How to Paint 'Suomi'


This beautiful piece is inspired by Finland's peaceful night sky!


Before you start the below instructions make sure you have a clean dry canvas ready, and you have chosen your colours and have them mixed up and ready on your pallet.

1) Using a flat brush, blob your mixed colours into their approximate location on the canvas, don't blend yet right now you want to map our your colour work. Be sure to pay attention to the location of the various colours and how many colours you can see in each section. whilst this might look like blue, pink and purple, there are actually different shades of each and also black and white used in the background to create contrast and clouds.


2) Once you have distributed your colours, take a dry sponge and gently start to dab it over your piece, being sure to start with your lighter colours first. Work the dab motion to blend the colours together without losing the light and dark contrast points in your piece.


​3) Take a moment to let your background form a skin dry enough to paint over (in class we use this time to take a sip and have a chat!) If you find you have applied too much paint, you can take a fresh sponge and gently lift the excess from your work.

4) Take a flat clean brush and add water, start to work your moon around in circles to create the halo effect, going around the circumference gently drag the paintbrush in a circular motion, adding white paint to it as you go. We are trying to create the illusion of a misty freezing cold night, the paint should be thin enough to be translucent.

If you are not happy with contrast in your sky, or now that the paint has dried some your 'clouds appear to be disappearing' then you can add them now before you move on to the silhouette work.

5) Now you can commence blotting in the ground, take your sponge loaded with black paint and start to blot in the area at the very bottom of the canvas creating an uneven almost semi-circle. Once you have applied this, take the edge of your sponge and gently use it to create a blur where the skyline meets the ground/treeline. By working backwards and forwards at different angles of your sponge's edge you will create the gentle gradient that you see in the piece where it goes from being the earth to being the sky.

6) By now your background should be nice and dry and easy to work over. Take a fine or thin flat brush and start to draw your trees. Be sure to remember perspective in this piece. Imagine you are on your back, looking at the sky in the distance. The trees will start at the edge of your canvas and point slightly inwards, they will start thick and the base and end fine at the top.

Consider also that nature is not even and neither will your trees be if they are to look convincing. As you add branches be sure to alternate sides (don't stick a branch off each side at the same spot, as you add them to ensure that they are thicker at the base and thinner at the tips) remember to fork branches are different places and overlap other trees with branches as you go. Add perspective by including finner trees in the background and grass at the ground line.

7) Time to add your stars, remembering again that nature is not even, start to add your stars using a fine brush (or the end of your paintbrush) ensure that you add some that are bright white, some that are more transparent, large ones and small ones. Be sure to add more around the circumference of your work and fewer towards the light source (the moon) as in nature the light of the moon makes it harder to see the starts when it's present. Be sure to add a few feature stars that have either a halo of their own or 4 lines coming out from their centre and don't forget to add them in between the trees at the ground line.

8) Allow your piece to dry and revisit your stars, trees and ground if you want to make the work appear darker or stand out more.

Congratulations you have painted Suomi!

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