very easy to paint with the kids. 
Inspiration for this painting came from one of my favorite winter children’s book Snowmen At Night  by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner.I’ve always been fond of this book because of the beautiful and whimsical illustrations of snowmen doing fun things at night like drinking hot cocoa and having snowball fights! When I taught “shading” to my students during my Elementary Art Teacher years, I always used this book as a reference. Sometimes painting snow and snowmen can be indimidating because of having to shade something that is supposed to be all white. I hope that I can make it easy for you to learn how to paint snowmen with this tutorial! 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 Apple Barrel Craft paints but also provide an alternative color name if you want to use the Liquitex BASICS. Check out my conversion chart for converting brand colors here!
  • Colors:
    • Flag Red (Cadmium Red Medium)
    • Jack O’ Lantern (Cadmium Orange Hue)
    • Bright Yellow (Cadmium Yellow Medium)
    • Bright Blue (Cobalt Blue or Cerulean Blue)
    • Too Blue (Ultramarine Blue Blue)
    • Navy Blue (Phthalo Blue)
    • White (Titanium White)
    • Black (Mars Black)
    • Nutmeg Brown (Raw Sienna or Raw Umber)
  • Paint brushes:
    • 1″ Flat (Or 3/4″ Wash – Just a large flat brush for the sky)
    • #6 Round Brush
    • #4 Bright Brush
    • #10/0 Liner (or the smallest round brush you have!)
  • Canvas (I used a 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas)
I used this set of paints for this painting!

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 round 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 with a #4 bright (small flat brush).


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 a round 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 with the #4 bright.

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. I did this with the round brush.

7. Paint More Dash Lines

Then I painted yellow dash lines around each star, on the horizon line, on the spiral and around the moon! All the dashes were done with the #4 bright.yellow dash lines

more yellow dash lines


8. Paint Orange Moon & Stars

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

orange on stars


9. Paint Orange Dashes

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.

more orange dashes on moon, stars & spiral


10. Paint 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.

blue dashes

more blue dashes

I added some spirals going in their own directions.


11. Paint The Snow

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″). Then fade that blue to white. blue line on bottom

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.load brush with white (not yellow!)

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 (#4 bright) 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. I used my #4 bright for this.

watered down navy blue for shadows

Then with a tiny 10/0 round 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. You can use either a #4 bright or a round brush for this step.


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. I recommend using a #4 bright for the shadow part here.



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 (10/0). 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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